Israel’s war on Gaza: List of key events, day 117

Israel confirms flooding tunnels with seawater, the UN rallies to resume UNRWA funding.

Here’s how things stand on Wednesday, January 31, 2024:

Latest updates

  • The Israeli army confirmed on Tuesday that it has been flooding tunnels in Gaza with seawater for several weeks.
  • A Hamas official told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that the group is studying a new proposal for a three-stage truce with Israel.
  • At least half of the buildings across the Gaza Strip have been destroyed since October 7, according to analysis verified by the BBC on Tuesday.
  • Israel has repeated new evacuation orders for neighbourhoods in western Gaza City, where 88,000 Palestinians had been living in shelters, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said in a report on Monday.

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Human impact and fighting

  • The United States Central Command (CENTCOM) said a US warship shot down a Houthi antiship cruise missile in the Red Sea on Tuesday.
  • US-based think tanks Institute for the Study of War (ISW) and the Critical Threats Project (CTP) said on Wednesday that Palestinian armed groups are likely in the early stages of rebuilding their military and governance capabilities in the north of the Gaza Strip only. Their assessment added that Hamas is not necessarily preparing for an offensive campaign in the way that Western media have suggested.
  • The Israeli military announced on Wednesday that three soldiers were killed in combat in Gaza, while five more have been seriously injured.
  • The fate of an ambulance crew and a six-year-old girl they were attempting to rescue from a car shelled by the Israeli military in Gaza City remains “unknown”, the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) said on Tuesday.

‘Collapse’ of aid system in Gaza

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed to key donors to resume funding the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in a closed-door meeting of 35 countries on Tuesday, reported The Times of Israel.
  • Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes the immediate closure of UNRWA as it fears this could cause a “humanitarian catastrophe”, a senior government official said on Tuesday, according to The Times of Israel.
  • Martin Griffiths, the UN’s undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs, warned in a statement released on Tuesday that the suspension of funding of UNRWA “would result in the collapse” of the aid system in the Gaza Strip.
  • The US has “reached out to the government of Israel to seek more information” about allegations Israel made against 12 staff members of UNRWA being involved in Hamas’s October 7 attacks, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told reporters on Tuesday.
  • In a post on X on Wednesday, UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese said the governments suspending funds to UNRWA represents “double standards” when they continue to support Israel, whose actions “plausibly constitute” genocide.

Diplomacy

  • The UN Security Council is expected to meet to discuss the International Court of Justice’s interim ruling on Israel’s war in Gaza on Wednesday at 11am New York time (16:00 GMT).
  • The UN’s human rights office released a statement on Tuesday calling the “planned extrajudicial execution” of three Palestinian men inside Ibn Sina Hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin “unlawful”.
  • The Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group in Iraq said in a statement released on Tuesday that it has suspended all military operations against US forces in the region to prevent the “embarrassment of the Iraqi government”.
Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies