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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Sat Feb 17, 2024 11:23 pm

Poisoning Gaza
By Pat Elder - February 16, 2024 0


The buildings and the people in them are burning while the soil, sea, air, and groundwater are being poisoned in Gaza.

Joshua Frank’s article, Making Gaza Unlivable ought to be read by everyone. Frank is the managing editor of CounterPunch. He describes the collapsing infrastructure and dire circumstances of Gaza in this January 12 story:

“Like the Allied forces of World War II, Israel is killing indiscriminately. Of the 29,000 air-to-surface munitions fired, 40% have been unguided bombs dropped on crowded residential areas. The U.N. estimates that, as of late December, 70% of all schools in Gaza, many of which served as shelters for Palestinians fleeing Israel’s onslaught, had been severely damaged. Hundreds of mosques and churches have also been struck and 70% of Gaza’s 36 hospitals have been hit and are no longer functioning. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), Israel is using a lack of food and drinking water as a tool of warfare.”

We’ll examine the deadly contamination that accompanies the Israeli onslaught, starting with Aljazeera’s coverage.

Al Jazeera reports: “Thousands upon thousands of Israeli and Western-supplied bombs dropped on Gaza bring not just death but a toxic legacy from explosive chemicals, dust, and debris from destroyed buildings that pollute the air and the ground. Israel’s military offensive in Gaza is leaving a new layer of toxic chemicals in Gaza’s soil, adding to those left behind from many wars it has waged before.”

Raw sewage is flooding the streets and polluting the sea in Gaza. [Source:]

According to AP News, blast fragments found on-site show that the vast majority of bombs dropped on Gaza are U.S.-made. The weapons include 2,000-pound “bunker-busters” that have killed thousands in densely populated areas.

2000-pound GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) are transported to the flight deck of the USS Harry S. Truman on March 21, 2003, in the Mediterranean Sea. The bombs were used in Iraq. [Source:]

The JDAM bombs include precision-guided 1,000 and 2,000-pound “bunker-busters.”

“It turns earth to liquid,” said Marc Garlasco, a former Pentagon defense official and a war crimes investigator for the U.N. “It pancakes entire buildings.”

Washington has “donated” 100 BLU-109 bombs to Israel that are meant to penetrate hardened structures before exploding, the report said.

The 2,000-pound BLU-109 bomb was specifically designed to kill civilians by penetrating hardened targets below the ground where families may be taking cover. A delayed-action fuse detonates the 550 pounds of high explosive tritonal, ensuring complete destruction of the location.


Tritonal is made up mostly of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, known as TNT. It accounts for a large portion of the explosives-related contamination in Gaza. TNT presents various health and environmental concerns. Potential symptoms of exposure may include irritation of the skin and mucous membrane, liver damage, jaundice, cyanosis, peripheral neuropathy, muscle pain, kidney damage, cataract, dermatitis, leukocytosis, anemia and cardiac irregularities. (NIOSH 2016)

The most likely routes of exposure to TNT are from drinking contaminated water or skin contact with contaminated surface water or soil. Potential exposure to TNT also occurs through inhalation, or by eating crops grown in contaminated soil (ATSDR 1995) The European Chemicals Agency, ECHA says this substance may cause cancer, is suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child, and is suspected of causing genetic defects.

General Dynamics has made enormous profits peddling this deadly substance. The company employs more than 100,000 people worldwide and generated $42.3 billion in revenues in 2023, more than the annual gross national product of most nations on Earth. (115 nations).

A kind of false circular reasoning holds that manufacturing weapons for use in Israel by Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin and others is good for the American economy. Actually, the weapons are provided to Israel at U.S taxpayer expense while the product of the munitions adds nothing of positive value, like building hospitals or rebuilding crumbling infrastructure in the U.S. or Gaza.

Gabriel Black with the World Socialist Website has compiled an excellent survey of the weapons the U.S. provides to Israel. Data from Reuters, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and Al Jazeera suggest this fleet consists of:

F-35s manufactured by Lockheed Martin
F-16s by General Dynamics and Lockheed,
F-15s made by McDonnell Douglas/Boeing.

These warplanes are equipped with bombs, missiles and guidance kits largely manufactured in the United States.

According to Al Jazeera, Israel has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives—about double the power of the atomic bomb dropped by the United States on Hiroshima in World War II.

RDX Is Also a Killer

The explosive compound RDX helped make America a superpower. Now, it is poisoning the world’s water and soil. [Source:]

The explosive charge in many conventional bombs often consists of RDX. Gazans may be exposed if they breathe RDX fumes from explosions. People may also be exposed to RDX by drinking contaminated water or by touching contaminated soil. RDX is associated with liver injuries, edema, anemia, hemosiderosis and spinal diseases

November 6, 2023: 75 anti-militarist youth organizers blocked all entrances to Boeing Manufacturing Plant 598 near St. Louis, Missouri. [Source:]

Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM)

The Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) is an add-on kit that turns “dumb” bombs into “smart” ones. All of the world’s JDAMs are made by Boeing in a single factory in St. Louis, Missouri.


More than 1,100 General Dynamics workers in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania supply weapons to Israel. Many of the factories producing weapons are organized under the United Auto Workers (UAW) or the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). It is reminiscent of the 1965 Phil Ochs song, “I Ain’t Marching Anymore”:

Now the labor leader’s screamin’
When they close the missile plants…
Call it peace or call it treason
Call it love or call it reason
But I ain’t marching anymore.

The people of Gaza must do what they can to avoid breathing the smoke from bombs dropped by the Israelis. When modern apartment buildings are engulfed in flames, they emit poisonous gases. The guide below captures the science of deadly smoke inhalation.


The chemicals here are found in the smoke from the bombing of an apartment building.

Burning a massive apartment building may generate many thousands of toxic chemicals and gases while modern science has not been able to keep up with the adverse health effects that may result from each.

Imagine all the materials that go up in flames. These likely include plastics, foams, textiles, carpets, human and animal corpses, wood products (treated lumber, plywood, flooring), asbestos, lead, paint, synthetic fabrics, electronics, furniture, household chemicals, etc.

The asbestos is particularly concerning.

Respiratory ailments, cardiac hazards, and cancers connected with exposures to an environment affected by these fires are far greater than those a generation ago, mainly because the chemical compositions used today to manufacture products and weapons have changed dramatically. The alarming number of cancers among veterans (and their dependents) exposed to deadly chemicals on American military bases tells the story. The American and Israeli governments and their militaries are criminal enterprises.

White Phosphorus

Smoke rises above the Gaza Strip after a white phosphorus attack by Israel on October 11, 2023. This was the first full day of Israeli atrocities when many Gazans were burned alive. [Source:]

Although Syria has long complained of Israel’s use of napalm, we do not have evidence of its use in Gaza, although we know the Israelis are using White Phosphorus, another frightening incendiary weapon. It is extremely toxic to humans.

Gazans are exposed to white phosphorus by breathing in air that contains the chemical or by swallowing water or food contaminated with it. White Phosphorus is a chemical made from phosphate rocks. Manufacturers use white phosphorus to make products like bombs, computer chips and rat poison. It is a brave new world.

White phosphorus bombs can cause injuries that are more serious and harder to treat than injuries from conventional bombs. White phosphorus causes very painful burns. People have reported seeing smoke coming from their injuries as the white phosphorus continues to burn under their skin. It is evil. Because white phosphorus dissolves easily in fat, it is absorbed through the skin and into the body, where it can cause damage to the kidneys. liver, and heart.

As Nada Majdalani explained, Gaza is entering its rainy season. Rainwater washout of bomb sites contaminates nearby waterways, their sediment, and the aquatic life people consume.


Israel has a history of spraying heavy doses of pesticides along the buffer zones with Gaza to deprive potential “terror elements” of cover, but farmers in Gaza say their crops and livelihoods are damaged.

We saw Israel’s lax enforcement regarding PFAS and brominated fire retardants, so it is not surprising that the nation is swimming in pesticides. Environmental and health agencies designed to protect public health are instead subservient to the corporate national security state.

The use of pesticides and insecticides in Israeli agriculture is among the highest in the world, another factoid for the BDS folks. The most contaminated fruits and vegetables are: apples, leafy vegetables, wheat, barley, strawberries and grapes.

It is not surprising that Israel also has among the highest rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the world. Israeli children are widely exposed to organophosphate pesticides.

We are witnessing the maturing of a rabid fascist state. Israel is leading the way to a new world order! Addressing the rise of the far right in America, Noam Chomsky explains, “The ground is well prepared for the rise of neofascism to fill the void left by unremitting class war and capitulation of the mainstream political institutions that might have combatted the plague.”

In solidarity with the brave people of Gaza! ... ning-gaza/

Chomsky and his ilk have contributed to the rise of fascism through their mantra, "Anything but communism!"


Toward Decolonization in Palestine: An Interview with Tareq Baconi
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 16, 2024
Ashley Smith


The struggle to free Palestine stands at a turning point. Hamas’ attacks on October 7th shattered the status quo, triggering both Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza and an outpouring of international solidarity with the Palestinian people and their struggle for liberation. Spectre’s Ashley Smith spoke with Tareq Baconi, author of Hamas Contained, about October 7th, Israel’s genocide, and the state of the Palestinian resistance and its implication for the region and world.

Tareq Baconi is the author of Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance (Stanford University Press, 2018). His writing has appeared in the London Review of Books, the New York Review of Books, the Washington Post, among others, and he is a frequent commentator in regional and international media. He is the book review editor for the Journal of Palestine Studies.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) just released its initial ruling. What is your assessment of it and its impact on the war, geopolitics, and global popular opinion? What is your analysis of the Western powers’ response, especially the decision by the United States to cut off funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA)?

The ICJ ruling is a very important milestone for Palestine, and more broadly for international law and global governance. It decided that South Africa’s charge of genocide against Israel is plausible and agreed to accept the case. But the ICJ’s ruling was also a painful one for Palestinians as it failed to call for a ceasefire.

But in terms of the politics behind it, the ruling is significant. The ICJ’s ruling that Israel abide by genocide conventions and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza is unprecedented. It demonstrates how international law can become an important site of battle against Israel and a place where justice can be sought for the oppressed, alongside the political work behind the scenes.

Of course, as many have argued, there are severe limitations to what can be won through international law. Certainly, it will not deliver full justice and liberation to Palestinians. Nonetheless, the ruling has demonstrated global pushback against the hegemony of the Western powers, specifically, in this instance, the U.S. and Israel, as well as other states like Germany that opposed South Africa’s case.

The pushback has to be seen within the context of geopolitical realignment, in which more countries such as South Africa and others in the BRICS are challenging Western hegemony on the global stage. In that context, I see this ruling as the beginning of a corrective that can result in a more equitable structure of global governance.

The one other thing that is incredibly important is that the ruling is an opening for other states to intervene, to demand a ceasefire, and to hold Israel accountable for the ongoing genocide in Gaza. In the past, many states in the Global South have felt intimidated by the Western powers and their control and manipulation of these international institutions.

The US and European states have used them for their imperial interests. Now, hopefully, more states in the Global South will use them in the cause of justice for the oppressed and to push back against Western hegemony.

Demonstrating their opposition to such uses of international bodies, the US and its allies cut off funding to UNRWA. They took at face value Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s 30,000 employees participated in the October 7th attack on Israel.

Cutting off funding now amidst a genocide is a form of collective punishment against Palestinians, who rely on UNRWA to meet their day-to-day needs. It could trigger a full blown famine in Gaza.

Israel has long aimed to dismantle UNRWA, deny Palestinians’ status as refugees from the Nakba in 1948, and deny their UN-granted right of return to their stolen homes and land. The Western powers’ decision to cut funding to UNRWA shows that they are clearly aligned with that project.

Israel seems to be failing to meet its two stated objectives for its war on Gaza: the destruction of Hamas and the release of the hostages. It seems that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s warning to Israel is correct, that it risked a strategic defeat despite scoring a tactical victory. What is your assessment of Israel’s strategy? What is it actually fighting to accomplish? How much of this does the US support and how much of it does it disagree with?

Israel’s strategy from the start was implausible. It could never achieve its stated objective of decimating Hamas. Hamas represents political views that extend far beyond it as a party and military organization. It is a constituent element of the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Even if Hamas’s current organization is weakened, it will rebuild itself in new forms. And the broader resistance will similarly grow. The idea that Palestinian resistance to Israeli apartheid can be eradicated is a fantastical notion.

That can only be achieved by the complete annihilation of the Palestinian people, which is exactly what Israel is trying to do. Under the guise of defeating Hamas, it is carrying out ethnic cleansing and genocide in Gaza.

But with all that horrific violence, Israel has even failed to deliver a powerful blow to the movement. Hamas continues to operate as a resistance force, firing rockets into Israel and staging attacks against the Israeli army.

Israel has also failed to achieve its second objective. It has freed only one hostage – a soldier – by military means. It has only been able to release civilians through negotiated agreements with Hamas, exchanging Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages.

So Israel is losing both tactically and strategically. Its tactical defeat on the battlefield is evident. But its strategic loss is even greater. On October 7th, Hamas shattered a fundamental pillar of Zionism, which is that the Israeli state can ensure the safety for Jews within its borders while maintaining its apartheid regime against Palestinians.

Thus, regardless of what one thinks about October 7th, Hamas can claim to have scored a strategic victory on that day. Of course, it is very difficult to talk about victory given the blood-letting and given that Palestinians are being subject to genocide.

As far as the US is concerned, the Biden administration is ideologically and strategically committed to what the Israeli government is doing. There is no disagreement between the two.

I do not think that the Biden administration is seriously concerned about the level of civilian death and the destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure. If it was, it would not be supporting, funding, and arming Israel to carry out the genocide.

It has put no conditions on its aid. Its repeated expressions of concern for civilians are just for public relations and to secure plausible deniability for its complicity with genocide. It is just as culpable for this crime against humanity as is Israel.

Washington’s attacks on the Houthis confirm that. It has decided to bomb Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world, in order to allow Israel to continue its genocidal war, rather than call for a ceasefire.

It could easily stop the war, and thus bring an end to the Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea. That it has not done so shows how invested the US is in Israel’s total war on Palestinians.

Now let’s turn to Hamas. What condition is it in now, both as a political and military force? What are its strategy and goals in the current war? How much support does it have from the Palestinian population now?

This is my analysis of Hamas at the current moment, based on years of studying it but not on any interviews with its members since October 7th. Militarily, I think Hamas believes itself to be winning.

It has shattered Israel’s confidence, blocked it from achieving its two objectives, and negotiated the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. That success, however, has of course come at an enormous price for Palestinians.

Now, politically, several things are happening. Hamas is trying to communicate its objectives to a broader public in Palestine, the region, and in the rest of the world. It is attempting to counter the allegations that Israel and the US have made about October 7th, to tell its side of the story, and ground everything in the ongoing oppression of Palestinians and their right to resist Israeli apartheid.

Politically, Hamas’s leaders are offering at times conflicting messages. On the one hand, figures within the movement are reiterating its willingness to accept the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

In part, it is doing this in response to pressure from the Western powers and states in the region to signal any concession that might bring an end to Israel’s genocidal war. It might also be using this proposal to call the bluff of Israel and the international community, to expose the fact that Israel will not accept a two state solution, and therefore that Israel is the real obstacle to a just peace.

On the other hand, the movement is clearly also seeing this moment as an important milestone in the long-term struggle for the liberation of Palestine, one which it hopes could resuscitate Palestinian – and perhaps regional – resistance to Israeli colonization.

Hamas’ October 7th attack was the immediate cause of Israel’s genocidal war. Given the barrage of propaganda spewed by Israel and the US, it is worth clarifying what in fact occurred. What actually happened and what did not? What was Hamas aiming to accomplish in the attack?

There is a fog of war that is slowly lifting around what actually happened on that day. I will focus specifically on Hamas’s thinking. It is likely the case that the movement was aiming to target military bases around the Gaza Strip, to capture soldiers and bring those as captives, to break through the fence area separating the strip from the rest of historic Palestine, to gather intelligence, and to challenge Israel’s conviction that the Palestinian issue has been pacified.

The scale of the attack exceeded all these objectives and is likely to have gone further than Hamas itself might have anticipated, primarily because of the astonishing weakness of Israeli security and the failure of its intelligence operations. The movement’s ability to break through the fence area, and to spend as long as it did within Israel, going far into the territory, meant that the attack took on another dimension altogether.

Even with just the narrow objectives being fulfilled, Hamas’s leaders must have anticipated a violent and disproportionate response from the Israeli army. The current genocidal violence however likely exceeds anything that the movement might have expected. Nonetheless, the defensive capabilities Hamas has developed, as well as the infrastructure for an effective guerrilla warfare in the Gaza Strip, shows the movement to be quite prepared for engaging with Israel’s army.

Since October 7, many of the allegations put forward by Israel, repeated uncritically by Western politicians and media, were smothered in orientalist and Islamophobic tropes – I’m thinking specifically about the forty decapitated babies. The ease with which the Israeli narrative is absorbed by its Western allies shows that there is very little understanding of how Israeli hasbara works, and that there is an infinite well of support for Israel and an immediate suspicion of Palestinians.

As for the allegations around Hamas’s targeting of civilians and the systematic use of rape as a weapon, the movement issued a long document pushing back against these accusations, rejecting that the movement had employed such tactics. As a scholar of the movement, I would be surprised if Hamas employed rape or sexual violence systematically as a weapon of war.

But there is no doubt that there was violence committed against civilians on that day, and credible investigations are needed to separate what are spurious allegations from the reality of what took place. Sadly, the narratives around that violence have proven sufficient for Western powers to launch and condone a genocidal war, truth be damned.

The case with UNRWA is the latest example where Israeli allegations – so often in the past proven ultimately incorrect – are sufficient to result in action that harms Palestinians.

What has been the impact of October 7th and the war on the Palestinian population and its liberation struggle? On the one hand, it seems like a second defeat, another Nakba. On the other hand, we are in the midst of a historic groundswell both regionally and globally of solidarity with Palestine. What is your assessment of the situation?

I think both of these things are true. On the one hand, it is important to understand what is happening today as part of the Nakba. The Nakba started before 1948 with the Zionist colonization of Palestine and has been ongoing ever since.

That history of dispossession has been punctuated with moments of spectacular Zionist violence. We are living in one of the most extreme moments right now in Gaza.

But the Zionist attack is not only against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel and its settlers are carrying out attacks, expulsions, and land seizures in the West Bank. The Israeli state is also repressing Palestinians in Israel.

Obviously nothing compares to the genocide in Gaza. Israel is leveling cities, killing vast numbers of people, and murdering children, threatening the very existence of the current and next generation of Palestinians there.

It is making Gaza uninhabitable. Even if there is a ceasefire tomorrow, where are the Palestinians in Gaza going to live? There are no hospitals. There are no schools. Most people in Gaza are now homeless.

And in the vast new tent cities filled with hundreds of thousands of displaced people, the winter cold, disease, and hunger threaten death on an unimaginable scale. So, we are living another Nakba. Those of us who are on the outside have been paralyzed by grief and fear for our people in Gaza.

At the same time, this is one of the most important moments in Palestinian history. We might be on the cusp of real change. We are witnessing unprecedented global awareness of Palestinian oppression and resistance and unprecedented international solidarity with our struggle for liberation.

But more importantly than that, we are no longer talking about rotten compromises in exchange for creating a Palestinian Bantustan. Instead, we are talking about first principles, about the right to self-determination, about the right to resist, and about ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism, and genocide. We are talking about the Nakba in 1948.

All of this represents a fundamental challenge to Israel, the US, and the other Western powers. They are exerting enormous pressure to force us back into the box of partition and the two state solution. Now they are promising to establish a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

But no one takes their promises seriously anymore. The apartheid regime is committing genocide. And the Western powers are complicit with it. No one trusts them to treat Palestinians as a people with a right to self-determination and with a right to sovereignty and their own state.

As a result, we are going back to the question of how you decolonize Palestine. How do you dismantle this genocidal apartheid regime? We have to focus on that question and that project.

We must not fall back into the older paradigm of partition. We must move forward toward a complete paradigm shift and set our goal as complete decolonization. There is no other way to win liberation, justice, and with that, peace.

In your book, you document how Hamas filled a vacuum as the main military resistance, after the PLO abandoned that strategy for diplomacy and agreed to the Oslo process, accepting the partition of historic Palestinian, and abandoning the goal of a one state solution. But you document how Hamas became contained once in political power in Gaza, balancing between ruling as a government with the aim of statehood within the 1967 borders, and with continued military resistance with the aim of the full liberation of historic Palestine. What are Hamas’s politics, strategy, and goals?

I have grappled with this question a lot since October 7th. After Hamas won the elections in 2006 and was driven to seize control of Gaza and rule it until 2023, it was effectively contained.

It was limited institutionally and militarily to the Gaza Strip. Its infrastructure in the West Bank was dismantled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Israel. And its political leadership was all abroad.

In Gaza, Hamas’s military resistance was restricted to firing rockets on Israel to pressure it to relax its blockade, allow supplies in, and to improve conditions for its impoverished people. As a governing authority, it shifted from being solely a military movement committed to armed resistance, and became a ruling party responsible for 2.3 million Palestinians under its governance.

That new position shaped its priorities and changed its military strategy. During this period, it began to talk about accepting the creation of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.

But, in contrast to the PLO, Hamas never conceded ideologically towards partition; it never put down its guns or recognized the state of Israel or the right of Palestinians to the entirety of the land. It may have been contained by governing Gaza, but ideologically it still held out the goal of full liberation and, as its leaders repeatedly stated, it kept its finger on the trigger.

It believed in the longer term, and as I noted in the book, even the effective containment of the movement and its pacification were likely to be temporary. It always reserved the right to full resistance for the full liberation of historic Palestine.

That led me to ask, how temporary was its containment? Was it pacified for the medium and long term? Could it challenge its confinement?

October 7th has answered those questions. It decided to break through its containment. In doing so it has achieved a goal it long aspired to, which is a bit counterintuitive, of abandoning political governance for military resistance.

It is counterintuitive because it did run in the 2006 election for the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which implied a desire to govern within the body of the PA. But for the movement, its political aspirations were never limited to governance.

Rather, it believed it could revolutionize the PA, turn it into a government of resistance, and use it to carry out full-scale resistance against Israeli apartheid. While it failed to accomplish that with the PA as a whole, it did use its governance in Gaza to carry out its unprecedented military attack on Israel on October 7th.

Now, Hamas has achieved its goal of shattering the illusion that Israel can maintain its colonial, violent rule with impunity. In the wake of that, Hamas is responding to developments as they happen.

It is engaged in negotiations over prisoner swaps and a potential ceasefire. Beyond that, I believe the movement’s long term aspiration of joining the PLO and reforming it from within to resuscitate the Palestinian struggle from the debris of Oslo remains a key objective.

It seems like the Palestinian struggle is at a strategic impasse. The diplomatic approach pursued by the PLO has led to devastating compromises and a corrupt PA, utterly discredited in the eyes of most Palestinians. Hamas’s adoption of the PLO’s old strategy of military resistance with the hope of securing support from Arab states seems unlikely to win, given the balance of military power that heavily favors Israel and the US behind it. Are there other alternatives? What about the strategy of seeing Palestinian liberation as bound up with popular struggle throughout the Middle East to overturn all the interconnected and oppressive state structures? What is the state of discussion and debate about the way forward now?

I think it has always been impossible to separate the diplomatic from the military, the legal, and Palestinian as well as regional popular struggle. I think all of these are means for pushing forward Palestinian decolonization.

Now, I do agree with you that we are at a moment of heightened contradictions. Diplomacy has until now ended in defeat for Palestinians and prospects for success on that front looks no better today. Western policymakers want to put Palestinians back in the trap of a truncated state with no real sovereignty.

At the same time, Palestinians are strategically winning on the military front, while suffering enormous losses in Gaza. And to this point, we have not seen a popular rising against the state and settler terror in the West Bank and inside ’48 [Israel proper]. So, these contradictions have to be dealt with very carefully.

For me, the greatest weakness of the current moment is that there is no Palestinian political project that unites all the legal, diplomatic, military, and popular struggles in a common strategy. Without that, these struggles can sometimes work at cross purposes with each other.

There is no body similar to what the PLO once was. But even the old PLO wasn’t representative of our whole struggle, because it didn’t include Palestinians inside Israel. So, we have no political project to make strategic decisions to lead a coordinated resistance, even as we have a global, energized and very effective grassroots movement.

We have two tasks, I think. First, we must encourage the emergence of a representative political body. That would enable us to assess the Palestinian struggle in its entirety, represent all its different constituencies, craft strategy, and implement it through the movement’s various fronts. For now, this means pushing back against all efforts to employ politicians who do not represent the people, and who are willing to accept a return to the status quo of Bantustan governance, for their own personal interest.

Second, we have to see the Palestinian struggle as intimately connected to the regional struggle. Israel as a settler colony is deeply connected with imperialist ambitions in the region (ushered into existence by the British Empire and supported since then by the US Empire).

But it is also deeply embedded with authoritarianism in the region. The various normalization deals orchestrated by the US and others between authoritarian regimes and Israel over the last few decades underline that fact.

That is why the liberation of Palestine has a regional depth and is intimately connected with the support it gets from the people of the region, support which is often at odds with the interests of their authoritarian regimes. Palestine, in this sense, is a regional issue as well as a global one.

It becomes, in my mind, the litmus test for decolonization in the 21st century. Therefore, as we continue to build a liberationist project that is representative of all our people, we as Palestinians have to forge regional and global alliances for our collective liberation.

That is why South Africa’s case at the ICJ is so important. It shows that our oppression and liberation is not just our issue, but that of the world and its institutions. If the ICJ isn’t a forum to push back against war crimes and genocide in Palestine, then it has failed as an institution of global governance and become one that is easily manipulated for Western interests.

The region seems to be standing on a knife’s edge, between a regional conflagration and a settlement of some kind. Except for the Houthis, who have threatened world commerce with missile attacks on containers in the Red Sea, the region’s states have done little to aid Gaza or the Palestinian resistance. At times, Israel in particular but also the US seem on the verge of triggering a regional war. At other times, the US and its allied Arab regimes seem committed to cutting a deal and restarting normalization, pacifying the Palestinian resistance, and imposing some kind of two state settlement with a reformed PA in control of both the West Bank and Gaza. But Israel at least under Netanyahu is absolutely opposed to any kind of two state solution. Where is this whole situation headed?

We have to look at the region, the US, Israel, and Palestine as a very complex situation with a lot of competing interests and different priorities. It is also a dynamic situation. So however we talk about it now will be a bit of a simplification.

That said, the authoritarian regimes in the region and Israel have a shared goal of maintaining military alliances that are fundamentally anti-democratic. They are all alliances of counter-revolution against the uprisings that began in 2010 and 2011.

The authoritarian regimes and Israel want to prevent such revolutions from again threatening their rule. The US shares their viewpoint; it wants regime preservation and normalization of relations to protect its interests and ensure stability in the region – as if stability and justice are at odds with each other.

There are the states that are looking to normalize relations with Israel like Saudi Arabia, and other states that have already normalized like the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco. Some states, like Sisi’s regime in Egypt, are not only refusing to support the resistance but are actively supporting the Israeli genocide. These regimes do not represent the interests of their people and do not represent their people’s solidarity with Palestinians.

Then there are the regimes that are fearful for their own safety and stability, including, for example, Jordan. So, just as it has in the past, the Palestinian resistance is sending shockwaves through the region, challenging the state order. How much change it results in – and whether it changes it for the better or worse – remains to be seen.

The region is thus on a knife’s edge. On the one hand, the US and the region’s states want to contain the resistance and put everything back in the box. They want to impose the PA in Gaza, restart discussion about a two state solution, and return to normalization.

They are living in denial about just how disruptive October 7th was to their imperial and regional order. So they are reaching back to projects like the two state solution that are simply out of sync with reality. They are desperate for a stability that is probably not in the cards.

On the other hand, we see the possibility of a regional escalation everywhere. There is already a low-intensity war between the US and Israel with several countries. And Washington’s attacks on Yemen for the Houthis’ strikes on shipping as well as Washington’s looming attacks on Iranian-backed Iraqi militias for their drone strike on the US base in Jordan threaten to uncork regional conflict.

For its part, Netanyahu’s government in Israel believes a regional war beyond the Gaza Strip would be a godsend. It would enable Israel to change the whole geopolitical narrative of it carrying out genocide. It would use a regional war to say that they’re the embattled victim again, they’re David standing up to the regional Goliath.

In that context, it is very interesting to note how actors like Hezbollah are being careful not to take the bait, get antagonized, and react to Israeli provocations. There is a logic to their restraint. If you’re taking the long view, what Israel is doing in Gaza is sapping its morale, weakening its economy, and compromising its military.

So while the US may oppose triggering a wider war, Israel wants one. And if one happens, there is always the risk and possibility that the US joins it, detonating a regional and international conflagration.

Finally, as you have noted, Palestinian resistance has always been a trigger for popular uprisings throughout the Middle East and North Africa, both in solidarity with the liberation struggle and against the region’s authoritarian regimes. How is this playing out today? Can this new phase of the Palestinian struggle stir a new phase of struggle from below for the transformation of the region and the emancipation of Palestine?

No one can predict what will happen. The counterrevolution has crushed all the uprisings in every state in the region. The regimes have proved their staying power at the expense of their people.

As a result, there is a huge degree of fear, maybe even apathy and resignation among people in the region. They saw how the Syrian regime crushed its people. They saw the counter-revolution in Bahrain, Egypt, and many other countries.

The success of the counterrevolution has intimidated people against risking another round of revolution. They are not convinced that it would not result in the same disastrous outcome as previous uprisings.

No one should be naively optimistic. At the same time, the ills that plagued our region in 2010 persist today and are perhaps even exacerbated. And Palestine is a trigger as it always has been for the region and its oppressed peoples. Today you can see it in the protests in solidarity with Palestine, especially the massive ones in Yemen.

Every one of those mobilizations, no matter how big or small, are not just about Palestine, but about popular grievances about people’s material conditions and frustrations with their autocratic states.

Egypt is the place where that dynamic is most acute. Its people face conditions just as bad if not worse than in 2010, they support the Palestinian struggle, and confront a regime that is blocking humanitarian aid to Palestinians. It is a tinder box.

We are living in a very volatile moment. There are reasons for optimism, but also a need for sobriety about the challenges ahead. We have learned that these regimes are very powerful and quite brutal. But we are certainly in the midst of an important paradigm shift, and while victory is not inevitable, neither is defeat. ... eq-baconi/


Nasrallah Responds To Israeli Attack On Civilians In Lebanon

Two days ago I wrote about The Escalation In Northern Palestine. The latest event describe therein was an Israeli 'retaliation' airstrike which killed Lebanese civilians:

Predictably the Israeli occupation forces responded to the strike on Safad by escalating further:

The Israeli military said Wednesday its fighter jets "began a series of strikes in Lebanon", raising fears of a war between the two countries after months of cross-border fire.
The military gave no further details of the air strikes, while Lebanese media reported air raids on southern villages including Adchit, Sawwaneh and Shihabiyeh.

The strikes came hours after fire from Lebanon wounded multiple people in northern Israel, according to medics.
Fears have been growing of another full-blown conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, with tens of thousands displaced on both sides of the border and regional tensions soaring.

"I don't know when the war in the north is, I can tell you that the likelihood of it happening in the coming months is much higher than it was in the past," Israeli military chief Herzi Halevi said last month.

Following the last Israeli strikes, the Lebanese side said that four civilians had been killed or wounded by them.

The increase of hostility is getting to a point where there will no longer be the question "if" another war between Israel and Hizbullah will occur but only the question of "when".

Today Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah held another speech announcing his response (notes taken from the live coverage by Al-Manar):

Sayyed Nasrallah: In February 1992, the resistance formulated an equation to protect civilians, which was formally established in July 1993
We absolutely do not tolerate any harm to civilians, and it is imperative that the enemy realizes they have crossed a red line in this regard
Since October 7, there has been immense global pressure to prevent the southern front from opening up to support Gaza. The enemy’s tactic, through targeting civilians, is to coerce the resistance into halting its actions
The response to the massacre must be an escalation of resistance efforts on the front, the enemy should anticipate this response
The enemy will pay the price in blood for shedding the blood of our women and children in Nabatieh, Al-Suwanah, and elsewhere
Both friend and foe will witness that the price for this bloodshed will be exacted in blood, not in structures, vehicles, or surveillance devices
It is essential for Americans and Zionists to understand that in Palestine, they are confronting a people who will not retreat, regardless of the sacrifices or challenges they face
The Lebanese resistance possesses powerful and precise missile capabilities, enabling its reach from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat

As the Israeli army has evacuated civilians from all settlements near the Lebanese border Hizbullah's response will likely be on a partially civilian target deeper within Israel.

Nasrallah also rejected the Israeli massacre propaganda which followed October 7:

Sayyed Nasrallah: Today, one of our responsibilities is to clarify the facts, as there has been a significant Israeli distortion of events since October 7
The Israeli media attempted to portray the resistance and Hamas on October 7 as “ISIL” in a distorted manner
The Israelis failed to present a single slaughtered child or raped girl to the world; instead, the settlers who were killed were actually victims of Israeli army fire
Many believed in the Israeli historical falsification regarding October 7, including countries that claim to be friends with the Hamas movement
Sayyed Nasrallah: The Israeli goal was to displace Palestinians from occupied Palestine, relocating the people of the West Bank to Jordan, those of Gaza to Egypt, and those of the 1980s to Lebanon
Operation Al-Aqsa Flood exposed this long-standing Israeli objective of establishing a purely Jewish state extending from the sea to the river
The project of establishing a purely Jewish state not only targets Palestinians but also poses a threat to Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon
In memory of our martyred leaders, we reaffirm the efficacy of popular resistance as a viable option

The speech emphasized U.S. responsibility for whatever Israel does with the money and weapons the U.S. delivers to it.

It included remarks designed to calm the political scene within Lebanon.

The take from the speech is that the conflict is far from over and that all elements point to a further escalation of the simmering war.


Vast majority of Israelis support new Lebanon invasion: poll - The New Arab, Feb 16, 2024

Seventy-one percent of Israelis believe Israel should conduct a large-scale military operation against Lebanon to deter Hezbollah, a recent poll has shown.
The survey was conducted by the Israeli Maariv newspaper amid worsening cross-border violence between the Israeli army and the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group.
A growing number of Israelis, especially those who evacuated their homes in the north, have urged their government to take decisive action against Hezbollah and push them away from the frontier, even if that means a land invasion.

The Zionists have no idea what will come at them ...

Posted by b on February 16, 2024 at 16:11 UTC | Permalink ... .html#more


US ‘will soon regret’ escalation against Yemen

The US decision to designate Ansarallah as a terror group came into effect on Friday, one day after a new Yemeni attack on a British ship

News Desk

FEB 16, 2024

(Photo credit: Mohammed Mohammed/Xinhua)

The Deputy Foreign Minister in Yemen’s Ansarallah-led government in Sanaa, Hussein al-Ezzi, said on 16 February that the US has chosen escalation and “will soon” regret it.

“America has chosen the path of escalation and will soon feel the extent of the predicament [it is in],” Ezzi said via his account on X.

His comment came just hours after the recent US decision to designate the Ansarallah resistance movement as a terrorist organization came into effect. On 17 January, Washington announced plans to redesignate Ansarallah as a terrorist group, effective 30 days after the announcement.

Ezzi’s post also comes a day after Yemen’s Armed Forces, which is militarily aligned with Ansarallah, announced a new attack on a British vessel in the Gulf of Aden.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces carried out a military operation targeting a British ship, ‘LYCAVITOS,’ while it was sailing in the Gulf of Aden. The targeting was carried out with naval missiles that hit the vessel directly, praise be to God,” Yemeni army spokesman Yahya al-Saree said on 15 January.

After the war in Gaza began, the Yemeni army began military operations targeting Israeli-owned or linked vessels in the Red Sea, as well as ships destined for Israeli ports. These actions were taken in support of Palestine and the resistance in Gaza.

Sanaa has pledged to continue these operations until both the war and siege in Gaza are brought to an end and until sufficient aid reaches the Palestinians.

The US and UK launched a violent campaign against Yemen last month in response to Ansarallah and the Yemeni army’s blockade, prompting Yemen to respond by striking US and British vessels.

Yemen’s Information Minister Dhaifallah al-Shami announced on Wednesday that the US and UK have conducted hundreds of attacks on Yemen since last month.

Sanaa has repeatedly said that US and UK attacks will do nothing to deter Yemen from taking military action in support of Palestine.

On 8 February, Mohammad Ali al-Houthi, a member of Yemen’s Supreme Political Council, vowed that all foreign military vessels would soon be forced out of the region. ... inst-yemen

Washington readies thousands of bombs for Israel despite ‘push for truce’

The White House is preparing a package worth 'tens of millions of dollars' of MK-82 bombs, KMU-572 JDAMs, and FMU-139 bomb fuses

News Desk

FEB 17, 2024

(Photo credit:

US President Joe Biden and other White House officials are preparing to send additional bombs and other weapons to Israel even as the US claims to be pushing for a ceasefire in Gaza, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on 16 February.

Citing current and former US officials, the WSJ says the proposed arms delivery includes 500-pound MK-82 bombs, KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions that add precision guidance to bombs, and FMU-139 bomb fuses.

The value of the weapons deliveries is estimated to be "tens of millions of dollars."

The proposed delivery is still being internally reviewed and must be approved by a congressional committee.

As of December 2023, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has twice used emergency measures to bypass congressional review to send weapons to Israel.

While publicly asking Israel to kill fewer Palestinians during its military operations, Blinken and Biden have been staunch supporters of Israel's military, refusing to set any red lines on the use of US weapons.

President Biden recently stated that the US would take no action against Israel should it invade Rafah, the city in southern Gaza where over 1 million displaced are sheltering, despite warnings from aid agencies that such an invasion would be a "bloodbath."

Israel has dropped tens of thousands of US bombs, including hundreds of 2,000-pound BLU-109 bunker buster bombs, on Gaza, destroying entire residential neighborhoods, creating 40-foot craters in crowded refugee camps, and killing dozens at one time.

Israel's air and ground offensive on Gaza since 7 October has killed 28,775 people, mostly civilians, and displaced nearly all of its more than 2 million inhabitants from their homes.

The Israeli campaign is widely viewed as genocide, while Israeli leaders openly discuss their desire to ethnically cleanse the besieged enclave, annex it, and establish Jewish settlements on the remains of destroyed Palestinian cities. ... -for-truce

Civilian blood will be paid with blood: Hezbollah warns Israel

The Hezbollah secretary-general's latest speech emphasized that the Lebanese resistance will continue to fight despite Israeli massacres and threats

News Desk

FEB 16, 2024

(Photo credit: Nour News)

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a speech on 16 February, emphasizing "The price of civilian blood will be blood," in the wake of Israel's killing of ten Lebanese civilians, including seven from the same family, in an airstrike deep in Lebanese territory earlier this week.
"I say to both friend and enemy that the enemy will pay the price of shedding the blood of our women and children in Nabatiyeh, Al-Sowanah, and other villages in the south, with blood," Nasrallah warned.
He stated that Hezbollah targeted the Kiryat Shmona settlement in northern Israel on Thursday "with dozens of Katyusha rockets and several Falaq missiles as an initial response."
"The resistance in Lebanon possesses enormous and accurate missile capabilities that extend from Kiryat Shmona to Eilat," Nasrallah warned.

Hezbollah is believed to possess some 150,000 rockets and missiles that are capable of targeting sites throughout all of Israel.
The secretary-general also commented on what Israel wishes to accomplish through its ongoing bombardment and ground operations in Gaza, which have now killed over 28,000 Palestinians, including over 12,300 children.
"What Al-Aqsa Flood revealed was that the Israeli goal is to displace the Palestinians and establish a purely Jewish state and to displace the people of the West Bank to Jordan, the people of Gaza to Egypt, and the people of the 1948 territories to Lebanon."
Nasrallah addressed the fabrications Israel spread across Western media about Hamas engaging in mass rape, torture, and burning to death of Israelis on 7 October during Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.
He stated that Israel has not provided evidence of one child being deliberately slaughtered or of one woman being raped. The civilians whose bodies were burned were killed by the Israeli army using tanks and missiles. He added that Israel would not investigate the events of 7 October because if they did, the claims they use to justify their war in Gaza would collapse.
"Many believed the Israeli fabrications regarding October 7, including countries that claim to be friends with Hamas," he explained.

Nasrallah also addressed the role of the US. White House officials often verbally object to Israel's mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza but continue to send massive quantities of weapons to facilitate it.
He stated, "Today, those responsible for every drop of blood being spilled in the region" are US President Joe Biden and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Israeli leaders, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "are tools to implement the American goals. Israel is an American base."
He also added that "America is the one who prevents the Lebanese army from having weapons and missiles that provide it with a balance of deterrence to protect Lebanon."
Despite recent threats that Israel will target Lebanon, including the capital Beirut, Nasrallah vowed to continue armed resistance.
"No matter how long it takes, no matter what you do, no matter what threats you make, this front will not stop," emphasizing that "Surrender means submission, humiliation, slavery, and disdain for our elders, our children, our honor, and our wealth." ... rns-israel
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Sun Feb 18, 2024 1:09 pm

Theodor Herzl was an Austro-Hungarian Jewish journalist and political activist who was the father of modern political Zionism. (Photo:

It is dark before the dawn, but Israeli settler colonialism is at an end
Originally published: It is dark before the dawn, but Israeli settler colonialism is at an end on February 1, 2024 by Ilan Pappe (more by It is dark before the dawn, but Israeli settler colonialism is at an end) (Posted Feb 17, 2024)

Professor Ilan Pappe spoke at IHRC’s annual Genocide Memorial Day in London, UK on 21st January 2024, on the need to understand that the genocide of Palestinians we are currently witnessing, as brutal as it is, is also the demise of the so-called Jewish state. We need to be ready to imagine a new world beyond it.

The idea that Zionism is settler colonialism is not new. Palestinian scholars in the 1960s working in Beirut in the PLO Research Centre had already understood that what they were facing in Palestine was not a classical colonial project. They did not frame Israel as just a British colony or an American one, but regarded it as a phenomenon that existed in other parts of the world; defined as settler colonialism. It is interesting that for 20 to 30 years the notion of Zionism as settler colonialism disappeared from the political and academic discourse. It came back when scholars in other parts of the world, notably South Africa, Australia and North America agreed that Zionism is a similar phenomenon to the movement of Europeans who created the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This idea helps us to understand much better the nature of the Zionist project in Palestine since the late 19th century until today, and it gives us an idea of what to expect in the future.

I think this particular idea in the 1990s, that connected so clearly the actions of European settlers especially in places such as North America and Australia, with the actions of the settlers who came to Palestine in the late 19th century elucidated clearly the intentions of the Jewish settlers who colonised Palestine and the nature of the local Palestinian resistance to that colonisation. The settlers followed the most important logic adopted by settler colonial movements and that is that in order to create a successful settler colonial community outside of Europe you have to eliminate the natives in the country you have settled. This means that the indigenous resistance to this logic was a struggle against elimination, and not just liberation. This is important when one thinks about the operation of the Hamas and other Palestinian resistance operations ever since 1948.

The settlers themselves as the case of many of the Europeans who came to North America, Central America or Australia, were refugees and victims of persecution. Some of them were less unfortunate and were just seeking better life and opportunities. But most of them were outcasts in Europe and were looking to create a Europe in another place, a new Europe, instead of the Europe that didn’t want them. In most cases, they chose a place where someone else already lived, the indigenous people. And thus the most important core group among them was that of their leaders and ideologues who provided religious and cultural justifications for the colonisation of someone else’s land. One can add to this, the need to rely on an Empire to begin the colonisation and maintain it, even if at the time the settlers rebelled against the empire that helped them and demanded and achieved independence, which in many cases they obtained and then renewed their alliance with empire. The Anglo-Zionist relationship that turned into an Anglo-Israeli alliance is a case in point.

The idea that you can remove by force the people of the land that you want, is probably more understandable—not justified—against the backdrop of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries—because it went together with full endorsement for imperialism and colonialism. It was fed by the common dehumanisation of the other non-Western, non-European people. If you dehumanise people you can more easily remove them. What was so unique about Zionism as a settler colonial movement is that it appeared on the international arena at a time where people all around the world had begun to have second thoughts about the rights of removing indigenous people, of eliminating the natives and therefore we can understand the effort and the energy invested by the Zionists and later the state of Israel in trying to cover up the real aim of a settler colonial movement such as Zionism, which was the elimination of the native.

But today in Gaza they are eliminating the native population in front of our eyes, so how come they have almost given up 75 years of attempting to hide their eliminatory policies? In order to understand that we have to appreciate the transformation in the nature of Zionism in Palestine over the years.

At the early stages of the Zionist settler colonialist project, its leaders carried out their eliminatory policies with a genuine attempt to square the circle by claiming that it was possible to build a democracy and at the same time to eliminate the native population. There was a strong desire to belong to the community of civilised nations and it was assumed by the leaders, in particular after the Holocaust, that the eliminatory policies will not exclude Israel from that association.

In order to square this circle, the leadership insisted that their eliminatory actions against the Palestinians were a ‘retaliation’ or ‘response’ against Palestinian actions. But very soon, when this leadership wanted to move into more substantial actions of elimination, they deserted the false pretext of ‘retaliation’ and just stopped justifying what they did.

In this respect, there is a correlation between the way the ethnic cleansing in 1948 developed and in the operations of the Israelis in Gaza today. In 1948, the leadership justified to itself every massacre committed, including the infamous massacre of Deir Yassine on 9th April, as the reaction to a Palestinian action: it could have been throwing stones at the bus or attacking a Jewish settlement, but it had to be presented domestically and externally as something that doesn’t come out of the blue, as self-defence. Indeed, that is why the Israeli army is called “Israeli Defence Forces”. But because it is a settler colonial project it cannot rely all the time on ‘retaliation’.

The Zionist forces began the ethnic cleansing during the Nakba in February 1948, for a month all these operations were presented as retaliation to the Palestinian opposition to the UN partition plan of November 1947. On 10th March 1948, the Zionist leadership ceased talking about retaliation and adopted a master plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. From March 1948 to the end of 1948 the ethnic cleansing of Palestine that led to the expulsion of half of Palestine’s population, the destruction of half of its villages and the de-Arabisation of most of its towns, was done as part of a systematic and intentional master plan of ethnic cleansing.

Similarly, after the occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in June 1967, whenever Israel wanted to change fundamentally the reality or engage in a full scale ethnic cleansing operation, it dispensed with the need of justification.

We are witnessing a similar pattern today. At first the actions were presented as retaliation to operation Tufun al-Aqsa, but now it is the war named “sword of war” aiming to return Gaza under direct Israeli control, but ethnically cleansing its people through a campaign of genocide.

The big question is why politicians, journalists, and academics in the west fell into the same trap they had fallen into in 1948? How can they still today buy into this idea that Israel is defending itself in the Gaza Strip? That it is reacting to the actions of 7th October?

Or maybe they are not falling into the trap. They might know that what Israel is doing in Gaza is using 7th October as a pretext.

Either way, so far, the Israelis claim to a pretext every time they assault the Palestinians, has helped the state to sustain the immunity shield that allowed it to pursue its criminal policies without fear of any meaningful reaction from the international community. The pretext helped to accentuate the image of Israel as part of the democratic and western world, and hence beyond any condemnation and sanctions. This whole discourse of defence and retaliation is important for the immunity shield that Israel enjoys from governments in the Global North.

But as in 1948, today too, Israel as its operation lingers on, they dispense with the pretext, and this is when even their greatest supports find it difficult to endorse its policies. The magnitude of the destruction, the massive killings in Gaza, the genocide, are on such a level that Israelis find it more and more difficult to persuade even themselves that what they are doing is actually self-defence or reaction. Thus, it is possible that in the future more and more people would find it difficult to accept this Israeli explanation for the genocide in Gaza.

For most people it is clear that what is required is a context and not a pretext. Historically and ideologically, it is very clear that 7th October is used as a pretext to complete what the Zionist movement was unable to complete in 1948.

In 1948 the settler colonial movement of Zionism used a particular set of historical circumstances that I have written about in detail in my book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, in order to expel half of Palestine’s population. As mentioned, in the process they destroyed half of the Palestinian villages, demolished most of the Palestinian towns, and yet half of the Palestinians remained inside Palestine. The Palestinians who became refugees outside the boundaries of Palestine continued the resistance of the Palestinians and therefore the settler colonial ideal of eliminating the native was not fulfilled and incrementally Israel used all its power from 1948 to today to continue with the elimination of the native.

The elimination of the native from the beginning to the end includes not just a military operation, by which you would occupy a place, massacre people or expel them. Elimination needs to be justified or become an inertia and the way to do it is constant dehumanization of those you intend to eliminate. You cannot massively kill people or genocide another human being unless you dehumanise them. Thus, dehumanisation of the Palestinians is an explicit and an implicit message conveyed to the Israeli Jews through their educational system, their socialisation system in the army, the media and the political discourse. This message has to be conveyed and maintained if the elimination is to be completed.

So we are witnessing a particular cruel new attempt to complete the elimination. And yet, it is not all hopeless. In fact, ironically, this particular inhuman destruction of Gaza exposes the failure of the settler colonial project of Zionism. This may sound absurd, because I’m describing a conflict between a small resistance movement, the Palestinian liberation movement and a powerful state with a military machine and an ideological infrastructure that is focused solely on the destruction of the indigenous people of Palestine people. This liberation movement does not have a strong alliance behind it, while the state it faces, enjoys a powerful alliance behind it—from the United States to multinational corporations, military industry security firms, mainstream media and mainstream academia—we’re talking about something that almost sounds hopeless and depressing because you have this international immunity for the policies of elimination that begin from the early stages of Zionism until today. It will seem probably the worst chapter of the Israeli attempt to push forward eliminatory policies to a new kind of level into a much more concentrated effort of killing thousands of people in a short period of time as they have never dared to do before.

So how can it be also a moment of hope? First of all, this kind of a political entity, a state, that has to maintain the dehumanisation of the Palestinians in order to justify their elimination is a very shaky basis if we look into the more distant future.

This structural weakness was already apparent before 7th October and part of this weakness is the fact that if you take out the elimination project, there is a very little that unites the group of people who define themselves as the Jewish nation in Israel.

If you exclude the need to fight and eliminate the Palestinians, you are left with two warring Jewish camps, which we saw actually fighting on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem up to 6th October 2023. Huge demonstrations between secular Jews, those who describe themselves as secular Jews—mostly of European origin—believing that it’s possible to create a democratic pluralistic state while maintaining the occupation and the apartheid towards the Palestinians inside Israel, were confronting a messianic new kind of Zionism that developed in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, what I called elsewhere the state of Judea, which suddenly appeared in our midst, believing they now have a way of creating a kind of a Zionist theocracy with no consideration for democracy, and believing that this is the only vision for a future Jewish state.

There is nothing in common between these two visions apart from one thing: both camps don’t care about the Palestinians, both camps believe that the survival of Israel depends on the continuation of the elimination policies towards the Palestinians. This is not going to hold water. This is going to disintegrate and implode from within because you cannot in the 21st century keep together a state and a society on the basis that their shared sense of belonging is being part of an eliminatory genocidal project. It can work for some definitely, but it cannot work for everyone.

We have seen already the indication for that before 7th October, how Israelis who have opportunities in other parts of the world due to their dual nationality, professions and their financial abilities, are thinking seriously of relocating both their money and themselves outside of the state of Israel. What you will be left with is a society that is economically weak, that is led by this kind of fusion of messianic Zionism with racism and eliminatory policies towards the Palestinians. Yes, the balance of power at first would be on the side of the elimination, not with the victims of the elimination, but the balance of power is not just local, the balance of power is regional and international, and the more oppressive the eliminatory policies are (and it’s terrible to say but it’s true) the less they are able to be covered up as a ‘response’ or ‘retaliation’ and the more they are seen as a brutal genocide policy. Thus, it is less likely that the immunity that Israel enjoys today would continue in the future.

So, I really think that at this very dark moment what we are experiencing—and it is a dark moment because the elimination of the Palestinians has moved to a new level, is unprecedented. In terms of the discourse employed by Israel, and the intensity and the purpose of the eliminatory policies—there wasn’t such a period in history, this is a new phase of the brutality against the Palestinians. Even the Nakba, which was an unimaginable catastrophe does not compare to what we are seeing now and what we are going to see in the next few months. We are in my mind in the first three months of a period of two years that will witness the worst kind of horrors that Israel can inflict on the Palestinians.

But even in this dark moment we should understand that settler colonial projects that disintegrate are always using the worst kind of means to try and save their project. This happened in South Africa and South Vietnam. I am not saying this as a wishful thinking, and I am not saying this as a political activist: I am saying this as a scholar of Israel and Palestine with all the confidence of my scholarly qualifications. On the basis of sober professional examination, I am stating that we are witnessing the end of the Zionist project, there’s no doubt about it.

This historical project has come to an end and it is a violent end—such projects usually collapse violently and thus it is a very dangerous moment for the victims of this project, and the victims are always the Palestinians along with Jews, because Jews are also victims of the Zionism. Thus, the process of collapse is not just a moment of hope it is also the dawn that will break after the darkness, and it is the light at the end of the tunnel.

Collapse like this however produces a void. The void appears suddenly; it is a like a wall that is slowly eroded by cracks in it but then it collapses in one short moment. And one has to be ready for such collapses, for the disappearance of a state or a disintegration of a settler colonial project. We saw what happened in the Arab world, when the chaos of the void, was not filled by any constructive and alternative project; in such a case the chaos continues.

One thing is clear, whoever thinks about the alternative to the Zionist state should not look for Europe or the West for models that would replace the collapsing state. There are much better models which are local and are legacies from the recent and more distant pasts of the Mashraq (the eastern Mediterranean) and the Arab world as a whole. The long Ottoman period has such models and legacies that can help us taking ideas from the past to look into the future.

These models can help us build a very different kind of society that respects collective identities as well as individual rights, and is built from scratch as a new kind of model that benefits from learning from the mistakes of decolonialisation in many parts of the world, including in the Arab world and Africa. This hopefully will create a different kind of political entity that would have a huge and positive impact on the Arab world as a whole. ... at-an-end/


‘Israeli Civilians Brought to Film Nude Torture’ – Detainees Told Euro-Med Monitor
FEBRUARY 16, 2024


Palestinian detainees told Euro-Med Monitor that Israeli civilians were permitted to watch and laughingly film them being tortured and abused by Israeli soldiers.

The Israeli army allowed groups of Israeli civilians to witness Palestinian detainees being tortured, and to film the crimes on their own phones, according to shocking testimonies received by the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

In a press release on Monday, the rights group shared testimonies from recently released Palestinian detainees stating that “groups of ten to twenty Israeli civilians at a time were permitted to watch and laughingly film Palestinian prisoners and detainees in their underwear while Israeli army soldiers subjected them to physical abuse.”

This abuse included “beating them with metal batons, electric sticks, and pouring hot water on their heads. The detainees were also verbally abused.”

These detainees were arrested during ground incursions by Israeli forces into the Gaza Strip and held for varying periods of time inside two detention centers: one located in the Zikim area on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, and another affiliated with the Naqab prison in southern Israel.

“This is the first time that these illegal practices have come to the attention of Euro-Med Monitor,” the organization said.

“It adds a new crime to the list of those committed by the Israeli army against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and specifically against prisoners and detainees who are subjected to cruel torture, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests, and denials of a fair trial, among other atrocities.”

Filmed Abuse Uploaded to Social Media
Omar Abu Mudallala, 43, told the Euro-Med Monitor team: “I was arrested at the checkpoint set up near the Kuwait roundabout…as part of the Israeli random arrest campaigns. I was subjected to all types of torture and abuse for approximately 52 days.”

He said Israeli soldiers “brought Israeli civilians to watch our nude torture.”

The soldiers, he explained, told the civilians, “‘These are Hamas terrorists who killed you and raped your women on 7 October,’ while the Israeli civilians were filming us being beaten, abused, and tortured while making fun of us.”

Abu Mudallala said, “This happened five times while I was being held.” He said he was blindfolded the first time, but in the other four incidents, “we were not wearing blindfolds…I saw them (the civilians) all four times with my own eyes.”

Another detainee, known as DH, aged 42, told Euro-Med Monitor that “Israeli civilians were brought to witness the abuse and torture that we were subjected to…”

“They also took pictures of us and post them on social media apps, particularly “TikTok,” with the soldiers themselves (who) did the same,” he said.

Violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention
The rights group said the Israeli army’s torture and inhumane treatment of Palestinian prisoners and detainees is illegal under the Rome Statute and constitutes crimes against humanity.

“The army’s staging of these abuses as entertainment for Israeli civilians and subsequent photography of the victims amounts to a grave violation of the dignity of these individuals, as well as the commission of war crimes,” it stated.

Euro-Med Monitor further asserted that Israeli practices against Palestinian detainees “are blatant violations of international conventions and standards, particularly the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.”

The Convention “forbids an occupying authority from transferring prisoners from the occupied territory to detention facilities on its territory, as well as torturing, attacking, or otherwise degrading the human dignity of those detained.” ... d-monitor/


The Threat of All Out War: Yemen Nears the Tipping Point as US Airstrikes Intensify
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 16, 2024
Ahmed Abdulkareem


In the courtyard of Yemen’s famous Al Shaeb Mosque, guards of honor stood at attention accompanied by the melody of military music as the funeral ceremony of Yemeni marines killed in the latest round of U.S. and UK strikes commenced. The mourners, many of whom traveled from the countryside to attend, walked alongside a long convoy carrying the bodies of 17 victims as it made its way through the streets of Sana’a. Mourners held aloft photos of the deceased or thrust their rifles into the air while chanting slogans condemning the United States. Several banners peppered the crowd, emblazoned with the label given to those who gave their lives in what many view as a struggle in defense of Palestine: “Martyrs on the road to al-Quds (Jerusalem).”

Seventeen pickup trucks ensconced in green drapes bore the bodies. They were escorted by family members alongside thousands of mourners leaving Sana’a for the hometowns of the victims who hailed from various regions of Yemen. The scene unfolded last Sunday when thousands of angry Yemenis took to the streets of Sana’a and other cities to hold a funeral for those killed by the attacks. “Retribution against American soldiers… We will not abandon our revenge,” some mourners proclaimed.

In Bani Matar, 70 kilometers west of Sanaa towards the Hodeida Road, the mothers of Ziad Ajlan and Hashem Al-Sawari watched the convoy from a rooftop as it carried along the bodies of their sons. Ziad and Hashem were not involved in the fighting; they were among a number of civilians killed in attacks launched by the U.S. Navy on the Yemeni mainland one week ago. My son was martyred on the road to al-Quds,” Ziad’s mother said proudly. “We will not be broken, and we will not abandon Gaza.”

U.S. and British officials maintain that their attacks target “Houthi” military positions – ammunition stores and missile launch sites, but the reality of the ground tells a different story. Yemeni civilians say they are blind and indiscriminate and often leave civilians maimed or killed. Assuming the U.S. and UK are acting in good faith, it is clear that their intelligence information is lacking. A truck belonging to a farmer carrying plastic pipes was targeted in an airstrike outside the city of Saada last week. It is believed that the pipes were mistaken for missiles.

This story has repeated itself ad nauseam throughout Yemen since the end of December when the multinational “Operation Prosperity Guardian” (OIR) was launched in a thus-far failed attempt to protect ships linked with Israel from Ansar Allah. This week alone, as many as 40 strikes were launched by the U.S. and the UK, most targeting the coastal city of Hodeida.

Coffins of Asnar Allah fighters killed in the U.S.-led strikes on Yemen are transported during a mass funeral in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 10, 2024. Osamah Abdulrahman | AP


The danger of Washington’s attacks on Yemen’s mainland lies not only in exposing civilians to danger but has the potential to spark retaliatory measures taken by Ansar Allah should pressure from the public and family members of victims continue to mount.

On December 29, when U.S. forces killed 10 Yemeni sailors aboard three ships in the Red Sea, Ansar Allah refrained from retaliating. But when American and British bombs peppered mainland Yemen the next month, striking major cities with over 100 precision-guided missiles, leaving civilians dead and maimed, Ansar Allah reacted, carrying out a barrage of retaliatory attacks.

Some Yemeni officials have even hinted that two U.S. Navy Seals that the U.S. government claims drowned while boarding a boat smuggling weapons into Yemen were actually killed in combat. It is not known whether the soldiers were killed in attacks by Ansar Allah ballistic missiles or drones or during a failed commando operation as the U.S. claims, but what is clear is that the U.S. is covering its losses and information about the deaths of the Seals has been highly politicized.

In fact, many of the details surrounding hostilities between the U.S. and Ansar Allah have been cast in a heavy fog of war, and it will likely be years before the truth is revealed. What is certain is that Ansar Allah has caused direct material damage to U.S. military vessels, targeting numerous times with advanced missiles and drones launched. In the wake of every such attack, a statement was issued, reaffirming Ansar Allah’s right to take revenge for those killed in American and British bombing raids.

On January 31, the Ansar Allah announced that the American destroyer, the USS Gravely, was hit by several anti-ship missiles. In the wake of the attack, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced that the Gravely had shot down an advanced anti-ship cruise missile. Later, reports emerged that the destroyer in question and other Western military assets in the area had failed to intercept the missile until it got within “4 seconds from hitting the U.S. warship.”

On January 25, Ansar Allah said that it had clashed with American destroyers in the Gulf of Aden and Bab al-Mandab for two hours. One U.S. Navy vessel was directly hit after a failed interception attempt, according to Ansar Allah, who have been improving their capabilities since 2014, after a failed Saudi-led and U.S.-backed bombing campaign left the country in tatters.

This undated photograph released by CENTCOM shows the vessel that was being boarded by US Navy Seals near Yemen in a raid that saw two commandos go missing


Although President Joe Biden has repeatedly claimed that the United States does not seek to expand the war in the Middle East, the actions of the US military are undoubtedly making the situation in the Red Sea more tense. In the wake of American airstrikes targeting Hodeida on Thursday – for the ninth time that day alone, Ansar Allah Armed Forces spokesperson Brigadier Yahya Saree revealed that the group would take “further measures” within its legitimate right to self-defense in response to the repeated U.S.-UK aggression. In the same statement, Saree announced that the Barbados-flagged British Bulk Carrier ship, the LYCAVITOS, was targeted by naval missiles while sailing in the Gulf of Aden, raising questions about the actual deterrence factor of America’s escalatory approach.

Prior to that, the leader of Ansar Allah, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi, the leader of the revolution that the U.S.-backed Yemeni government in 2014, confirmed that any escalation on Ansar Allah’s part would be against Israel and to confront American and British aggression and would not target the interests of ordinary Westerners. The comment came in response to claims circulated in the media that Ansar Allah could sabotage a network of underwater internet cables that run through the Red Sea. “We do not plan to target submarine cables, and we have no intention of doing so, and what is reported in the media is a lie aimed at distorting our humanitarian position on the war on Gaza,” he said. Many Western media outlets promoted the claim, raising fears over the safety of infrastructure critical to the functioning of the Western Internet and the transmission of financial data. Yemen is strategically located, as internet lines connecting entire continents pass near it.

Airstrikes and claims that internet access may be cut off may be the tip of the escalatory iceberg, according to the government of Sana’a. The Minister of Information, Daifallah al-Shami, held a press conference on Thursday announcing that they have information that the UAE is seeking to recruit agents from multiple foreign nationalities in cooperation with Al-Qaeda and ISIS to target ships in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea in order to confuse and distort operations carried out by Ansar Allah in support of Gaza. According to al-Shami, the move is supported by the U.S.


Contrary to what is being promoted in much of the Western media, which has taken the line that Ansar Allah’s Red Sea blockade has nothing to do with the ongoing genocide in Gaza, a review of the targets of Ansar Allah’s attacks makes their motivations clear. On October 19, Ansar Allah fired drones and missiles at Israel’s southern Eliat Port. In mid-November, the naval forces seized an Israeli ship headed towards occupied Palestine. Shortly after, Ansar Allah publically announced that the Israeli-linked ship would not be allowed to pass through the Baba al-Mandab Strait. Later, they announced that the ban on shipping would extend to all vessels attempting to reach Eliat Port. All of these measures were in support of a single, repeatedly declared goal, which was to pressure Israel to stop its war on Gaza and allow food and water to enter the besieged strip.

With visible sadness and anger, Abdul-Malik al-Houthi enumerated in a televised speech on Tuesday the reasons that motivate Yemen to continue operations to prevent international navigation supporting Israel in the Red Sea – the continued mass killing of the Gazans, renewed American support for Israel, including with lethal weapons and the use of internationally banned weapons against civilians in Gaza, including white phosphorus.

Al-Houthi said that “the Yemeni military’s retaliatory strikes in the Red Sea had proven to be effective as it led to the almost complete closure of the port of Umm al-Rashrash (the name of Eliat before Israel annexed it), and all food supply chains to Israel that were passing through the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandab stopped by 70%, and prices in the Israeli market rose by 30-50% after ships were forced to divert course through the Cape of Good Hope.” Israel, he noted, was one of the largest beneficiaries of maritime trade, with imports in 2022 reaching to $133 billion “thanks to the Red Sea.”

Responding to those who question the feasibility of Ansar Allah’s position, Al-Houthi said that “Yemeni operations have caused repercussions for ship insurance,” noting that insurers are now refusing to insure ships heading towards the ports of occupied Palestine. “Not only that,” he added, “but insurance companies require Israeli and American ships to pay additional amounts of up to 50%.”

“Our operations at sea led to a decline in Israel’s total imports of products by 25% during the past months,” Al-Houthi said, “The Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry admitted that the Red Sea operations harmed its trade relations with 14 countries.”

Amid threats of escalation and even whispers of a Western-led ground invasion of Yemen, Ansar Allah has reiterated its commitment to its mission. Mobilization, military training, demonstrations, and other activities will be continued as long as the aggression against Gaza continues, it has reaffirmed, saying that operations at sea will continue until Israel “allows food and medical supplies and the delivery of basic needs into Gaza.” “The U.S. and UK will not achieve their goals through aggression against our country, and the only solution is to stop the aggression and deliver food and medicine to the people of Gaza,” Al-Houthi vowed.

Feature photo | In this image provided by the Ministry of Defence, an RAF Typhoon aircraft takes off to conduct further strikes against Ansar Allah targets in Yemen from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, Feb. 3, 2024. Jake Green | Ministry of Defence | AP ... intensify/


Gaza truce talks 'unpromising': Qatar PM

Hamas is reportedly planning to suspend talks until enough humanitarian aid is allowed into the Gaza Strip

News Desk

FEB 18, 2024

(Photo credit: EPA)

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said on 17 February that his country will continue to mediate for truce deal between Hamas and Israel, despite that efforts to reach an agreement are looking unpromising.

“The pattern in the last few days is not really very promising but … we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” Al-Thani said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday.

He added that challenges are “expected” given the scope of the type of agreement being discussed, which would be much larger than the week-long truce and prisoner exchanges that took place last year.

The Qatari prime minister also said that the “humanitarian part” of the negotiations have been lagging.

A source within Hamas leadership told Al-Jazeera that the resistance movement is planning to suspend truce negotiations until enough aid makes it through into the strip, particularly northern Gaza.

"Negotiations cannot be held while hunger is eating away at the Palestinian people," the source said.

Insufficient amounts of aid have been entering the Gaza Strip, where humanitarian conditions continue to deteriorate.

Only eight trucks entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on Saturday. The Karam Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing remains shut due to pro-Israel protests blocking humanitarian supplies from entering the strip.

“The main point of disagreement is Netanyahu and his games. He is trying not to have any arrangements or agreements. That is clear,” senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan said over the weekend.

Hamdan added that Hamas leadership showed a “positive position” towards the truce talks and “willingness” to reach an agreement.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on 17 February that the resistance will accept no less than an end to the war, a withdrawal of troops, and a lifting of the siege on Gaza.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the latest proposal and vowed to move the army against the desperately overcrowded border city of Rafah, which Tel Aviv claims is Hamas’ last bastion.

A deal “does not appear very close,” Netanyahu said on Saturday. He had previously called Hamas’ terms for an agreement “delusional.”

The Israeli premier also vowed that the Rafah operation would commence, despite repeated international warnings over the threat posed to civilians and displaced. ... g-qatar-pm

Israel deliberately harms captives held by Hamas: Abu Obeida

The Qassam Brigades' spokesperson also stated that fighting continues on all fronts in Gaza and Israel's claims of eliminating its battalions are 'imagined'

News Desk

FEB 17, 2024

Qassam Brigades' spokesperson Abu Obeida (Photo credit: Nur News)

Abu Obeida, military spokesperson for Hamas’ Qassam Brigades, said in a speech on 16 February that the resistance group continues to fight on "all fronts" across Gaza “in the north, center, and south,” that Israeli captives held by Hamas in Gaza are "in bad condition" and that Israel seeks to harm them deliberately.

Abu Obeida said, "We are conducting battles in an organized manner and according to tactics we set for ourselves. We will continue the struggle until the last soldier leaves Gaza. Thousands of our fighters are still deployed in all areas of the strip."

"Our fighters destroy their vehicles and armored vehicles, besiege their heavily armed soldiers supported by tanks, aircraft, and warships, trap them in tight ambushes, snipe their officers in professional operations, and attack their soldier hordes at point-blank range."

"Whenever the enemy thinks it has become safe in a scorched area of the land, our fighters emerge from where they are least expected in quality operations and fight with the help, support, and success granted by Allah," he added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed earlier this month that his army had destroyed 17 of the 24 Qassam battalions in Gaza.

However, Abu Obeida stated, “The occupation claims alleged achievements in the battlefield and continues to announce an imagined eradication of military brigades … Briefly, we say that what the enemy releases of statements, numbers, and information is lying propaganda … much of what the enemy announces and broadcasts is fabricated and concocted for internal and moral purposes.”

The Qassam spokesperson also commented on the state of the Israeli captives taken by Hamas to Gaza on 7 October, which are the focus of negotiations for a permanent ceasefire and prisoner exchange to free thousands of Palestinians held captive in occupation prisons.

⚡️Al-Qassam Brigades Spokesman, Abu Obeida’s speech with english subtitles.

Subs courtesy of RNN.

— Arya - آریا 🇮🇷 (@AryJeay) February 16, 2024

He said that many of these Israeli captives have died while in Hamas custody due to Israeli bombing and the harsh conditions all Palestinians in Gaza are experiencing due to Israel's siege on the enclave.

"The losses among the enemy's prisoners have become very large, and we did not wish for the situation to reach this stage of losses and suffering for the prisoners. We have tried to protect and care for these prisoners for months, aiming for a noble and lofty humanitarian goal, which is the liberation of our oppressed and subjugated prisoners and achieving the legitimate and human rights of our people."

Israel says Hamas is still holding some 100 captives. The families of some captives have accused Israel of killing them on purpose by bombing the locations where they are being held. They say the Israeli political leadership wishes to remove obstacles to their continued military operation in Gaza. The families of the captives have called for a ceasefire to end the war and free their loved ones.

"We are still striving to preserve the enemy's prisoners by all means, and we have warned dozens of times about the dangers faced by the enemy's prisoners in the hands of the resistance and the losses among them since the beginning of the war, but the occupation's leadership ignored the fate of its prisoners, and the Nazi Zionist army deliberately kills its prisoners and injures them," Abu Obeida added.

⚡️Al-Qassam Brigades Spokesman, Abu Obeida’s speech with english subtitles.

Subs courtesy of RNN.

— Arya - آریا 🇮🇷 (@AryJeay) February 16, 2024

"In the meantime, the enemy's wounded and sick prisoners are living in very difficult conditions and struggling to stay alive. This is not surprising as all the suffering of hunger, thirst, lack of medical supplies, and more that our people endure is also endured by the enemy's prisoners. The enemy's leadership and its barbaric army alone bear full responsibility for this, as time is running out very quickly, and warning has been given."

Palestinians in Gaza are suffering from a severe shortage of food amid Israel's siege on the strip. Palestinians are beginning to starve in areas that are particularly difficult to reach with humanitarian aid, especially in northern Gaza. Aid workers have warned that famine is imminent. ... abu-obeida

Nasser Hospital rendered 'completely out of service'

Israeli forces turned the largest hospital in Khan Yunis into a military barracks while detaining health care workers

News Desk

FEB 18, 2024

Palestinians identify the bodies of relatives at Rafah's Al-Najjar hospital on February 18, 2024, following overnight Israeli air strikes on the southern Gaza (Photo credit: MOHAMMED ABED / AFP)

The Nasser Hospital has been put "completely out of service" after Israeli forces turned it into a military outpost and detained large numbers of health care workers there, a spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry stated on 18 February. The detentions come amid Israeli airstrikes that killed 60 people in Gaza in the past 24 hours.

The WHO also confirmed that the hospital is no longer functioning after being besieged for weeks and raided by the Israeli military.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said that over the past two days Israeli forces have not allowed the WHO team to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the 200 patients remaining there, including 20 who need to be urgently referred to other hospitals for treatment.

The Nasser Hospital is located in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. Thousands of displaced Palestinians had taken shelter there and in other hospitals due to the ongoing Israeli bombing.

Among those feared detained is a general surgeon, Dr. Khaled al-Serr, who had continued to perform surgeries while the hospital has been under siege and who spoke to western media about the dire conditions there.

But Dr. Serr has not been heard from since Thursday.

On Saturday evening, colleagues from the groups Healthcare Workers Watch - Palestine, Gaza Medic Voices, and Health Workers 4 Palestine issued a statement expressing fears Israel had detained him.

"We are deeply concerned that the Israeli military has abducted and unlawfully detained Khaled Al Serr. We demand his immediate release," it read, sharing Serr's messages, photos, and a video.

“For almost a month, we have been consulting on cases with Khaled as he performed complex surgeries far outside of his specialty—with virtually no medical supplies and with bullets ricoquetching off the operating theater. He has risked life and limb to save his patients.”

The Israeli army claimed it had apprehended 100 people "suspected of terrorist activity" in the hospital.

On Friday, at least seven patients at the Nasser Hospital died from a lack of oxygen after an Israeli military raid caused a power outage, the Gaza health ministry reported.

Since 7 October, the Israeli military has targeted all aspects of life in Gaza, including hospitals, schools, mosques, and churches, while razing entire neighborhoods to the ground with airstrikes and controlled demolitions.

Israel's horrific military campaign has killed almost 29,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October, the majority women and children. ... of-service
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Mon Feb 19, 2024 12:40 pm

Occupied Syrian Golan Residents Reject Israelization of Community
FEBRUARY 17, 2024

Druze men sit with Syrian flags during a rally marking Syria's Independence Day, in the Druze village of Majdal Shams in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, on the border with Syria, Monday, April 17, 2023. Photo: AP.

The people of the occupied Syrian Golan reject the enlistment of their community members into the “army” of the occupation, deeming it forbidden.

During a massive public meeting encompassing all segments of society from the four villages, the people of the occupied Syrian Golan issued a statement on Thursday marking the anniversary of the “Glorious Strike,” when they cautioned against the ‘Israelization’ of their community.

The statement underscored the importance of upholding the heritage of the national Golan and paying tribute to its ancestors. It firmly rejected ‘Israelization’ efforts, especially the recruitment of locals into the occupation army and associated groups. These actions were deemed as threats to our fundamental existence and Syrian identity. Consequently, stringent measures were implemented in the occupied Golan to address this pressing issue.

Attendees emphasized that individuals participating in the recruitment project, wielding arms, and donning enemy uniforms were being misled. They urged these individuals to reconsider their involvement and to publicly announce their return to their community within a week.

They also proclaimed a complete rejection and condemnation of anyone who dared to betray their family and heritage by engaging in projects that “destroy our society and its honorable legacy.”

It declared the “religious excommunication and social boycott of all individuals involved in this sinful project, which entails volunteering for service in the occupation enemy’s army and its affiliated branches.”

The statement emphasized that the decision to boycott and banish extends to the individual involved and all members of their family unless they take proactive steps to publicly reject and disavow the individual’s behavior.

It also outlined measures such as the closure of people’s homes and businesses, as well as prohibiting participation in their funerals, offering prayers for their deceased, or burying them in family cemeteries.

The statement also voiced its refusal to allow any of these individuals “who have betrayed their community and families, to take any educational role in our schools, be it as teachers, guards, or workers.”

The statement by the residents of the occupied Syrian Golan concluded by emphasizing their determination to “eradicate all examples of this destructive phenomenon from our society” and “to not accept it, neither now nor in the future,” according to what they described as aligning “with the spirit and provisions of the national document that embodies the belonging and identity of the people of the Syrian Golan” and “to preserve our national heritage and ensure a secure future for our children.” ... community/


World Court to Review 57-Year Israeli Occupation
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 17, 2024
Relief Web


52 Countries to Take Part in Hearings on Occupied Palestinian Territory

An unprecedented number of countries and international organizations are expected to participate in the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) oral hearings on Israel’s occupation beginning February 19, 2024, Human Rights Watch said today. Fifty-two countries and three international organizations will participate in the oral proceedings, more than in any other case since the world’s highest court began functioning in 1946.

Legal Consequences arising from the Policies and Practices of Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
The broad participation in the hearings and the many written submissions reflect growing global momentum to address the decades-long failure to ensure respect for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

“The International Court of Justice is set for the first time to broadly consider the legal consequences of Israel’s nearly six-decades-long occupation and mistreatment of the Palestinian people,” said Clive Baldwin, senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch. “Governments that are presenting their arguments to the court should seize these landmark hearings to highlight the grave abuses Israeli authorities are committing against Palestinians, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.”

The oral proceedings stem from a December 2022 request by the United Nations General Assembly for an advisory opinion by the court on the legal consequences of Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The court has the opportunity to address the prolonged occupation, to consider Israel’s practices and policies violating international legal prohibitions against racial discrimination, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution, and to appraise the legal responsibilities of other countries and the UN to address violations of international law arising from the occupation.

Although ICJ advisory opinions are non-binding, they can carry great moral and legal authority and can ultimately become part of customary international law, which is legally binding on states.

These proceedings, which will last six days, are distinct from the case brought by South Africa to the same court alleging that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention amid the hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups that escalated following the October 7, 2023, Hamas-led attacks.

The General Assembly first asked the ICJ for an advisory opinion related to the Occupied Palestinian Territory in December 2003. In July 2004, the ICJ’s advisory opinion found that the route of Israel’s separation barrier violated international law and that it should be dismantled.

The December 2022 request to the court is wider in scope. The General Assembly asked the court to give its opinion on the “legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement and annexation” of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including “its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures,” and on the legal consequences of the occupation and Israel’s practices for all states and the UN.

The request provides the court the opportunity to evaluate the situation two decades after its last advisory opinion on the Occupied Palestinian Territory and provide guidance on the law, including the continued application of international humanitarian law and human rights law. The court could also assess Israel’s conduct under international human rights law, including prohibitions on racial discrimination, and international criminal law, including the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution.

The ICJ adjudicates disputes between states and issues advisory opinions on international law. It lacks jurisdiction over the conduct of non-state armed groups like Hamas. The International Criminal Court (ICC), by contrast, addresses serious international crimes allegedly committed by individuals, including members of armed groups. The ICC prosecutor confirmed that since March 2021 his office has been conducting an investigation into alleged atrocity crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank since 2014, and that the court has jurisdiction over international crimes committed by all parties in the current hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.

Human Rights Watch has documented that Israeli authorities are committing the crimes against humanity of apartheid and persecution against Palestinians. Given that the responsibilities of an occupying power toward the rights of the occupied population increase over time, Human Rights Watch has also called for Israel to provide Palestinians in the occupied territory with rights at least equal to those it grants its own citizens, in addition to the protections of international humanitarian law.

The ICJ is composed of 15 judges elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council for nine-year terms. Fifty-seven states and international organizations had filed a written statement in the proceedings in July 2023, before the October escalation in hostilities. Fifteen states and international organizations filed additional written comments in October and November 2023. Among those participating in the oral proceedings are Palestine, South Africa, Belgium, Brazil, the United States, Russia, France, China, Namibia, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and the African Union. Israel submitted a written statement and chose not to participate in the oral hearings.

The ICJ will issue its legal opinion at a date to be determined. Past practice suggests that the opinion will be issued before the end of 2024. ... ccupation/

Hamas Welcomes ICJ’s Demands for Israel to Implement Provisional Measures in Rafah
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 16, 2024
Palestine Chronicle

Hamas urges the World Court to ‘evolve its decision into a direct order’ for Israel to stop its ‘brutal aggression leading to genocide against unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip.’

The Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, has welcomed the decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in response to South Africa’s urgent request regarding the situation in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Decision of the Court on South Africa’s request for additional provisional measures
The decision “confirmed the necessity of the immediate implementation of the provisional measures ordered by the court on January 26, and the full responsibility of the occupation entity for the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the movement said in a statement on Friday.

Hamas urged the court “to evolve its decision into a direct and clear order to stop this brutal aggression leading to genocide against the unarmed civilians in the Gaza Strip.”

The World Court said it “notes the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip and Rafah in particular, ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences’,” quoting remarks made by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the General Assembly on February 7.

It described the situation as “perilous” but did not accept South Africa’s request for additional urgent measures, saying it “demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures” ordered last month, “which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and does not demand the indication of additional provisional measures.”

Over 2,700 killed since Jan 26

Israel on Thursday urged the ICJ to reject the urgent application by South Africa issued on Tuesday, which called on the Court to consider additional emergency measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.

Hamas said more than 2,700 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since the court ordered Israel on January 26 to take “all measures within its power” to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

This, the movement said, confirms that Israel “disregards the international judicial system and continues to expand its genocide against civilians,” and that it is “defying all calls warning of the dangers of any military operation in Rafah.

It further called on the UN Security Council to “assume its responsibilities” and “immediately translate the ruling of the ICJ into effective decisions” that oblige Israel to “stop the genocide.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with a ground incursion into Rafah, where more than one million internally displaced Palestinians are sheltering.

“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war. Keep Hamas there,” he reportedly said in an interview with an American news network on Sunday.

Fears of ‘A Slaughter’

On Wednesday, the UN emergency relief chief, Martin Griffiths, expressed fears that a ground invasion of Rafah by Israel could lead to a slaughter of civilians.

“I do fear a slaughter of people in Gaza. And the reason why I’m speaking out so clearly about this now is that I think there is a choice being made one way or the other, whether to move military operations into an assault on Rafah,” Griffiths said.

More than half of Gaza’s population – well over 1 million people – are crammed in Rafah, most having been displaced from other parts of the enclave due to Israel’s ongoing military offensive since October 7.

Griffiths said they are “staring death in the face: They have little to eat, hardly any access to medical care, nowhere to sleep, nowhere safe to go.”

Death Toll Mounts

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 28,858 Palestinians have been killed, and 68,677 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

ICJ Responds to South Africa’s Request Regarding Rafah
Palestine Chronicle

The International Court of Justice said on Friday that it is aware of the “perilous” situation in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, though it has not accepted South Africa’s request for additional urgent measures.

Decision of the Court on South Africa’s request for additional provisional measures

“The Court notes that the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip, and in Rafah in particular, ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences’,” the Decision read, quoting remarks made by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the General Assembly on February 7.

“This perilous situation demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024, which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and does not demand the indication of additional provisional measures,” the Court said, adding that,

“The Court emphasizes that the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Legal Opinion

In order to understand the meaning and legal repercussions of the ICJ statement, the Palestine Chronicle spoke with International Law expert Triestino Mariniello, Professor of Law at Liverpool John Moores University, and a member of the legal team for Gaza victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“True, the Court did not recognize additional provisional measures, but I think the Decision is very important,” Professor Mariniello said.

“The Court used unprecedented strong language by quoting Guterres as saying that a ground invasion ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare’. In other words, the ICJ is warning Israel against the ground invasion,” Mariniello added.

[i[“Additionally, it states that the situation ‘demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures’. I think that the Court is telling Israel that, so far, it is not complying with the provisional measures already issued.”]/i]

Mariniello continued,

“Finally, it orders Israel to ensure the ‘safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip’. This, in my view, would exclude any military operation not only in Rafah but in the entire Strip. How can you ensure the ‘safety and security’ if not by stopping any military operation?”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 28,775 Palestinians have been killed, and 68,552 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba. ... -in-rafah/


Israeli troops face heavy resistance in deadly Tulkarem raid

Army troops and special forces units raided the city’s camp on Sunday, killing a 19-year-old and injuring several others

News Desk

FEB 18, 2024

(Photo credit: AFP)

A Palestinian was killed and three others injured during an Israeli military raid in the occupied West Bank city of Tulkarem on 18 February.

The victim was identified by the Palestinian Health Ministry as 19-year-old Nabil Atta Muhammad Amer. He was shot in the head and killed, while two others are in stable condition after being injured by Israeli gunfire.

Israeli troops entered the city on Sunday with support from special forces units and armored vehicles.

As a result, violent clashes broke out when resistance fighters from a number of groups confronted the Israeli forces.

⚡️Tulkarem Update:
Clashes in Tulkarem between the Tulkarem battalions of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Al-Quds Brigades, and the Israeli invading forces have been ongoing for hours.

- An Israeli army helicopter was seen landing at the "T Oz" checkpoint near Tulkarem.


— Warfare Analysis (@warfareanalysis) February 18, 2024

“Our fighters managed to directly and precisely target the special infantry forces, causing deaths and injuries among their ranks,” the Tulkarem branch of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade said in a statement on Sunday. Israeli media reports said a soldier from the Border Guard unit was killed in clashes in Tulkarem.

The Tulkarem Brigade of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement’s Al-Quds Brigades said in an earlier statement that they targeted Israeli troops with gunfire and explosives during fierce clashes in Tulkarem camp. The fighting persisted well into Sunday afternoon.

Local sources told WAFA news agency that Israeli forces deployed snipers across the camp rooftops and prevented ambulances from entering, adding that there could be additional wounded.

Israeli army violence and settler attacks on Palestinians have surged significantly in the West Bank since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and the outbreak of the war in Gaza. Israel also continues an arbitrary arrest campaign across the occupied territory.

Resistance activity remains at an all-time high as a result.

At least two Israelis were killed in a shooting operation in the Kiryat Malachi settlement, near the occupied city of Ashdod in southern Israel. The shooter, east Jerusalem resident Fadi Jamjoum, was killed after the operation.

Israeli forces stormed Jabal Abu Rumman in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, setting fire to his funeral home on Saturday evening.

“Israel’s” American aligned Occupation forces vandalized the funeral home of the martyr Sheikh Fadi Jamjoum after storming Jabal Abu Rumman in Hebron.

— Suribelle 🔻 (@Syribelle) February 17, 2024

The day before, Israel arrested Jamjoum’s wife and summoned his father and brother for interrogation.

Friday’s shooting operation was hailed by several resistance groups as a “natural response” to Israel’s continued crimes in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. ... karem-raid

Israel responsible for sabotage of key Iranian gas pipelines: Report

The destruction of civilian infrastructure in Iran was considered a 'major escalation' in the shadow war between Tel Aviv and Tehran

News Desk

FEB 17, 2024

(Photo Credit: Reza Kamali Dehkordi/Fars News Agency via AP)

Israel was behind clandestine strikes on two critical gas pipelines inside Iran this week, which disrupted the flow of gas to millions of citizens in the middle of winter, according to western officials and a military strategist affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) who spoke with the New York Times (NYT).

The unnamed officials called the Israeli sabotage attack “a major symbolic strike” and “a stark warning of the damage that Israel could inflict” as the country sinks deeper into conflict with the Resistance Axis.

According to the report, Tel Aviv was also responsible for a “separate blast on Thursday inside a chemical factory on the outskirts of Tehran that rattled a neighborhood and sent plumes of smoke and fire into the air.” However, Iranian officials say the factory explosion was caused by an accident.

On 14 February, twin explosions hit Iranian pipelines that carry around 57 million cubic meters of natural gas and run for more than 1,000 kilometers in the provinces of Fars and Chahar Mahal Bakhtiari. The disruption temporarily took out around a sixth of Iran’s daily natural gas production, causing outages in several regions.

“The enemy’s plan was to completely disrupt the flow of gas in winter to several main cities and provinces in our country,” Iran’s Oil Minister, Javad Owji, said on Friday. He had previously called the blasts an “act of sabotage” and “terrorist attacks,” adding that the attack aimed to stir domestic discontent.

The unnamed Iranian official who spoke with the NYT said the attackers “required deep knowledge of Iran’s infrastructure and careful coordination.”

Tel Aviv has a long history of assassinating Iranian officials and nuclear scientists and has been behind sabotage attempts in several nuclear and military facilities in Iran.

Israeli attacks on Iranian targets escalated since the start of the year after Tel Aviv assassinated two senior IRGC commanders in Syria. The killings led to a decisive response from Tehran, which saw the destruction of an alleged Mossad base in northern Iraq.

The Islamic Republic also suffered one of the largest terror attacks in its history in January when ISIS militants killed about 100 people in Kerman during a ceremony commemorating the death of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani.

During the Syria war, which lasted from 2011 to 2018, Israeli officials acknowledged providing support to the official Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Nusra Front, which spun off from its mother organization, ISIS. ... nes-report

Netanyahu eyes Al-Aqsa ban on Palestinian worshippers for Ramadan: Report

Israel’s Shin Bet security service has expressed concern that such restrictions will only fuel tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month

News Desk

FEB 19, 2024

(Photo credit: AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to the request of his extremist security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, to limit Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem during the upcoming month of Ramadan.

The government “made a balanced decision that allows freedom of religion with necessary security limits, which have been set by professional officials,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on 18 February.

The statement rejected Hebrew media reports that the prime minister has not yet reached a decision on the matter, calling them “incorrect.”

Ben Gvir had been demanding that Palestinian Muslims from the occupied West Bank – as well as those with Israeli citizenship in the 1948-occupied territories – be limited from accessing the holy site during Ramadan.

Netanyahu has reportedly only agreed to bar the latter group. The restrictions are to be based on age criteria and will be determined at a later date, Israeli reports say.

Israel periodically restricted Palestinians from worshipping at Al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers since 7 October.

"Considering the sensitivity around the security situation, restrictions will be put in place for security purposes alone,” former defense chief Benny Gantz said on Sunday.

The prime minister’s agreement to Ben Gvir’s request came during a ministerial meeting on Sunday.

“Netanyahu accepted … Ben-Gvir's position to limit the entry of Israeli-Arabs to the Temple Mount … the decision was taken contrary to the Shin Bet security position,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz cites a source who was part of the meeting as saying.

The Shin Bet believes that any antagonization of Muslims during the holy month would be a bad idea and that restrictions would only ignite tensions further.

The prime minister reportedly rejected other requests made by Ben Gvir, including allowing the police to raid the holy site if Palestinian flags were displayed inside.

In past years, Israel has imposed restrictions on Palestinian worshippers in Al-Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan, particularly when the Muslim holy month coincides with Jewish holidays. The restrictions result in tensions and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police.

East Jerusalem was illegally occupied and annexed by Israel in 1967. Under international law and according to the Jerusalem Status Quo agreements, Israel has no sovereignty over the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Provocative settler incursions and police raids into the holy site are nonetheless a common occurrence.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque, built by an Arab caliph in the 7th century, is the third holiest site in Islam. The structure is precious to nearly two billion Muslims.

In April 2023, rockets struck Israel from Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon within days after Israeli police raided and brutally beat worshippers at the site.

Israeli incursions into the holy site triggered an 11-day battle between the Palestinian resistance and Israel in May 2021.

Since Israel’s current government came to power, illegal and provocative settler incursions, led by Ben Gvir himself at times, have surged significantly. Dangerous Israeli-sponsored excavations near the site have also accelerated.

According to Hebrew reports, the Israeli security establishment is generally cautious about imposing restrictions on worshippers at the mosque, given that Israel is already facing a multi-front war. ... dan-report

Yemeni navy destroys British oil ship in Gulf of Aden

This was the third UK vessel attacked by Yemen in the past four days

News Desk

FEB 19, 2024

The British Marlin Luanda vessel in flames after a Yemeni attack in the Gulf of Aden in January. (Photo credit: AP)

The Yemeni armed forces announced on 19 February a new attack on a British commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden, adding that the ship was nearly destroyed.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces … carried out an effective military operation, targeting a British ship in the Gulf of Aden, RUBYMAR, with several naval missiles,” Yemeni army spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement.

“The ship was seriously damaged, causing it to stop completely. As a result of the extensive damage the ship suffered, it is now at risk of sinking in the Gulf of Aden. We ensured the ship’s crew exited safely during the operation,” Saree added.

UK maritime authorities said an investigation was launched following reports of an explosion near a British cargo ship on Sunday.

The Yemeni spokesman added that air defenses also brought down a US MQ-9 drone “while it was carrying out hostile missions against our country on behalf of the Zionist entity.”

This was the third UK vessel that Yemen has struck in the last four days. The Yemeni army announced on 17 February an attack on the British oil vessel, the POLLUX, in the Red Sea. This came two days after an attack on the UK ship LYCAVITOS.

Since the US and UK launched a violent airstrike campaign against Yemen last month, Sanaa has attacked several US and British vessels in the Red Sea and elsewhere.

CENTCOM announced “five self-defense strikes” on what it said were Yemeni cruise missiles on Saturday.

Nevertheless, these strikes have done little to deter Yemen from continuing operations against Israeli-linked ships.

The Yemeni attacks have dealt a significant blow to the Israeli economy and western shipping as a whole. Several major shipping companies were forced to suspend journeys in the Red Sea and make lengthy and expensive reroutes.

Yemeni naval operations “will not stop until the aggression ends and the siege on the Gaza Strip is lifted,” Saree confirmed in Monday’s statement.

The Sanaa government’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Hussein al-Ezzi, warned on 16 February that Washington “will soon” regret its escalation against Yemen. ... lf-of-aden.


Rafah Massacre Exposes Israel’s Brutality

Lucas Leiroz

February 18, 2024

Recent attacks in Rafah are showing Israeli practices to Western public opinion and making the Zionist state even more isolated internationally.

Israel’s attacks against the Gaza Strip are increasingly violent and disproportionate. In recent days, the Zionist State has launched a series of brutal strikes against the city of Rafah, in south of the Strip, close to the border with Egypt’s Sinai. The region has served as a refuge for thousands of Palestinians who have fled their homes in the northern areas of Gaza since the start of the conflict. By bombing Rafah, Tel Aviv makes it clear that there will be no security for Palestinians anywhere in Gaza.

On February 11, Israel launched a military campaign against Rafah, killing dozens and injuring hundreds of Palestinians. In the following days, some similar bombings continued to occur, generating more victims. In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly promised a ground invasion on Rafah, generating fear among the local population about the consequences of such a measure.

The case is particularly complicated because, previously, the Israeli authorities had made several statements encouraging internal migration in Gaza so that Palestinians could leave the northern areas and seek refuge in Rafah. Until then, Rafah was considered one of the few cities in Gaza where ordinary life was still possible. Now, however, Israel no longer appears willing to spare the city from its violence.

As a result, one of the most serious cases of human rights violations in recent history was created: almost two million Gazeans are in Rafah without the freedom to come and go, held hostage by Israeli bombings. If Palestinian civilians migrate north, they will find cities completely annihilated and without infrastructure. If they stay in the south, they will continue to be brutally bombarded by Israeli artillery and aviation. At the same time, the blockade of water, food and energy remains in force, making life in the region almost impossible.

The attacks in Rafah came shortly after the failure of attempts to reach a ceasefire agreement. Hamas presented a revised version of the agreement proposed by Tel Aviv, establishing a three-stage ceasefire plan that was vehemently rejected by Israel. At the time, the majority opinion among experts was that Israel was in a weak position in the conflict, since the agreement proposed by the Zionist State was extremely favorable to Hamas. The fact that Hamas even so reviewed and demanded more concessions from Israel appears to have been a “redline” for the Netanyahu government, which emerged humiliated from the negotiation process. In retaliation, the ceasefire talks not only stopped but Israel decided to escalate the attacks, reaching Rafah.

In this sense, it is possible that the operation against Rafah was intended to show strength. Israel wants to improve its military image after the failure in the first months of the offensive against Palestine. After failing in its goals of freeing prisoners and eliminating Hamas, the Zionist state is trying to regain its deterrent power against regional enemies, using excessive violence against civilians to intimidate the Palestinian Resistance and force Hamas to accept a ceasefire agreement without making major demands from Tel Aviv.

However, the consequences of these attacks against civilian areas tend to be devastating for Israel in terms of public opinion. The Jewish State has already faced a situation of partial international isolation since the beginning of the aggression on Gaza – now this could get even worse. Before, Tel Aviv at least had the argument that Palestinians could migrate to Rafah to escape the consequences of the war. Now, even this is not a possibility, as Rafah has become the main target of IDF’s operations.

International pressure on the Zionist regime will inevitably increase. It is impossible to hide images of the situation in Rafah from the public. Photos and videos showing dead children are circulating on the internet, generating outrage among ordinary people in Western countries. This tends to foment protests and domestic pressure in these countries for their support to the Zionist regime to end or decrease.

Not by chance, there have already been calls for caution to Netanyahu from Western authorities. In the UK, officials called on Tel Aviv to “rethink” its actions in Rafah, considering the high risk of escalation. Obviously, these pronouncements are hypocritical, since these same Western countries militarily support Zionist aggression and collaborate with Israel’s expansionist and racist project. But even so, they are significant statements, as they show that the West fears damaging its image by continuing to support such Israeli acts.

In the end, Tel Aviv is acting so irrationally that it can no longer disguise the real nature of its military actions, which are a true project of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. Clearly, the goal is not to “eliminate Hamas.” And obviously civilian deaths are not mere “side effects”. There is a real intention of collective extermination against the Palestinian people, with the “anti-Hamas operation” being a mere excuse. The killing of civilians in Rafah has made this clear. And, in this way, all countries that continue to support Israel will be complicit in a true genocide. ... brutality/
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Tue Feb 20, 2024 12:36 pm

Israeli Fibs: What Really Happened When Two Captives Were Retrieved?
FEBRUARY 19, 2024

Israeli captives Louis Har (70) and Fernando Simon Marman (60). Photo: Al Mayadeen.

The truth behind the Israeli narrative of the IOF retrieving two captives from Rafah: the reality of events that led to their release.

The Israeli occupation forces claimed on Monday that during a joint operation with Shin Bet and the Israeli Police, they were able to retrieve two Israeli captives held in Rafah by the Palestinian Resistance in Gaza, while simultaneously massacring over 100 Palestinian civilians and injuring tens of others.

Following the retrieval of the captives, Israeli media and journalists narrated a web of tales praising the heroic but complex success of the operation, while Israeli generals and officials celebrated the accomplishment.

However, as leads to the narrative did not add up, two major questions were raised:

What happened during the Israeli operation? And were the two Israelis actually held captive by the Resistance?
Reliable sources revealed to Al Mayadeen the chronology of events of the operation on February 12, exposing the fallacy of the Israeli narrative as nothing more than an unraveling fictitious charade that unveils the severity of “Israel’s” turmoil and signifies just another tale added to the collection of lies the occupation has spread since October 7.

A Fabricated Charade
On October 7, after the destruction of the separation fence in Gaza, the collapse of Israeli defenses, military bases, and sites, and the Palestinian Resistance’s captivation of Israeli occupation soldiers, Palestinian civilians mobilized to Israeli settlements near the envelope and kidnapped settlers rendering the Resistance factions’ tallying process more difficult and less accurate.

The Resistance could not measure the tangible ramifications that unfolded immediately, especially amid the launching of intense and constant Israeli airstrikes, targeting the entirety of the Gaza Strip.

Taking this into consideration, members of a well-known family in Rafah kidnapped two Israeli settlers, Fernando Simon Marman (60) and Louis Har (70), who would later be claimed to have been retrieved by the IOF.

The captives were taken to a house in Rafah, where the leader of the family clan had put them under the protection of his brother and cousins. They were tasked with providing them with food and the necessary medical care. To preserve their protection, the members had been moving them from location to location, while “Israel” carried out its military offensive in Gaza.

However, when the leader was martyred in Khan Younis in January, the three members became the sole protectors of the captives, with no responsible director available to refer to. Therefore, the clan acted on their own diligence and continued moving Marman and Har, the Israeli captives, until they finally settled in a house in the Shaboura refugee camp, according to Al Mayadeen’s sources.

Since the members acted on their own will and were independent of an organized association, Louis Har, one of the captives, was able to manipulate the members and bribe them with an escape out of Gaza and provide them with whatever requests they made, alleging that his daughter owned a giant Israeli company that would be able to cement his promises. The Palestinian men were eventually convinced and called Har’s daughter.

Har’s daughter then established a channel of communication with the three men and constantly conducted calls that were monitored by Israeli intelligence. To further gain their trust, Har’s daughter sent the three men’s relatives in London and Sweden monetary sums and offered that they accompany the captives back to the occupied territories, claiming she would guarantee their safety, information obtained by Al Mayadeen’s sources revealed.

However, her offer was rejected, but a deal was made by which the woman would give the members an already-agreed-on monetary sum in exchange for the release of the captives, and a promise that the men could escape Gaza to Egypt, then to a European country.

Terms of the deal
Al Mayadeen’s sources detailed that the deal brokered between the men and the captive’s daughter, tailored and monitored by the Israeli occupation intelligence forces, included the transportation of the captives to the vicinity of the Gaza envelope, where Har’s daughter claimed would be stationed at a location hidden from Israeli occupation forces.

As per the deal, one of the men was supposed to go to a location in Rafah’s vicinity, after it was besieged from all sides, to meet the captive’s daughter and obtain the sum. Once that was done, his relatives would be called to confirm the acquisition of the money, and to greenlight their move to another location where the captives would be released after he leaves with the money.

Three dates were set to complete the deal, however, the captive’s daughter would call ahead of time to delay based on personal security concerns and fears, until one last definitive date would be set on February 12 at 1 a.m.

A deception operation

When the first man arrived at the agreed location to meet the captive’s daughter, the brutal Israeli military operation was launched in Rafah, after Israeli intelligence, through monitoring the calls, pinpointed the location of the house where Har and Marman were being held and the number of people residing there.

In an act of deception, the Israeli military operation targeted all sides of Rafah, except the near vicinity of the house. Israeli occupation soldiers then went into the house and retrieved the captives. The man who had left to meet the captive’s daughter is speculated to have been either detained or killed, which rebuts the Israeli claims of concocting a “secret” operation that led them to the house where the captives had been and “the confrontation against armed men inside the apartment and neighboring buildings throughout the operation.”

Therefore, based on the obtained information, the occupation deliberated the fabrication of a “complex and cohesive operation” to falsely promote a major accomplishment for the feeble occupation “army” that has failed to retrieve one single captive in its four-month and still ongoing military offensive on Gaza. It also served to polish Benjamin Netanyahu‘s image as settlers and captives’ families protested against him and his policies, specifically after several settlers were killed by reckless and vicious IOF bombing in Gaza. ... retrieved/


The Resistance Has a Plan for Israel. But on the Other Side, Fantastical U.S. Stratagems Ensure a Cascading Failure

Alastair Crooke

February 19, 2024

We have entered a period of breakdown and violence, as the forces pulling apart the old status quo cascade and mutually reinforce one another.

In a speech on Tuesday, Hizbullah leader Seyed Nasrallah said that the Party will continue the border offensive until at least the Gaza massacre stops. The war in Gaza however, is far from over. And Nasrallah warned that even were a ceasefire to be reached in Gaza, “should the enemy perform any action, we will return to operating according to the rules and formulas that existed before. The purpose of the resistance is to deter the enemy, and we will react accordingly”.

Israel’s Defense Secretary Gallant has underlined that contrary to international consensus expectations, he too expects the war in Lebanon to continue. Gallant said the military has stepped up its attacks against Hizbullah by one level out of ten:

“The Air Force planes flying currently in the skies of Lebanon have heavier bombs for more distant targets. Hizbullah went up half a step, whilst we, a full one … We can attack not only at 20 kilometers [from the border], but also at 50 kilometres, and in Beirut and anywhere else”.

It is not clear what ‘red line’ Hizbullah would have to cross for Israel to significantly escalate its response to much higher levels; Israeli leaders have suggested that an attack on a strategic site; or an attack leading to major civilian casualties; or a substantive barrage on Haifa might constitute the breaking point.

Nonetheless, with three military divisions rather than the usual one now deployed in the north of Israel, the IDF has more forces poised for action on the northern border than it has preparing for an incursion into Rafah – at this point. It is clear, as Chief of Staff Halevy has specified, that Israel is “preparing for war” against Hizbullah (more than preparing for Rafah).

Is the threat to Rafah a bluff to put pressure on Hamas to concede on the deal and hostages? One way or another, both Israel’s political and military chiefs are adamant: The IDF will incurse into Rafah – ‘at some point’.

The qualitatively different Hizbullah’s strike on Safed on Israel’s northern regional command HQ on Wednesday – which that resulted in 2 dead and 7 further casualties – is being treating in Israel as the gravest attack since the start of the war, with Ben Gvir calling it a “declaration of war”. Subsequent Israeli attacks killed 11 people, including six children, in a barrage of strikes on villages across southern Lebanon, in retribution for the Safed blitz – with the fierce exchange of fire still continuing.

The ‘Safed Strike’ deep into the Galilee very likely was intended to signal that Hizbullah is not about to capitulate to western demands that it provide Israel with a ceasefire that is intended to facilitate evacuated Israelis to return to their homes in the north. As Nasrallah confirmed in a scathing attack on those external (Western) mediators who serve only as Israel’s lawyers, and neglect to address the massacres in Gaza:

“It is easier to move the Litani River forward to the borders, than to push back Hezbollah fighters from the borders, to behind the Litani River … They want us to pay a price without Israel committing to a thing”.

In these circumstances, Nasrallah clarified that residents of northern Israel will not return to their homes – warning that even more Israelis risk being displaced:

“‘Israel’ must prepare shelters, basements, hotels and schools to house two million settlers who will be evacuated from northern Palestine, [were Israel to expand the war zone].”

Nasrallah outlined what is clearly the agreed Axis of resistance’s overarching strategic plan. (There has been a flurry of meetings between senior Axis principals over the last week, across the region, for which Nasrallah is speaking):

“We are committed to fighting Israel until it is off the map. A strong Israel is dangerous to Lebanon; but a deterred Israel, defeated and exhausted, is less of a danger to Lebanon”.

“The national interest of Lebanon, the Palestinians, and the Arab world is that Israel leaves this battle defeated: Therefore, we are committed to Israel’s defeat”.

Put bluntly, the Axis has its vision of the conflict’s outcome. And it is a “deterred, defeated and exhausted” Israeli State. By implication, it is an Israel that has relinquished the Zionist project – one that is reconciled to the notion of living as Jews between the River and the Sea – albeit with rights no different to others living there (i.e. Palestinians).

On the other side, the western strategic plan, as the Washington Post reports – which the U.S. and several Arab countries hope to present within a few weeks – is a long-term plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, including a “time frame” for the establishment of a provisional de-militarized Palestinian “state”:

“Imperatively, it begins with a hostage deal accompanied by a six-week cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. While it may be termed “cessation of hostilities” or an “extended humanitarian pause,” such a cease-fire will signal the de facto end of the war along the lines and scale that it has been fought since 7 Oct.”

The plan addresses “Post-war Gaza”, in terms already well-known. As senior Israeli commentator, Alon Pinkas, affirms:

“Parallel to the announcement U.S., Britain and possibly other countries will consider and eventually make a joint statement of intent by recognizing a provisional, demilitarized and future Palestinian state – without delineating or specifying its borders”.

“Such a recognition does not necessarily contradict Israel’s legitimate and reasonable demand to have overriding security control over the area west of the Jordan River in the foreseeable future … [it constitutes] a practical, timebound, irreversible path to a Palestinian state living side-by-side in peace with Israel … whose recognition could also be submitted to the UN Security Council – as a binding resolution. Once the Arab countries sign off on such a framework, the U.S. believes that neither Russia nor China would veto it …

“Within the “regionalization” phase however, the Americans will craft a regional security cooperation mechanism. Some in Washington imagine a reconfigured region with a new “security architecture” as a harbinger to a gradual Mideast version of the European Union, with greater economic and infrastructure integration”.

Ah – the New Middle East again!!!

Even Alon Pinkas, an experienced former Israeli diplomat, concedes: “If the plan seems too fantastical to you: You’re not alone”.

The basic improbabilities to this plan simply are disregarded. Firstly, Israel’s Finance Minister Smotrich responded to the reported American-Arab plan, saying: “there’s a joint American, British and Arab effort to establish a terrorist state” next to Israel. Second, (as Smotrich further notes): “They see the polls. They see how the absolute majority of Israelis oppose this idea [of a Palestinian State]”; and thirdly, some 700,000 settlers were installed in the West Bank – precisely to block any Palestinian State.

Is the U.S. really going to impose this onto a hostile Israel? How?

And, from the Resistance perspective, ‘a provisional, demilitarized and future Palestinian ‘state’, without delineated or specified borders, is not a state. It is truly a Bantustan.

The reality is that when a Palestinian State might have been a real prospect (two decades ago), the international community turned a willing ‘blind eye’ – for decades – to Israel’s successful and complete sabotage of the project. Today, circumstances are much changed: Israel has moved far to the Right and is in the grip of an eschatological passion to establish Israel on the entire “Land of Israel”.

The U.S. and Europe have only themselves to blame for the dilemma in which they now find themselves. And a policy stance – such as outlined by Biden – plainly said is doing untold strategic damage to the U.S. and its compliant European allies.

Even on the Lebanon track, let us be plain too, Israel’s demands from Lebanon go far beyond a mutual ceasefire. There is no guarantee, even should a ceasefire be reached in Gaza as part of a comprehensive hostage/end-of-war deal, that Nasrallah will agree to withdraw all his forces from the border with Israel, or conversely, that Israel will comply with its commitments.

And with the U.S. defining its Palestinian ‘solution’ as an improbable, provisional, disarmed and wholly impotent Palestinian entity, nestled within a fully militarised Israel, exercising ‘full security overlordship from the River to the Sea’, it would not be surprising were Hizbullah rather, to opt to pursue the Axis’ plan of a defeated, exhausted post-Zionism.

Israeli commentator, Zvi Bar’el, writes:

“Even were the American assumptions to become a working plan, it is still unclear what policy Israel will adopt on Lebanon. Even pushing Hezbollah back so that Israeli communities are no longer within the range of its anti-tank missiles does not remove the threat of tens of thousands of medium and long-range missiles. The deterrence equation between Israel and Hezbollah will continue to determine [the true] reality along the border”.

[The current U.S. working assumption, as presented by the Administration’s special envoy Amos Hochstein in his previous visits to Lebanon], “is that a border demarcation agreement between Israel and Lebanon will result in final and full recognition of the international border and thus deny Hezbollah the formal basis for justifying its continued fight against Israel to liberate occupied Lebanese territories. At the same time, it allows the Lebanese government to order its army to deploy its forces along the border in order to assert its sovereignty over its entire territory and demand that Hezbollah forces pull back from the border”.

This is just more wishful, ‘fantastical’ thinking. And it contains a flaw: Hochstein’s work plan does not include an agreement on the Sheba’a Farms, but only on the ‘Blue Line’ – the border agreed in 2000, but which is not recognized by Lebanon as an international border. If the issue of the Sheba’a Farms is not settled, Hezbollah will not be bound by a limited demarcation accord that omits the Sheba’a area.

Since Hamas’s attack on Israel on 7 October, every stratagem and protocol, dug from some musty West Wing cupboard, and upon which the U.S. leant, has failed. What was supposed to be a limited and compartmentalized military operation in Gaza by the IDF has turned into a regional firestorm. Aircraft carriers sent to deter other actors from getting involved failed with the Houthis; U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria became targets, with attacks on U.S. bases continuing, despite U.S. attempts at delivering deterrent ‘punches’.

Quite clearly, Netanyahu is ignoring Biden, and ‘defying the world’ – as this week’s headlines attest:

“Defying Biden, Netanyahu Doubles Down on Plans to Fight in Rafah” (Wall Street Journal)

“As Israel corners Rafah, Netanyahu defies the world” (Washington Post)

“U.S. won’t punish Israel for Rafah op that doesn’t protect civilians” (Politico)

“Egypt Builds Walled Enclosure on Border as Israeli Offensive Looms: Authorities are surrounding an area in the desert with concrete walls as a contingency for possible influx of Palestinian refugees” (Wall Street Journal).

Netanyahu has vowed to forge ahead, saying on Wednesday that Israel would mount a “powerful” operation in the city of Rafah, once residents have been “evacuated”. Israelis explicitly say the White House is not opposed to the Rafah blitz, provided Palestinians are given the opportunity to “evacuate” (to where, is left unsaid). (Meanwhile, Egypt is building a refugee camp inside its border, surrounded by concrete walls …).

At this point, all of the U.S.’ various problems – the political polarization, widening war, funding for wars, the alienation amongst the swing-state Arab constituencies and Biden’s sinking ratings – are beginning to feed into, and reinforce, each other. What began as a foreign-policy issue – Israel defeating Hamas – has become a significant domestic crisis. Dissatisfaction within the U.S. at Israel’s conduct of the war is fuelling the growth of significant protest movements. Who can truly believe that yet another trip by Blinken to the region will solve anything at this point, asks Malcom Kyeyune?

It is hard to say where things in the region will stand, a couple of months from now. We have entered a period of breakdown and violence, as the forces pulling apart the old status quo cascade and mutually reinforce one another. ... g-failure/


Israeli war cabinet gives Ramadan deadline for Rafah assault

Palestinian Islamic Jihad says any truce with Israel requires 'stopping the aggression, returning the displaced, and the withdrawal of the occupation from Gaza'

News Desk

FEB 19, 2024

Minister Benny Gantz speaks at a gathering of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem, February 18, 2024. (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel will launch a ground offensive on the Gaza city of Rafah unless captives still held by Hamas are released by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan next month, Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz claimed on 18 February.

Israel has publicly announced preparations for an assault on the border city in southern Gaza, where some 1.3 million Palestinians have fled, seeking safety from Israeli bombing in Gaza City and Khan Yunis in north and central Gaza, respectively.

Israel has been under intense international pressure to refrain from invading Rafah, which would create a "bloodbath" due to the number of civilians there, aid groups have warned.

"To those saying the price is too high, I say this very clearly: Hamas has a choice," Gantz said in a speech Sunday to American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. "They can surrender, release the hostages, and this way, the residents of Gaza can celebrate the holy holiday of Ramadan."

Gantz is an opposition leader and former head of the Israeli army. He joined the war cabinet when it was formed following the start of the war on 7 October.

Talks in Cairo, where delegations from Israel, the US, and Qatar gathered, are aimed at securing a cease-fire and the exchange of captives. But the talks have stalled in recent days. No delegation representing Hamas or other Palestinian resistance factions is present in the Egyptian capital.

Deputy Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Dr. Mohammad Al-Hindi, stated on 18 February that the Israeli delegation does not have the authority to conclude any deal and that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is exploiting the Cairo talks to deflect domestic and international criticism.

The international community is angry at Israel's mass killing of Palestinians and potential invasion of Rafah. At the same time, many Israelis are angry that the captives held by Hamas in Gaza have not been freed.

Hindi stated further that Israel is using the talks to buy time and condition the world to accept the attack on Rafah.

Any truce with Israel is conditional upon "stopping the aggression, returning the displaced, and the withdrawal of the occupation from Gaza," Hindi explained.

Amid the truce talks, discussion of the establishment of a Palestinian state is gaining momentum. A report last week in The Washington Post stated that the US and Arab countries will soon present a "road" map towards a diplomatic settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, together with a provisional structure for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But Israeli leaders have expressed their opposition to the "unilateral" establishment of a Palestinian state, which has once again become a focus of the international community since the Hamas attack on Israeli settlements and military bases on 7 October, known as Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

Haaretz reported on 19 February that "Ministers have recently made it clear that the current government will under no circumstances allow a two-state solution to move forward, despite Netanyahu's ambiguous language" on the issue.

Hamas issued a statement in response saying that Israel's refusal to accept a Palestinian state shows the "Zionist entity is evading international laws and resolutions, and denying the right of our Palestinian people to self-determination, and building their independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital."

The statement added that "The policy of the Zionist enemy, since the start of negotiations more than thirty years ago, has been based on buying time, to steal more Palestinian land, Judaize it, and expand settlements, leading to imposing a fait accompli on our Palestinian people and the world." ... ah-assault

As Ramadan approaches, Israel threatens war on Lebanon

The reckless US–Israeli attempt to forcibly move Hezbollah far from its border risks driving the region into a full-on war, which neither Tel Aviv nor Washington could hope to manage. And they're picking this fight as the holy Muslim month of Ramadan approaches.

Khalil Harb

FEB 19, 2024

Photo Credit: The Cradle

Tel Aviv's mounting threats to destroy Beirut as it has done to Gaza, coupled with growing Israeli public support for aggressive military action against Lebanon, have spiked tensions on the northern battlefront in recent days.

Furthermore, the precarious game at play in Washington – which has done absolutely nothing to impede Israeli occupation forces from launching an assault on Rafah and uprooting more than a million Palestinians from their last refuge on the Egyptian border – is driving the war to a volatile, dangerous brink.

Adding fuel to this already incendiary mix are two critical factors. First, Israel's targeted strikes on Lebanese civilians, exemplified by the recent attacks in Nabatiyeh and Al-Sowanah, have provoked a stern response from Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, who vowed retribution, declaring that "the price of civilian blood will be blood."

Second is the approaching month of Ramadan, a sacred period observed by hundreds of millions of Muslims worldwide, which adds a transnational dimension to these developments. Fasting Muslims from Indonesia to Morocco will grow increasingly frustrated with Washington's inaction in preventing genocide and the displacement of over two million Palestinians in Gaza, many of whom are on the brink of starvation.

Escalations will lead to an exodus

Despite US assurances that it is pressuring Israel to mitigate casualties, the relentless onslaught has resulted in an appalling daily death toll of around 300, with nearly 29,000 lives lost, and over 60 percent of homes and infrastructure decimated.

When Nasrallah declared that "for every drop of blood shed in Gaza and the entire region, the primary responsibility falls on [US President Joe] Biden, [US Secretary of State Antony] Blinken, and [US Secretary of Defense Lloyd] Austin," his words resonated deeply – not only within the Islamic world but with millions globally – calling for an end to the war by halting the influx of American weapons to the Israeli military.

The US State Department has received multiple warnings from diplomats in the region of the growing resentment toward Washington for its complicity in Israel's genocidal campaign. Despite its tone-deaf attempts to adjust its stance and emphasize a need to protect Palestinian civilians, the regional backlash threatens to undermine US diplomacy, unravel Arab normalization deals with Israel, and jeopardize US business interests throughout West Asia.

Speaking to The Cradle, sources close to the Axis of Resistance in Lebanon said the next fortnight carries the potential for a catastrophic escalation, particularly if Israel intensifies its military aggression during Ramadan and advances its plans to displace Palestinians from Rafah.

Additionally, the discontent among Israeli settlers displaced by Lebanese resistance operations along the northern border poses further risks, with officials in Tel Aviv contemplating drastic measures to ensure calm, including potential military action – a preview of which southern Lebanese civilians have recently witnessed.

The discontent among northern settlers grows as they grapple with the new security dynamics in the aftermath of the Hamas-led Al-Aqsa Flood operation on 7 October. Extending over 100 kilometers from Naqoura to the Shebaa Farms and penetrating 5 to 10 kilometers deep, this border strip has seen the displacement of thousands of settler families.

Israel wants Hezbollah purged from its border

Despite stern warnings from senior Israeli officials to restore "calm" along the northern frontier – including Energy Minister Eli Cohen's pledge that "if this threat is not removed diplomatically, we will not hesitate to take military action" – the situation remains fraught.

A poll by the Hebrew newspaper Maariv showed that 71 percent of Israelis believe Israel should launch a large-scale military operation against Lebanon to keep Hezbollah away from the border. At the same time, the Israeli military leadership is acutely aware of the significance of Nasrallah's statement on 13 February, when he insisted that the settlers fleeing from the north "will not return" and that Israeli officials should "prepare shelters, hotels, schools and tents for two million people."

In two consecutive speeches, Nasrallah stressed that "only stopping the war on Gaza will stop the Lebanon front." And he reminded Israelis that since 1982 they would respond militarily when a mere Lebanese bullet or Katyusha rocket would hit its areas, but now – despite more than 2000 rocket strikes by the resistance against critical Israeli targets – Tel Aviv has been unable to escalate to a full-scale war.

A Lebanese political source informs The Cradle of Israel's dual strategy: while exerting military pressure through direct raids on southern Lebanon to instill fear, the occupation state also pins hopes on western diplomatic overtures to Beirut. Their aim? To force the removal of Hezbollah, not just from the border, but from regions beyond the Litani River.

Hezbollah won't budge from western pressure

Nasrallah recounted a telling anecdote from discussions with western envoys – all singularly focused on the goal of pushing Hezbollah north of the Litani. Faced with this onslaught of illogical demands, a Lebanese official quipped, "It's easier to relocate the river to the border than to push Hezbollah north of it."

In short, even pro-west Lebanese officials understand the impossibility of this ambition.

The recent statement by US chief energy diplomat Amos Hochstein merely confirms what Hezbollah already knows: Washington's aim is not to end the conflict but to manage it. Western engagements with Beirut, according to the political source, amount to little more than message transmission, primarily conveying Israel's demands and threats rather than facilitating genuine mediation. This lack of earnestness in addressing the gravity of the situation in southern Lebanon has not gone unnoticed.

Even Prime Minister Najib Mikati, known for his calm demeanor, expressed frustration with this superficial approach, stating on 12 January:

We informed all the international delegates who visited Lebanon that talking about a truce in Lebanon only is illogical … a ceasefire be reached as soon as possible in Gaza, in parallel with a serious ceasefire in Lebanon.

In this context, another political source reveals the contents of a document presented by France to Lebanese officials, proposing a ceasefire on the border and the formation of a monitoring committee comprising US and French representatives alongside Lebanese and Israeli delegates.

However, it also outlines a three-stage process: ceasefire, withdrawal of resistance fighters and their military assets 10 kilometers north of the border, and subsequent negotiations aimed at establishing a resistance-free buffer zone.

The US and Israel face a critical choice

Nasrallah takes such proposals with a pinch of salt, emphasizing instead that any negotiations must center on the core principle of liberating Lebanese territory currently occupied by Israel. Hezbollah's response to such diplomatic overtures is to be expected. Why would it concede anything when it is causing its enemy unprecedented pain and is, for the first time ever, coordinating its military efforts with multiple resistance battlefronts in West Asia, including Gaza, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq?

Sources close to the resistance say recent remarks by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant that his forces had deliberately bombed Beirut have made Nasrallah conclude that Tel Aviv's recent targeting of civilians in Nabatiyeh, Sowanah, and Adshit "was deliberate and not a mistake." Moreover, it is an Israeli attempt to violate the rules of engagement in place since 1992, which if not upheld, can change the military game considerably for Israel – to its detriment, as well as Lebanon's. For starters, the Hezbollah leader has promised a strong response on the frontlines, targeting the enemy directly rather than "targeting sites, spy devices, and vehicles."

Informed sources who spoke to The Cradle say that the US and Israel will be forced to make some critical choices in the next two weeks, not only as the month of Ramadan approaches, but also because Tel Aviv has now crossed the line of military "proportionality" by targeting Lebanese civilians and inviting escalation.

Their most perilous move may be for Israel to launch a war on Lebanon – and Hezbollah specifically – which will prompt the Axis of Resistance to recalibrate its region-wide strategies.

This recalibration could manifest through several avenues: intensification and resilience of the Lebanese resistance, breaking the fragile truce by Kataib Hezbollah and its Iraqi resistance allies to strike broader US targets, Syria assuming a more prominent role, adjustments in the direction and potency of Yemeni missile attacks and drone operations (beyond the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden), and shifts in Iran's power centers toward favoring confrontation – which would be a major deviation from its regional approach over the past four months.

Such shifts could occur if the gaze of Netanyahu and Biden shifts firmly towards the north. ... on-lebanon

Israeli warplanes bomb targets deep inside Lebanon

Israel continues to strike deeper into Lebanese territory as the conflict with Hezbollah escalates

News Desk

FEB 19, 2024

Israeli Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle flies in formation with a US Air Force B-1B Lancer over Israel as part of a deterrence flight Saturday, October 30, 2021. (Photo credit: US Air Force/Senior Airman Jerreht Harris via AP)

Israel bombed targets near the Lebanese coastal city of Saida (Sidon), 30 km from the border, in one of the deepest strikes within the country since the start of the war with Hezbollah over four months ago.

The Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) reported that Israeli warplanes carried out the bombings, which occurred in the Ghaziyeh industrial area 3 km south of Saida.

Local sources say the strikes targeted a warehouse belonging to a generator manufacturing plant, an iron manufacturing plant, and a car. Diesel fuel leaked from barrels in the targeted generator manufacturing warehouse, causing major fires. The strikes lightly injured 8 people.

Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee claimed the strikes targeted "Hezbollah arms depots near Sidon in response to the explosion of a hostile aircraft whose debris was found near the Tiberias area (in northern Israel) this afternoon."

"We will continue to forcefully respond to Hezbollah's attacks," Adraee added.

Israel continues to escalate the war against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.

Eleven people were killed by Israeli airstrikes in several areas of the south on 14 February, including an entire family in the city of Nabatiyeh. The strikes came after rocket attacks on several Israeli military sites that morning.

Hezbollah carried out large rocket and missile attacks on the northern Israeli settlement of Kiryat Shmona the following day in response.

Two-hundred fifty-two people have been killed in southern Lebanon as a result of Israeli bombardment and fighting between the Lebanese resistance and Israel, according to a recent tally.

The death toll includes civilians, journalists, and resistance fighters from Hezbollah and the Amal Movement. In total, 33 civilians, three journalists, 204 Hezbollah members, 11 Amal Movement members, and one Lebanese army soldier have been killed.

Until now, the fighting between Israel and the Lebanese resistance groups has primarily been limited to the border areas. But Israeli leaders have been using increasingly aggressive rhetoric in recent weeks.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Thursday that the Israeli jets flying over Lebanon “have heavier bombs for more distant targets.” Israeli fighter jets were heard over Beirut that evening.

Immediately following the 7 October Hamas attack on Israeli settlements and military bases, some Israeli generals pushed for a pre-emptive full-scale war against Hezbollah in Lebanon. ... de-lebanon

US navy's battle against Yemen 'largest since WWII'

The US Navy continues to battle Yemeni forces in the Red Sea to support Israel's genocidal campaign in Gaza

News Desk

FEB 19, 2024

US aircraft carriers Gerald R. Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower and ships in their Strike Groups sail in formation in the Mediterranean Sea. (Photo credit: AFP)

The US Navy's current conflict with Yemen's Ansarallah-led armed forces in the Red Sea is one of the most significant battles the US Navy has fought in decades, a US admiral said on 18 February.
"I think you'd have to go back to World War II where you have ships who are engaged in combat," Vice Adm. Brad Cooper told the CBS News' 60 Minutes program in an interview broadcast Sunday.
"When I say engaged in combat, where they're getting shot at, we're getting shot at, and we're shooting back," he continued.
Cooper, the deputy commander of the US Central Command, said the Navy had committed about 7,000 sailors to the Red Sea. CBS reported that the Navy had fired about 100 standard surface-to-air missiles against Yemeni missiles and drones.
Since mid-November, Yemen's armed forces have been attacking shipping vessels linked to Israel sailing through the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the Red Sea. Ansarallah is committed to halting Israel's ongoing military assault on Gaza, which many view as genocide.
The US has supplied Israel with thousands of bombs and other weapons to allow the slaughter in Gaza to continue. Without US support, Israel would quickly be forced to end the campaign.
Rather than asking Israel to agree to a ceasefire and negotiate an end to the Gaza conflict, in which Israel has killed over 12,000 Palestinian children, the US and UK sent warships to the Red Sea to attack Yemeni forces.

Yemen released an Infographic showing the number of Yemeni naval operations against “israeli” ships heading to the ports of occupied Palestine and US and UK ships in the Red and Arab Seas from 19/11/23 to 15/02/24

— Hassan | حسن (@eyeofhassoun) February 19, 2024

Cooper claimed it was "crystal clear" that Yemeni forces could not do battle against the US and UK, viewed as world powers, without Iranian support.
"For a decade, the Iranians have been supplying the Houthis [Ansarallah]. They've been resupplying them. They're resupplying them as we sit here right now, at sea," Cooper told O'Donnell. "We know this is happening. They're advising them, and they're providing targeting information."
In response to the US effort to rally allied countries for war on Yemen in December, Ansarallah politburo Mohammed al-Bukhaiti vowed that Yemen's armed forces would not back down.

He stated that "Yemen awaits the creation of the filthiest coalition in history to engage in the holiest battle in history. How will the countries that rushed to form an international coalition against Yemen to protect the perpetrators of Israeli genocide be perceived?"

The Yemeni armed forces announced on 19 February a new attack on a British commercial vessel in the Gulf of Aden, adding that the ship was nearly destroyed.

"The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces … carried out an effective military operation, targeting a British ship in the Gulf of Aden, RUBYMAR, with several naval missiles," Yemeni army spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement. ... since-wwii
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Wed Feb 21, 2024 12:52 pm

Israel intensifies assault on healthcare in Gaza. Only 11 hospitals are partially functioning
Attacks on Al-Amal and Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis leave even more people without essential health care, health workers under threat

February 19, 2024 by Peoples Health Dispatch

Al-Amal Hospital.

Israel continues its attacks on Al-Amal Hospital and Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, despite having already decimated the capacity for care provision at the two facilities. Over the past weeks, most of the people who had taken shelter at Nasser were violently expelled, including health workers and their families. On February 16, the Israeli invasion into Nasser caused an electricity outage and led to the death of several patients still kept in the intensive care unit. Experts warn that more are likely to meet the same fate if they are not transferred soon.

Representatives of the World Health Organization (WHO), which has been trying to negotiate the transfer with the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF), said they were denied entry into Nasser on multiple occasions until February 19. The UN health agency also announced that the round of attacks on Nasser Hospitals has brought the number of partly functional hospitals in Gaza to 11 from the original 36.

During the IOF raid of Nasser Hospital, they also continued bombardments around Al-Amal Hospital, which is affiliated with the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS). On Sunday February 18, the PRCS announced that Israeli forces had hit the hospital building itself, causing serious damage.

The organization also published material documenting the treatment of members of its staff who were kidnapped by the IOF during a raid on February 9. Two of the physicians, Jamal Ayad and Nafith Al-Qarm, were recently released, however photographs shared by the PRCS show that their knees, wrists, and faces were wounded during their detention.

As some of the health workers who were kidnapped by Israeli forces during hospital raids in the past four months are released, more testimonies have emerged of the severe torture and violence they faced whilst in Israeli detention.

One of them, Dr. Alaa Muti’ Al-Ghafir from Al-Shifa’s radiology department, was held captive by the Israeli forces for 56 days. During this time, he recounts, he was beaten so severely he required stitches to stop the bleeding. Al-Ghafir was held in a barrack with approximately 120 more people, without access to adequate hygiene standards or even enough food and water.

“We were given one glass of water per day. We were all hungry and thirsty all day long,” he said in a testimony published by the People’s Health Movement (PHM). “Every day, we had to wake up at 5:00 am and were forced to sit on our knees until midnight. If we moved, we were thrown against the barracks’ fence, and we were not allowed to use the restroom unless the soldier agreed.”

According to reports from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, some 70 staff members from Nasser Hospital were taken by Israeli soldiers after the latest raid, including Atef Al-Hout, the hospital director, and head of surgery Naheed Abu Taaimah.

The intensification of attacks against healthcare in Khan Younis indicates that the few health establishments in Rafah will not be spared when the ground offensive moves there. There are no hospitals in Rafah that could effectively help absorb all the displaced patients coming from other parts of Gaza, but the health facilities there play essential roles in the provision of care in Gaza.

Among them is the Al-Helal Al-Emirati Maternity Hospital, whose health staff have been struggling to keep up with the effects of the war. The position of women and children in the war continues to be particularly vulnerable, as mothers are not able to initiate breastfeeding as they are going hungry themselves.

About two months into the Israeli war on Gaza, Mohammed Salama, head of the neonatal ICU at the hospital, was already warning of a shortage of essential medical supplies, equipment, and formula needed to provide care to newborns. The situation has only grown worse since then, as the aid being allowed into Gaza continues to be a drop in the ocean compared to actual needs.

Emirati’s incubators continue to host several children at the same time, increasing the risk of sepsis. By February 15, 77 babies were sharing 20 incubators. Children in good condition are discharged from the ward, but health workers “know that after a few days they will come back either with sepsis or with hypothermia,” Salama recently told UN officials visiting the facility. ... nctioning/

Palestinian women and girls are being subjected to sexual violence by Israeli soldiers, says UN

Multiple United Nations experts highlight reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have suffered sexual assault by Israeli soldiers

February 19, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch

Without freedom for Palestinian women there is no freedom at all - Rome, Italy, Nov. 25, 2023.
Palestinian women and girls in Israeli detention have reportedly been subject to sexual violence by Israeli soldiers, according to a statement from a group of United Nations experts.

“We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the experts said in a February 19 press release.

The aforementioned experts include Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; and members of the Working group on discrimination against women and girls: Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi.

The experts also note the distressing fact that photos of Israeli soldiers sexually assaulting Palestinian women and girls were taken by the army and uploaded online.

“Taken together, these alleged acts may constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to serious crimes under international criminal law that could be prosecuted under the Rome Statute,” said the experts.

The experts also expressed concern regarding the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls by Israel and their conditions while detained. “Many have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten. On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food,” reads the press release.

At the same time, accusations against Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, for alleged rape and sexual assault of Israeli women and girls on October 7 have been heavily covered by western media outlets, despite the claims having little evidence to back them up. ... s-says-un/


Israel 4Q GDP Fell at 20% Rate; Downward Trajectory Set to Continue as War Drags On and Israel Readies Lebanon Invasion
Posted on February 20, 2024 by Yves Smith

The Financial Times report on the fall of Israel’s economy in the fourth quarter was briefly the lead story and was oddly shuffled quickly off the landing page. The article gives a terse but incomplete tally of the factors that contributed to a decline at a 20% rate in the final quarter, which was markedly worse than most experts expected. Note by contrast that John Helmer was posting on the wide-ranging damage of the conflict on Israel’s economy. His sense of how badly things were faring seems to have been more on target than economists anticipated.

As we’ll soon examine (and informed reader comment encouraged), many of these adverse conditions are likely to stay in place and get worse as the war drags on; others were only starting to take hold in this measurement period. Thus it is reasonable to expect another big decline in the first quarter, even if not necessarily this large.1

Mind you, as we’ll address in due course, not only is the GDP decline set to continue merely based on current pressures continuing and in some cases intensifying, but as we warned, Israel looks to be escalating into a full bore campaign into Lebanon, to try to push citizens there from their homes back to the Litani River. Hezbollah warned it won’t let that happen and most military experts believe that Hezbollah can make that stick.

On top of that, Scott Ritter has pointed out that Hezbollah learned from the Israel 2006 invasion, which it eventually did beat back, that letting a war occur on your territory is a bad idea, and that if Israel attacks, Hezbollah will quickly take the battle into Israel and is set to take Galilee.

Key sections from the Financial Times account:

GDP declined by an annualised 19.4 per cent compared with the third quarter. On a pure quarter-by-quarter basis, the economy contracted 5.2 per cent compared with the previous three months.

The sharp drop was caused in part by the call-up of 300,000 reservists, who had to leave behind their workplaces and businesses to embark on months of army service, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.

Other factors to hit the economy included the government’s sponsorship of housing for more than 120,000 Israelis evacuated from the northern and southern border areas of the country.

Yves here. To interject, the claim that additional government spending on temporary housing would be GDP-depressing is incoherent. I assume the issue is that the economic activity of these communities went to zero, and the extra housing spending was much less than a full offset.

Back to the highlights from the story:

Following the October 7 attack, Israel also imposed tough restrictions on the movement of Palestinian workers from the West Bank into the country. The move hit the construction sector, causing labour shortages that became an additional drag on economic growth, the bureau said.

The war has triggered a steep increase in government spending, which rose 88 per cent in the three months after the outbreak of war compared with the preceding quarter. Consumers, meanwhile, were spending 27 per cent less.

Imports of goods and services fell 42 per cent, the report said, while exports dropped 18 per cent.

The piece also mentions the Moody’s downgrade earlier this month, which was fiercely criticized by Israeli officials. The GDP release confirms it was entirely warranted.

Consider additional negatives omitted from this recap:

Nearly 500,000 citizens left Israel by December 2023, out of a total population of 9 million. One has to assume this group skewed affluent. People without means can’t readily move to another country on a temporary or long-term basis. Even if one has a dual passport and accommodating relatives, these exiles would presumably have to live independently in their new locale at some point. From Anadolu Agency on December 7:

Nearly half a million Israelis have left the country since the outbreak of the Gaza conflict on Oct. 7, according to a local newspaper on Thursday.

The Population and Immigration Authority estimates that 370,000 people left Israel in the past two months, including 230,309 in October and 139,839 in November, Zman magazine said.

According to the magazine, approximately 600,000 Israelis traveled abroad for vacation before the outbreak of the Gaza war, while nearly 370,000 others departed after the conflict.

Nearly 301,982 Israelis returned to Israel in October and 194,016 in November.

“The figures show that the number of Israelis who left and did not return is estimated at around 470,000,” Zman said.

“Therefore, there is a negative migration of about half a million people, and this does not include thousands of foreign workers, refugees, and diplomats who left the country,” it added.

The article also pointed out that immigration had fallen by over 70%.

Admittedly this group could include techies who in theory could return…but would they? Like work from home, if they had successfully set themselves up with their employers/clients to operate from a different locale, it’s not clear they would want to return until the war was clearly over and they could assess how attractive it was to go back. And this cohort probably includes some liberals who are not on board with the Palestinian extermination project.

Effect of Houthi attacks on shipping. Recall that the Houthis are seeking to blockade Israel ports, among other aims. That means choking both imports and exports. Even though the Houthis started their campaign on October 19, my impression is that the attacks did not immediately pose a serious threat, but that by mid-November, both insurers and shipping lines were wrestling with what to do. The announcement of Operation Prosperity Guardian, on December 18, and it quickly proving to be ineffective (actually arguably counterproductive since confirming the Red Sea as a war zone would further alarm carriers and insurers) confirmed the Houthi operation had had a big effect, and not just in the region.

In other words, a crude look at the shipping industry’s reaction to the Houthi initiative suggests that Israel was not feeling its full effects for all of the fourth quarter. So unless there is a miraculous turn of events in early 2024 (and we have yet to see one), an additional GDP decline for the first quarter is baked in due to Israel bearing the full impact of the Houthi shipping strangulation.

Fall in tourism. The European Commission estimated tourism, strictly defined, to account for 2.8% of Israel’s GDP, but including its secondary effects, to contribute nearly 6% of GDP. That activity has to be in free fall. One offset is that settlers who were evacuated from the Lebanon border area are being housed at government expense, one assumes in way-under-capacity hotels.

Loss of demand from Gaza. Gaza’s GDP fell an estimated 24% in 2023, which would have reduced demand at least somewhat in Israel. The Financial Times and other sources, such as a January AlJazeeera story, focus on the immediate effect of the loss of Palestinian labor, which was important in the construction sector. Gaza’s GDP was an estimated $27.8 billion versus $500 billion for Israel. But Gaza is supplied close to entirely by Israel, so at the margin, the loss of its demand would have a measurable, if not large, impact on Israel GDP.

Some observers contend that Israel’s economy is so small that the US could keep it on permanent life support if needed. What cheery views like this miss is that the longer the war goes on, the more permanent the damage to the productive capacity of the economy becomes. Businesses that are shuttered more than a little while do not come back. If nothing else, the employees have to find other ways to live. Anyone in real estate will tell you vacant homes decay quickly, and I trust the same is true of commercial properties (that seems to be the case where I am now, which has tourism as a big but not sole driver of the local economy; the buildings who lost their tenants during Covid look so shabby as to be tear-downs).

In other words, what happens if Israel’s future is to become Gaza-lite, effectively dependent on foreign welfare?

To return briefly to Israel launching a big operation into Lebanon, Alastair Crooke has been warning that this was a given for some time, that Israel was determined to clear Hezbollah, as in the Lebanese population, from the border area with Israel so that the settlers who were evacuated felt comfortable about returning. In his latest Judge Napolitano interview, yesterday, Larry Johnson said his contacts confirmed that an Israel invasion of Lebanon was imminent.

Events seem to be quickly proving Johnson to be correct. An marked increase in Israeli bombings of Lebanon looks like a softening-up operation:
('X' screenshots at link)

A report in the Irish Times show that Israel claims that one of the strikes was on Hezbollah munitions storage, while Lebanon said it was a tire factory.

Crooke had contended that housing the settlers elsewhere is not sustainable (he may mean politically as opposed to economically). He has also argued repeatedly that an overarching objective of Israel is to restore its sense of security, and that means cowing its neighbors with its military might.

But what is missing from this calculation is that what has held back Arab and Muslim states from mixing it up is that Palestine and Israel is an internal affair. I doubt anyone would read the Genocide Convention as providing a basis for armed intervention.

And if anyone were so bold as to try to intervene, the logistics are not favorable. By contrast, Donbass is on Russia’s border, and most wags forget that the 2014 civil war did become Russia’s problem by virtue of it taking in 1 million refugees (this per the UN). That is before getting to the wee matter of the security threat.

Ritter has warned that a bare-knuckle fight with Hezbollah would go badly for Israel and could even threaten the survival of the state, at least along current lines. Crooke has cited discussions, presumably in the Hebrew press, of misgivings that the IDF is not up to a hot conflict with Lebanon. But the right wing is determined to advance its vision of seizing Biblical Israel, which extends beyond Israel’s current territory, while it thinks the time is propitious. And the rest of the population seems to be so seized with anti-Muslim blood lust as to be willing to go along for the ride.


1 This is before getting to reporting/camputation games so as not to spook the Confidence Fairy any more than necessary, so if anything, even this result could be flattering. For example, in the 2008 financial crisis, the US “advance estimate” of the fourth quarter GDP decline was 3.8%. The final print was a decline of 8.5% ... gs-on.html


Settlers burn through West Bank village under army protection

Settler violence against Palestinians has reached unprecedented levels since the current government took office, escalating even further since 7 October

News Desk

FEB 20, 2024

(Photo credit: AFP)

Israeli settlers rampaged through the occupied West Bank village of Burqa, northwest of Nablus, on the evening of 19 February, attacking homes and destroying vehicles under the protection and coordination of the Israeli military.

Settlers threw Molotov cocktails at several Palestinian homes as Israeli troops shut down all main roads to the village.

Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that Israeli troops “did nothing to stop the colonists’ attack,” adding that Israeli forces used large amounts of tear gas and prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli settlers, with the help of troops, fenced off a tract of Palestinian-owned land south of Jerusalem with barbed wire to occupy it.

Settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank has surged to all-time highs under Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. It has escalated even further since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood and the Gaza war.

Palestinians have been subject to increasing levels of forced displacement since the war began.

Since October, over 1,000 people – including hundreds of children – have been forced by settlers and Israeli army soldiers to abandon their homes, according to the UN.

Additionally, more settlers are being armed. Thousands of weapons have been handed out to settlers in the occupied West Bank under an initiative sponsored by the Israeli National Security Ministry.

According to Israeli watchdog NGO Peace Now, Israeli settlers established a record-breaking 26 outposts in the occupied West Bank in 2023. The report correlates the rise in unlawful settlement construction with the Jewish supremacist policies of the Israeli government.

Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law.

Nonetheless, the Don’t Buy Into Occupation (DBIO) civil society organization highlighted in December that European financial institutions have provided billions of dollars to support settlement construction in the occupied West Bank over the past few years. ... protection


"War in Arabia"
February 20, 15:19


Spiral of history. Yesterday and today, the United States and Britain bombed Yemen, including the Hodeida area.

PS. After the sinking of the British bulk carrier Rubymar, the Houthis also attacked two more bulk carriers associated with the United States - Sea Champion and Navis Fortuna.
The shelling was carried out with anti-ship ballistic missiles. One of the missiles fell next to the side of one of the bulk carriers and caused limited damage from fragments and a blast wave; the bulk carrier continued to move.
There is no data on damage to the second bulk carrier.
The United States bombed Yemen again today, but the further it goes, the more senseless these strikes look, since the Houthis not only have not stopped their strikes, but are also increasing their intensity.
The Suez Canal and shipowners are suffering increasing losses. The Houthi strategic sneaker in action.

Google Translator


Egypt’s Sinai Construction Supports Israel’s Ethnic Cleansing in Gaza
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 20, 2024
Heba Gowayed


Israel has been clear about its plans to force Palestinians from Gaza, and Egypt is now reportedly building an area to receive them. Palestinians need a respite from Israel’s brutality, but mass displacement into the Sinai would be a catastrophe.

Egypt is building a six-meter high wall in the Sinai near the Gaza Strip that is reportedly intended to close off an area of eight square kilometers to receive Palestinians from Gaza in the event of a mass exodus. While the construction implies a respite to the brutality of Israeli bombardment for Gazans, their mass displacement into the Sinai would be a human rights catastrophe.

Over the last four months, Israel has devastated Gaza claiming the lives of almost 29,000 people through bombardment and depriving its two-million-person population from access to food and medicine. Protests in Cairo and elsewhere have called on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing, the only border of Gaza not controlled directly by Israel. Egyptian authorities have long maintained the Israeli blockade of Gaza by closing the Rafah crossing more days than it was open, evicting and demolishing the homes and businesses of residents of the Sinai to create a “buffer zone,” and flooding tunnels that were a lifeline for Gaza’s residents.

Since October 7, a “woefully inadequate” amount of aid has been allowed to enter, and a limited number of exits have been authorized. People are desperately fundraising for the thousands of dollars in bribes demanded by Egyptian authorities to permit each person to cross.

It is without question that Gazans should, like all people in the world, have a right to safety from bombardment and freedom of mobility. The wall being built on the Egyptian border, however, promises neither.

News of the wall’s construction coincides with Netanyahu’s announcement of a ground offensive in Rafah, which currently hosts 1.1 million Palestinians who moved to this so-called “safe zone” after being given 24 hours to forcibly vacate Gaza’s north. On October 13, during the same 24 hours as this directive, a document was drafted by Israel’s Interior Ministry describing an ultimate plan to displace Gaza’s two million residents into the Egyptian Sinai.

At the time, Netanyahu downplayed the document as a hypothetical “concept paper.” Egyptian President Abdelfatah El-Sisi also vehemently denied that Egypt would comply with this strategy, while suggesting that Palestinians could instead be moved to the Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with.” All the while there were reports that this displacement to the Sinai was a topic of backroom diplomacy.

We cannot know if Egypt is building the encampment to prepare to temporarily host refugees in the event of a spontaneous storming of the border for which there is a precedent, or whether it intends to comply with yet another Zionist directive at the expense of Palestinian lives. What we do know is that the border is heavily fortified and monitored and has not been breached for over a decade.

We also know that the intentions and protests of Egyptian authorities matter little in the face of Israeli decisions. After all, Egypt is vehemently against the ground offensive in Rafah. It has increased its own military presence at the border, and is even threatening the (unlikely) action of suspending the Camp David Accords if Israel goes through with it.

Over the past four months, we have watched Israel systematically classify civilians unwilling or unable to vacate their homes, such as those who remained in Gaza’s North after the directive, as “terrorists” whose indiscriminate killing is substantiated. Were some people to evacuate to the Egyptian Sinai, to be held in a penned enclosure at the border zone, there is no guarantee that anyone left behind who refuses to leave, or is unable to, would be spared the same fate.

And while it is almost certain that Egypt, beleaguered with its own financial crisis and issues in the Sinai does not intend, nor have the capacity, to permanently accept displaced Palestinians, Israel has consistently and vehemently denied Palestinians the right of return. According to UNRWA there are at least 5.9 million Palestinian refugees globally, the descendants of those who were forced out of their homes between 1946 and 1948 through massacres and forced displacements at the hands of Zionist militias during what Palestinians refer to as the Nakba or “catastrophe.” In November, commenting on the forced displacement of Palestinians from Northern Gaza an Israeli minister was quoted boasting, “We’re rolling out Nakba 2023.”

When news of the “concept paper” suggesting the mass displacement of Palestinians was released, a spokesperson for Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, stated that the displacement of Palestinians outside of Palestine is a “red line” continuing “what happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again.”

The architecture of the encampment being built in Egypt, its high concrete walls focused on towards containment, does not indicate the intention of a warm or welcoming reception. Displacement, which many of the residents of Gaza have experienced before in their lifetimes, is its own slow violence. The Sisi government has systematically denied Palestinian refugees in the country rights that his predecessor, deposed president Mohamed Morsi, afforded them, such as free education and healthcare. Despite spending decades in Egypt, or even being born in the country, they experience restrictions on work and aren’t afforded citizenship.

The stability of Egypt, too, may be in the balance. Despite high popularity in the years that followed his ascension to authority via a coup d’etat in 2013, it is reported that Egyptians are increasingly dissatisfied with President Abel-Fatah El Sisi, whose lavish spending on mega projects to keep the rank-and-file military and business elite happy has plunged the country into a severe economic crisis. Many are angered by Sisi’s perceived complicity in the sequester of Gaza and the unwillingness to challenge the Zionist state or break its blockade. Being seen as participating in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians would not be well received.

We are four months into a military campaign that is among the most destructive in recent history. It is one that has seen brutal violence directed at civilians, rendering Gaza the most unsafe place in the world for children. Governments globally, the Egyptian government included, must act immediately to ensure no more lives are lost. That not a single additional person is killed or displaced from their homes. That Palestinians will have a right to self-determination as they rebuild, one that can only be protected by an end to the occupation. None of these objectives are achieved by the mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza into a concrete encampment in the Egyptian Sinai. ... g-in-gaza/

The Obliteration of Gaza’s Multi-Civilizational Treasures
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 20, 2024
Ibtisam Mahdi

The ruins of the Great Omari Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in northern Gaza. (Omar El Qattaa)

Israel’s war has brought ruin to thousands of years of rich heritage in Gaza, with Palestinian experts decrying the destruction as a cultural genocide.

Since the beginning of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, innumerable treasures of Palestine’s cultural heritage have been damaged or destroyed. Like so much of the rest of the besieged enclave, these priceless and beloved landmarks of our people’s history — archaeological sites, millennia-old religious structures, and museums with ancient collections — now lie in ruin.

Cultural heritage is an essential component of a nation’s identity and carries enormous symbolic meaning, as recognized and protected by countless international conventions, treaties, and bodies. Yet Israel’s pounding of Gaza, now in its fifth month, displays a callous disregard for these testaments to the thousands of years of Gaza’s rich cultural history — to such an extent that it could amount to cultural genocide.

Researchers are trying desperately to catalog these sites and ascertain their current status, but are unable to keep up with the pace of the carnage. And while the loss of human life is the greatest tragedy in any war, Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s physical cultural heritage achieves much the same goal: the erasure of the Palestinian people. Indeed, many of those interviewed for this article believe this is precisely why these sites are being targeted.

National treasures

Hamdan Taha is a renowned scholar, archeologist, and the former director general of the Palestinian Department of Antiquities in Gaza. In an interview with +972 Magazine after he managed to leave the Strip, he underscored the profound historical and civilizational role played by Palestine in general, and Gaza in particular, despite their small geographic size.

“Gaza has witnessed cultural intermingling where civilizations have intertwined, giving rise to a rich and diverse cultural heritage,” he explained. Taha pointed in particular to Gaza’s port, which for centuries was a major hub of trade across the Mediterranean and a locus of this multiculturalism.

Gaza’s port on January 9, 2020. (Mohammed Zaanoun/Activestills)

“Cultural heritage reflects our national identity,” he continued. “It is the witness to the historical and civilizational epochs our homeland has traversed. It’s a national treasure.”

According to Taha, the national significance of these sites, and their potential to bring tourism and lift Gaza’s economy, “led Israel to intentionally tamper with historical and archaeological buildings, aiming to obliterate the connection between the people of Gaza and their land and history.” Israel, Taha added, “wants to disconnect the people of Gaza from the history of the land, while consistently trying to create its own narrative and association with the place.”

During the 2014 war on Gaza, Taha and other archaeologists formed a committee to formally assess the damage caused by Israel’s attacks. They worked to restore and catalog all of Gaza’s antiquities, in part to be prepared for future bombardment. Yet the scale of the current war has overwhelmed their efforts.

Given the continual bombardment of the Strip since October 7, it has been extraordinarily difficult for Taha and other experts to assess the extent of the damage — despite the best efforts of Palestinian and foreign scholars who are monitoring the situation remotely.

Qasr al-Basha (Pasha Palace), the 13th century historic building located in the old quarter of Gaza City. (Omar El Qattaa)

The ruins of Qasr al-Basha (Pasha Palace), February 12, 2024. (Omar El Qattaa)

“Most of the information we obtain comes from journalists and individuals who capture scenes either coincidently or by passing through the location,” he explained. “And we rely on information provided by residents living in the vicinity of the targeted areas and on breaking news reports.” From these accounts, it appears that Israel’s bombing has left little behind.

‘It’s challenging for experts to keep track while being targeted’

One of the photojournalists documenting this wreckage is Ismail al-Ghoul, who is currently residing in Gaza City and reporting for Al Jazeera. He photographed the ruins of the 1,600-year-old Byzantine Church in the Jabalia district, and the Hammam al-Sammara — a centuries-old bathhouse in the Zeitoun neighborhood.

“The last remaining historical bath in the Gaza Strip, with a history spanning nearly a thousand years, now lies in total ruins,” he lamented. “Most people in Gaza have visited this bath and had a beautiful, unforgettable experience. Even visitors to Gaza sought a glimpse of its famous healing and therapeutic properties.”

The ruins of Hammam al-Sammara — a centuries-old bathhouse in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, February 12, 2024. (Omar El Qattaa)

Al-Ghoul also photographed the ruins of the 13th-century Qasr al-Basha (Pasha Palace), which was distinctive for the remarkable preservation of its architectural details. More than 90 percent of the palace was destroyed by Israeli bombing and subsequent bulldozing, leaving only a small portion still standing.

Despite the devotion of photojournalists like al-Ghoul, the war has made it impossible to document the full extent of the damage. “It’s challenging for experts to keep track while being in a state of displacement themselves, being targeted, and continually moving from one place to another,” Taha explained. “We have lost more than 10 antiquities experts, including four archaeologists.”

Among the other heritage sites that are confirmed to have suffered severe damage is the Great Omari Mosque — the largest and oldest in northern Gaza, with a history which, according to some accounts, dates back 2,500 years. The entire structure has been destroyed, save only for its minaret. The mosque embodied the rich and diverse history of the Strip: originally an ancient pagan temple, it was later transformed into a Byzantine church, and eventually converted into a mosque during the Islamic conquests.

The Great Omari Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in northern Gaza. (Omar El Qattaa)

What is left of the Great Omari Mosque, the largest and oldest mosque in northern Gaza, February 12, 2024 (Omar El Qattaa)

Gaza City’s Sayyed Hashim Mosque has also been badly damaged. Located in the old town, the mosque housed the tomb of Hashim ibn Abd Manaf — the grandfather of the Prophet Muhammad, who is so closely identified with the city that it is often referred to in Palestinian literature as “Gaza of Hashim.” The Church of Saint Porphyrius, locally referred to as the “Greek Orthodox Church” — which, built in 425 AD, is one of the oldest churches in the world — was damaged too, and one of buildings inside the church’s vicinity was completely destroyed.

Taha stressed that the damage has not been confined solely to the north of the Strip. The Rafah Museum in southern Gaza — the only museum in the area — has been completely destroyed. Al Qarara Museum near Khan Younis, which had a collection of about 3,000 artefacts dating back to the Canaanites, the Bronze Age civilisation that lived in Gaza and across much of the Levant in the second century BC, was badly damaged. The shrine of Al-Khader in the central city of Deir al-Balah, which holds special significance as the first and oldest Christian monastery built in Palestine, was also damaged when an area nearby was bombed.

All over the Strip, Israel has damaged and destroyed secular historical sites as well as those affiliated with Islam and Christianity. Everything is a target.

A mass at the Church of Saint Porphyrius, locally referred to as the “Greek Orthodox Church”, in Gaza City. (Omar El Qattaa)

The damage in the vicinity of the Church of Saint Porphyrius, locally referred to as the “Greek Orthodox Church”, February 12, 2024. (Omar El Qattaa)
‘All of Gaza’s history is on the verge of collapse’

Haneen Al-Amassi, an archaeology researcher and the executive director of the Eyes on Heritage foundation that launched last year, sees the destruction of archaeological sites as part of a broader campaign against Palestinian life.

“Archaeological sites are tangible, physical evidence attesting to the right of Palestinians to the land of Palestine and their historic existence on it, from the Stone Ages to the present day,” she told +972. “The destruction of these sites in the Gaza Strip in such a brutal and systematic manner is a desperate attempt by the occupation army to erase the evidence of the Palestinian people’s right to their land.”

Al-Amassi listed numerous significant losses. The ancient port of Gaza, also known as Anthedon Harbour or Al-Balakhiya, which dates back to 800 BC, has been destroyed. Dar al-Saqqa (Al-Saqqa House) in the Shuja’iya neighborhood of eastern Gaza City, built in 1661 and considered the first economic forum in Palestine, was badly damaged too.

Entrance to the Port of Gaza, April 17, 1973. (Nissim Gabai/GPO)

The destruction of these landmarks and archaeological sites, Al-Amassi stressed, represents a significant loss for the Palestinian people — one that will be difficult, if not impossible, to compensate for. “It is impossible to restore these monuments in the face of continuous bombing,” she said. “And with the shameful silence of international actors, there will only be more bombings of archaeological sites in Gaza. All its history and sanctity is on the verge of collapse.”

Even when they are not the primary target of Israeli bombings, archaeological sites are still being badly damaged. Al-Amassi mourned the Khoudary Museum, also known as Mat’haf al-Funduq (Museum Hotel) in northern Gaza, which housed thousands of unique archaeological pieces, some dating back to the Canaanite and Greek periods; the museum was significantly damaged by the bombing of the adjacent Khalid ibn al-Walid Mosque.

Similarly, the Khan of Amir Younis al-Nawruzi, a historic fort built in 1387 in the center of the southern city of Khan Younis, was damaged when the nearby municipality building was bombed. The Monastery of Saint Hilarion at Tell Umm el-Amr near Deir al-Balah, which dates back more than 1600 years, and Gaza City’s Al-Ghussein House, a historic building dating back to the late Ottoman period, were both also damaged when nearby areas were bombed.

The Khoudary Museum, also known as Mat’haf al-Funduq (Museum Hotel) after the Israeli bombardment of the area, February 12, 2024. (Omar El Qattaa)

The Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has accused Israel of “clear intentional targeting of all historical structures in the Gaza Strip.” Gaza’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities stated similarly in a press release in late December: “The occupation is deliberately committing a massacre against historical and archaeological sites in Gaza City’s old town, assassinating history and the traces of civilizations that have passed through the Gaza Strip for thousands of years.”

Such destruction, whether targeted or not, is a violation of the 1954 Hague Convention, which seeks to protect cultural heritage during both peace and war. Al-Amassi hopes the Palestinian Authority will include these violations in its petition to the International Criminal Court.

A sharp acceleration of longstanding practices

As numerous researchers pointed out, the ongoing destruction in Gaza is of a piece with Israel’s longstanding practices of erasure and appropriation. Eyad Salim, a historian and archaeological researcher from Jerusalem, listed several heritage sites that have been destroyed by Israeli forces since the Nakba of 1948.

“In the Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948, mosques, Islamic shrines, and heritage sites were either closed, destroyed, or converted into synagogues,” he said. “This is a long and extensive issue.”

A damaged church is seen in the depopulated al-Bassa village, in the north. Most of its residents became refugees living in camps in Lebanon. (Ahmad Al-Bazz)

Other examples include the razing of the Sharaf and Mughrabi neighborhoods of Jerusalem’s Old City in the aftermath of the 1967 War in order to create a plaza in front of the Western Wall, in addition to many tombs of righteous Muslims. Salim points out that various state bodies — the military, the Antiquities Authority, and the Civil Administration — have all played a role in this destruction and appropriation.

“To implement its plan to build the ‘Jewish state,’ Israel faces identity, geographic, and demographic challenges,” he continued. “So it attributes [Palestinian] cities, villages, urban landmarks, fashion, food, handicrafts, and traditional industries to itself, promoting them in international fora and using them as part of its Judaizing project.”

Much of this erasure occurs subtly, by simply making it difficult for Palestinian cultural heritage institutions to survive. This is particularly evident in Jerusalem, Salim explained, where the Municipality charges unreasonably high taxes, surveils cultural institutions, arbitrarily demands information, blocks funding, threatens them with closure, and bans any indication of official Palestinian government support for Jerusalem institutions.

The Western Wall and the Mughrabi Quarter, which was destroyed following Israel’s capture of Jerusalem’s Old City during the 1967 War, taken between 1898 and and 1946. (American Colony Photo Department)

What we are currently witnessing in Gaza, however, is a sharp acceleration in Israel’s erasure of Palestinian heritage. And the rapid destruction of so many treasured sites during the first weeks of the war quickly became a concern for archaeologists and researchers across the Arab world.

On Nov. 11-12, Egypt hosted the Arab Archaeologists League’s 26th International Conference of Arab Archaeologists, which was centered around solidarity with the people of Gaza.

Representing Palestine was Husam Abu Nasr, a historian from Gaza who happened to be accompanying his mother for medical treatment in Egypt when the war broke out. Abu Nasr presented a report on the museums in the Strip that had been damaged up to that point in the war, and the League established a fund to support the rebuilding and restoration of all heritage sites and institutions, as well as all educational institutions that have been destroyed in Gaza. It also promised to advise on restoration efforts when the war comes to an end.

“Through targeting historical buildings and sites, archaeologists, academics, and researchers, Israel seeks to erase Palestinian identity, and particularly Gazan identity, and make it devoid of history and civilization,” Abu Nasr told +972. “Israel wants to erase our national memory, to promote the distortion of facts, and fight against the Palestinian narrative.” Doing so, he emphasized, is a violation of international and humanitarian law.

A Palestinian woman sits in front of the damaged entrance to Al-Aqsa University in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, January 26, 2024. (Atia Mohammed/Flash90)

Putting Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s heritage in perspective, Taha emphasized that “human lives are the most important thing, and nothing comes before that. But at the same time, preserving and protecting heritage and culture is an integral component of protecting the people and their spirit.

“Not only the Palestinians in Gaza but humanity as a whole will suffer a great loss if Israel continues to destroy cultural heritage in the Gaza Strip without facing consequences.” ... treasures/

UNSC: US Vetoes Algeria’s Resolution Demanding Ceasefire in Gaza
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 20, 2024
Al Mayadeen


The US blocked Tuesday a UN Security Council resolution sponsored by Algeria calling for an emergency humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.

13 members of the UN Security Council voted in favor, while the United Kingdom abstained and the US vetoed the resolution.

The proposed resolution called for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties.”

The resolution also urges all involved in the war to “comply with their obligations under international law,” particularly regarding civilians and hostages, in addition to demanding the immediate release of all captives.

The “full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access into and throughout the entire Gaza Strip,” is also declared in the resolution.

The US envoy to the UN Linda Greenfield claimed that the draft resolution was not”an effective mechanism,” rejecting any ceasefire until the release of captives.

China’s representative to the UN, Zhang Jun, expressed regret and frustration that the Algerian draft resolution did not pass.

Jun expressed that the proposed resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire does not achieve long-term peace. Rather, it will exacerbate the current crisis in Gaza.

On Monday, the United States proposed a draft resolution for the United Nations Security Council’s “support for a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable,” Reuters reported, after seeing the text.

The draft text “determines that under current circumstances a major ground offensive into Rafah would result in further harm to civilians and their further displacement including potentially into neighboring countries.”

It also reiterates the context of last week’s conversation between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The draft US resolution claims that Israeli plans to invade Rafah “would have serious implications for regional peace and security, and therefore underscores that such a major ground offensive should not proceed under current circumstances.”

Hamas ceasefire demands mean defeat for ‘Israel’, Netanyahu says

The demands put forth by Hamas in the ongoing negotiations would mean the defeat of the Israeli occupation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a press conference on Saturday.

Netanyahu, addressing the media, stated that the Israeli regime would persist in its efforts until achieving what he termed as “absolute victory.” He specifically mentioned plans for an operation in Rafah as part of the ongoing war on Gaza.

The head of the Israeli government emphasized the occupation’s refusal to “yield to international dictates” for any future settlement with the Palestinian people. “Israel will not submit to international dictates for a future settlement with the Palestinians.”

In response to a request from US President Joe Biden, Netanyahu disclosed that he had dispatched a delegation to Cairo. However, he clarified that this move did not signify any alteration in the ongoing negotiations.

Netanyahu asserted that he would respond to the demands made by the United States with a “yes” or “no” as he deemed fit.

Netanyahu said negotiations would only resume when “a tangible change” is observed. “There will be no negotiations until we see a change,” he asserted, highlighting the steadfast stance of his government. ... e-in-gaza/
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Thu Feb 22, 2024 12:30 pm

Gaza Strip: +150 UN Agency Buildings Attacked by Israel

The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, accused the Israeli authorities this weekend of promoting a campaign aimed at destroying the agency. Feb. 20, 2024. | Photo: X/@alfred_lanning1

Published 20 February 2024

The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, accused the Israeli authorities this weekend of promoting a campaign aimed at destroying the agency.

On Tuesday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Middle East (Unwra) accused Israel of targeting 153 of its facilities in Gaza since last October 7.

In northern Gaza schools are unrecognizable, reduced to rubble, while in the southern city of Rafah half the population has nowhere to go except to our centers, the UN institution stressed on its X (formerly Twiter) account.

Children should be in our schools to learn, not to protect themselves from bombs, it said.

Unwra is under fire following the indictment of Benjamin Netanyahu's government against 12 of its 13,000 employees for allegedly participating in the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) operation last October 7.

Both the agency and the UN announced an immediate investigation, but many Western countries, including the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, suspended their funding, although the allegations have not yet been proven.

The head of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, accused the Israeli authorities this weekend of promoting a campaign aimed at destroying the agency.

In declarations to the Swiss newspaper group Tamedia, Lazzarini assured that this is a long-term political objective because they believe that eliminating the agency will resolve the status of Palestinian refugees, and with it, the right of return.

Just look at the number of actions Israel is taking against us, he said, citing among others the air strikes against its facilities in Gaza and the end of VAT exemptions for the agency. ... -0016.html


"A Final Solution"

The Wikipedia entry for 'final solution':

The Final Solution (German: die Endlösung, pronounced [diː ˈʔɛntˌløːzʊŋ]) or the Final Solution to the Jewish Question (German: Endlösung der Judenfrage, pronounced [ˈɛntˌløːzʊŋ deːɐ̯ ˈjuːdn̩ˌfʁaːɡə]) was a Nazi plan for the genocide of individuals they defined as Jews during World War II. The "Final Solution to the Jewish question" was the official code name for the murder of all Jews within reach, which was not restricted to the European continent. This policy of deliberate and systematic genocide starting across German-occupied Europe was formulated in procedural and geopolitical terms by Nazi leadership in January 1942 at the Wannsee Conference held near Berlin, and culminated in the Holocaust, which saw the murder of 90% of Polish Jews, and two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe.
Yesterday the U.S. vetoed a UN Security Council resolution which demanded an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, flouted her own resolution which, for lack of support, was not put to a vote.

At the press stake-out after the vote Thomas-Greenfield remarked:

Good afternoon, everyone.
You just heard me make the case for a resolution that I believe all of us can agree to. In fact, the points in the proposed resolution have all been articulated by the other 14 members of this Council.
The draft we’ve presented is a forward leaning resolution. And it is one that we intend to work on in good faith with other Council members to ensure it gets over the finish line.
We are eager to continue working with the Council on this proposal: One that would see a temporary ceasefire as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released. And one that would get aid into the hands of those Palestinians who so desperately need it.

All told, we intend to do this the right way, so that we can create the right conditions for a safer, more peaceful future. And we will continue to actively engage in the hard work of direct diplomacy on the ground until we reach a final solution.

A final solution - one way or the other ...

Posted by b on February 21, 2024 at 13:36 UTC | Permalink ... l#comments


Exclusive: Israeli forces fired on food convoy in Gaza, UN documents and satellite analysis reveals
By Katie Polglase and Muhammad Darwish, CNN
9 minute read
Updated 7:15 AM EST, Wed February 21, 2024

Israeli forces fired on a United Nations convoy carrying vital food supplies in central Gaza on February 5, before ultimately blocking the trucks from progressing to the northern part of the territory, where Palestinians are on the verge of famine, according to documents shared exclusively by the UN and CNN’s own analysis.

CNN has seen correspondence between the UN and the Israeli military that show the convoy’s route was agreed upon by both parties prior to the strike. According to an internal incident report compiled by UNRWA, the main UN relief agency in Gaza, which was also seen by CNN, the truck was one of 10 in a convoy sitting stationary at an IDF holding point when it was fired upon.

No one in the convoy was hurt, but much of its contents – mainly wheat flour desperately needed to bake bread – were destroyed. Tracing the strike offers a window into the major challenges that humanitarian efforts face in getting aid to Gaza’s more than 2 million people – nearly 85% of whom are internally displaced – amid Israel’s nearly five-month bombardment of the strip.

“A convoy that had food on it, heading to the northern parts of the Gaza Strip. That convoy on its way in what we call the middle areas, it got hit. One of the trucks carrying supplies was hit by Israeli naval fire,” Juliette Touma, global director of communications for UNRWA, told CNN.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has not responded to CNN’s repeated requests for comment on the strike. The IDF said on February 5 that it was looking into the incident.

It is one of multiple incidents where aid convoys, as well as warehouses storing aid, have been hit since the war began.

Israel launched its bombardment and ground invasion of the Gaza Strip after Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack, in which at least 1,200 people were killed, and more than 250 others taken hostage. More than 29,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on the strip, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

In the wake of the strike on February 5, UNRWA decided to stop sending convoys to northern Gaza. The last time the agency was able to deliver food north of Wadi Gaza – a strip of wetlands that bisects the enclave – was on January 23. The UN estimates that 300,000 people are still living in northern Gaza, with very little assistance. Acute malnutrition has already been identified in 16.2% of children there, above the threshold considered critical, according to the UN.

The convoy, consisting of 10 aid trucks and two armored vehicles marked with UN insignia, started its journey in the early hours of February 5. UNRWA said the journeys are undertaken early in the day to avoid the trucks’ contents being raided along route by those desperate for food.


Setting off from the south of Gaza, the convoy travelled up Al Rashid Road, which follows the coastal edge of the strip. The road has been the main route permitted by the Israeli military for humanitarian convoys and evacuations since January.

At 4:15 a.m., the convoy reached a designated IDF holding point on Al Rashid Road, according to the UNRWA internal incident report, where the trucks sat stationary for over an hour. At 5:35 a.m., naval gunfire was heard, and the truck was hit, the report said.

The agency said that before setting out to deliver aid, it had coordinated in advance with the Israeli military, agreeing the route it would take – as it always does.

Email correspondence between UNRWA and COGAT, the Israeli military agency overseeing activities in the Palestinian territories, which supervises humanitarian relief, also shows an agreement for the convoy to take Al Rashid Road.

“We share with the Israeli army the coordinates of the convoys, and the route of that convoy,” Touma said. “Only when the Israeli army gives us the okay, the green light, does UNRWA move. We don’t move without that coordination.”

She said that the purpose of this coordination, called the deconfliction process, is to ensure aid convoys do not get hit.

“Gaza has become very fast one of the most dangerous places to be an aid worker in,” Touma said. “It is an extremely complex environment to operate in. Quite often our teams are forced to deliver humanitarian assistance under fire.”

A flat-bed truck carrying food, part of an UNRWA aid convoy that was struck by Israeli fire en route to northern Gaza on February 5. Thomas White/UNRWA via X

UNRWA’s director, Tom White, said the convoy had been hit by Israeli naval gunfire and shared two photographs on X, formerly Twitter, showing a flat-bed truck with a hole where its cargo had been, and boxes of supplies scattered on the road. The hole was in the side of the truck that was facing out to sea, according to CNN’s geolocation of the images, indicating it had been hit by a munition fired from that direction.

CNN reviewed satellite imagery taken two hours after the incident that shows three Israeli missile boats a few kilometers offshore. These boats have formed part of a regular deployment since the start of the war, which the IDF has said is aimed at conducting surveillance and attacking Gaza from the west. In December, the IDF said their navy had “struck hundreds of targets and provided support to soldiers on the ground.”

“It’s really difficult to see how this could be a legal attack,” Janina Dill, co-director at Oxford University’s Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict, told CNN of the February 5 incident. “At a minimum it would look like a very serious violation of international humanitarian law. Whether it’s also criminal then depends on questions of intent, which is something that needs to be established in a court of law.”

(more...) ... index.html


Majority of Lebanese approve of Hezbollah's border actions: Poll

Lebanese citizens polled also viewed the US as the main reason why the war on Gaza has yet to end

News Desk

FEB 20, 2024

(Photo Credit: Reuters)
A study conducted by the Consultative Center for Studies and Documentation has shown that over half of Lebanese citizens agree that the primary factor deterring Israel from launching a full-out war on Lebanon is the presence of Hezbollah.

The poll involved 400 individuals across Lebanon split into their respective religious sects, including Muslims, Christians, and Druze.

The majority believed that “the Israeli enemy does not need any pretext to launch a comprehensive aggression against Lebanon.”

When asked what prevents a comprehensive Israeli attack on Lebanon, nearly 60 percent considered it to be “the presence of the resistance, its demonstration of its growing strength, and its revealing of an important aspect of these capabilities during the current confrontations.”

The majority of Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims, and Druze favored this view, while Christians were least in favor at just over 30 percent.

More than half of those polled agreed Lebanon’s position within the Axis of Resistance strengthens the nation's stance and helps deter further Israeli aggression into Lebanon.

The evaluation of how specific countries responded to the Israeli aggression on Gaza was mostly in favor of Lebanon at 54.2 percent, followed by Iran at 45 percent. Russia, Turkiye, Qatar, and Egypt followed, with Saudi Arabia scoring lowest at just 7.5 percent.

Ninety percent of those polled agreed that the US is “the main reason behind the continuation of the escalation and the failure to end it.”

The results come as Israel continues to deepen its attacks on Lebanese territory. On Monday, Israeli warplanes launched strikes at the industrial area in Ghaziyeh, near Saida.

Despite an increase in attacks, civilians continue to view the Lebanese resistance as a force of deterrence against Israel above all else.

Western nations have also attempted to exert pressure on Lebanon to push the Islamic resistance group away from the border with Israel, in alignment with the Israeli war cabinet.

Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister, Abdallah Bou Habib, called the demands "a formula that Lebanon rejects. [Beirut] will not accept ‘partial solutions’ that do not bring the desired peace and do not secure stability but will lead to the renewal of the war again and again.” ... tions-poll

Resistance fighters in Jenin draw Israeli troops into ‘tight ambush’

Israeli forces withdrew from the camp early Wednesday after hours of clashes with the resistance

News Desk

FEB 21, 2024

(Photo credit: Shihab)

An Israeli special force was ambushed in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin on the evening of 20 February after being discovered by Palestinian resistance fighters.

“We discovered a Zionist special force in Jenin camp, and we are engaging in fierce clashes with them using machine guns and explosive devices,” the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades said in a statement on Tuesday evening.

The group said in another statement shortly after that it managed to “trap the special force in a tight ambush.”

As fierce clashes broke out, Israeli army reinforcements raided the city of Jenin and its camp.

Intense gunfire and blasts from the resistance’s explosive devices could be heard in videos circulating on social media.

Footage of army vehicles and bulldozers being targeted with explosives also circulated on X and Telegram.

The Jenin branch of Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, said in a statement that its fighters targeted “army reinforcements and snipers with dense barrages of bullets, and showered the occupation’s vehicles with explosives and hand grenades.”

21-year-old Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades fighter, Arif Marwan Arif Ali, was killed while confronting the invading troops.

Israeli forces besieged two homes in the camp, according to Palestinian media reports. One of the homes was targeted in a drone strike, injuring several people, including serious injuries.

The army prevented Palestinian Red Crescent crews and ambulances from entering Jenin camp to treat the wounded.

Israeli bulldozers also ravaged the infrastructure of the Jenin camp, as is routinely done during Israeli raids on the city.

“Occupation forces destroyed the infrastructure in the city of Jenin and its camp, especially on Haifa Street at Al-Ahmadin Roundabout,” as well as several other areas, WAFA news agency reported.

Israeli forces detained several people across the camp. The army withdrew early on Wednesday morning. ... ght-ambush

Number of aid trucks entering Gaza drops significantly

Border authorities say the number has decreased from 100–130 trucks to as little as four on some days

News Desk

FEB 21, 2024

(Photo Credit: AP)

The border crossing authorities in Gaza’s south have reported a significant decrease in humanitarian aid trucks entering the Strip, Arab World Press (AWP) reported on 21 February.

"Today 13 trucks entered through the Kerem Abu Salom crossing and from the Rafah crossing only four trucks of fuel entered while previously between 100–130 trucks were entering," Spokesman for the Crossings and Borders Authority in the Gaza Strip Hisham Adwan told AWP on Tuesday.

Adwan noted that on some days, only four trucks entered the besieged enclave.

"There is a significant reduction in the number of trucks, which makes the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip more difficult,” Adwan said, explaining it was due to “Israeli demonstrations near the Kerem Shalom crossing to prevent their entry.”

Adwan added that the quality of aid has remained the same, "it is limited to canned meat, blankets, tents, some cleaning materials, some medicines and medical supplies," he said.

The Crossing and Borders Authority spokesman emphasized that 70 percent of the medical supplies entering Gaza are not needed at this time, highlighting medicine for the COVID-19 virus as one example.

