Secretary of State Antony Blinken was asked during the World Economic Forum whether Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian or Muslim lives.

“No, period,” Blinken said. “What we’re seeing every single day in Gaza is gut-wrenching. And suffering we’re seeing among innocent men, women and children breaks my heart. The question is, what is to be done?”

The death toll in Gaza has exceeded 24,000, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.

Pakistan says it carried out strikes against terrorists inside Iran

Pakistan carried out strikes inside Iran that targeted terrorists Thursday morning local time, Pakistan’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said.

The strikes in the Sistan and Baluchistan province of Iran were “highly coordinated and specifically targeted precision military strikes against terrorist hideouts,” the ministry said.

They came after Iran launched missiles that struck Pakistan.

“Pakistan fully respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” the Foreign Affairs Ministry said. “The sole objective of today’s act was in pursuit of Pakistan’s own security and national interest which is paramount and cannot be compromised.”

The ministry said that its country’s strikes targeted terrorists called Sarmachars, who were hiding in Iran. It said the Sarmachars are from Pakistan.

“This morning’s action was taken in light of credible intelligence of impending large scale terrorist activities by these so called Sarmachars,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The ministry recalled its ambassador to Iran after Iran’s strikes in Pakistan.

Iranian state media said missiles and drones had targeted two bases in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan belonging to the militant group Jaish al-Adl, which has carried out past attacks against Iranian security forces in the border area between the two countries.

Pakistan said that two children were killed and that the attack was unprovoked.

U.S. struck 14 Houthi missiles that presented ‘imminent threat’

The U.S. attacked 14 Houthi missiles in its latest strikes against the rebels in Yemen, U.S. Central Command said in a statement.

The missiles “were loaded to be fired in Houthi controlled areas in Yemen,” Central Command said.

“These missiles on launch rails presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels and U.S. Navy ships in the region and could have been fired at any time, prompting U.S. forces to exercise their inherent right and obligation to defend themselves,” it said.

Houthi rebels are Iranian-backed militants who have seized control of parts of Yemen, according to U.S. officials.

The U.S. has conducted strikes on Houthi positions in rebel-held areas of Yemen in response to missile and drone attacks launched by the Houthis against commercial ships in the Red Sea. The Houthis declared support for Hamas against Israel.

The U.S. strikes were carried out at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday Sanaa time, Central Command said.

Palestinian official says at least $15 billion needed for Gaza housing

DAVOS, Switzerland — At least $15 billion will be needed to rebuild houses in Gaza, the head of the Palestine Investment Fund said today, underlining the scale of devastation caused by Israel’s offensive.

Chairman Mohammed Mustafa said international reports indicated 350,000 housing units had been partly or completely damaged in Gaza. Assuming 150,000 of these would need to be rebuilt at an average cost of $100,000 per unit, “that’s $15 billion for housing units,” he said.

“We still didn’t talk about infrastructure, we didn’t talk about the hospitals that were damaged, the grids,” he said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The figure points to reconstruction costs that will dwarf previous bills for rebuilding Gaza after earlier conflicts, with the war not yet over more than three months after it began.

After a war between Hamas and Israel in 2014, which lasted seven weeks and killed 2,100 Palestinians, Qatar spent over $1 billion on housing and relief projects in Gaza. Israel has laid waste to much of the territory in a campaign that health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza say has killed 24,448 people since Oct. 7, when the Palestinian group ignited the war by storming Israel, killing 1,200 people and abducting 240 more, according to Israeli tallies.

Figures released by the Hamas-run media office in Gaza say that more than 360,000 housing units have sustained severe or partial damage and that more than 70,000 have been completely destroyed.

Leon Panetta describes Houthis as a ‘very resilient guerrilla force’

The U.S. has labeled the Houthi rebels a “specially designated global terrorist group.”

The new designation is said to put a stranglehold on the money the Houthis use to support terrorist acts. During the last several weeks, the Iran-backed rebels have fired dozens of missiles at ships in the Red Sea — upending global shipping routes and supply chains.

