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Israel-Hamas war: Don't make Israel withdraw from Palestinian land, says US

A visitor looks at a giant backlight screen bearing the portraits of Israelis who were killed during the October 7 attacks by Hamas
A visitor looks at a giant backlight screen bearing the portraits of Israelis who were killed during the Oct 7 attacks by Hamas - AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

Israel should not be legally forced to withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory without security guarantees, the United States told the UN’s top court.

The International Court of Justice is holding a week of hearings after a request from the United Nations, with an unprecedented 52 countries giving their views on Israel’s occupation.

The UN has asked the ICJ to hand down an “advisory opinion” on the “legal consequences arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.

Richard Visek, legal advisor at the US State Department, said: “The court should not find that Israel is legally obligated to immediately and unconditionally withdraw from occupied territory.

“Any movement towards Israel withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of Israel’s very real security needs.”

He added: “We were all reminded of those security needs on October 7”.

The court will probably deliver its opinion before the end of the year, but it is not binding on anyone.


03:57 PM GMT

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03:56 PM GMT

Rafah offensive 'must not happen,' says Lammy

David Lammy said he hoped the House of Commons could “come together” on the issue, telling MPs: “A ground offensive in Rafah would be a humanitarian disaster, a moral catastrophe and a strategic mistake - it must not happen.”

The shadow foreign secretary added: “We must not just avert a ground invasion of Rafah, essential though it is, all violence against civilians must now stop.

“And that is why Labour is saying unequivocally that we need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to end the bloodshed and the suffering.”


03:50 PM GMT

Tory MP tables motion of no confidence in Hoyle amid fury over handling of Gaza debate

A Tory MP has tabled a motion of no confidence in Sir Lindsay Hoyle amid a furious row over the Commons Speaker’s handling of today’s Gaza ceasefire debate.

William Wragg has submitted an Early Day Motion which reportedly states: “This House has no confidence in Mr Speaker”.

Early Day Motions are used by MPs to put on record their views on specific subjects. They can be used to show the level of support for something but do not trigger any formal process.

The Commons Speaker today took the highly unusual step of selecting both a Labour amendment and a Government amendment to an SNP motion calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The decision means that MPs will vote on the Labour and Government amendments as well as the original SNP motion.

The decision to select the Labour amendment was greeted in the Commons by Tory cries of “shameful” and “bring back Bercow”. A Conservative MP could be heard to mutter that the Commons Speaker was “moving the goalposts”.

Sir Lindsay said he wanted MPs to have the “widest possible range” of options in the Gaza ceasefire debate because of its importance.

Read more on The Telegraph’s politics liveblog here


03:43 PM GMT

Pictured: Palestinian gunmen lead the way during the funeral procession of a man killed by the Israeli army

Palestinian gunmen lead the way during the funeral procession of a man killed by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank
Palestinian gunmen lead the way during the funeral procession of a man killed by the Israeli army in the occupied West Bank - RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP
Palestinian gunmen lead the procession as mourners walk in the funeral of Aref Marwan, who was killed in clashes with the Israeli army the previous night in the occupied West Bank
Palestinian gunmen lead the procession as mourners walk in the funeral of Aref Marwan, who was killed in clashes with the Israeli army the previous night in the occupied West Bank - RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP

03:23 PM GMT

'Catastrophic mistake' for Israel to invade Rafah, says shadow foreign secretary

It would be “a catastrophic mistake” for Israel to extend its military offensive to Rafah, the shadow foreign secretary told the Commons.

David Lammy spoke in response to an intervention from Labour MP Clive Betts who asked what sanctions would be imposed on Israel if the Rafah assault went ahead.

The Sheffield South East MP said: “We all want to see the fighting stopped, we can’t begin to imagine the horrors of what will happen if Israel goes into Rafah, the problem is I think we can all imagine that Israel might do just that and ignore international opinion.

“So can we start to think what action we will take, what sanctions we will take against Israel and propose if they do that?

“There have to be some consequences for Israel if they behave in this way, completely opposed to all international opinion.”

Mr Lammy replied: “The UN (United Nations) is meeting to discuss these very issues, and I think all of us can agree in this chamber that were that to happen, particularly as is being indicated at the moment by the Israeli government, over Ramadan, it would be a catastrophic mistake.”


03:12 PM GMT

Gaza humanitarian situation 'inhumane,' says WHO

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is inhumane, the head of the World Health Organization has said, calling the Palestinian territory a “death zone”.

Tedros Adhanom, the WHO chief, said: “The health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate.”

The death toll in the war across the Gaza Strip rose to 29,313, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.


02:59 PM GMT

Explosion and flash sighted near Yemen's Hodeidah, says UKMTO


02:39 PM GMT

Pictured: Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble of a destroyed house

Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Al Nusairat refugee camp
Palestinians search for bodies and survivors among the rubble of a destroyed house following Israeli airstrikes on Al Nusairat refugee camp - MOHAMMED SABER/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

02:36 PM GMT

China says US is giving 'green light' to slaughter in Gaza

China said the United States is “giving the green light to slaughter” in Gaza after it vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Zhang Jun, the Chinese UN representative, said the US was sending the “wrong message” and “pushing the situation in Gaza into a more dangerous one”.

His comments - China’s harshest criticisms yet of US policy in Gaza - come after Washington blocked a proposal put forward by Algeria which it called “wishful and irresponsible”. The resolution did not link a ceasefire to the release of hostages.

The US has put forward an alternative resolution calling for a “temporary ceasefire” in a break with the Israeli government. The US plan, which opposes an Israeli invasion of Rafah, has not been scheduled for a vote.

China’s UN ambassador added that objection to a ceasefire in Gaza is “nothing different from giving the green light to the continued slaughter”.


02:01 PM GMT

Switzerland to ban Hamas after Israel attacks

Switzerland’s government said it wants to ban Hamas after the group’s attacks in Israel last year.

Bern said it was taking action after the attacks on Oct 7 that killed two Swiss nationals and resulted in nearly 250 people being taken hostage.

In response, Israel launched a military assault on Gaza that local health authorities say has killed nearly 29,000 Palestinians with thousands more feared lost amid the ruins.

The Swiss government said under the new legislation Hamas and “cover or successor organisations” as well as organisations or groups that act on its behalf or in its name will be banned.

The ban aims to punish Hamas for the October attacks as well as prevent the group using Switzerland as a safe haven or carrying out attacks in the country for example by making entry bans or expulsions easier to arrange.


01:38 PM GMT

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01:20 PM GMT

Unstable Gaza ceasefire 'not in anyone's interest', says Sunak

Rishi Sunak has cautioned against demands for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza as he warned a truce that collapses “within days or weeks” would not be in “anyone’s interest”.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, raised the issue during PMQs as he said: “Tonight this House will have the opportunity to join with the majority of the international community and say that enough is enough, that the killing in Gaza must stop and that the hostages must be released.

“And the best way to do that is to send a clear and united message that we back an immediate ceasefire. Surely all of us, irrespective of our political allegiance, can agree on that very issue?”

Mr Sunak replied: “Of course we want to see the fighting in Gaza end as soon as possible and never again allow Hamas to carry out the appalling terrorist attacks that Israel was subject to... but just calling for an immediate full ceasefire now which collapses back into fighting within days or weeks is not in anyone’s interest.

“We must work towards a permanent ceasefire and that is why the right approach is the approach that we have set out...”


01:16 PM GMT

Pictured: Relatives mourn during the funeral of loved ones killed during overnight Israeli strikes at a cemetery in Rafah

Relatives mourn during the funeral of loved ones killed during overnight Israeli strikes at a cemetery in Rafah
Relatives mourn during the funeral of loved ones killed during overnight Israeli strikes at a cemetery in Rafah - SAID KHATIB/AFP

01:10 PM GMT

Israeli airstrike reportedly kills woman and child in south Lebanon

An Israeli strike has killed a woman and a child in south Lebanon, sources in the country said.

The woman and girl were killed in the strike in Majdal Zoun, a village some four miles from the border, according to two security sources and a medical source.

Hezbollah, the Iran-backed movement, has been trading fire with Israel since the Oct 7 attack by its Palestinian ally Hamas on southern Israel, in a campaign Hezbollah says aims to support Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A statement from  Lt Col Avichay Adraee, the Israeli army spokesperson, on X, formerly known as Twitter, said the Israeli army had carried out an attack on “a military building” in the village of Yaroun in southern Lebanon and that Israeli warplanes had launched raids on three Hezbollah operational headquarters in the south.


12:47 PM GMT

Lula meets Blinken after Gaza comments spark diplomatic rift

Antony Blinken met Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Wednesday amid a diplomatic spat after the Brazilian leader likened Israel’s war in Gaza to the Nazi genocide during World War Two.

US officials have said they expect Lula and Blinken, the US secretary of state, to have a robust conversation on issues of global security, including the conflict in Gaza sparked by attacks in southern Israel by Hamas militants on Oct. 7.

Israel said Lula is not welcome in Israel until he takes back the comments on Monday.

Matthew Miller, the state department spokesperson, said Washington disagreed with Lula’s comments on Tuesday but declined to preview what Blinken would say in the meeting on the issue.


12:43 PM GMT

Iran accuses Israel of attacking its gas pipelines

Iran has accused Israel of being behind twin attacks on the country’s gas pipelines, disrupting supplies in at least three provinces last week.

Two explosions hit Iran’s main south-north gas pipeline network on Feb 14 and were initially described by Javad Owji, Iran’s oil minister, as a “terrorist act of sabotage”.

“The explosion of the country’s gas lines was the work of Israel,” Mr Owji said, adding that “the plot was foiled”.

There were no reported casualties but state media said supplies were disrupted in the provinces of North Khorasan in the northeast, Lorestan in the west and Zanjan in the northwest.


11:49 AM GMT

US says World Court must take into account Israel security concerns

The United States said the World Court could not order the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from occupied territories without taking into account Israel’s security needs.

Washington made the comments during proceedings at the UN’s highest court examining the legality of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Richard Visek, acting legal adviser at the US State Department, said: “Any movement towards Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration for Israel’s very real security needs.”


11:27 AM GMT

Labour 'tying itself up in knots' over Gaza stance, says Atkins

Victoria Atkins claimed the Labour Party was “tying itself up in knots” over its stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict and the question of a ceasefire.

The health secretary told Sky News that Labour was “tying itself up in knots because it can’t quite decide what its approach is to this”.

She said the Government had taken a “measured and consistent approach to making sure we get hostages out, get Hamas out, get a proper set-up, a proper government in Palestine and that is how a ceasefire will last”.

She added: “There is no point having a ceasefire that collapses after a few weeks.”


11:16 AM GMT

Pictured: Benjamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak appear on a protest poster with the message 'cease is the word'

A protest poster calling for a ceasefire shows Benjamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak on the movie poster for Grease with 'Cease is the word'
A protest poster calling for a ceasefire shows Benjamin Netanyahu and Rishi Sunak on the movie poster for Grease with 'Cease is the word' - Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images Europe

10:54 AM GMT

Most Israelis think 'absolute victory' over Hamas unlikely, poll finds

Most Israelis – both Arabs and Jews – think that “absolute victory” over Hamas in Gaza is unlikely, a new survey has found.

Polling from the Israel Democracy Institute shows 51 per cent of Jews and 77.5 per cent of Arab surveyed think there is a low likelihood of total victory over the terror group.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, has said that Israel is “within touching distance of absolute victory”.


10:19 AM GMT

Analysis: Prince of Wales knew Gaza plea would court controversy – and did it anyway

In 2018, when he became the first member of the Royal family to pay an official visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Prince William spoke carefully of his hopes for a “just and lasting peace”.

Six years on, in his biggest, boldest public statement to date, the Prince of Wales has poured the strength of his feelings about the people he met into a striking humanitarian plea for the people of Gaza.

In precise language, he urged the return of Israeli hostages, named Hamas as terrorists, invoked Churchill, lamented the “sheer scale of human suffering” and called outright for an end to the fighting.

In doing so, he waded into the most controversial issue of the day, on the eve of a critical House of Commons vote on calling for an immediate ceasefire.

Read more from The Telegraph’s Royal Editor Hannah Furness here


10:09 AM GMT

UKMTO receives report of suspicious activity near Yemen's Hodeidah

The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations (UKMTO) agency said it received a report of heightened uncrewed aerial system activity 40 nautical miles west of Yemen’s Hodeidah.


09:46 AM GMT

Pictured: A convoy of ambulances during a mission to evacuate patients from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis

A convoy of ambulances during a WHO, UN humanitarian agency OCHA and Palestinian Red Crescent mission to evacuate patients from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis
A convoy of ambulances during a WHO, UN humanitarian agency OCHA and Palestinian Red Crescent mission to evacuate patients from Nasser hospital in Khan Younis - CHRISTOPHER BLACK/AFP

09:35 AM GMT

Children deserve better, says UNRWA chief


09:21 AM GMT

Securing return of hostages 'not most important thing,' says hard-Right Israeli minister

Bringing back hostages is “not the most important thing” for Israel to worry about, a hard-Right Israeli minister has said.

Bezalel Smotrich, a controversial figure, sparked outrage during an interview with public broadcaster Kan.