On a similar note, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has decided to suspend food deliveries to the northern Gaza Strip “until conditions are in place that allow for safe distributions.”

“The decision to pause deliveries to the north of the Gaza Strip has not been taken lightly, as we know it means the situation there will deteriorate further and more people risk dying of hunger,” the WFP said in a statement on Tuesday.

Later in the statement, the UN organization recognizes that “Food and safe water have become incredibly scarce and diseases are rife, compromising women and children’s nutrition and immunity and resulting in a surge of acute malnutrition. People are already dying from hunger-related causes."

Gaza’s Government Media Office demanded the UN organization nullify this decision, saying that it amounts “to a death sentence for 750,000 people, exacerbating the humanitarian situation.” ... nificantly

Red lines: Will Iran enter the regional war?

Despite Tehran's central role in the Axis of Resistance, which has launched regionwide operations against Israel and its US ally, the Islamic Republic refuses to rise to the enemy's bait and make itself a central target.

Farzad Ramezani Bonesh

FEB 21, 2024


On 14 October 2023, Iran issued a stern public ultimatum to Israel, cautioning that unless it ceases its genocidal assault on Gaza, significant repercussions will ensue, likening them to "a huge earthquake."

Tehran’s envoy to the UN later clarified that the Islamic Republic would only intervene in the Gaza war if the occupation state were to jeopardize Iranian interests or citizens.

Given the events of the past four months, this raises the question: What are Iran's red lines, and at what point would Tehran opt for direct confrontation?

The red lines

To grasp Iran's motivations and reactions, it's critical to understand its red lines—those non-negotiable boundaries it staunchly defends. At the heart of this lies the survival of the Islamic Republic itself, which recently celebrated its 44th anniversary. Any encroachment on Iran's territorial integrity or vital interests triggers a defensive response to deter potential threats.

Foremost among these red lines are any broad attacks on Iran's maritime assets, energy infrastructure, and strategic interests. Assaults on vital economic nodes like oil refineries or shipping lanes will likely prompt swift and resolute reactions from Iran's leadership, signaling a readiness to safeguard national assets at any cost.

Previously, the Iranian government denied involvement in the Hamas-led resistance Operation Al-Aqsa Flood. While ideologically aligned with Palestinian resistance factions, Tehran insists on their autonomy, wary of direct involvement that could destabilize its domestic front. Nevertheless, support for other allies in the Axis of Resistance like Hezbollah remains unwavering, serving as a deterrent against external aggression targeting Iran's strategic depth.


So far, Tehran has moved to influence Israel's war in Gaza on the level of diplomacy, demanding the immediate cessation of killings, the lifting of the blockade on humanitarian aid, and the withdrawal of the Israeli military from the Gaza Strip. The key aims of the Iranians are to prevent a serious blow to the Palestinian resistance and its military capabilities and to prevent another mass displacement of Palestinians from their lands.

From Iran's perspective, resistance against Israel and the US represents a cornerstone of the Islamic Republic's strategic vision – part of its wider anti-imperialist struggle in West Asia, and ambition to force the US out of the region.

Many in Tehran believe the Gaza war is orchestrated in Washington, with the US serving as Israel's primary advocate in global arenas like the UN Security Council. As such, Iran aims to undermine US influence by exacerbating divisions between Washington and Tel Aviv.

Despite Israel's resolve to continue its campaign of ethnic cleansing, Iran's strategy hinges on exploiting this discord, using diplomatic channels to influence US policy without resorting to direct confrontation. In essence, Tehran’s approach is to apply pressure on Washington via non-aggressive methods – without entering the war.

Israel’s covert attacks continue

Last week, a major attack was carried out on Iran's national gas transmission pipelines. Iranian Oil Minister Javad Oji called the pipeline explosions in three regions "sabotage and terrorist attacks" and said the enemy's plan was to disrupt gas supply to several cities and main provinces during the winter to ignite social and political unrest across the country.

While no country has claimed responsibility, a New York Times report names Israel as the culprit, citing several western official sources. Despite the severity of the attacks, Iran's critical gas transmission capacity was safeguarded, preventing widespread energy crises.

Yet even these attacks didn’t cross Iran's red lines because this act of vandalism – intent on destroying about 40 percent of the country's gas transmission capacity and creating an energy crisis – was immediately thwarted.

These incidents mark another chapter in the covert conflict between Iran and Israel, which spans air, land, sea, and cyberspace. While such attacks have become somewhat routine, the frequency, intensity, and scale of destruction in this latest round may signal a material escalation that crosses Tehran's established red lines.

Iran’s strategic response

As its support for Palestine is a top Iranian foreign policy priority, President Ebrahim Raisi has stated that the ongoing situation in Gaza raises the possibility of expanding the conflict to other regional fronts.

This is of great concern to the US. Since the beginning of Israel's aggressions, the US has repeatedly warned Iran and its allies about "opening new fronts" in the war. These warnings have not had the desired impact: more than four months later, it is clear the Resistance Axis has responded proportionately from Lebanon, Syria, Iran, to Yemen with measured retaliations aimed at curbing Israel's options.

Moreover, if Israel pushes Iran's Palestinian allies to the limit, it appears that Tehran would pursue a relative, restrictive, short-term, and mid-term response.

In the interim, the assertive military reactions from Iranian allies – including Hezbollah in Lebanon, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, factions operating in Iraq and Syria, and the Ansarallah-aligned armed forces in Yemen – serve as a stick to confront Israel's aggressive stance autonomously, even in the absence of direct instructions from Iran.

While Washington and Tel Aviv claim they wish to avoid opening new fronts, on the ground, they are gearing up for military confrontation and have already escalated on various fronts.

In response, the Axis of Resistance refuses to remain passive, aiming to disrupt Tel Aviv’s crucial lifelines while refraining from fully engaging its forces in the conflict. The baseline is to keep pressure on the US so that it urges restraint from Israel in Gaza.

Logic is its finest weapon: protracted war in Gaza appears to be at odds with European and western interests, particularly in areas such as energy security, geoeconomics, overall regional stability, and public diplomacy.

As such, Tehran may perceive an opportunity to exploit this misalignment to further drive a wedge between the US and its European allies, potentially leading to increased pressure and sanctions against Israel.

The bigger picture

Today, Iran's adversarial stance seems to be more focused on the US rather than Israel. Via regional intermediaries, Tehran hopes to broker agreements with Washington to secure a ceasefire and alleviate Israel's pressure on Gaza. A common view among Iranians is that the pursuit of "legitimate defense" is preferable to engaging in a wider regional conflict, as prolonged internal crises within Israel could ultimately work in Iran's favor.

Drawing from past conflicts, particularly the Hezbollah–Israeli battles in south Lebanon, Iran sees potential in eroding both Israel's internal power and external support. This strategy intends to gradually force the occupation state to retreat from its aggressive posture in the region.

Furthermore, Iran envisions leveraging the war in Gaza to bolster its reputation and influence among Arab states. Tehran hopes to capitalize on the situation to undermine existing peace agreements, such as the Camp David Accords, and halt the normalization process initiated in 2000 between Israel and Arab states. Iran also aims to rally international support against Israel through platforms like the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Arab League, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Although a “preemptive attack” has already been proposed if Israel continues its assault on Gaza, Iran's strategic partners in Moscow and Beijing have not declared their full support for direct war. Therefore, Tehran is likely to avoid divergence with Russia and China in the event of major international crises.

Gaza gambit

When considering the possibility of direct intervention in the Gaza conflict, it's crucial to recognize the formidable challenges Iran would confront. These include the risk of casualties, economic repercussions, and a decrease in oil exports.

The option of direct Iranian military involvement will only be on the table if Israel and the US cross Tehran's red lines, though any military action against Iran would be a clear violation of international law. As the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said in January, although Iran is not seeking war, it will not leave any threat unanswered.

It must be noted that Iran sees the war in Gaza through a realist, long-term lens and not an ideological point of view. This highlights a critical reality: while Iran makes efforts to maintain a delicate balance of threats without plunging into direct warfare, the potential for direct actions and reactions to spiral out of control remains ever-present.

Iran has thus far calculated that neither Washington nor Israel would risk direct attacks on its territory. However, the mutual risk of miscalculation on both sides could lead to a gradual escalation into direct warfare. ... gional-war
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Fri Feb 23, 2024 12:34 pm

Hamas Urges International Probe Into Crimes of Israel Against Palestinian Women
FEBRUARY 22, 2024

Palestinians rest next to damaged buildings after arriving in Rafah after they were evacuated from Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on February 4, 2024. Photo: Reuters.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has called for the opening of an international investigation into the brutal crimes of Israel against the Palestinian women and girls in the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank.

Hamas issued a statement on Tuesday, following a latest report by the Special Rapporteurs of the United Nations Human Rights Council that said the Palestinian women and girls have been sexually assaulted and raped by Israeli troops in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Special Rapporteurs are independent experts and part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council.

They warned Israel that such inhumane acts could “amount to serious crimes under international criminal law,” and that those responsible for such crimes must be “held accountable.”

Hamas said the Special Rapporteurs’ report, which documented Israel’s blatant human rights violations in Gaza and the West Bank, is “confirmation and additional evidence of the crime of genocide, and the ethnic cleansing committed by the occupation, led by the war criminal Netanyahu and his Nazi army, against our Palestinian people.”

Outlining incidents of rights abuse of the Palestinians at the hands of Israeli troops, the Gaza-based resistance movement placed a premium on such an investigation.

“The types and forms of violations that Palestinian women are subjected to by the occupation army, such as executions, arbitrary arrests, severe beatings, and deprivation of food and medicine during detention, in addition to the threat of rape and insults during interrogation, call for the opening of an international investigation,” Hamas said.

“This rogue entity and its leaders must be held accountable for their brutal crimes.” ... ian-women/


China defends Palestinian armed struggle against Israeli occupation

The Asian diplomat pointed out that the armed struggle is legitimately recognized within many resolutions. | Photo: EFE
Published February 22, 2024 (5 hours 15 minutes ago)

Ma Xinmin affirmed before the International Court of Justice in The Hague that the Palestinian armed struggle is legitimate in the pursuit of their right to self-determination.

The Government of China affirmed this Thursday before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that, according to international law, the Palestinian people have the legitimate right to use force in the face of the Israeli occupation.

“In pursuit of their right to self-determination, the use of force by the Palestinian people to resist foreign oppression and complete the establishment of an independent State is an inalienable right well founded in international law,” said the representative. Chinese before The Hague, Ma Xinmin.

In this sense, the Asian diplomat pointed out that armed struggle is legitimately recognized within many resolutions as one of the ways of peoples under colonial domination or foreign occupation for the sake of their right to self-determination.

"The struggle waged by the people for their liberation, their right to self-determination, including the armed struggle against colonialism, occupation, aggression and domination against foreign forces, should not be considered terrorism," he emphasized.

In turn, Ma described as "fundamentally fair" the struggle of the Palestinian people following the "prolonged" Israeli occupation, which South Africa previously pointed out as an apartheid regime stronger than that experienced in that nation.

Likewise, the Chinese diplomat stressed that the use of force to occupy and maintain such occupation for the purposes of annexation of a territory is illegal under the terms of international law.

This day, in addition to China, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Luxembourg, Malaysia and Mauritius will present their arguments within the framework of the ICJ public hearings to issue an advisory opinion on Israeli practices in the Palestinian occupied territories since 1967. ... -0014.html

They warn about impacts on education in the Gaza Strip

More than 29,000 people have died and more than 65,000 have been injured in the Gaza Strip as a result of Israeli attacks. | Photo: EFE
Published February 22, 2024 (12 hours 13 minutes ago)

The head of UNRWA stated that many of the schools have been completely destroyed by Israel's continuous attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini warned on Wednesday that Israel's aggression against Palestine has left more than 300,000 students without access to classes.

"More than 300 thousand girls and boys who used to learn in UNRWA schools now face the heartbreaking war. “His education came to a sudden halt and his sense of security was shattered,” Lazzarini said.

Likewise, he stated that many of the schools have been completely destroyed after Israel's continuous attacks against the Gaza Strip.

In northern #Gaza, once vibrant schools now lie in ruins. Heartbreaking images of @UNRWA schools severely damaged or destroyed by this brutal war.

More than 300,000 girls and boys who used to learn in @UNRWA schools now grapple with the harrowing war. Their #education abruptly…

— Philippe Lazzarini (@UNLazzarini) February 21, 2024

Likewise, he defended UNRWA and criticized those who try to make this entity finish its work in the region of Palestine.

“Those calling for the dismantling of UNRWA are depriving deeply traumatized children of any hope for a better future,” he added.

More than 29,000 people have died and more than 65,000 have been injured in Gaza as a result of Israeli attacks ... -0003.html

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Direct Action and the Global Fight Against Israel’s Arms Industry
Liam Doherty

On November 18th 2023, the UN-affiliated Al-Fakhoura school in the Jabalia refugee camp, northern Gaza, was bombed by the Israeli military. Thousands of hungry, thirsty and injured Gazans had been sheltering inside, having been displaced from their recently levelled homes. Fifty Palestinians were killed, and it was impossible to retrieve many bodies from the rubble. Bombing attacks like this have characterized the genocide underway against Palestinians in Gaza, which by the time of the Al-Fakhoura massacre had already claimed the lives of 12,000 Palestinians.

A month prior to the bombing, the Workers in Palestine coalition of over thirty trade unions issued an urgent call to stop arming Israel, to refuse the manufacture and transport of weapons for Israel, and to take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege. This letter has set out clearly that there are important, material actions that can be taken by people of conscience to address this ‘urgent, genocidal situation’, a situation in which the arms trade plays a central role.

In response to Israel’s ethnic cleansing and brutal massacres, protests have erupted across the globe with levels of participation and a diversity of locations rarely seen before. Israel’s attacks on Gaza and the West Bank have drawn people in their millions to stand against the genocide, and as a result there are more people ready to take action in support of Palestinian liberation. Still, the industries and institutions enabling these atrocities are able to continue operating, isolated from the democratic demands for their cessation. The question for the international solidarity effort, then, is how do we mobilize people towards practical resistance? Activism ought to focus on moving the conversation from one of humanitarian sympathy for Palestinians to one of accountability, critically examining our countries’ roles in these atrocities and acting accordingly.

It is beyond doubt that we in the West are culpable for what is taking place in Gaza. Almost all of the tens of thousands of bombs dropped so far have been US-made Mk80 types, delivered using F-16 fighter-bombers. These are US-made with many British components – supported by drones, helmets, and communications technologies and more – that are manufactured across Britain, the US, and EU. Israel’s bombing attacks rely extensively on Western-made weapons and weapons components.

Importantly, these arms sales and transfers are happening in real time. In addition to offering support for Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza, our governments are continuing to arm this campaign with new Western-produced military equipment and weaponry. The US is sending security assistance on a near-daily basis to Israel. The Netherlands has made a new shipment of F-35 fighter jet components, despite the certainty of their use against Gaza’s besieged population. Germany has announced record arms exports to Israel, with hundreds of new permits granted for weapons shipments this year – the majority of them since October 7th 2023. Britain, meanwhile, is facilitating the shipment of arms to Israel through its RAF bases, as well as continuing to approve weapons exports to the occupation.

Despite spending decades accumulating these weapons, Israel needs more. With 25,000 tonnes of bombs dropped in a month, the campaign has been hugely costly for the occupation. Israel had already seen the depletion of the US weapons stockpiles that it hosts, much of which was diverted to Ukraine throughout 2022. Stockpiles of precision munitions are low, and Israel is desperate to procure artillery shells, small diameter bombs, joint direct attack munitions and Hellfire missiles from its US and European allies. This gives activists in the West an opportunity: to disrupt the flow of these weapons, and to curtail Israel’s ability to commit these atrocities.

If the question, then, is one of strategy, in considering how best we can pursue meaningful disruption, then the answer most surely is direct action. We have few other options: the legal system and accountability mechanisms are incredibly weak. In Britain, these arms sales appear to already be in violation of the country’s obligations under the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and its own strategic export licensing criteria and the government is happy to ignore unfavourable rulings in export-related court cases brought against it. In addition to reducing the stringency of its weapons licensing overall, Britain has in the past even loosened its licensing specifically to expediate transfers of components to the US for Israel’s US made weaponry. In the US, which supplies the vast majority of military equipment, vehicles, and munitions to Israel, the details of these transfers – such as quantity and type – are largely kept secret. Opaque licensing arrangements in most of Europe mean that the exact nature of transfers is hard to determine. The British, US, and NATO supplies are largely being flown from the RAF’s base in Cyprus, but MPs have been blocked from raising questions about this. What this means is that arms sales and transfers are largely insulated from democratic oversight, and that the millions protesting throughout these countries are not afforded the opportunity to challenge these licenses and shipments in court.

There is clearly no appetite among the political class for critical assessment of the human rights concerns of these weapons sales and transfers. Given that no major political party in Britain or the US is willing to criticize Israel’s actions, let alone express concerns about the human rights implications of Israel’s use of British and US weaponry, activist groups and networks are increasingly taking the matter into their own hands the use of direct action strategies has, since October, accelerated under groups and coalitions led by members of trade unions, activists, or both. These campaigns are approaching Palestinian solidarity through a critical understanding of the West’s role as a sponsor of the Israeli occupation. Targeting factories, offices, logistics and shipping, direct action solidarity in the West means recognizing and opposing the part that our industries are playing in enabling this genocide.

This principle is what has always underpinned the work of Palestine Action, a direct-action network whose activists have spent three years occupying and blockading the premises of Israel-supplying weapons firms. For the most part, the group has worked to undermine Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest arms company, which has been met with innumerable actions at its factories, offices, and also at the premises of its suppliers and partners and during their appearances at conferences and other events.

The basic principle is that, by allowing Elbit to manufacture drones in Leicester and Staffordshire, weapon sights in Kent, and parts for tanks in Tamworth, we ought to hold ourselves accountable for the fact that Israel deploys these weapons for genocidal purposes. Hundreds of actions have taken place, including dozens of multiple-days-long factory occupations, and thousands have been mobilized in actions or in support of actions. This consistent campaign of intensive action, and the risks taken and sacrifices made by committed activists, has already cost Elbit dearly. When Palestine Action launched, Elbit had ten sites in Britain. Two have now been closed permanently, and those still remaining have faced three years of constant disruption. Importantly, Britain’s procurement relationship with Elbit has been damaged. The company has been deemed an inappropriate partner for British Ministry of Defense projects, and has been ejected from hundred-million-pound contracts as a result of Palestine Action sabotage. The long-term, cumulative effect of disruption to Elbit’s operations in Britain, therefore, is the jeopardizing of its ability to embed itself in the country’s military.

Activists have taken action against a growing list of weapons companies, including the likes of Leonardo, Thales and Rafael, as we seek to shut down all those complicit in Israel’s arms trade. In recent weeks, our direct action has expanded dramatically to meet the urgency of the situation, though for over three years the primary purpose of the mobilization has been to undermine Elbit Systems. This coordinated and deliberate strategy of direct action, with a clear and consistent target, has now commenced in the United States. Palestine Action US launched in October 2023 and is already undertaking mass action blockades and occupations to challenge Elbit’s operations across its various sites. In Massachusetts, Vermont, Virginia, New Hampshire, and elsewhere, Elbit are now waking up to the reality that opposition to its activities is widespread, that its low profile is in jeopardy, and that it will be facing growing resistance in all of its host countries.

The reason Elbit is based in Britain, the US, the EU, and Australia is because there is clearly an appetite for its weaponry among these imperial Western powers. We can see how this works in Elbit’s UAV Tactical Systems factory in Leicester, a site that has been breached, occupied, and blockaded by Palestine Action dozens of times. The factory, when it is operational, is used to ship military drones to Israel, to the value of £5m yearly, as well as to repackage and sell on these Israeli drone technologies back to the British military. U-TacS’ Hermes drones, notorious for the targeted killings and precision bombings that they enable against Gazans, have been turned into the ‘Watchkeeper’, designed for the Ministry of Defense, which has deployed it in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has also used it to prevent refugee crossings in the English Channel. Israel is not a customer of the Watchkeeper drone, and nor is Britain one of Hermes, yet parts are transferred between the countries. This is because it is essentially the same drone, and by repackaging the technology in this way Elbit can use its Leicester site to doubly profit by selling its custom drones to the MoD and its source material to Israel.

As a comrade has pointed out in Ebb Magazine previously, the same intrusive and oppressive technologies of control, which secure the perimeter of the Gaza and render it an ‘open-air prison’, are deployed in the US, fortifying the illegal border wall with Mexico and facilitating the monitoring and surveillance of indigenous populations. In the months and years to come, the new weapons that Elbit and the Israeli military have been ‘testing out’ in this current onslaught will likely be entering European and US markets.

Western powers therefore stand to benefit from this genocide, as their militaries are bolstered by Israel’s murderous technologies, and their weapons manufacturing is stimulated by the increased demand from Israel. It is this abhorrent partnership, and Western profiteering from Palestinian deaths, that Palestine Action seeks to disrupt. Our governments are not passive supporters but are in fact active participants in Israel’s campaign of ethnic cleansing. They have armed Israel for decades at an increasing rate, and have provided logistics support and equipment and personnel transfers throughout October and November 2023. Sunak’s and Biden’s failure to call for a ceasefire or to offer even the mildest criticism of Netanyahu’s policies is not merely a matter of politics and personality. There are strategic and economic reasons for why our governments continue to offer their support to the occupation. The maintenance of imperial power in the region, and the reciprocal benefits for the military-technological industries of the West and Israel mean that we are in bed with the regime.

Those looking to resist Israel’s violent settler-colonial project and Western complicity in it should consider this question first and foremost: how, with what, and from where are weapons being made for or transported to Israel from my country, and what can I do about it? Disrupting the arms industry in general, and Elbit Systems in particular, along with the shipment of its military products, should be the focus of an international effort by activists and trade unionists. Actions should follow on from words here, particularly when disruption to this industry has been requested by Palestinian trade unions themselves. In some parts of Europe, we have seen unions, specifically those of transport and freight workers, identifying the role that their industries play in arming Israel and acting accordingly to curtail this. At the end of October 2023, Belgian transport unions announced their refusal to load weapons shipments for Israel. The following week, port workers unions in Türkiye, Italy, and Greece jointly announced the same action, as did dock workers in Barcelona.

Others are lagging behind. In Britain, Canada, the US and Australia, opposition to Israel and its ongoing presence in those countries is being left to autonomous membership organizers while major unions neglect practical action. Union leaders have not necessarily considered how members may be inadvertently contributing through their work to Israeli settler-colonialism in Palestine. Unions including Unite, GMB, and Prospect hold recognition agreements with the defense and aerospace companies manufacturing weaponry for Israel, including the likes of Leonardo, Babcock, and BAE Systems. The RMT, rightly praised for adopting a strong verbal stance against Israel’s actions, has vowed to ‘oppose’ arms transfers to Israel, but without details of what this will entail, materially, in terms of whether there will be refusals to load Israel-bound weapons cargo. In addition, it has not recalled those members that are currently working on Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ships stationed to support the onslaught on Gaza. Statements and appearances at rallies do not undo the fact that there is complicity by association through involvement in militaries and military industries.

This means that labour movement activity in Britain to address the complicity of businesses and industries in the Israeli occupation has largely been consolidated among self-organizing union members – including, recently, instances of mass action factory blockades under the banner Workers for a Free Palestine. This self-organizing, particularly when it critically engages with the relevant industries and challenges business activity, is a noteworthy development, and labour movement bureaucracies should take heed of their members’ will for action. The same is true elsewhere. In Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ calls for a ceasefire are dampened by its lack of action in relation to weapons shipments; instead, direct action under the ‘Unionists for Palestine’ banner has stopped, or attempted to stop, Israeli cargo ships from docking. This is the case, too, in the US, where the Palestinians’ calls for the cessation of arms to Israel has been answered by direct action groups convening to blockade ports, notably on the West Coast, while others organize to disrupt factory operations – with actions not only by Palestine Action US, but also by activist coalitions such as that which blockaded Boeing in Missouri.

There ought to be co-ordinated, global efforts to undermine Israel’s arms imports and exports, using direct action by means of sabotage, blockade, occupation, or whatever other action might be necessary. We also need to keep building international networks and gathering intelligence on companies arming Israel, including details of their products and their sites. The company that provides 85% of Israel’s drones, all of its small calibre-munitions, vast ranges of bombs, sights, surveillance gear, communications (and innumerable other things), and which is already subject to intensive anti-occupation mobilization across different continents, seems like the best place to start. Elbit Systems ought to be held responsible for its products’ integral role in genocide and occupation, and we ought to hold ourselves accountable for its continuing presence in our countries.

In the process of disrupting this industry in Britain, hundreds have been arrested, some of them then handed draconian charges and sometimes lengthy, tiresome prosecutions. Comrades in the US have already been arrested in considerable numbers, some held without charge or bail, while in Britain a number of activists have spent time in prison and more are threatened with that possibility. It is not just the British and US governments that are interested in locking up those standing against Elbit; Israel has sought to exert its own influence on the prosecution of Palestine Action activists.

Nevertheless, direct action is taken in the knowledge that Elbit is the guilty party. And given the failure of legalistic mechanisms to prevent weapons sales to Israel, direct action is the only way to restrict Elbit’s participation in Israel’s crimes. It is the only way to protect lives and make Elbit bear responsibility for its part in this colonial violence. Activists in Britain have in fact successfully argued this in court, and have been acquitted on the basis that their actions were necessary interventions to preserve life and protect property in Gaza. That people can be arrested, harassed by the state and made to endure massively disproportionate prosecutions is partly to be expected – particularly given that, by exposing and disrupting the West’s criminal weapons industry, these activists are also bringing to light the despicable involvement of our own governments in Israel’s ethnic cleansing. But this state repression is made more endurable when your conscientious, direct action has offered an actual impediment to the operations of weapons companies. Ultimately, working to undermine this imperial machinery offers the best hope for any individual wanting to contribute to Palestinian’s struggle against occupation. As Workers in Palestine made clear, ‘[t]he time for action is now – Palestinian lives hang in the balance’. ... s-industry


How Israel Copied the USA
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 21, 2024
Youhanna Haddad


Though Zionism has found a home in Palestine, the movement didn’t originate there. It was an exported ideology and only gained a foothold in the Middle East thanks to British patronage. Theodor Herzl, the father of modern Zionism, was a secular Austrian Jew who didn’t use theology to argue for his colonial ambitions. Rather, he argued that Jews couldn’t live freely in Gentile nations and needed their own state to escape antisemitism.

Herzl’s magnum opus, Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”), repeats frequently that the establishment of this state is a colonial endeavor. His colonial strategy revolved around the idea of a “Jewish chartered company,” similar to the infamous East India Company that plundered trillions of dollars from South Asia for the benefit of English capitalists.

Herzl did not mince words. He used “colony” and “colonist” to describe his ambitions over 10 times in Der Judenstaat. He said the poorest Jewish settlers would become the “most vigorous conquerors, because a little despair is indispensable to the formation of a great undertaking,”. Herzl even believed European Jews would not come to Palestine without the guarantee that they would be legally superior to the indigenous Arab population:

“Immigration is consequently futile unless based on assured supremacy.”

Herzl also directly compared Zionist settlements to the “occupation of newly opened territory” in the United States. There are also uncanny rhetorical analogies. Both Zionists and Euro-American settlers claim supremacy to justify the conquering, displacement, and elimination of natives. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro, for example, justified Israel’s violent West Bank settlement campaign in supremacist terms:

“Israelis like to build. Arabs like to bomb crap and live in open sewage. This is not a difficult issue. #settlementsrock”

Shapiro’s rhetoric mirrors that of Enlightenment thinker John Locke, who believed God created land only for “the industrious and rational.” Euro-American settlers cited Locke to justify their own violent displacement of natives. This violence is inseparable from colonialism.

Zionists could not build their state without subjugating the Palestinians. And Palestinians could not maintain their sovereignty and cultural identity under the boot of a Zionist state. So began Palestine’s struggle for national liberation, and the steady loss of Palestinian land has continued to this day.

Every nation has a right to self-determination and freedom from imperialist aggression. The Zionist entity is one of the last standing apartheid states in the world, fully backed by Western Imperialist liberal democracies. Israel and its allies are more than willing to use violence to enforce their will in the region. We therefore cannot be blinded by the fantasy of a pure, perfectly nonviolent path to self-determination for the Palestinian people.

As Malcolm X explained, “concerning nonviolence: it is criminal to teach a man not to defend himself when he is the constant victim of brutal attacks.” Who could he be speaking to if not the Palestinians? There is no moral equivalence between the colonial violence of the Zionist state and the right of the Palestinians to defend themselves. The oppressed have an undeniable right to resist those who openly seek to destroy them. Just as the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto valiantly resisted the Nazis hellbent on eliminating them, the Palestinians are resisting the Zionist forces that seek their elimination.

Like the Zionists of today, American leaders have a long tradition of slandering indigenous resistance. The supposedly progressive president Theodore Roosevelt proudly spewed such lies to justify his conquest of the American West, saying:

“I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indian is the dead Indian, but I believe nine out of every ten are, and I shouldn’t like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth. The most vicious cowboy has more moral principle than the average Indian.”

Clearly, Roosevelt had little regard for the original inhabitants of the United States. When he spoke on the United States military’s unprovoked slaughter of Cheyenne and Arapaho women and children at Sandy Creek, he proclaimed it was “as righteous and beneficial a deed as ever took place on the frontier.” In his book The Winning of the West, Roosevelt ridiculed any sort of sympathy for victims of indigenous genocide:

‘‘All men of sane and wholesome thought must dismiss with impatient contempt the plea that these continents should be reserved for the use of scattered savage tribes…The most ultimately righteous of all wars is a war with savages … American and Indian, Boer and Zulu, Cossack and Tartar, New Zealander and Maori — in each case the victor, horrible though many of his deeds are, has laid deep the foundations for the future greatness of a mighty people.”

It is no surprise that Roosevelt was a staunch Zionist. His belief in white people’s inherent right to violently expropriate colored lands fits perfectly with the Zionist mission. Israel’s founders held no illusions over what was necessary to create their ethnostate: total elimination of the Arab population. David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, did not accuse Arab states of acting irrationally against the Zionist project. He knew the Zionist mission was directly at odds with Palestinian and Arab survival in the region:

“Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves … politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves… The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country.”

While modern Zionists blame “far too many Palestinians… intent on massacring Jews” for resistance against Zionism, Ben-Gurion didn’t entertain this delusion:

“If I were an Arab leader, I would never sign an agreement with Israel. It is normal; we have taken their country. It is true God promised it to us, but… [o]ur God is not theirs. There has been Anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?”

Ben-Gurion’s own words shatter the lie that Israel-Palestine is “complicated.” It’s theft and genocide — plain and simple. And Zionists justify these crimes by dehumanizing the victims — much like Euro-American colonists dehumanized Native Americans. Zionism is thus undoubtedly a settler-colonial and racially supremacist ideology. We must reject it.

While corporate media continues to pump out tropes of the “Arab barbarian,” we cannot forget that all indigenous liberation movements throughout history have been smeared in the same fashion. For the moment, the establishment will smear those who stand with Palestine as antisemites and terrorist sympathizers. But history will remember us fondly, once the Zionist chapter is far behind us. ... d-the-usa/


Israel – Imperialism’s MVP (Most Valuable Proxy)
Mark P. Fancher 21 Feb 2024


The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church issued a statement calling the U.S. to withdraw funding and support from Israel.

Joe Biden's unchanging support of Israel during the ongoing genocide in Palestine, despite massive resistance, reflects the U.S. empire's commitment to protecting its imperialist interests in the Middle East.

In one of its finest moments, the African Methodist Episcopal Church recently issued a statement calling “on the United States Government to immediately withdraw all funding and other support from Israel.” The statement goes on to accuse the U.S. of supporting “mass genocide,” and it proclaims that “[t]he tools of empire, colonialism, and domination will not solve the problems they created.”

As might be expected, the statement sent shock waves through Israel. The AME church is not alone in its public opposition to U.S. support for Zionist crimes. Many Black churches have drawn a line and proclaimed that their collective conscience and theology do not allow them to remain silent as the Biden Administration collaborates in the perpetration of crimes against humanity.

These developments are devastating to the Democratic Party, which is reeling still from the “Abandon Biden” campaign that rages in Dearborn, Michigan, a city with the largest Arab population in the country. Michigan is critical to electoral success, and the plan to boycott Biden puts Democratic Party success in that state in serious jeopardy.

The massive opposition to Biden’s approach to Gaza begs the question of why he stubbornly refuses to in any way modify his support for Israel. There are perhaps many reasons, but his conduct is best explained by the U.S. empire’s confinement to a military box created over time by the masses of people in this country.

Unlike during the first half of the 20th Century, people have an appreciation for the realities of imperialist war. They harbor enduring resentment for the many young black, brown, and white working class bodies that were returned from southeast Asia in military coffins. Since the end of the Vietnam War, the White House and the Pentagon have understood that sending large numbers of U.S. youth into harm’s way when the sole objective is preservation or expansion of the empire is not an option. The deployment of U.S. ground troops can only be accomplished with carefully crafted lies and deception. Excuses such as U.S. nationals at risk in the targeted country; or foreign governments that are complicit in terrorist plans to cause imminent harm to the U.S. are convenient reasons for intervention.

However, the development of a convincing lie is a heavy lift, and the U.S. has found avoiding deployment of U.S. troops to be a far more appealing option. Most recently this has been accomplished through the use of drones and other technology that makes remote-controlled killing and destruction possible. But while it may ultimately become possible to wage full-scale wars with a robot army, right now the targeted attacks that are possible with drones are not always adequate when what is needed is a full-scale ground war. In these situations, the U.S. has resorted to the use of proxy military forces.

Proxy military forces have come in a variety of forms. When Ronald Reagan wanted to overthrow Nicaragua’s Sandinista government in the 1980s, the CIA armed and directed rag-tag bands of Nicaraguan miscreants and traitors who came to be known as “Contras.” During that period, the U.S. also teamed with South Africa’s apartheid regime to fund right-wing UNITA forces in the struggle for Angola. In more recent years, the U.S. has taken a more sophisticated approach to its proxy strategy by directing recognized standing armies of sovereign states. This has been done most effectively with U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) which masks imperial military projects with claims that U.S. military advisors are in Africa to assist with anti-terrorism campaigns and to otherwise facilitate humanitarian aid to impoverished regions. Still, the U.S. is not above using cutthroats and criminals to act on its behalf as it did when it backed the mob that murdered Libya’s Muammar Gadhafi.

In the end, there is no more valuable proxy than Israeli military forces. The so-called Middle East has been a contested region for years. During the Cold War, it was recognized as having great geo-political strategic value as well as vital, vast oil resources. This has not changed, and consequently, imperialism has a rock solid commitment to locking down control of Palestine. However, this has not been easy because of the heroic, ongoing resistance to occupation by the Palestinian people.

From the perspective of western imperialism, the massive destructive attack on Gaza has been necessary and unavoidable, particularly given the increasing boldness of Hamas and Gaza’s huge oil reserves. Purging Palestinians from Gaza is an ugly, dirty job, and somebody has got to do it. But it won’t be the precious sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Israel exists precisely for moments such as these, and the Israel Defense Forces are doing a perfect job.

Biden will not and cannot act in ways inconsistent with the imperial agenda, even if it costs him the election. However, that does not mean the resistance by Black churches, the Abandon Biden campaign and other protests don’t have value. As the pressure continues to mount because the contradictions of Zionism become increasingly clear, the empire will be motivated to find another way to exert influence in the Middle East. At long last they may begin a slow-rolling divorce from Israel in favor of currying favor with other forces and governments in the region. It won’t mark the end of the struggle against imperialism, but it will mean the foe will change form, hopefully in ways that make it more vulnerable. ... able-proxy


Question in Beirut: Will the Syrians, Saudis, Iranians strike a new Lebanon deal?