Leon Panetta — former defense secretary, former CIA director and former White House chief of staff — tells NBC News the U.S. needs stronger intelligence on targets as the risk of escalation increases.

Israel allowed to compete in international hockey tournament following security concerns

The International Ice Hockey Federation says Israel will be allowed to compete in a coming tournament in Bulgaria next week following confirmation of safety and security measures it says it needed for the team to compete.

The federation’s statement today said Bulgarian authorities and other stakeholders are implementing steps to handle “the identified risks.” It added that future decisions will be made case by case.

“A one-week tournament with the participation of the Israeli National Team without any guarantee about safety and security of all people involved is irresponsible,” the statement said.

Last week, the federation said it was restricting the Israeli national team from participating in its under-20 Division III tournament over security concerns but did not mention the ongoing war or escalated tensions since it began.

Gazans sink further into despair amid all-consuming struggle to survive, UNRWA chief says

Recounting his most recent trip to Gaza, United Nations Relief and Works Agency Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said every time he visits the enclave, he watches civilians sink further into despair as survival consumes their every hour.

Civilians in Rafah are so overcrowded in makeshift shelters, some of which house 20 people under plastic, that one could “barely drive a car amid the sea of people,” he said. There is little to no information about conditions in north Gaza, where Lazzarini was not permitted to enter.

“In Deir al-Balah, in the middle areas, I visited one of our schools-turned-shelter,” he said. “The overcrowding was claustrophobic, and the filthiness was striking. I heard stories of women forgoing food and water to avoid having to use the unsanitary toilets.”

Lazzarini again called for parties to implement an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to increase the flow of aid.

“This has gone on for far too long,” he said. “There are no winners in these wars. There is endless chaos and growing despair.”

U.S. military strikes more sites in Yemen

The U.S. military struck multiple missile sites in Yemen tonight, according to two U.S. defense officials.

U.S. Navy ships launched Tomahawk missiles to take out multiple Houthi missiles and launchers, the officials said. Defense officials are calling the strikes pre-emptive or defensive because they took out missiles and launchers that posed an imminent threat to ships in the Red Sea.

The strikes come after a U.S.-owned ship was hit by a Houthi attack drone earlier today. While the ship was damaged, no injuries were reported.

White House welcomes Qatar deal for ‘badly-needed medicine’ to hostages in Gaza

The White House welcomed Qatar’s announcement that a deal was reached for “badly-needed medicine” to reach the hostages who remain captive in Gaza, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement earlier today.

“We will continue to pursue every effort to secure the release of the hostages and reunite them with their families,” Watson said. “The United States remains the leading provider of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and we are working to sustain and further expand those efforts over the coming weeks.”

A spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a post on X that medicine and aid entered into Gaza today for the benefit of all civilians in the Palestinian enclave, including the hostages.

Houthis say they attacked an American ship in Gulf of Aden

Yemen’s Houthi rebels, designated a terrorist group by the U.S. today, said it made a direct hit on an American vessel in the Gulf of Aden as it “will not stop” targeting ships supporting Israel.

The group added that “a response to the American and British attacks is inevitably coming, and that any new attack will not remain without response and punishment.”

Houthi rebels have launched repeated attacks on vessels in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden that it believes support Israel and have refused to stop until the siege on Gaza is over.

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations issued an alert today after a ship reported being hit by a drone, causing a fire onboard that was extinguished.

Genco Shipping confirmed in a statement to NBC News that its crews were safe after it was hit by an “unidentified projectile.”

“An initial inspection by the crew indicates that damage to the vessel’s gangway is limited, and the vessel has remained stable and underway on a course out of the area,” the company said.

Aid for Gazans and medicine for hostages reaches enclave

TEL AVIV — Crucial aid for Palestinians in Gaza and medications for hostages held by Hamas have made their way into the enclave after Israel and Hamas reached a deal, the Qatar government said.

The deal to see medicine and humanitarian aid delivered to civilians in Gaza in exchange for medicine for hostages held by Hamas was struck after mediation efforts by Qatari and French officials.

Majed bin Mohammed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that medications were expected to be dispatched from Doha to Egypt today before being transported across the border into Gaza.

It comes after United Nations agencies warned that Gaza was in urgent need of more aid or its population would soon face famine and disease amid the spiraling humanitarian crisis in the enclave.

Meanwhile, there have been growing calls from the families of those held hostage in Gaza for medications to be urgently delivered to their loved ones, with some also demanding to see proof of delivery once medication has reached them.

Ella Ben Ami, whose father remains in Hamas captivity after her mother was released in November, said she is desperate for medication to reach her father, who she said was shot during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

But, she told NBC News on Saturday, “I can’t believe that medication will come over there until we have proof in our hands.”

Sen. Warner: ‘We support Israel’ but not ‘every Israeli politician’ is focused on ending violence

President Biden has redesignated the Houthis in Yemen as a terrorist organization in an effort to curb support for the group and cut off their funding.

“We support Israel,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “But that doesn’t mean we support every Israeli politician that, candidly, may or may not have the interest of peace, the interest of ending the violence at top of mind.”

Israeli government instructs doctors not to speak with U.N. investigators about Oct. 7 attack

TEL AVIV — Doctors have been told not to cooperate with United Nations representatives who are investigating Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat confirmed to NBC News.

The Times of Israel first reported that doctors and health care workers were forbidden from speaking with members of the The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, accusing the body of having an anti-Israel stance.

“The commission of inquiry is there to investigate Israel without any time limits, unlike any other commission of inquiry from the U.N. system,” Haiat said. “Furthermore, the three people chosen to head it are famous antisemitic and anti-Israel people.”

The comisssion is chaired by Navanethem Pillay of South Africa, who served as U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014, and includes Miloon Kothari of India and Chris Sidoti of Australia. All three have previously made comments about Israel that the Israeli government has taken issue with, according to the Times of Israel.

Number of safe spaces for health care workers is’ dwindling,’ aid group says after Nasser Hospital attack

A surgeon working with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) said that patients and displaced civilians had to flee in panic after the hospital was bombed without a prior evacuation order.

NBC News’ team on the ground had reported intense bombardment inside the city of Khan Younis but was not immediately able to independently confirm the situation at the hospital. The Israel Defense Forces declined to comment.

Médecins Sans Frontières blamed Israel for the attack.

“The number of safe spaces for organizations like MSF to provide health care is dwindling as constant evacuation orders and attacks on health facilities have repeatedly forced medical staff to evacuate hospitals and leave patients behind,” the organization said.

Pope Francis condemns Iranian strike on Iraq, calls for peace

In his weekly audience at the Vatican, Pope Francis condemned Tuesday’s strikes on Iraq by Iran and expressed concerns it would provoke regional conflict.

He urged peace and reconciliation, asking all parties to “avoid any step that fuels tension in the Middle East and other war scenarios,” according to Reuters.

Rutgers reinstates Students for Justice in Palestine; group demands school divest from Israel

Rutgers University has reinstated its chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine with a yearlong probation after the group was suspended for multiple conduct complaints, the school said in a statement.

The student group livestreamed a news conference on YouTube, in which three unidentified members with kuffiyehs covering their faces addressed the conduct case. The students accused Rutgers administration of “treating their Palestinian students with malice and disregard.”

Rutgers said that the group had been suspended for “protesting in nonpublic forums, causing disruption to classes and university functioning, which are violations of university policy.”

It added that interim suspensions are typical after an organization is subject to multiple complaints: “None of the actions taken were based on speech.”

The group today demanded the university divest its endowment fund of Israeli bonds and corporations connected to Israel, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The demand is part of a larger Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, a nonviolent protest aimed at placing economic pressure on Israel’s government.

“How can Palestinian students and the Rutgers community as a whole be expected to feel safe while their university willingly funds the arming of Israel’s genocide on Palestine?” one of the students remarked. “The obvious answer is they simply cannot.”