When asked if securing the return of the estimated 134 hostages held by Hamas was the most important thing, he replied “no” and added: “It’s not the most important thing”.

Mr Smotrich asked: “Why make it a competition? Why is it so important at the moment?

“We need to destroy Hamas. That is very important.”

Families of the hostages reacted angrily to his comments. Eli Albag, whose 18-year-old daughter is being held captive, said: “Let them take your children and I will stand in the road and shout: It’s not the most important thing”.


09:07 AM GMT

'We must stop Rafah invasion', says Labour

The world would be “right” not to forgive the UK and others if the international community fails to avert a “humanitarian catastrophe” in Rafah, Lisa Nandy has said.

The Labour frontbencher said failing to back her party’s motion on a ceasefire in Gaza would mean “we will have missed an opportunity to put forward a serious proposal that allies Britain with our international allies and enables us all to speak with one voice at this critical moment”.

Appearing on Sky News, she said: “Our chief concern, our only concern is to avert what’s about to happen in Rafah. If we stand by and allow it to happen, the world will not forgive us and they will be right not to.”


08:41 AM GMT

Labour and SNP ‘politically naive’ over Gaza ceasefire row, says Health Secretary

Victoria Atkins has accused Labour and the SNP of being “politically naive” ahead of a crunch Gaza ceasefire vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The health secretary said it was a “shame that such an enormous international event” was being “overtaken by some parliamentary handling problems for the leader of the opposition”.

The SNP has tabled a motion calling for an “immediate ceasefire”. This prompted Sir Keir Starmer to put forward an amendment calling for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” that must be observed by “all sides” as he sought to avoid another damaging Labour revolt over the issue.

Meanwhile, the Government has tabled its own amendment to call for an “immediate humanitarian pause”, while also supporting Israel’s “right to self-defence”.

Ms Atkins told Times Radio that the Government had maintained a “consistent and measured approach” as she condemned Labour and the SNP.

“We are not interested in frankly pretty politically naive parliamentary procedures that Labour and others seem to be indulging in,” she said.

Read more on the Gaza ceasefire vote in Westminster on the Telegraph’s politics liveblog here


08:32 AM GMT

Pictured: The head of collections at Israel's National Library looks at a screen bearing the portraits of Israelis who were killed

Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collections at Israel's National Library, looks at a giant backlight screen bearing the portraits of Israelis who were killed
Raquel Ukeles, Head of Collections at Israel's National Library, looks at a giant backlight screen bearing the portraits of Israelis who were killed - AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP

08:30 AM GMT

Israeli missile attack hits high-security district in Syrian capital

Several Israeli missiles hit a residential building in the Kafr Sousa district in Syria’s capital Damascus on Wednesday, Syrian state media reported.

The neighbourhood hosts residential buildings, schools and Iranian cultural centres, and lies near a large, heavily-guarded complex used by security agencies. The district was targeted in an Israeli attack in February 2023 that killed Iranian military experts.

Syrian state news agency SANA said an “Israeli attack” had targeted a residential building but made no mention of casualties. It published an image of the charred side of a multi-storey building.

Witnesses heard several back-to-back explosions. The blasts scared children at a nearby school and ambulances rushed to the area, the witnesses told Reuters.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.


08:29 AM GMT

US attempt to use UN to halt Rafah offensive is ‘ethically reprehensible’

The US’s attempt to use the United Nations to halt Israel’s Rafah offensive is “ethically reprehensible”, an Israeli minister has said.

The Biden administration broke with the Israeli government this week to warn the planned invasion of the Gazan city “should not proceed under current circumstances”.

In a draft UN resolution, it pushed for a vote on a “temporary ceasefire” and said invading the city where more than one million Palestinians are sheltering would have “serious implications for regional peace and security”.

Read more here


08:28 AM GMT

Prince William’s plea to end Gaza fighting risks diplomatic rift with Israel

The Prince of Wales has called for an end to the fighting in Gaza in an intervention that risks sparking a diplomatic rift with Israel.

In a public statement, Prince William said “too many have been killed” in the conflict, urging more humanitarian aid and the release of hostages as he called for “an end to the fighting as soon as possible”.

Invoking Sir Winston Churchill, he said: “Even in the darkest hour, we must not succumb to the counsel of despair. I continue to cling to the hope that a brighter future can be found, and I refuse to give up on that.”

His intervention was backed by Number 10, which said the nation should speak with “one voice”.

Read more here


08:27 AM GMT

Good Morning

Good morning, and welcome to today’s liveblog.

We will be guiding you through all the latest updates.