The visit of former Lebanese PM Saad Hariri to Beirut has tongues wagging. Will the impetus of the expanding Gaza war force a Saudi–Syrian settlement that can once more impose stability in Lebanon?

Malek al-Khoury

FEB 22, 2024

Photo Credit: The Cradle

On 21 February, a Syrian website, citing sources in Damascus, broadcasted news that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) would shortly pay a visit to Syria, causing an uproar in regional political circles. Despite government-aligned newspaper Al-Watan denying the report, the prospect of a top Saudi visit evoked memories of an era past when Syrian–Saudi understanding secured Lebanon's internal balances, which are shaken or resolved based on the tempo of West Asia's hegemons and the status of their relations with one another.

عاجل - مصدر سوري مطلع لـ"الوطن": لا يوجد أي شيء رسمي حول زيارة محتملة لولي العهد السعودي الأمير محمد بن سلمان إلى سورية.

— جريدة الوطن (@alwatan_sy) February 20, 2024
A decisive response to rumors of an impending MbS visit remains elusive. A Syrian diplomatic source would only confirm to The Cradle that "Syrian–Saudi communication is gradually developing, and the discussions have become more detailed about the mutual common interests of the two countries" concerning the "post-war scene in Gaza."

While the source did not deny or confirm Bin Salman's visit, he suggested that the development of communications might reach the stage of "mutual visits" not only with Saudi Arabia "but also with Egypt."

While the improvement in relations between Syria and Arab states is not limited to Saudi Arabia, discussions with Riyadh have become more significant recently – to the extent that an Arab foreign minister, believed to be the Emirati FM, made an effort in mid-February to persuade members of the US Congress to retract its Syrian boycott law, which US-based anti-Syria activists insist on upholding. A source tells The Cradle that these activists "train with a US agency, alongside the Iranian opposition, on formulating and marketing these lobbying projects and forming pressure groups" to halt any policy reversals in Washington.

But the discussion about reopening relations with Damascus is no longer only taking place in Arab corridors. Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, in an announcement following talks last week with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, revealed "the work of the Republic of Cyprus in cooperation with other member states" to advance European–Syrian ties.

The EU, in general, shares that view about opening up member-states' relations with Damascus, in discussions which the Syrian source says are also progressing, especially in the matter of identifying "the parts of Syria that are sufficiently safe" for the return of refugee populations.

On 16 February, on the sidelines of the 60th Munich Security Conference in Germany, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan met with EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell to discuss several regional issues, including Syria, reports Anadolu Agency, which quotes Turkish Foreign Ministry sources as saying "both sides" stressed the need to involve Damascus "in the political process."

As for the Americans, the White House is engaged in difficult negotiations with many Arab states "in search of a diplomatic achievement" for the Joe Biden administration as his re-election campaign heats up. Washington is busy seeking mechanisms to consolidate its interests in West Asia within the significant barriers created by the Chinese-brokered Saudi–Iranian rapprochement agreement, which, for the US, has been maddeningly stable thus far. Indeed, Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan went to bat in Munich for his "Iranian neighbors," saying the Iranians "do not want escalation in the region."

As US–Iraqi negotiations over US troop withdrawal pick up pace, a Syrian source tells The Cradle that an American delegation "visited northeastern Syria, to discuss the possibilities of maintaining a US presence there in the event of withdrawal from Iraq." Interestingly, the head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Units, Faleh al-Fayyad, visited Turkiye on 20 February to discuss "the future of the process of securing the borders from Kurdish organizations in the event that the US–Iraqi negotiations lead to the dismantling of the US military bases and the retention of officers as advisors only," according to an Iraqi journalist source.

Where does this leave Lebanon?

There is no doubt that the recent Beirut visit of former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri – who currently resides in Abu Dhabi, which enjoys friendly relations with Syria – resonated deeply in Lebanon. It was viewed as a harbinger of the return of "Hariri-ism," which comes laden with regional political settlements and top-level shuttle diplomacy – and reflected a tacit sign of new Saudi approval.

During his visit, Hariri spoke in the language of his father – former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, assassinated in Beirut on 14 February 2005 – about "peace and stability" in Lebanon and its neighborhood, and even invoked, during an interview with Saudi news channel Al-Hadath, his father's key political role in Lebanon's civil war in paving the way to the Saudi-brokered Taif Agreement that settled the 15-year conflict.

It is important to note that Riyadh–Hariri relations have been estranged for years – unlike the close Saudi relations his father enjoyed. Tensions between them grew during the war in Syria, with Hariri's inability or unwillingness to curb Lebanon's Hezbollah from defending the Syrian state from a Saudi-backed war.

While Hariri said during his Beirut stopover that the time was not yet ripe for him to return to Lebanon's muddy political arena, he offered his "intervention" if he "felt that the Sunni community in Lebanon was leaning toward extremism." Many have linked his comments to the trial of 84 civilians in the UAE last week, charged with membership in "Muslim Brotherhood" (MB) organizations – a group banned in the UAE – as well as Turkiye's remarkable withdrawal of MB leading figure Mahmoud Hussein's citizenship amidst Ankara's thrust to mend ties with Abu Dhabi.

A Lebanese source who accompanied Hariri on his visit hints to The Cradle that "concern over the Muslim Brotherhood may pave the way for the return of Hariri's relations with Syria." In other words, the former PM could gain support from the anti-MB Saudis, Emiratis, and Syrians if he toes this political line within Lebanon. Interestingly, a Lebanese figure close to pro-MB Qatar attacked Hariri immediately upon his arrival at the airport via X (formerly known as Twitter).

Regional winds appear to be shifting direction, in large part because the Gulf's traditional "guarantor" of security, the United States, is knee-deep in fanning an untenable crisis by unconditionally supporting Israel's assault on Gaza. In Munich, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry sought a "Palestinian consensus" that would pave the way for a "two-state" settlement, in which, according to him, Hamas is excluded. The Arab–Islamic consensus is currently seeking a long-term Palestinian solution after the dust in Gaza settles, which would necessarily include luring "Hamas" and "Fatah" into a national consensus government.

In Beirut, former President Michel Aoun senses this consensus and has made a show of opposing any links of "Lebanon's fate to Gaza." Aoun, who once opposed the Taif Agreement, awaits the opportunity to oppose it again. This is, of course, a domestic play mainly to ensure the country's minority Christian voice is heard in whatever political arrangements lie over the horizon.

But Gaza remains unavoidable in Lebanon, with Israel waging war against Hezbollah on the country's southern border, which reached 45 kilometers into the country this week when Tel Aviv struck civilian sites near Sidon. The Gaza war is now being played out in multiple theaters – in Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Yemen – and has the potential to expand and deepen further. It is this war waged by Israel and its US ally that is rapidly drawing Arab states to recalibrate the region's direction from within and amongst themselves.

This begs the question now frequently heard in Beirut: What if Damascus, Riyadh, and Tehran agree this time? Everyone is waiting for that moment to reserve their seats in West Asia's latest theater. ... banon-deal

Netanyahu unveils ‘day after’ plan for Gaza

The plan includes a complete demilitarization of Gaza and an indefinite period of Israeli military control

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

(Photo credit: AP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed his plan for a post-war Gaza to the security cabinet on 22 February.

Netanyahu presented a document to the cabinet detailing his position, which calls for the enclave to be administered by "local officials" and stressed that Israel will only permit reconstruction of Gaza if the strip is "demilitarized."

The document was also presented to the cabinet of ministers, including several ideas for discussion on the matter, a statement by Netanyahu's office said.

It stipulates that Israel will maintain freedom to carry out military and security operations across Gaza indefinitely, which Netanyahu has previously confirmed is part of the Israeli plan for the strip.

Israel will establish a "security zone" inside Gaza and bordering Israel "for as long as there is a security need for it," Netanyahu's document reads.

It also calls for Israeli control of the Gaza–Egypt border and to operate there "as much as possible in cooperation with Egypt and with the assistance of the U.S."

Israel seeks to oversee the total demilitarization of Gaza – excluding weapons "necessary to maintain public order" – to ensure no violations.

Additionally, Netanyahu plans for a "deradicalization" of Gaza's civil, religious, educational, and welfare institutions.

This should be done "as much as possible with the involvement and assistance of Arab countries that have experience in promoting deradicalization in their territory," according to Netanyahu's document. It stresses that no reconstruction can take place without demilitarization and deradicalization.

"Reconstruction plans will be carried out with the financing and leadership of countries acceptable to Israel," it states.

Certain Arab states that Netanyahu was seemingly alluding to have said they would not be willing to aid the reconstruction of Gaza if there was no solution for the Palestinians and a plan for their eventual statehood.

"Local elements with management experience" will govern Gaza. They "will not be identified with countries or entities that support terrorism and will not receive payment from them," the document adds.

Netanyahu has previously rejected ideas for the Palestinian Authority (PA) to assume control over post-war Gaza. The document does not mention the PA. The "local elements" mentioned could refer to the vision for a "reformed" PA – as Washington has recently pushed for.

The plan also calls for a complete dismantling of UNRWA and its replacement with other international agencies. Israel has accused UNRWA employees of being involved in Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, with no evidence provided to date.

At the end of last month, the Jerusalem Post reported that Netanyahu approved a post-war Gaza plan drafted by a group of businessmen close to the prime minister.

The plan detailed by the Israeli outlet is very similar to what is included in Netanyahu's document, as it also calls for a reformation of Gaza's institutions and the installment of a newly reformed PA, among other things, such as continued Israeli military control.

The plan reported on by Jerusalem Post also calls for a broader normalization deal with Arab states and a potential roadmap to a Palestinian state, something Netanyahu and his government continue to reject.

UNRWA reaches 'breaking point' as US intel says 'low confidence' about Israeli claims

Questions continue to arise about Israeli claims that UNRWA has 'ties to Hamas,' an accusation that prompted over a dozen western nations to cut vital funding for the agency

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

A heavily damaged UNWRA school after Israeli strikes in the village of Khuzaa, near Abasan east of Khan Younis. (Photo Credit: Said Khatib/AFP)

The Commissioner General of the UN Reliefs and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini, announced on 22 February that the humanitarian body has reached a "breaking point" due to Israel's "concerted effort" to dismantle it.

"It is with profound regret that I must now inform you that UNRWA has reached a breaking point, with Israel's repeated calls to dismantle it and the freezing of funding by donors at a time of unprecedented humanitarian needs in Gaza," Lazzarini says in a letter addressed to the president of the UN General Assembly, adding that the agency's "ability to fulfill the mandate given through General Assembly resolution 302 is now seriously threatened."


"In just over four months in Gaza, there have been more children, more journalists, more medical personnel, and more UN staff killed than anywhere in the world during a conflict," Lazzarini continues, highlighting that over 150 UNRWA facilities have been bombed since the start of Israel's ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza.

He revealed that Tel Aviv ordered the agency to vacate the Kalandia Vocational Training Centre in occupied East Jerusalem and pay a fee of more than $4.5 million for its use. This center was "assigned to UNRWA by Jordan in 1952," Lazzarini points out.

He also lists several forms of harassment by the Israeli state against the UN body, including an attempt by the Israeli deputy mayor of Jerusalem to "evict UNRWA from its HQ of 75 years in East Jerusalem," limiting entry visas for international staff, threats to revoke tax exemption privileges for UNRWA, among other actions.

The desperate plea from Lazzarini was published one day after the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed that the US National Intelligence Council assessed with "low confidence" Israel's claims that a small group of UNRWA staffers participated in the 7 October attack on Israeli settlements in the Gaza envelope.

"In the new report, which was completed last week, the US's National Intelligence Council, a group of veteran intelligence analysts, said it assessed with 'low confidence' that a handful of UNRWA staffers participated in the 7 October attack," the WSJ cites people familiar with the assessment as saying.
"A low-confidence assessment indicates that the US intelligence community believes the claims are plausible but cannot make a stronger assertion because it doesn't have its own independent confirmation," the report adds.

"This assessment casts further significant doubt on the veracity of Israel's claims against UNRWA, which remain allegations without confirmed substantiating evidence," Chris Gunness, a former UNRWA spokesman and current Director of the Myanmar Accountability Project, told Responsible Statecraft.

"If Israel has allegations against UNRWA, it should hand them over to the internal and external investigations currently underway: one by the UN's Office of Internal Oversight and the other headed by a former French minister," Gunness added.

According to an investigation by The Cradle columnist William Van Wagenen, Tel Aviv's allegations against UNRWA are part of a classified plan prepared in advance by the foreign ministry to "destroy" the humanitarian agency for "working against Israel's interests."

"The foreign ministry plan leaked to Israel's Channel 12 on 28 December, set out a three-stage process to eliminate UNRWA in Gaza, using the Hamas-led resistance operation as a pretext: First, prepare a case alleging UNRWA's cooperation with Hamas; second, reduce UNRWA's field of activity and find replacement service providers; and third, transfer UNRWA's responsibilities to another entity," Van Wagenen details.

"If UNRWA is dismantled and replaced by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), as Israel hopes, this will guarantee that Palestinians can only be resettled in third countries and never return to the homes and lands from which Israel forcibly expelled their grandparents during the Nakba," the US investigative journalist adds.

Tel Aviv launched a smear campaign against UNRWA on 26 January, the day the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israeli authorities to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the enclave. ... eli-claims
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Sat Feb 24, 2024 12:33 pm

Israeli Attack Kills Senior Palestinian Commander in West Bank

Israeli airstrike on Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank. Feb. 22, 2024. | Photo: X/@AJEnglish

Published 22 February 2024

The number of people killed by the Israeli occupation forces' attacks reached 29,410.

The commander of the Palestinian militant group Jenin Brigades, Yasser Hanoun, was killed after an Israeli airstrike hit his car in the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, Palestinian medical sources said Thursday.

An Israeli reconnaissance plane bombed the car in which Hanoun was traveling on a street in the Jenin countryside, destroying the vehicle and setting it on fire, according to eyewitnesses.

It was also reported that 15 other people were injured in the attack.

Hanoun's charred body was transferred to Jenin Government Hospital, while four other wounded, one of them in critical condition, were taken to operating theaters, medical sources said.

Happening Now: West Bank | An Israeli drone strike targets a car in Jenin

— TIMES OF GAZA (@Timesofgaza) February 22, 2024

Other wounded Palestinians were transferred to Ibn Sina hospital in the city, of whom four are in stable condition, two suffer moderate injuries and one is in serious condition.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health in an update released today, the number of people killed by the Israeli occupation forces' attacks reached 29,410.

A total of 69,465 people have been injured since October 7 in the Israeli genocide. Health authorities estimate that some 8,000 bodies remain under the rubble. ... -0018.html


BMJ Decries Necrocide in Gaza as UN Describes “Shocking, Desperate Conditions”; Johns Hopkins Estimates Escalation Would Produce 85,000 More Deaths in 6 Months

Posted on February 23, 2024 by Yves Smith
The horrors in Gaza continue even if the press has only so much bandwidth for Israel’s continuing genocide. The focus so far has been on the consequences of Israel’s military campaign against civilians (and lack of success in eliminating Hamas), in particular the systematic destruction of hospitals.

But that death pattern is linear, in the sense that it is the result of Israel shellings and snipings. The urgency of recent reports from Gaza about conditions on the ground, and in particular, the effect of food shortages, filthy water, limited shelter, and disease spread seems to be reaching the point where their death count will exceed that of the Israeli armed campaign. And Israel will no doubt try to depict these deaths as an unfortunate consequence beyond their control.

The BMJ among many others has already, forcefully, staked out an opposing view. The prestigious journal ran an editorial at the start of January decrying the Israel campaign in Gaza as necrocide as a follow-on to an earlier piece decrying Israel’s conduct. Key sections:

The horrific scale of Israel’s latest attacks validates the concerns and calls raised in our editorial: namely that Israel’s ongoing military violence in Gaza is an extension of the long- standing, systemic violence intrinsic to the Israeli state’s colonisation and occupation of Palestine. Connections can be clearly traced between the exploitation and dispossession of people, land and resources that defined Euro- pean colonial violence, ongoing neocolonial exploitation worldwide, and every aspect of Israel’s settler colonial violence in Palestine today.6 We reaffirm our unwavering commit- ment to actions that expose and challenge sites of exploitative and extractive power and violence. People’s health, lives and freedoms are at risk…

Attempts to dehistoricise and decon- textualise the present encourage us to ignore the many ways in which the Israeli state dictates both life and death for the Palestinian people, either through the fast violence of aerial bombardments, or what Berlant referred to as ‘slow death’13: visible in the progressive dispossession of Palestinians who are crammed into ever-shrinking spaces, the denial of life-sustaining necessities and services, the destruction of livelihoods, repeated physical assaults and disablement, mass incarceration, extensive restrictions on movement (including to seek healthcare), and now ethnic cleansing in Gaza executed by mustering Palestin- ians through a dystopian grid of ever-shifting, supposedly ‘safe zones…

The recognition of the systematic nature of this violence, and the pervasiveness of Israeli state
control over almost every aspect of the everyday lives of Palestinians, made the philosopher Achille Mbembé declare that: ‘The most accomplished form of necropower is the contemporary colonial occupation of Palestine’.It is the power to dictate the terms of life and death, and ultimately who lives and who dies. Repeatedly framing Palestinian violence as a provocation and Israeli violence as a response is a product of ignorance to the necropower exercised by the Israeli state. Necropower and necropolitics are enabled in places that Achille Mbembé termed ‘death-worlds’, where ‘vast populations are subjected to conditions of life’ that enable a precarious form of survival in perpetual proximity to death. Within this world, there is gross indifference to Palestinian suffering and extreme obfuscation of the horrors of Israeli necropolitics.

While the particulars will be familiar to anyone who has followed the genocide in Gaza, and in particular, the compelling oral presentation by South Africa at the ICJ, the proper use of words is important, Necropower is an important addition to the lexicon.

The UN gave a grim and urgent update on the deteriorating conditions in Gaza to the Security Council (hat tip BC).1 From its site yesterday (emphasis original):

Internally displaced Palestinians are facing acute shortages of food, water, shelter and medicine, while communicable diseases are rising sharply unsanitary conditions and there is a “near total breakdown” in law and order…

Also briefing the Council was Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or Doctors Without Borders

Fearful of further deadly Israeli attacks, he said he was “appalled” by the United States’ repeated use of its veto power to obstruct efforts to adopt the most evident of resolutions: one demanding an immediate ceasefire…

Calling Washington’s new proposed draft resolution “misleading at best”, he said the Council should reject any resolution “that further hampers humanitarian efforts on the ground and leads this Council to tacitly endorse the continued violence and mass atrocities in Gaza”.

“Attacks on healthcare is an attack against humanity,” he said, noting that while Israel claims Hamas is operating in hospitals, “we have seen no independently verified evidence of this.”

I hate to be grim, but one sign starvation is becoming widespread is when pets are being killed for food. This is hardly uncommon, witness the ship’s cat and sled dogs being sacrificed by the crew of the Endurance and only one cat surviving the siege of Leningrad, a city with just under million people before the German siege. We ran this tweet earlier but as a reminder:
This is Maxim the cat. He was born in 1937 into the Vologdin family in Leningrad. He lived through and survived the blockade with the family.

The Vologdins locked him in a room and did not let him out into the street in order to protect him from being eaten by hungry… Show more
An estimated 630,000 died of starvation out of total mortality of 1.5 million. This was a fiercely fought conflict, and so the ratio of casualties to starvation and disease deaths is likely to become even higher if the siege of Gaza continues.

We have not seen anyone attempt to project a trajectory of deaths due to famine and disease. But as a basis for investigation, Johns Hopkins and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine have modeled what the prospects for Gaza over the next six months are, factoring in disease but not starvation. If you look at the table on page 10 in the report,2 you will see the fatalities they estimate are traumatic injury, infectious diseases – endemic, infectious diseases – epidemic, maternal and neonatal health, and non-communicable diseases.

The findings are grim:


Over the next six months we project that, in the absence of epidemics, 6,550 excess deaths would occur under the ceasefire scenario, climbing to 58,260 under the status quo scenario and 74,290 under the escalation scenario. Over the same period and with the occurrence of epidemics, our projections rise to 11,580, 66,720, and 85,750, respectively.

Note that these are mean estimates. Within the 95th percentile confidence range, the ceasefire death count range is 4,200 to 80,370, the status quo range is 48,210 to 193,180 and the epidemic range is 62,350 to 259,680.

Since they are interrelated (starvation and malnutrition increase the odds of dying from contagion as well as from injuries), this would seem to be a major lapse. Perhaps assuming levels of malnutrition and starvation would have made model outcomes seem arbitrary. Or perhaps due to lack of good foundational information (sufficiently in depth reports out of conflict zones), the investigators felt they lacked an adequate basis for including that key variable explicitly, although if you read the text, the researchers do present their findings as including the impact of malnutrition on infectious diseases, leading to a high mortality rate.

As to the infectious diseases included in the estimates above:

Excess deaths from infectious diseases under all scenarios are a particular concern. The breakdown of water and sanitation measures combined with overcrowding in inadequate shelters and insufficient food intake causing acute malnutrition combines into a projected high risk of excess deaths from a variety of infectious diseases. Endemic diseases, particularly COVID-19, influenza and pneumococcal disease, are projected to be the leading causes of infectious disease deaths, similar to the pre-war period. Overall, we project between 1,520 and 2,720 excess deaths due to common endemic infections depending on the scenario, though with wide uncertainty intervals. If epidemics also occur, those that are projected to cause the most excess deaths are cholera (3,595-8,971), polio (both wild-type and vaccine-derived; 1,1145-2,444), measles (260-793), and meningococcal meningitis (24-143); however, the estimates bear high levels of uncertainty inherent in projecting epidemics.

Mind you, this is on top of the current death toll, estimated by Palestinian authorities at 29,410. That is sure to be an undercount, since it does not include bodies still buried in rubble.

Further indications of how desperate conditions in Gaza are now:

At the UN Doctors without Borders recounted some of the horrors in Gaza, including surgeons having to carry out amputations without anaesthesia on children, and they made clear they hold the USA complicit.

And the US is determined to keep the savagery going:


Don’t buy the pretense that we can’t stop it:

Nancy Pelosi crumbles when asked: "But there are levers that Biden hasn't used. There are levers that previous presidents have used when Israel has, in their view, crossed a line"

Pelosi: "For example?"

"Eisenhower threatened sanctions..Reagan held up delivery of fighter… Show more ... onths.html

You can see Pelosi wanting to try “That was then” to deflect the historical examples, when she could be cornered by the fact that the only difference between then and now was the level of Israel lobby spending.


1 The UN appears to be trying to open up another front against Israel, not that that wil make much difference in practice. From Law Society Gazette Ireland (hat tip BC):

The Attorney General (AG) Rossa Fanning SC has told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Ireland believes that Israel has committed “serious breaches” of international law by its activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem…

The AG was representing Ireland at hearings in The Hague arising from a request from the United Nations General Assembly for an advisory opinion from the court on the legal consequences arising from Israel’s action in the Palestinian territory it has occupied since 1967…

The AG said that Israel’s “continuous” settlement activity in the occupied territories “clearly demonstrate that Israel has been engaged in a process of annexation”.

He said that the construction of permanent settlements had “fundamentally altered” the demographics of the area, while Israel had also extended the application of domestic law to those living in settlements.

The AG argued that, by transferring parts of its own civilian population into the occupied territories, Israel had violated article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention…

The AG referred to the rules laid down by international law on military occupation, which was necessarily temporary, did not confer sovereignty, and could not be of indefinite duration.

“Prolonged occupation over an extended period of time raises unavoidable legal questions – in particular whether it constitutes a disguised form of annexation, and/or a determined effort to deny the people of an occupied territory the exercise of their right to self-determination,” he told the court.

“Neither the duration of the occupation nor the scale and extent of settlement activity is, in Ireland’s view, justified or permitted by the law regulating the use of force in self-defence,” the AG continued.

2 We would have embedded the document, but recent conventions in reports have led to them consistently being far too large to embed in WordPress. ... onths.html


Israeli jets bombard Rafah where over one million remain trapped

Tel Aviv plans to move ahead with a large-scale assault on the desperately overcrowded city

News Desk

FEB 22, 2024

Aftermath of Israeli strikes on a mosque and residential buildings in Rafah, southern Gaza. 22 February, 2024. (Photo credit: AA)

Israeli warplanes bombarded the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city of Rafah overnight and on 22 February.

Several Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes on homes in Rafah, the Health Ministry in Gaza said.

According to residents, more than 12 members of a single family were killed by an airstrike on the southern city.

The Al-Farouq Mosque in Rafah’s Shaboura neighborhood was completely destroyed in the attacks.

In total, nearly 100 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip in the last 24 hours, according to the ministry.

Israel claims Rafah is Hamas’ last stronghold. It is planning a major assault against the city, which is desperately overcrowded with over a million Palestinians – many of whom have been displaced from other areas of the strip.

The UN has warned that civilians in Rafah have nowhere to go.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an interview on 21 February that the army has been ordered to create a plan to move civilians in Rafah and that he is waiting to receive this plan.

However, the next day, Israeli officials told Bloomberg that Tel Aviv has “no precise strategy for how to do it, how long it will take or where the people will go.” Washington has been warning Israel not to proceed with the Rafah assault unless a clear strategy is established.

But Washington again vetoed the latest UN Resolution for a ceasefire on 20 February.

Israel is still facing fierce resistance in the southern city of Khan Yunis and other areas of the strip, despite its repeated claims that entire Hamas battalions have been taken out.

“Completing Khan Younis will take another week. In March, we will move our forces into Rafah, where the fighting will take till the end of April. We can then move to a configuration of smaller forces like we have in the north,” former Israeli national security adviser Yaakov Amidror said on 22 February. ... in-trapped

Tel Aviv to expand West Bank settlements in response to resistance attacks

Resistance in the occupied West Bank is at an all-time high due to increased Israeli army and settler violence against Palestinians

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

(Photo credit: Flash90)
Israel is planning the construction of thousands of new housing units for illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In a statement issued on the evening of 22 February, extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich announced that the Israeli government will submit plans to build over 3,000 housing units in illegal settlements.

Hebrew media framed the construction plan as a response to a deadly shooting operation near Jerusalem on Friday. The plan allocates 2,350 new housing units to the Maale Adumim settlement, near where the shooting occurred; another 300 in the Keidar settlement; and 694 in the Efrat settlement.

Smotrich’s statement came after he held consultations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer.

Israel’s National Planning Administration will likely give final approval for the units in Efrat. The units in Maale Adumim and Keidar still need preliminary approval.

One soldier was killed, and another 11 Israelis were wounded in a shooting operation near Maale Adumim on Thursday morning.

Right after the operation, Smotrich called on Netanyahu to approve the construction of thousands of settlement units in Maale Adumim.

Since Netanyahu’s extremist coalition took power, illegal expansion of West Bank settlements has accelerated. Israeli army and settler violence has surged to all-time highs since the current government took power and even more so after 7 October.

As a result, resistance operations in the occupied West Bank are on the rise.

It was reported earlier this month that the US was considering imposing sanctions on Smotrich and extremist National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir due to their role in instigating tension in the occupied West Bank.

Ben Gvir, head of the police as security minister, has plans to further restrict Palestinian access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, resulting in fears of a flare-up.

Settlement building in the occupied West Bank is illegal under international law, which states that Israel has no right to transfer its population onto occupied territory.

Nonetheless, European financial institutions have provided billions of dollars to support settlement construction in the occupied West Bank over the past few years, as the Don’t Buy Into Occupation (DBIO) civil society organization highlighted in December. ... ce-attacks

Top Israeli officials demand 'more settlements, more guns' as West Bank violence surges

The crisis gripping the occupied West Bank has led many to warn that Israel's continued violations could soon spark a third Intifada

News Desk

FEB 22, 2024

(Photo Credit: THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

Senior Israeli officials are calling for the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and for the delivery of more weapons to settlers in the wake of the latest Palestinian resistance operation on 22 February.

"The serious attack on Maale Adumim must have a decisive security response but also an answer from the settlements … I demand the prime minister approve the convening of the higher planning council and immediately approve plans for thousands of housing units in Maale Adumim and the entire region," anti-Arab Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said via social media.

This came on the heels of a statement by National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who said his office will continue to arm extremist settler groups that terrorize Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.

"We're distributing more and more guns. I think that today everyone understands that guns save lives … Six months ago, I said that the right to life is more important than the right to free movement for residents of the Palestinian Authority," the Jewish supremacist told reporters. "The right to life for Jewish residents in the West Bank is more important than the freedom of movement for residents of the Palestinian Authority."
"I expect that there will be more and more checkpoints, that there will be restrictions. Our enemies do not look for excuses; our enemies just want to harm us," he added.

Ben Gvir also echoed claims made several months ago by his coalition partner Smotrich that "there is no such thing as the Palestinian people" and stressed he would increase pressure on the government to ban Palestinian worshippers from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Since the start of Israel's campaign of genocide against the Gaza Strip nearly five months ago, the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem have witnessed a significant spike in settler pogroms and violent raids by the Israeli army. Palestinian resistance operations have also seen a massive surge, jumping 350 percent between 2022 and 2023.

Over 1,000 Palestinians – including hundreds of children – have been forcibly displaced by settlers and Israeli army soldiers, according to the UN. Furthermore, over 7,000 Palestinians have been arrested by the army in operations that have more than doubled the population of Israel's prisons.

As the situation worsens, more settlers are being armed under an initiative sponsored by the Israeli National Security Ministry.

According to Israeli watchdog NGO Peace Now, Israeli settlers established a record-breaking 26 outposts in the occupied West Bank in 2023. The report correlates the rise in unlawful settlement construction with the Jewish supremacist policies of the Israeli government.

The deteriorating crisis comes as dozens of nations attend hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that seek to end Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian territories and the system of apartheid imposed on the Arab population. ... nce-surges


The Axis of Asymmetry Takes on the ‘Rules-Based Order’
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 23, 2024
Pepe Escobar


World War III is here, playing out asymmetrically in military, financial, and institutional battlefields, and the fight is an existential one. The western Hegemon, in truth, is at war against international law, and only ‘kinetic military action’ can bring it to heel.

The Axis of Asymmetry is in full swing. These are the state and non-state actors employing asymmetrical moves on the global chessboard to sideline the US-led western rules-based order. And its vanguard is the Yemeni resistance movement Ansarallah.

Ansarallah is absolutely relentless. They have downed a $30 million MQ-9 Reaper drone with just a $10k indigenous missile.

They are the first in the Global South ever to use anti-ship ballistic missiles against Israel-bound and/or -protecting commercial and US Navy ships.

For all practical purposes, Ansarallah is at war with no less than the US Navy.

Ansarallah has captured one of the US Navy’s ultra-sophisticated autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV), the $1.3 million Remus 600, a torpedo-shaped underwater drone able to carry a massive payload of sensors.

Next stop: reverse engineering in Iran? The Global South eagerly awaits, ready to pay in currencies bypassing the US dollar.

All of the above – a maritime 21st-century remix of the Ho Chi Minh trail during the Vietnam War – spells out that the Hegemon may not even qualify as a paper tiger, but rather as a paper leech.

Lula tells it as the Global South sees it

Into the Big Picture – linked to the relentless ongoing genocide perpetrated by Israel in Gaza – steps a true leader of the Global South, Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Lula spoke in the name of Brazil, Latin America, Africa, BRICS 10, and the overwhelming majority of the Global South when he cut to the chase and defined the Gaza tragedy for what it is: a genocide. No wonder the Zionist tentacles across the Global North – plus its Global South vassals – went bonkers.

The genocidals in Tel Aviv declared Lula as persona non grata in Israel. Yet Lula did not assassinate 29,000+ Palestinians – the overwhelming majority of whom were women and children.

History will be unforgiving: it’s the genocidals that will eventually be judged as personae non grata to all of humanity.

What Lula said represented BRICS 10 in action: this was obviously cleared before with Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, and, of course, the African Union. Lula spoke in Addis Ababa, and Ethiopia is now a BRICS 10 member.

The Brazilian president was extremely smart in timing his Gaza fact-check to be on the table during the G20 meeting of Foreign Ministers in Rio. Way beyond BRICS 10, what’s happening in Gaza is a consensus among the non-Western G20 partners – who are actually a majority. No one, though, should expect any serious follow-up inside a divided G20. The heart of the matter remains in the facts on the ground.

Yemen’s fight for “our people” in Gaza is a matter of humanistic, moral, and religious solidarity – these are foundational tenets of the rising eastern “civilizational” powers, both domestically and in international affairs. This convergence of principles has now created a direct link – extrapolating to the moral and spiritual spheres – between the Axis of Resistance in West Asia and the Slavic Axis of Resistance in Donbass.

Extreme attention should be paid to the timescale. The Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) forces and Russia have spent two hard-fought years in Novorossiya just to arrive at the stage where it becomes clear – based on the battlefield and cumulative facts on the ground – that “negotiations” mean only the terms of Kiev’s surrender.

In contrast, the job of the Axis of Resistance in West Asia has not even started. It’s fair to argue that its strength and full sovereign involvement have not been deployed yet (think Hezbollah and Iran).

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, with his proverbial subtlety, has hinted there’s, in fact, nothing to negotiate on Palestine. And if there would be a return to any borders, these would be the 1948 borders. The Axis of Resistance understands that the whole Zionist Project is unlawful and immoral. But the question remains how to throw it, in practice, into the dustbin of History?

Possible – avowedly optimistic – scenarios ahead would include Hezbollah taking possession of the Galilee as a step toward the eventual retaking of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Yet the fact remains that even a united Palestine does not have the military capability to reconquer stolen Palestinian lands.

So the questions posed by the overwhelming majority of the Global South that stands with Lula may be: Who else, apart from Ansarallah, Hezbollah, Hashd al-Shaabi, will join the Axis of Asymmetry in the fight for Palestine? Who would be willing to come to the Holy Land and die? (After all, in Donbass, it’s only Russians and Russophones who are dying for historically Russian lands)

And that brings us to the way towards the endgame: only a West Asian Special Military Operation (SMO), to the bitter end, will settle the Palestinian tragedy. A translation of what happens across the Slavic Axis of Resistance: “Those who refuse to negotiate with Lavrov, deal with Shoigu.”

The menu, the table, and the guests

That out-of-his-depth closet neocon, Secretary of State Tony Blinken, let the cat out of the bag when he actually defined his much cherished “rules-based international order”: “If you’re not on the table, you are on the menu.”

Following his own hegemonic logic, it’s clear that Russia and the US/NATO are on the table while Ukraine is on the menu. What about the Red Sea? The Houthis defending Palestine against US–UK–Israel are clearly on the table, while Western vassals supporting Israel in a maritime way are clearly on the menu.

And that’s the problem: the Hegemon – or, in Chinese scholarly terminology, “the crusaders” – have lost the power to place the name cards on the table. The main reason for this authority collapse is the build-up of serious international meetings sponsored by the Russia–China strategic partnership during the past two years since the start of the SMO. It’s all about sequential planning, with long-term targets clearly outlined.

Only civilizational states can do that – not plutocratic neoliberal casinos.

Negotiating with the Hegemon is impossible because the Hegemon itself prevents negotiations (see the serial blocking of ceasefire resolutions at the UN). Additionally, the Hegemon excels in instrumentalizing its client elites across the Global South via threats or kompromat: see the hysterical reaction of Brazilian mainstream media to Lula’s verdict on Gaza.

What Russia is showing the Global South, two years after the start of the SMO, is that the only path to teach a lesson to the Hegemon has to be kinetic, or “military-technical.”

The problem is no nation-state can compare to nuclear/hypersonic/military superpower Russia, in which 7.5 percent of the government’s budget is dedicated to military production. Russia is and will remain on a permanent war footing until Hegemon’s elites come to their senses – and that may never happen.