Family hopes hostage father will hold his newborn daughter one day

TEL AVIV — Shachar was born five weeks ago with curious eyes and two older sisters who adore her. But she’s missing one thing: Her father, Sagui Dekel-Chen, is one of the six American hostages still being held in Gaza. 

He’s never held his daughter. He doesn’t know her name, which means “Dawn” in Hebrew. He may not even know that his family survived the Oct. 7 attack. 

Dekel-Chen’s father, Jonathan, told NBC News that Sagui secured his wife, Avital, who was seven months pregnant, and their two daughters in a safe room before going out to confront the Hamas terrorists who had overrun their home in kibbutz Nir Oz.

When his family emerged from the safe room 10 hours later, Sagui was gone — kidnapped and taken into Gaza. 

“He actually does not know whether his wife and his daughter survived the attack. And so, the birth of Shachar is an enormous blessing for all of us but also a cause of even greater heartache because he simply cannot know in captivity,” Jonathan said. 

The family said some of the hostages freed in an exchange in late November had seen Sagui briefly in Hamas tunnels, giving them comfort that he was alive as recently as Thanksgiving. 

Jonathan said he imagined seeing his son meet Shachar for the first time and reuniting with his family: “His two little girls are going to leap into his arms, and his wife and his new baby are going to hug him and never let him go.”

Two Qatari planes carrying aid for Gaza arrive in Egypt

Two planes carrying 61 tons of aid have arrived in Egypt as part of a deal brokered by Qatar and France, according to Qatar’s foreign ministry.

The Qatari Armed Forces landed in Al-Arish today with the shipment, which includes medicines and humanitarian aid for Gaza civilians, especially those “in the most affected and damaged areas, in exchange for the delivery of medicines needed by detainees in the Gaza Strip,” the ministry said.

“It also comes within the framework of the State of Qatar’s support for the brotherly Palestinian people, and its full support for them during the difficult humanitarian circumstances they are currently exposed to,” the ministry wrote in a post on X.

WTO: Red Sea attacks will hurt trade

World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala warned that conflict in the Red Sea will hurt trade, according to AFP. Discussing the organization’s forecast for trade growth at the World Economic Forum in Davos today, she said that they were “less optimistic” due to “worsening geopolitical tensions, the new disruptions we see in the Red Sea, on the Suez Canal, the Panama Canal.”

Pakistan recalls its ambassador to Iran following attack

Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it’s recalling its ambassador from Iran as well as telling the regime that its ambassador to Pakistan “may not return” after targeted strikes in southwest Pakistan.

Iranian state media said earlier that missiles and drones targeted two bases in the province of Balochistan belonging to the militant group Jaish al Adl. Two children were killed in the attack and three girls were injured, according to Pakistan’s government.

“This illegal act is completely unacceptable and has no justification whatsoever,” the ministry said in a statement today. “Pakistan reserves the right to respond to this illegal act. The responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran.”

Gazans in Khan Younis allege Israeli soldiers raided cemetery

Gazans in the southern neighborhood of Khan Younis told NBC News’ team on the ground that the Israeli army raided a cemetery in the Austrian neighborhood of the city and took the bodies of the dead.

In the daylight, the cemetery looked bulldozed over, with tombstones crushed and human remains visible in some of them.

Palestinians check damaged graves at a cemetery following an Israeli raid, in Khan Younis
Palestinians inspect damaged graves at a cemetery following an Israeli raid in Khan Younis in southern Gaza today. Ahmed Zakot / Reuters

“What is the fault of the dead?” Masoud Al-Naffar told NBC News at the cemetery. “We said that we are alive and have no homes, but what about the dead? They don’t respect the dead. All the graves are open. What did the dead do?”

“Why do Jews enter cemeteries and take the bodies of the dead with them? Why do they take the bodies? Where is the compassion?” another man, Muhammad Sinad, said.

NBC News reached out to the IDF about the claims.

Jordan says southern Gaza hospital badly damaged by Israeli shelling nearby

Israel stepped up its assault on Khan Younis in southern Gaza today, pushing tanks westward and prompting accusations from Jordan that its field hospital in the city had been badly damaged by nearby shelling.

