1704268712 Israel Hamas War Updates Shipping giant Maersk suspends Red Sea

Israel Hamas War Updates: Shipping giant Maersk suspends Red Sea transit – USA TODAY

Israel Hamas War Updates Shipping giant Maersk suspends Red Seaplay

Destruction in the central Gaza Strip after Israeli attacks

Drone video shows destruction of a residential building in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza by Israeli airstrikes on the first day of the new year.

Shipping giant Maersk said its ships would suspend sailings in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden “until further notice” after one of its cargo ships was attacked by Houthi fighters from Yemen over the weekend.

A prolonged disruption to the Danish company's activities in the Red Sea, which is connected to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal in the shortest sea route between Europe and Asia, could increase the cost of delivering goods and potentially drive up inflation.

“An investigation into the incident is ongoing and we will continue to pause all cargo movements through the area as we continue to assess the evolving situation,” Maersk, the world's largest container shipping company, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Germany's Hapag-Lloyd, a competitor to Maersk, said it would avoid the key shipping route until at least January 9 for safety reasons, Portal reported.

Houthi rebels have launched dozens of drone and missile attacks on ships in the region since November, allegedly because they have ties to Israel. The container ship Maersk Hangzhou was first hit by a missile on Saturday and hours later was shot at by four boats during an attempt to board it.

Helicopters from two U.S. ships responded to a distress call, sinking three of the boats and driving away the fourth. US Central Command said.

Israel's plan failed: The court rejects an important part of Netanyahu's judicial reform in view of the troop withdrawal


∎ The US State Department issued a statement On Tuesday, he condemned the “inflammatory and irresponsible” statements made by two far-right Israeli officials – Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir – who recently advocated for Palestinians to leave the Gaza Strip.

∎ Secretary of State Antony Blinken has postponed his final trip to Israel by a few days until early next week, the Times of Israel reported.

∎ The aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford will depart the Middle East in the “coming days” and return to its homeport of Norfolk, Virginia, the Navy says. President Joe Biden ordered the ship to the Mediterranean the day after Hamas-led attacks on Israel. The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and accompanying warships will replace the carrier.

∎ Palestinian health workers vaccinated children in the southern Gaza city of Rafah after UNICEF said it delivered at least 600,000 doses. UNICEF estimates that over 16,600 infants missed one or more routine vaccinations due to fighting and evacuations.

∎ Heavy fighting was reported in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would withdraw thousands of troops but would continue fighting until Hamas was eliminated.

∎ A large proportion of the 2.3 million people in the Gaza Strip have fled to the southern part of the region since the war began. More than 21,900 Palestinians were killed, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which makes no distinction between civilians and combatants in the deaths. In Israel, about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 people were taken hostage.

∎ Protests erupted in Ramallah in the West Bank on Tuesday following an Israeli drone strike in Lebanon that killed a senior Hamas leader. Palestinians marched through the streets after numerous factions called for protests in response to the strike, NBC News reported.

Saleh al-Arouri, top Hamas leader, Reportedly killed in Israeli attack

Saleh al-Arouri, deputy leader of Hamas' military wing, was among six people killed in an Israeli drone strike in Lebanon, according to multiple reports from the region. The attack in the suburbs of Beirut would mark a major escalation in the Israeli-Hamas war. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly vowed to retaliate against any Israeli attempts to target Palestinian leaders in Lebanon. The Biden administration has worked hard to prevent the war in Gaza from spreading to Lebanon and the Middle East.

The attack targeted a Hamas office in Mushrifiyah in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, the Jerusalem Post reported. Arouri, the highest-ranking Hamas figure killed in the war so far, was reportedly a target of Israel for his alleged role in organizing terrorist attacks in the West Bank.

Speaking to reporters, Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari did not directly mention Arouri's death, but said: “We are focused on fighting Hamas and will continue to do so.” And Israeli lawmaker Danny Danon congratulated Israeli security forces in a social media post for the killing of Arouri, adding: “Anyone involved in the massacre (October 7) should know that we will reach out to them and close an account with them.”

