Israel-Hamas war, Gaza crisis, UNRWA allegations

Palestinians inspect a damaged house after an Israeli air strike on Rafah in southern Gaza on January 27. Abed Rahim Khatib/dpa/Reuters

CNN filmed rare footage Saturday of Palestinian men detained by Israeli forces in Gaza and brought across the border to Israel — witnessing the men blindfolded and barefoot, with their hands bound behind their backs.

The Israel Defense Forces said the men are “suspected of terrorist activity and were arrested in Gaza and transferred to Israel for further interrogation.”

Meanwhile, a growing number of countries have temporarily suspended aid to the main United Nations relief agency in Gaza over allegations some staff members were involved in last October’s Hamas attacks, and the Palestine Red Crescent Society says hospitals in the southern part of the strip are “under siege.”

These are the biggest headlines from the war today:

More on the Palestinian detainees: Some of the men in the video appear physically exhausted, with their heads falling and swaying as they attempt to remain kneeling. They appear to be wearing only disposable white coveralls, despite the 10-degree Celsius temperature (50 degrees Fahrenheit). The IDF said the men filmed Saturday were about to be transferred to a “heated bus” when CNN filmed the scene, and maintained that detainees are treated in accordance with international law. A bus was waiting nearby, but CNN could not confirm when the men were put onto the bus. The Israeli military has detained hundreds – if not thousands – of Palestinian boys and men, and sometimes women, as its ground forces sweep through the enclave.

More countries pause UNRWA funding: Multiple nations have announced they are temporarily pausing their funding to the embattled UN agency in Gaza, in the wake of the allegations against its staff members. The Israel Defense Forces claimed UNRWA facilities were used for “terrorist purposes” in a statement on Saturday. The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East urged the countries to reconsider suspending their funding, noting the accused employees have been fired, the highest investigative authority of the UN has already taken action and an independent review by external experts is forthcoming.

Situation deteriorating at Khan Younis hospitals: Nasser Hospital, the main medical center in the southern Gaza city, is running out of its supply of blood, anesthesia and other medications, the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health said Saturday. The city has been a flashpoint area in recent fighting between Israel and Hamas. Hospital facilities have been “under siege” as the Israeli military intensifies operations there over the past week, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Where hostage talks stand: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu challenged Qatar on Saturday, saying, “They position themselves as intermediaries. Well, let them prove it and help to bring the hostages back.” The prime minister was also asked about an alleged leaked audio recording that aired on Israeli television Tuesday, in which he appeared to criticize Qatar for not putting enough pressure on Hamas. “I’m not taking back even one word that I said,” he said on Saturday. “I will not give up a route of pressuring Hamas or whoever can affect Hamas to bring our hostages back.” Meanwhile, CIA Director Bill Burns is set to meet in the coming days with Israel and Egypt’s intelligence chiefs and the Qatari prime minister to discuss a hostage deal.

Houthi attack: A Marshall Islands-flagged commercial tanker was carrying a highly flammable liquid hydrogen mixture when it was struck by a Houthi missile in the Gulf of Aden on Friday, US Central Command said, sparking a fire that took a day to extinguish. Despite a series of US strikes against Houthi missiles, drones and radar sites, the Iran-backed rebel group has continued to attack international shipping lanes in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. The Houthis claim the attacks are in solidarity with the Palestinian people as a result of the war in Gaza — an argument the US has repeatedly rejected.

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