The Jordanian army said it held Israel responsible for a “flagrant breach of international law” in what it said was the damage to the facility as a result of Israeli shelling in the vicinity.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

Escalation in the Red Sea spells disaster for Yemen civilians, NGOs say 

Dozens of aid organizations operating in Yemen are warning that the growing escalation involving Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi militants in the Red Sea could have a far-reaching humanitarian impact for the war-ravaged country’s civilians.

Before the war broke out between Israel and Hamas, Yemen was experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, according to the United Nations, with millions displaced by years of conflict and two-thirds of the population in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

“The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains one of the largest in the world and escalation will only worsen the situation for vulnerable civilians and hinder the ability of aid organizations to deliver critical services,” the aid groups said in a statement issued today. “Civilians and civilian infrastructure must be protected, and safe, unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance must be guaranteed.”

The Houthis, an Iran-aligned group that controls much of Yemen after nearly a decade of war against a Western-backed and Saudi-led coalition, has emerged as a strong supporter of Hamas and has been behind numerous attacks on commercial ships in the Red Sea, prompting retaliatory strikes from the U.S. and its allies amid growing concerns of a wider conflict in the Middle East.

U.S. designates Houthis as a terrorist organization

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement this morning that the U.S. has officially designated the Houthis as a “specially designated global terrorist.”

Yemen’s Houthis rebels have been launching attacks against international shipping in the Red Sea, which they say they are doing to protest the Israel-Hamas war and to support their fellow Iran-backed militants Hamas.

Sullivan called the designation an important tool to impede terrorist funding to the group and to help cut off the Houthis’ access to financial markets.

The change will not go into effect for 30 days to help ensure that the Houthis are targeted by the measures and not the people of Yemen, he said.

Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites near Sanaa, Yemen, on Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024.
Houthi fighters and tribesmen stage a rally Sunday near Sanaa, Yemen, against the U.S. and the U.K. strikes on Houthi-run military sites.AP

Nurse at Al Nasser hospital describes ‘disastrous’ situation

TEL AVIV — The situation at Al Nasser, the main hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, is “disastrous,” a nurse at the hospital told NBC News.

“Yesterday, in the early hours of the night, the occupation vehicles made a noticeable advance towards the hospital, where there was a lot of violent artillery shelling and the sounds of very close clashes,” Mohammed Qudaih said in a written message.

He said the situation at the hospital was “very disastrous” and said many of the already displaced people taking shelter at the hospital had been further “displaced toward Rafah,” near Gaza’s border with Egypt.

Israeli attacks continue in Gaza
Injured Palestinians are treated Monday at Al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.Jehad Alshrafi / Anadolu via Getty Images

NBC News’ team on the ground had reported intense bombardment inside the city of Khan Younis.

NBC News was not immediately able to independently confirm the situation at the hospital, specifically. Video shared on social media that NBC News geolocated to the hospital appeared to show sounds of gunfire in the area with people running around the facility. The Israel Defense Forces declined to offer comment.

“For those who remain at the hospital, Qudaih said there was a “catastrophic medical situation” with only a “small number” of doctors left at the facility and the hospital is “close to being out of service due to the catastrophic situation in the city.”

4 killed in Israeli raid on refugee camp in occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials say

Palestinian health officials said four people were killed in the Israeli raid on the Tulkarm refugee camp in the occupied West Bank this morning.

The Palestine Red Crescent reported transporting the dead from inside the camp because of what it called the “occupation’s shelling” and earlier said the Israeli forces prevented it from getting through to the injured.

The Palestinian Information Ministry said Israeli forces had been operating in the camp since 4:30 a.m., committing what it called “acts of vandalism” and “destruction of citizens’ property and infrastructure” while using two military bulldozers. NBC News could not verify those claims.

IDF raid in Tulkarem refugee camp
Israeli troops enter the Tulkarem Palestinian refugee camp today.Zain Jaafar / AFP – Getty Images

The IDF said it was conducting “a counterterrorism operation” at the camp, apprehending “four wanted suspects” and uncovering explosive devices planted under roads.