Arouri spent many years in Israeli prisons before being released in an exchange in 2010. In October, Israeli forces destroyed his home near Ramallah. The US government labeled him a “global terrorist.”

Survivors of the massacre by Hamas-led militants at a rave concert on October 7 have filed a $56 million lawsuit against Israeli security forces. They accuse them of negligence and claim that the deadly rampage could have been averted.

The 42 plaintiffs accuse the Shin Bet security service, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Israeli police and the Ministry of Defense of failing to fulfill their duties. Haaretz has reported that senior defense officials held urgent meetings on October 6 to discuss a possible Hamas attack. The next day, militants burst across the Gaza border, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 240 hostages.

“A single call from IDF officials to the commander in charge of the party to immediately disperse it given the expected danger would have saved lives and prevented the physical and mental injuries of hundreds of partygoers, including the plaintiffs,” it said Legal action. “The negligence and gross oversight are unbelievable.”

Israel is “at the height of the Third World War against Iran and radical Islam,” said Israel’s new foreign minister on Tuesday at a ceremony in Jerusalem to mark his inauguration. Israel Katz said his top priority was to bring home hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Katz wrote on social media: “My message to the (State Department) staff was succinct. …Priority list: hostages, hostages, hostages. This is our commitment to people and families.”

Katz also stressed the importance of winning global support for the war with Hamas, which began after the militants' brutal border attacks on October 7, and promised that “we will achieve our goal of overthrowing Hamas.” “

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant made it clear that the war will continue for a long time, even as the Israeli military plans to reduce the number of its troops in Gaza by several thousand as the conflict enters a phase of lower intensity.

“The feeling that we’re going to stop soon is wrong,” Gallant said. “We will not be able to live in the Middle East without a clear victory.”

Israeli spokesman Eylon Levy said Israel will go to the United Nations International Court of Justice to challenge South Africa's “absurd” claim accusing Israel of genocide. Levy criticized South Africa for providing “political and legal protection” to Hamas for the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

In a televised address, Hamas supreme leader Ismail Haniyeh thanked South Africa for bringing the case and dismissed as “mere illusions” calls from Israel and the United States that Hamas should not be part of Gaza's future.

“We are the ones who decide our present and future,” Haniyeh said.

A senior Hamas political leader dismissed a New York Times report that accused militants of sexual assaults on Israeli women during the Oct. 7 attacks. Basem Naim, a member of Hamas' political bureau, accused the Times and other Western media outlets of being biased against “what Israeli propaganda says” and against Palestinians and their resistance to Israeli occupation.

USA TODAY also published a report listing similar claims against the militants. The Times report was based on a two-month investigation that found that “the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern” of violence against women on October 7.

“We call on The New York Times to revise such a misleading report, distance itself from Israeli propaganda and maintain its professionalism and reputation,” Naim said.

The Israeli military has captured Hamas's main intelligence and control stronghold in Gaza City, military officials said on Tuesday. The “Mizrachi outpost,” which included operational rooms to control fighting across the Gaza Strip, was spread across 37 buildings near residential buildings, schools and hospitals, the Israeli military said in a statement. A network of tunnels and an underground control bunker on the site housed long-term living quarters used by Hamas military commanders, as well as an armory, the statement said.

“All terrorists have been eliminated,” the statement said. “The 601st Engineer Battalion and the Yalam Unit destroyed the entire tunnel route.”

The Israeli military said it seized long-range rockets from a family home in central Gaza and dozens of rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons were found in civilian buildings nearby. The rockets were destroyed and the weapons confiscated, the Israeli military said in a statement that included photos and videos of the weapons. Israeli officials have defended their attack on Gaza, which killed more than 20,000 Palestinians, by saying Hamas militants were using civilians as human shields.

“We are here in the house of a family that lives up here, with a living room, a kitchen and a children's room and a first floor – a military camp,” the statement said. “Here you can see this beehive of additional long-range rockets, mortars and other equipment that have been used against our forces.”

Contribution: The Associated Press