“During the counterterrorism activity, shots were fired and explosive devices were hurled at the forces, who responded with fire,” the Israeli military said. It added that “an armed terrorist cell” that fired shots and hurled explosive devices at the forces was struck by an aircraft, and “a number of terrorists “ were killed in the strike.

It said one of its reservists was “severely injured” during the operation. 

Hamas says that for every box of medicine given to hostages, 1,000 packages will enter Gaza

Hamas has provided more details about an agreement brokered by France and Qatar to deliver medicine to Israeli hostages held by its fighters in Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said this morning that for each box of medicine provided to the hostages, 1,000 boxes would be sent for use by Palestinian civilians. In a posting on X, he said the International Committee of the Red Cross would deliver all the medicines, including those destined for the hostages, to hospitals serving all parts of Gaza.

The agreement also includes the delivery of additional food and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Abu Marzouk says Israeli authorities will not have the chance to inspect the shipments. He says Hamas insisted that Qatar provide the medications and not France because of the European country’s support for Israel.

AFP journalists support their Gaza colleagues

Agence France Presse employees hold portraits of their journalists working in Gaza, in a display of solidarity at the news agency headquarters in Paris today.

AFP journalists hold portraits on Paris balcony
Bertrand Guay / AFP – Getty Images

Israel and Hamas reach deal to supply medicine to Gaza hostages

TEL AVIV — In a diplomatic breakthrough, Hamas announced it was allowing medicine to be delivered to hostages in Gaza in exchange for Israel letting aid get to Palestinian civilians in the war-torn region.

This comes as U.S. forces launch new strikes against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Houthis ‘are not receiving any instructions from us,’ Iran foreign minister says

The Iranian foreign minister has claimed his country is not giving instructions to Yemen’s Houthi rebels to attack international shipping, while warning President Joe Biden not to tie his fate to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Asked in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum whether Iran was involved the Houthi attacks in the Red Sea, Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran has “always been on the positive side of the events.” But he said that the Houthis “are acting according to their own experience and through their own interests, and they are not receiving any orders or instructions from us.”

Tribal Gathering Protest U.S-Led Aerial Attacks In Yemen
Mohammed Hamoud / Getty Images

“We appreciate the efforts in the region in defense of the Palestinians,” Amirabdollahian said, referring to the attacks, which the Houthis say are in defense of Palestinians. He blamed any destabilization of the region on “Israel and its genocide in Gaza. This should be stopped.”

The United States military said yesterday its Navy SEALs intercepted a ship carrying Iranian missile parts — including ballistic missile warheads — that were bound for the Houthis.

Asked what his message was to Biden, the minister warned him not to “tie their destiny to the fate of Netanyahu” — Israel’s embattled prime minister. “The full-scale cooperation of Biden and the White House with thugs like Netanyahu in Israel is the root of insecurity in the region,” he said.

Parties to Gaza conflict ignoring international law, U.N. chief says

The head of the United Nations has warned that the parties of the Israeli-Hamas war were ignoring the norms of international law, and “trampling” on the Geneva Conventions that regulate how armed conflict is conducted.

“We see some countries doing whatever it takes to further their own interests at all costs,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at the World Economic Forum in Davos today.

“From Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to Sudan, and, more recently, Gaza, parties to conflict are ignoring international law; trampling on the Geneva Conventions; and even violating the United Nations Charter,” he said.

The world is standing by, he said, as civilians are killed, maimed, bombarded, forced from their homes and denied access to humanitarian aid.

Mourners collect the bodies of friends and relatives killed in an airstrike on Jan. 17, 2024 in Rafah, Gaza.
Mourners grieve over the bodies of friends and relatives killed in an airstrike today in Rafah, Gaza. Ahmad Hasaballah / Getty Images

Hamas spy-catcher killed in airstrike, Israel says

The Israeli military says it has killed an alleged Hamas spy-catcher with an airstrike in Gaza. Bilal Nofal was “responsible for interrogating individuals suspected of espionage against the terrorist organization,” according to a statement by the Israel Defense Forces. He was killed by an Israeli air force aircraft, the statement said without giving further details.

“Nofal played a role in the advancement of Hamas’ research and development processes,” the IDF said. “His elimination significantly impacts the terrorist organization’s capacity to develop and enhance its capabilities.”

NBC News has not verified the claims.

The IDF also said that one of its helicopters killed three people it identified as “terrorists” in the Gazan city of Khan Younis, two more “terrorists” in central Gaza, and its troops destroyed a compound from which rockets were fired at the Israeli city of Netivot yesterday.

Israeli army trains for a possible assault on Lebanon

The Israeli army has held a training exercise simulating an offensive in southern Lebanon as it continues to exchange fire with Hezbollah fighters along the border.

Maj. Gen. Ori Gordin, head of the army’s Northern Command, said in a statement issued Tuesday: “We’re more prepared for this than ever before, even for tonight if needed.”

Gordin says reserve soldiers are spread out along the border to bolster Israel’s defenses.

More than 2,000 rockets have been fired toward Israel from Lebanon, the home of Hezbollah, since the start of the war in Gaza, killing 12 Israeli soldiers and six civilians, including a mother and son Monday. Israel’s airstrikes in Lebanon have killed around 150 militants and 20 civilians, according to Hezbollah. Earlier this week, Israel said it stopped an infiltration of militants into the contested Golan Heights.

Hezbollah says its attacks are aimed at tying down Israeli forces and will continue until there is a cease-fire in Gaza. Israel has warned of an all-out war if Hezbollah does not pull back from the border in accordance with a U.N. resolution that ended the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

Civilians flee amid apparent IDF attacks near key hospital in Khan Younis

There was confusion and chaos around the Al Nasser Hospital complex in southern Gaza overnight as Israeli forces appeared to advance on the area.

NBC News’ team in Gaza reported intense bombardment inside the city of Khan Younis, and Gazans fleeing the city’s Austrian neighborhood toward the hospital.

“We were sitting and we heard the sounds of gunfire very close by. I looked and saw a bulldozer and a tank close to the window. I took my children and ran away,” a man named Yazan told NBC News at the hospital.

“The bombing was intense, something I had never witnessed before,” said another man. “All the people in the Austrian neighborhood left their homes, and everyone fled.”

Videos posted on social media that NBC News geolocated to the hospital also appeared to show sounds of gunfire in the vicinity of the hospital and people running around with their belongings, coming in and out of the hospital.

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment from NBC News on whether the area close to the hospital was targeted overnight.

Blinken feels ‘fierce urgency’ to resolve Middle East crisis, says it will need Israeli help, not opposition

Secretary of State Antony Blinken says he feels a “fierce urgency” to find a long-term solution for the Middle East, one that satisfies the security concerns of Israel while moving toward a self-governed Palestinian state.

“It’s not like any of this happens over night, it’s not like it’s flipping a light switch,” he said at the World Economic Forum, a summit of government and business leaders in Davos, Switzerland. “As we’re in the midst of human tragedy in so many ways in the Middle East, for Israelis and Palestinians alike, I have to tell you I personally feel the fierce urgency of now.”

In a wide-ranging conversation with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, Blinken said such a resolution could only happen “with the help of Israel, not its active opposition,” adding that “the question now is: Is Israeli society prepared to engage on these questions? Is it prepared to have that mindset? That’s challenging.”

One benefit over past conflicts, he added, was that “Arab and Muslim countries are prepared to have a relationship with Israel — in terms of integration, its normalization, its security — that they were never prepared to have before.”

Every single person in Gaza is hungry, U.N. says 

The United Nations is raising the alarm about famine in Gaza, saying every single person in the enclave is hungry and a quarter of the population is starving and struggling to find food and drinkable water.

The U.N. also said Gazans now make up 80% of all people facing famine or catastrophic hunger worldwide, which it said makes it “an unparalleled humanitarian crisis” amid continued bombardment by Israel.

Hunger in Gaza
AFP – Getty Images

Since Jan. 1, only 21% (5 out of 24) of planned deliveries of aid containing food and other lifesaving supplies reached their destination north of Wadi Gaza, the U.N. said, and its experts are particularly alarmed about conditions in northern Gaza, where it said the population faces “prolonged food shortages” and “extremely restricted access to essential resources.”

Pakistan condemns Iranian strike that it says killed 2 children

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Pakistan condemned what it called an “unprovoked” missile strike by Iran, saying two children were killed and warning the incident could have “serious consequences,” as regional instability set off by the Israel-Hamas war continues to worsen.

Iranian state media said missiles and drones had targeted two bases in Pakistan’s southwestern province of Balochistan belonging to the militant group Jaish al Adl, which has carried out past attacks against Iranian security forces in the border area between the two countries. The strike yesterday came a day after Iran launched missiles toward Iraq and Syria to deter threats to its security.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had lodged a protest with Tehran and the head of the Iranian diplomatic mission in Islamabad, adding that “the responsibility for the consequences will lie squarely with Iran.”

Government officials in Balochistan told NBC News that the strike killed two children of local resident Karim Dad, 6-year-old Humera and 11-month-old Salman, and injured four others.

IDF says it killed terror leader planning imminent attack with West Bank airstrike

JERUSALEM — The Israeli army says it killed a senior Palestinian militant in an airstrike in the occupied West Bank.

Ahmed Abdullah Abu Shalal, whom the Israeli military said was responsible for infrastructure and had planned multiple attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem, was killed along with four others early this morning in the built-up Balata refugee camp in the city of Nablus.

The Palestine Red Crescent says Israeli forces prevented medics from reaching the site of the strike, saying in a social media post that “gunfire was directed at our teams.”

The military alleged that Abu Shalal and his cell planned to carry out an imminent attack and had received funding and guidance from “Iranian sources.” It did not provide evidence for the allegation.

Violence has surged in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza. Over 350 Palestinians have been killed in the last three months, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, mainly during Israeli arrest raids and violent protests.

Israel has increasingly used airstrikes in the West Bank as the fighting has grown more intense, but targeted killings are still relatively rare in the territory.

Blast at Gaza refugee camp

A Palestinian woman reacts in front of a destroyed building in the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza yesterday.

Gaza Refugee Camp Strike
AFP – Getty Images

War in Gaza takes heavy toll on children

JERUSALEM — The United Nations is expressing renewed concerns about death from disease and famine. Among the most vulnerable are the estimated 1.1 million children trapped in the war-ravaged enclave.

“Children at high risk of dying from malnutrition and disease desperately need medical treatment, clean water and sanitation services, but the conditions on the ground do not allow us to safely reach children and families in need,” UNICEF Director Catherine Russell said. “The lives of children and their families are hanging in the balance.”

Mohamed Yazji is praying the war will end soon.

In October, his mother was killed in an airstrike and his father disappeared. Mohamed, 13, is doing the best he can to care for his seven siblings, including his sister Toleen, who’s just months old.

After fleeing northern Gaza and moving several times, the siblings now call a small tent in the southern Gazan city of Rafah home.

The responsibility is weighing on Mohamed. “I do not know what to do,” he said. “It’s been 100 days, and each day it is more difficult than the one before.”

Iyas, 9, unable to see or speak, expresses his pain through muted whimpers and cries. NBC News first met Iyas in October at the Mabarit Rahme Orphanage in Gaza City, where almost two dozen children, many with severe disabilities, were living. As northern Gaza grew more dangerous, the orphanage staff moved the children south. Some, including Iyas, are now sheltering in a garage in Rafah.

Having debilitating complex needs, Iyas requires regular medication and treatment. But, with only limited medical care, his condition is worsening.

“We’re telling the world that things are getting worse and worse. Our needs are growing, and we can’t meet them,” said Abdullah Mohamed, Iyas’ caretaker. “We could lose Iyas at any moment.”

Catch up with NBC News’ latest coverage of the war


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