Meanwhile, West Asia’s Axis of Resistance is watching and learning, day after day. It’s always crucial to keep in mind that for all the resistance movements across the Global South – and that also includes, for instance, West Africans against French neo-colonialism – the geopolitical fault lines could not be starker.

It’s a matter of the collective West versus Islam; the collective West versus Russia; and sooner rather than later, a substantial part of the West, even reluctantly, versus China.

The fact is we are already immersed in a World War that is both existential and civilizational. As we stand at the crossroads, there is a bifurcation: either escalation towards overt “kinetic military action,” or a multiplication of Hybrid Wars across several latitudes.

So it’s up to the Axis of Asymmetry, cool, calm, and collected, to forge the underground corridors, passages, and trails capable of undermining and subverting the US-led, unipolar, rules-based international order. ... sed-order/


Sinai’s Rising Walls Close on 1.5 Million Palestinians in Rafah
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 23, 2024
Asma Barakat


On Feb. 14, the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights released information on state-sanctioned construction occurring in Eastern Sinai. The report revealed that construction work is intended to build “a gated area surrounded by 7-meter-high walls” meant to contain over 100,000 people in the event that Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) forcibly expel Palestinians from Gaza into the Sinai Desert.

Satellite photos and video of the Sinai show the construction of a wall along the Rafah-Egypt crossing. Reports claim the construction site “is surrounded by concrete walls and far from any Egyptian settlements. Large numbers of tents have been delivered to the site.” It appears like Egypt is preparing to receive an influx of Palestinians who are currently under siege near the Rafah crossing.

Instead of permitting aid trucks to enter Gaza, a concrete cage is being erected to contain Palestinians who flee a genocide. This buffer zone will transform into a refugee camp in the middle of the Sinai Desert, where Palestinians from Gaza will remain stateless refugees, overlooked by the world and condemned to live an unjust life of humiliation. The pattern that was initiated in the 1948 Nakba, where Palestinian refugees in neighboring countries were treated as second-class citizens at best in refugee camps and buffer zones, will likely be repeated.

Since Oct. 7, Palestinians in Gaza have been experiencing a genocide and humanitarian crisis that wrecked catastrophe in their lives including experiencing constant displacement and loss of family, home, and livelihoods. Euro-Med Monitor reports that 100,000 Palestinians have either been murdered, missing, or wounded. Over 1.3 million Palestinians have been displaced to Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city bordering Egypt. Ordinarily, Rafah’s population is around 220,000, but due to Israel’s annihilation campaign in Gaza, the governorate now holds 1.5 million Palestinians, 80% of whom are living in tents.

Rafah was designated a so-called “safe zone” by Israel, which prompted Palestinians from across the Strip to flee toward it. Except, Rafah, like the entirety of Gaza, is not safe. The border city has experienced aerial bombardment almost daily since the start of Israel’s extermination campaign. Deeply disturbing imagery of Israel’s war crimes has come out of Rafah. For instance, the video and photo of seven-year-old Sidra Hassouna’s lifeless and mangled body was shared on social media last week after Israel’s most recent carpet-bombing of Rafah.

On Feb. 11, Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the IOF would prepare for a ground invasion of Rafah. Gaza has been made uninhabitable by Israel’s bombardment and siege, but a ground invasion into Rafah would escalate matters even further. In an interview with Al Jazeera, displaced Palestinians shared the direness of their situation. Assaad Hassan, for example, said, “We have nowhere else to go but to the grave if they carry out their threats to invade Rafah.”

In an interview with Democracy Now, Noura Erakat called the potential of a ground invasion in Rafah, along with pushing a portion of Gaza’s population into Egypt’s buffer zone, the “worst-case scenario,” as it would permanently lock Palestinians into a state of no return, just as it did Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. With 1.5 million people crammed into a tiny city, the death toll would be cataclysmic.

This is, without a doubt, a repetition of the 1948 Nakba, but on a much larger scale, with billions of eyes watching.

World leaders have remained idle, refusing to hold Israel accountable for its crimes with any tangible action, let alone sanctions. The people of Gaza continue to ask: for how much longer do they have to bear this incomprehensible violence?

If a ground invasion takes place, Rafah will turn into nothing short of a death camp. Egypt’s buffer zone can only hold a small percentage of Gaza’s population. The Egyptian government risks complicity in this genocide, by facilitating the mass slaughter, starvation, and expulsion of the Palestinians from Gaza. ... -in-rafah/

The Egyptians are between a rock and a hard place: To abet ethnic cleansing or not to abet ethnic cleansing and possibly condemn Palestinians to even more horrific suffering, that is the question. My answer is that they should invade occupied Palestine. If Hezbollah joins in it's game.
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Sun Feb 25, 2024 1:24 pm

Palestinian dies from torture in 10th prison death since 7 Oct

Israel has a long history of torturing Palestinian prisoners to death

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

(Photo credit: AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A tenth Palestinian has died in Israeli occupation prisons since the start of the war on 7 October, the Palestinian Detainees Affairs Authority and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) confirmed on 23 February.

The detainee is from Gaza and died due to torture in the Israeli prison of Ramla. His name has not been announced, as his family has not yet been notified.

Wafa News Agency reports the detainee had a pre-existing disability before his abduction by Israeli forces. He was transferred to Ramla prison about a month ago while in critical condition due to wounds resulting from torture, according to a lawyer who recently visited detainees at the prison.

Palestinian detainees in Ramla informed the lawyer that the detainee had passed away last Tuesday after being transferred to the hospital. The detainee was subject to forced disappearance, as the prison administration did not make an official announcement about his death or acknowledge his detention.

The two advocacy organizations stated that the increase in the deaths of Palestinians in occupation prisons since 7 October represents a decision by Israeli authorities to kill detainees through the use of torture, systematic retaliatory measures, and medical negligence.

On 21 February, Palestinian detainee Khaled al-Shawish, 53, died in the Israeli prison of Nafha.

Shawish had been detained since 28 May 2007 and was issued 11 life sentences.

He was first detained in 1993 after being kidnapped by an undercover Israeli special force. He was released four years later without being charged with a crime.

In 2001, Israeli forces shot Shawash during a gunfight, paralyzing him. Six years later, Israeli forces detained him again and sentenced him to life in prison for organizing attacks against Israeli settlers.

In addition to the ten detainees who have died, Israel has detained nearly 7,000 Palestinians since 7 October, subjecting them to regular torture, beatings, isolation, and denial of fundamental rights.

Two hundred forty-six Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prison since the Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967. ... ince-7-oct

OPCW watchdog attributes 2015 Syria chemical attack to ISIS: Report

The report shows ISIS units deployed sulphur mustard gas via their artillery munitions on the town of Marea, amidst ongoing accusations against the Syrian government

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

(Photo Credit: Anas Al-Dyab/Agence France-Presse)

The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) stated on 22 February that there are "reasonable grounds" to believe that ISIS perpetrated chemical weapons attacks on the town of Marea, close to Aleppo, in 2015.

The Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) of the watchdog determined that ISIS militants utilized sulphur mustard in attacks across various parts of the town on 1 September 2015.

According to a OPCW report, ISIS units deployed sulphur mustard gas via their artillery munitions on the town of Marea between 9:00 and 12:00 pm. OPCW's report stated, “The chemical agent was delivered using one or more artillery guns."

IIT discovered that 11 people who were exposed to a "black, vicious substance" present in projectiles at the attack location exhibited symptoms that aligned with sulphur mustard exposure.

The recent report emerges amid ongoing accusations by the international community that the Syrian government conducted chemical attacks within its borders, allegations that Damascus vehemently denies.

In 2014, Syria relinquished its chemical weapons arsenal to a collaborative effort between the US and the OPCW, which then supervised the dismantling of these weapons.

Damascus asserts that the chemical attack was “staged” to exert pressure on and discredit President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Last August, Syria's UN representative affirmed that Washington provided chemical weapons to extremist militant groups in the Arab state's western provinces in addition to training them for false-flag operations.

David Schenker from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) also previously noted that Washington used Al Tanf as a training ground for armed opposition groups in Syria, acting as a strategic asset in the extended discussions on the nation's future.

According to a Reuters report, in 2018, Syria's former foreign minister, Walid Muallem, noted that OPCW previously disclosed allegations of the Syrian government using chemical weapons against its civilians were devoid of any evidence.

However, the OPCW retracted its statement following pressure from the US. Several political commentators, including Noam Chomsky, reiterated that the organization had "suppressed" information indicating that the chemical attack by the Syrian government on Douma in 2018 did not occur.

More recently, US journalist Seymour Hersh reported in 2021 that a classified US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) briefing in June 2013 indicated that Al-Nusra Front maintained a sarin production cell and was attempting a large-scale production effort in Syria. ... sis-report

Saudi-backed Yemeni forces make inroads with Ansarallah

The Sanaa–Marib corridor has been shut since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015

News Desk

FEB 23, 2024

The opening of the Sanaa-Marib corridor in Yemen. 22 February, 2024. (Photo credit: Al-Jazeera)

Officials in Yemen announced an initiative to open the Sanaa–Sarwah–Marib road on 22 February.

The strategic road has been closed since 2015. It links Yemen’s capital, Sanaa – administered by the Ansarallah resistance movement – to the country’s energy-rich province of Marib, part of which is controlled by the Saudi-backed Islah Party.

The initiative aims to improve ties between Ansarallah and forces loyal to the Saudi-led coalition, as well as alleviate the suffering of citizens living under blockade.

“The initiative comes as a goodwill from the leadership of the local authority … and is a first stage that will be followed by stages to open the rest of the roads,” said Ali Muhammad Taiman, an Ansarallah-affiliated governor in one of the Marib province’s several governorates.

Sultan al-Arada, an influential tribal leader in Marib and member of the Saudi-backed Islah Party, confirmed the initiative on the same day.

“In consultation with political and military leadership, a security checkpoint was established today on the road linking Marib and Sanaa,” Arada said, adding that the initiative to open the road has been discussed with the UN. Arada expressed hope that “the other side” will take similar steps.

A local source confirmed to The Cradle that the initiative signifies the recent warming up of ties between Ansarallah and the Saudi-backed Islah Party, who were periodically at odds with one another throughout the nine years of war in the country.

“The Islah Party controls [parts of] Marib. They have become more supportive of Ansarallah. Many members of Islah previously defected [to Ansarallah]. Now, it is coming within the context of the peace deal with Saudi Arabia … The Saudis do not want to be a part of this war anymore,” the source said.

He added that Marib has become “closer” to Ansarallah and that this road-opening initiative signals increasing “closeness” between them and the Islah Party, particularly after the Gaza war – which has boosted Ansarallah’s local popularity due to its pro-Palestine naval operations in the Red Sea.

Ansarallah was close to advancing militarily in Marib toward the end of 2021. However, peace talks began not long after, which halted their offensive.

The peace agreement between Saudi Arabia and the Ansarallah-led government in Sanaa, which has been in the works for the past two years, was recently revealed as completed and ready to be signed.

Saudi Arabia has not taken part in Washington’s military campaign against Sanaa – which comes as a response to the Yemeni naval blockade on Israeli shipping in the Red Sea – so as not to compromise peace efforts.

The kingdom’s foreign minister Faisal bin Farhan announced this week that Riyadh is “fully committed” to the Saudi-Yemen peace deal, which will be “ready to sign as soon as possible.”

The road opening initiative comes as Ansarallah and the Yemeni Armed Forces’ attacks on Israeli-linked vessels and ships bound for Israeli ports are garnering significant amounts of popular support for Ansarallah in Yemen.

According to a January report by Responsible Statecraft, the Islah Party has recently been providing Ansarallah with material support and has praised its operations in support of Gaza.

Sanaa’s pro-Palestine position and subsequent popularity boost have weakened what remains of Saudi and UAE-led coalition forces in Yemen, according to Yemeni writer Mohammed Moqeibel.

Yemenis have also become more unified since the brutal US–UK military campaign that began against Yemen last month. ... ansarallah

(Worst title ever.)


Malnourishment could lead to even more deaths among children in Gaza

A new report found that that over 15% of children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, with 3% of them suffering from wasting. The World Food Programme has warned that without a ceasefire, a famine may ravage Gaza by May

February 23, 2024 by Peoples Health Dispatch

Displaced Palestinians wait for food at Al-Shaboura camp, in Rafah. Photo: WHO via UN Photo

Nutrition indicators among children in Gaza have been declining at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of Israeli attacks on October 7, 2023. Without a ceasefire, there will be a famine ravaging through the region by May, warned the World Food Programme (WFP).

In a new report based on data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the Global Nutrition Cluster found that over 15% of children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, with 3% of them suffering from wasting.

The numbers in the southern regions, including Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has been displaced to, are somewhat lower, yet still represent a massive increase compared to the situation before October 7. The report indicates that by January, 5% of under-2-year-olds in Rafah were acutely malnourished. Previously, less than 1% of children younger than 5 experienced such circumstances across the entire Strip.

The extent of malnourishment is creating the perfect conditions for the spread of communicable diseases, which could drive the devastating number of children killed by Israeli attacks even higher. As most children can only consume food of low variety, their bodies become more vulnerable to the effects of otherwise treatable conditions, like diarrhea. Additionally, the lack of clean potable water, affecting all households in Gaza, further decreases the chances of treating these conditions.

Children are not the only group affected by the lack of food. Their parents, including pregnant mothers, are choosing to forgo meals to feed their children. Approximately 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza are not getting enough to eat. If they have access to food, it is of low nutritional value, adding to the pre-existing burden of anemia and undermining maternal health.

The WFP has documented much of this situation but stopped delivering aid to northern Gaza as the occupying forces did not ensure conditions for safe delivery. The aid entering southern regions of Gaza remains only a small fraction of what is needed, and the effects of malnutrition are exacerbated by the destruction of the health infrastructure.

No hospital or health center is spared in this process, and attacks have also been noted against civilian infrastructure where health workers and their families are seeking shelter. In one of the most recent attacks of this kind, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) targeted a house where 64 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff members and their families were staying. The building was clearly marked with an MSF flag, and the IOF were informed of their presence, yet they attacked the house, killing several people inside.

According to MSF, the IOF’s action “shows a complete disregard for human life and a lack of respect for the medical mission. This makes it almost impossible to sustain medical humanitarian activities in Gaza.”

As the IOF persists in its attacks on hospitals, not only the shelling but also the evacuation orders and sieges further jeopardize the health of people who are already sick or wounded. Commenting on recent cases of hospital evacuation in Gaza, Guillemette Thomas from MSF pointed out that patients were forced to leave on foot, in wheelchairs, or even rolled in hospital beds, despite being in no condition to be moved.

Their treatment increases the risk of infection and lowers the chances of recovery, Thomas stated. “This can be extremely dangerous for them. When someone with a severely fractured leg starts to walk, it compromises their possibility to regain mobility and can have life-threatening consequences.”

Even after most patients, medical staff, and forcibly displaced people are evacuated from the hospitals, Israeli forces continue to besiege them. On February 22, after a full month of besieging and targeting Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, the IOF damaged the hospital’s communication devices, which are used by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for locating and dispatching teams. This is only one in a series of IOF attacks that hit the PRCS, following the kidnapping of several staff members, destroying ambulance vehicles dispatched to rescue children, and raids on Al-Amal, which left behind damaged medical equipment and vehicles.

The situation is far from better in Nasser Hospital. While the WHO and other organizations were finally able to reach the complex to evacuate one part of the patients who had stayed behind following a violent incursion into the buildings by the IOF, over 100 patients who cannot move and about a dozen medical staff providing them care still remain behind.

The UN health agency was granted permission to enter Nasser Hospital only earlier this week, after several attempts were blocked by the Israeli forces. “Prior to the missions, WHO received two consecutive denials to access the hospital for medical assessment, causing delays in urgently needed patient referral. Reportedly, at least five patients died in the Intensive Care Unit before any missions or transfers were possible,” the organization said in a statement.

Upon their return from Nasser, WHO staff said the destruction was indescribable. “Gaza has become a death zone,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. ... n-in-gaza/


UN agency for Palestinian refugees at ‘breaking point’: Press TV, Iran

I recommend this 10 minute video both for what the presenter and my fellow panelist said as they described Israel’s unconscionable efforts to destroy UNRWA, the main provider of humanitarian assistance to Palestinians inside and outside of Gaza, and also to what I was allowed to say regarding how this tragedy may yet be brought to a halt if the war widens, rather than contracts.

As I note here, there are relevant lessons from the original Holocaust perpetrated against European Jewry by Nazi Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Modern day communications and journalistic practices mean that the world public is well aware day by day of the murderous attacks of the IDF on the civilians of Gaza, whereas the German killings of Jews and other minorities were known primarily to leaders in the West rather than to rank-in-file people in the ‘street.’ Nonetheless, foreign and military policy was and is made by leaders, not by the broad population and those leaders did not lift a finger against Nazi Germany until the outbreak of WWII. When they finally went to war it was for reasons that had nothing to do with the genocide being practiced.

So it is today. Most of humanity is outraged by what Israel is doing in Gaza. But governments in the region have not taken military action against Israel to save the Palestinians. The only forces that have acted are non state forces of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houtsis in Yemen. Everyone else is reasonably fearful of getting involved in a hot war with Israel given the vast destructive force that Tel Aviv commands, not to mention its nuclear arsenal.

As I say in this interview, Israel may yet be brought to heel because of the now irrational, hubristic mentality of Natanyahu and his cabinet. Netanyahu seems to want a wider war to hold onto power, and perhaps he should get one because only a real war can stop the genocide.

The wider war may yet come from the side of the Houtsis. From what looked like pitiful volleys of drones and missiles that were easily shot down by U.S. air defense several weeks ago, we saw how the Houtsis have in the past week seriously damaged a Qatari oil tanker, forcing its crew to abandon ship, and how they sank a British freighter in the Red Sea. Now, I understand that the Houthis have successfully attacked Eilat. We may suppose that their weaponry has been greatly improved, and how can that be? It is improbable that Iran would step in, due to the risks posed by the U.S. naval force in the Med. But it is well possible that the Russians are assisting the Houthis in the spirit of tit for tat, paying Britain and the U.S. back for their proxy war on Russia in Ukraine. If this conflict expands, if the fight between Hezbollah and the IDF becomes a war, then we may witness the showdown that will distract Israel from genocide and focus its attention on its own survival as a state.

©Gilbert Doctorow, 2024


Transcript below by a reader

Interviewer: 0:01
Now joining us for the program is Motee Abu Musabeh, a press TV correspondent, joining us from Deir Al-Balah; and Gilbert Doctorow, independent international affairs analyst, joining us from Brussels. Gentlemen, I’d like to welcome you both to the program here. I guess, Motee, we’ll start with you there in Gaza, for the latest, please, if you could.

Musabeh: 0:21
Yes, actually, the Israeli genocide is still continued against the Gaza Strip, where several areas of Gaza Strip are under the relentless and intense Israeli airstrikes and attacks. And let me begin with the last Israeli airstrike that targeted an UNRWA school here in the central area of Gaza Strip, particularly Anusayati Fijid camp.

As the Israeli fighter drones attacked and targeted that school, claiming the lives of dozens of the Palestinian casualties, they were [removed] to the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, as we are standing right now. It’s another attack reaching the UNRWA evacuation centers in a continuation of this systematic attacks, this systematic strategy of attacks against the agency here in the Gaza Strip. And at the same time, it was reported that at least 30 Palestinian civilians were killed over the last night in Gaza City alone. After the Israeli occupation forces attacked the Palestinian civilians who were waiting for the humanitarian relief to reach Gaza City, the Israeli occupation forces attacked them mercilessly, claiming the lives of at least 15 Palestinian civilians out of them.

So the Israeli attacks are still continued and these airstrikes are covering all areas of Gaza Strip, not only here in the central area, Gaza City and even Khan Yunis City and Ra’afah City. They were under heavy bombardments and attacks of the Israeli occupation forces and evidentially the Israeli occupation forces crossed all red lines when it comes to the targeting of the Palestinian civilians here in the Gaza Strip, including the UNRWA agency evacuation centers scattered alongside the Gaza Strip.

Interviewer: 2:08
Okay, thank you, Motee. And I’d like to now [speak to] Gilbert Doctorow, independent international affairs analyst, joining us out of Brussels. Dr, a pleasure to have you on the program, sir. Now, when the Israelis brought these allegations that less than a handful of workers for UNRWA had some kind of ties with the Hamas operation on October 7th. And this is of a work force of between 20 to 30,000 people spanning three or four countries. The UNRWA leadership came out and said, “Look we have nearly 30,000 people we have a list that we gave the Jordanians, the Israelis, the Syrians, and the Lebanese, so they can do their own second batch of vetting if they so choose to. So there’s really no excuse to cut funding.”

Now, if you’re the Israelis, you want to call it a war, you want to cut funding. But for you to implore your Western allies to do it, and for them to do it without a proper probe taking place– I cannot imagine or I cannot stress how inhumane three-quarters or 99 percent of the world feels this move has been. Your initial thoughts on this?

Doctorow: 3:22
I agree entirely with your commentary. The question is when and how will this outrage of the majority of the world’s population against the atrocities that Israel has committed daily with impunity, when will this translate into some constraining force that will change the direction of Israeli policy and bring them to heel?

That, as a layman, is what I think is the most important question on the minds of your listenership. And this brings me back, if you’ll allow me, to the original Holocaust of Jews in Germany. The whole world knew, not to the extent that one can today with our technologies and communications, but those in power knew fairly well what was going on in the 1930s. Did they go to war with Germany over the atrocities and the murders that were taking place against minorities, of Jews and others? No, it didn’t, of course.

It was the outbreak of World War II, for totally different reasons, that finally brought Germany to pay the price for the atrocities it had committed against Jews and other minorities on its territory and across Eastern Europe. That is the same situation that I see before us today. No one other than the Houthis who are not really a state power, has dared to raise a finger against Israel in a military way. Iran hasn’t, Saudi Arabia hasn’t, Qatar hasn’t, nobody. And that is not a condemnation.

It’s simply an acknowledgement that that’s the way the world works, always has and always will. You have outraged people in the streets, you have people like myself, like your other interviewees who are outraged, but that does not bring Israel to heel. Israel will be brought to heel by the self-destructive policies of Mr. Netanyahu, who is trying to create a wider war. He might just succeed. His bombings in Lebanon might just succeed in bringing Hezbollah to a boiling point where it responds with a real war. And then, and only then, will Israel pay the price for its atrocities and be forced to become civilized again.

Interviewer: 5:45
Thank you. And Motee, right now, even before UNRWA loses its funding, before we see the true impacts, which is [what] we’re supposed to see it in the next couple of weeks or so, when its funding all dries up– I mean, we already know that they didn’t have enough resources to deal with the demand there in Gaza. How desperate are things before the funding gets cut?

Musabeh: 6:12
First of all, let me say that according to the Palestinian people here and every rational individual across the globe that all these attacks against the UNRWA agency taking place here in the Gaza Strip amid this brutal aggression on the Strip are not taking place in vacuum. They are taking place in the political spectrum of the Israeli hardline government led by the war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, which aims at liquidating the right of return to the Palestinian people, to their homeland.

And the Israeli occupation understands that having the mandate of the UNRWA agency working and available would remind the whole world [of] the right of return of the Palestinian people. This agency serves at least seven million Palestinian civilians, Palestinian refugees scattered across the globe. And having this agency dismantled means that there is no longer anything called the right of return to the Palestinian people.

We understand this as the Palestinian people. On the other hand, it’s known that the UNRWA agency is the lifeline for the Palestinian people, particularly amidst this starvation that hits the Gaza Strip and used by the Israeli occupation as a weapon of war. So the Israeli occupation forces, since the very beginning of this genocidal war on Gaza, have been using the starvation and the catastrophe humanitarian conditions as a weapon of war against the Palestinian people.

So they want to deepen the abyss of the Palestinian people and to exacerbate the humanitarian conditions in order to twist the arm of the Palestinian resistance and [exert] more pressure on the Palestinian people here in the Gaza Strip in order to accept the de facto and the status quo that would be imposed by the Israeli occupation and backed by the US administration. So– yes?

Interviewer: 8:04
Okay, Motee, we only have about a minute and a half left. Let me give my last question to Gilbert Doctorow. Now, Mr. Doctorow, okay, you’re the West, you’re not truly supporting a ceasefire. Why not at least support desperate women and children, and men, getting their hands on food, getting proper shelter, getting proper medication? Because they are, you know, refugees that your policies created, refugees that are living in the situation they’re living because you put them there, to create room for your Israeli colony project.

Doctorow: 8:41
Since the start of this war, is there an unraveling of the Zionist ideology, its exposure to the broad public for what it is, which has been a kind of apartheid and a vicious end game that its proponents have been pushing for. As I say, this war will end after this war expands. And the war is expanding in ways that are not obvious to your audience. The Houthi capabilities, not just to fire rockets, but to sink ships, which we saw in the last week, attest to me of a change in the missiles and intelligence that they are using. And my guess is that Russia is behind them in a proxy war with the UK and the United States. That’s a change in the nature of the war in West Asia, which we have to watch very closely.

Interviewer: 9:44
All right, John. I thank you both for joining us. Sorry, but time has gotten the better of us. ... s-tv-iran/


States Demand an Immediate End to Israel’s Activities

States speak out at the ICJ on Israel's long occupation of Palestinian land. Feb. 23, 2024. | Photo: X/@The_NewArab

Published 23 February 2024

The speakers' key points revolved around the Palestinian people's right to self-determination and the permanent nature of the Israeli occupation.

This Friday marks the fifth day of oral arguments before the International Court of Justice regarding Israel's policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem.

The states continued their oral presentations in the hearing before the International Court of Justice, den Haag, Netherlands.

Namibia: Israel “should not be exempted from sanctions”
On behalf of Namibia spoke Yvonne Dausab, Minister of Justice and Phoebe Okowa, Professor of Public International Law, University of London, Legal Counsel.

Dausab began reminding that Namibia had suffered “the first genocide in the 20th century” and knows “too well the suffering of occupation, colonialism, systematic discrimination, apartheid”.

“The parallels between Namibia and Palestine are striking and painful”, she said, adding that “reality of the people of Palestine evokes painful memories for many Namibians of my generation.”

She underlined previous advisory opinions of the ICJ had played a “vital role” in paving the way to independence for Namibia.

The Namibian representative called the situation in Palestine “hell on earth” and stated that “civilized nations cannot and must not accept” it.

She also addressed the Palestinian people themselves: “A people united will always emerge victorious,” Dausab said.

The second speaker on behalf of Namibia, Professor Okawa, addressed the court specifically on the question of apartheid, a crime that Namibia had also suffered. Several delegations mentioned during the hearings the case South Africa versus Namibia with rulings of international courts.

The court “should make it clear that the prohibition of apartheid is not limited to Southern Africa in the last century,” Okawa said. She demanded to establish apartheid as a preemptory norm and to clarify its definition.

Okawa stated, “The Israeli government's openly articulated aim is to ensure Jewish-Israeli control of all facets of Palestinian life as evidenced by legislation affirming Israel as a nation-state of the Jewish people with unique self-determination rights reserved for Jewish individuals only.”

It was fragmenting the Palestinian people in the occupied territories into administrative units, thus eliminating their collective identity, Okawa said.

Calling the court to set a “strict time limit” to end occupation, “No state should be exempted from the comprehensive regime of sanctions”, Okawa concluded.

Norway: Questioning Israel’s UN membership
Kristian Jervell, Director General, Legal Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rolf Einar Fife, ambassadeur en mission spéciale, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spoke on behalf of Norway.

Jervell expressed “utmost concern” given the “indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force in the Gaza Strip and the illegal settlements in the West Bank”. “House evictions, demolitions forced displacement and settler violence” do, according to the Norwegian representative, “threaten the foundations of international law.”

Attacks of Hamas do “not justify inciting or taking measures directed against civilian population”, Jervell stated.

The Director General continued: “Actions by Israel constituting de facto annexation include expropriating land and natural resources, establishing settlements and outposts, maintaining a restrictive and discriminatory planning and building regime for Palestinians, and extending Israeli law extraterritorially to Israeli settlers in the West Bank.”

Quoting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s words of 2019, who had claimed that his “government would be applying Israeli sovereignty over all the communities to which Israeli settlers had been transferred,” Jervell commented: These words “may constitute direct and public incitements to commit serious violations of international law.”

Speaking as second representative, Rolf Einar Fife reminded of the historic process of Israel’s admission to UN membership. He recalled the words of the Israeli politician Abba Eban, who during the application had asked whether “the time had come for the UN, if it wished Israel to bear the heavy burden of charter obligations to confer upon Israel.”

“Such declarations were instrumental in securing a majority of votes in the relevant organs of the United Nations” for Israel’s membership in the UN, Fife state and concluded they “may also give rise to legal circumstances.”

Oman: Court should bring Israel to end this unlawful situation
The Sultanate of Oman was represented by Sheikh Abdullah Al Harthi, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

“Today in Gaza, the world is witnessing since four months one of the worst atrocities and acts of genocide inmodern times”, Al Harthi said, adding that 25 thousand people were killed and 69 thousand wounded, with 2.2 million living under unbearable conditions.

The Oman ambassador reminded that the Security Council had “recognized the inalienable, permanent and qualified tight to self-determination of the Palestinian people.”

This demanded “the immediate cessation of all illegal acts including settlements and associated legal and administrative frameworks”, Al Harthi stated.

“The court should determine that Israel should bring an immediate and unconditional end to this unlawful situation,” the ambassador concluded.

Pakistan: France had to withdraw settlers from Algeria
Ahmed Irfan Aslam, Federal Minister for Law and Justice, represented Pakistan.

“These proceedings take place as a whole people struggle to survive through relentless bombardment. The very people who have endured daily persecution for over half a century,” began Aslam his words.

The Pakistan representative said the Israel’s “occupation is no longer occupation. It is annexation. In East Jerusalem, the annexation is de jure, in the rest de facto.”

He also quoted Ben-Gurion, the founder and first Prime Minister of Israel with the words “the Israeli Empire must comprise all the territories between the Nile and the Euphrates”.

But still, reminded the Pakistani speaker, had France to withdrew 1 million settlers from Algeria when that country became independent, “not only more numerous, but they were also far older and better established than Israel's West Bank colonies.”

Aslam reiterated Pakistan’s belief that “two-state-solution must be the basis for peace”. He demanded the immediate cessation of Israel’s activities, its immediate and unconditional withdrawal”.

Introducing another principle of international law that a state should not benefit from wrongdoing, Aslam reminded of the court’s rulings in regard to Namibia. Acknowledging that the Security Council was unanimous at that case, he still insisted that the rulings provided a legal base to treat the Palestinian situation as well, despite ongoing vetoes in the Council.


Indonesia: "Holding a gun at your head is not a negotiation"
Indonesia was represented by Retno L. P. Marsudi, Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Marsudi called the Palestinian issue “a matter of supreme and grave importance”, and declared to stand in the court “to defend justice against the blatant violation of international law by Israel”.

“Israel’s unlawful occupation and its atrocities must stop”, said the Minister, adding “Israel has zero intention to respect, let alone abide by its international legal obligation”.

“Apparently the death of almost 30,000 lives is not enough for Israel as it is close to strike on Rafah, once the only gateway for life-saving humanitarian assistance to Gaza”, said Marsudi calling the ICJ to maintain the rules-based international order.

Some states objected to the court providing an opinion, arguing that it might had affect negatively a negotiation process. “There is no viable peace process, holding a gun to your head is not negotiation”, answered the Indonesian minister.

“Given the illegal nature of the occupation, Israel's withdrawal must neither be done with precondition nor subject to any negotiation. They must withdraw now. I repeat, they must withdraw now”, said the Indonesian Foreign Minister.

Qatar: International legal order "under threat"
On behalf of Qatar spoke Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani, Ambassador to the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Al Qahtani said “recent events have underscored that international legal order is under threat”, with a growing perception in some quarters of the world that international law applies to some but not to others."

“The Palestinian people have been treated as an exception to the international rule of law”, the Qatari ambassador added, calling “Israel’s genocidal war the most pressing threat to international peace and security.”

Israel has “ethnically cleansed and colonized Palestinian lands” and established an “apartheid regime with the intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians.”

The Qatari ambassador described settler colonial projects, the policy of displacement of Palestinians, where since October 7 only 13 communities were torn apart. Al Qahtani also explained “strategic fragmentation” of the Palestinian population and the “discriminatory ad unlawful violence” it faces in addition to the “discriminatory military legal system” established in the territories.

He then continued to describe the eradication ad suppression of all manifestation of Palestinian culture and religion and the economic repression as well as the “systemic persecution and suppression” the Palestinians endure.

Describing why the occupation is illegal, the Qatari representative concluded by expressing hope that the “court will seize historic opportunity to finally bring an end to a century of injustice against the Palestinian people.” ... -0014.html

Gaza Strip: Warn of Desperate Situation, Food Shortage

Deir al Balah, Central Gaza. Feb. 23, 2024. | Photo: X/@GinaPacheco_

Published 23 February 2024 (23 hours 57 minutes ago)

According to the UN, from January 1 to February 15, Israeli forces prevented more than 50 percent of aid delivery and assessment missions to areas north of Wadi Gaza, where famine levels are highest.

On Friday, Save the Children said that families in Gaza are forced to scavenge for scraps of food left by rats and eat leaves to try to survive after nearly five months of war.

The 1.1 million children living in the territory now face death from starvation and disease because it is impossible to deliver aid safely, the non-governmental organization said in a statement.
The group quoted a humanitarian worker currently in the southern city of Rafah as saying.

My husband told me that in the north of the enclave people resorted to eating animal feed and tree leaves out of desperation, even being forced to scavenge for scraps in garbage and leftovers contaminated by rats, the source stressed.

Save the Children stressed that continued fighting, Israeli shelling and insecurity are preventing the safe delivery of aid, a situation that is worsening in the northern region.

According to the UN, from January 1 to February 15, Israeli forces prevented more than 50 percent of aid delivery and assessment missions to areas north of Wadi Gaza, where famine levels are highest, it stressed. "Any use of starvation as a method of warfare is strictly prohibited by international law and will have deadly consequences for children," it reminded.

The NGO noted that this week the World Food Program halted aid deliveries to northern Gaza due to security concerns.

It also cited a report by the Global Nutrition Group, according to which more than 90 percent of children under the age of two and pregnant and lactating women face severe food poverty.

"Given that limited access to aid makes any meaningful and necessary humanitarian response impossible, it is more than likely that the situation has deteriorated dramatically since this data was collected," Save the Children warned.

This is a mass starvation of an entire village - how can anyone live like this," asked Jason Lee, the group's country director in the Palestinian territories. ... -0015.html


Netanyahu Has Lost Saudi Arabia, and Biden Will Lose Re-Election

Steven Sahiounie

February 23, 2024

The moral authority of the U.S. has been ripped from Washington, DC. by the power of the genocide and war crimes in Gaza, carried out by Israel while using weapons sent to Tel Aviv from the U.S. State Department.

Saudi rains fire down on Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated in late 2022 that his priority was to sign a normalization agreement with Saudi Arabia. He called it his number one objective for Israel’s national security. Now, he has lost his dream.

Saudi Arabia stood up alongside 51 countries, and testified at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel’s attack on Gaza which has been classified as genocide, and apartheid by human rights experts, South Africa and others. The evidence being presented to the ICJ rule is to prove that the occupation of Palestine is illegal, and must be ended.

Saudi Arabia condemned Israel’s actions in Gaza, and the Occupied West Bank as legally indefensible. Ziad Al-Atiyah, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the Netherlands, strongly condemned Israel for its actions in Palestine which defy international law.

Al-Atiyah stressed that Israel must be held accountable for ignoring international law in its treatment of civilians in Gaza and its continued impunity.

Saudi Arabia expressed deep sorrow over the killing of 29,000 civilians, who are mainly women and children, and rejected Israel’s argument of self-defense, stating that depriving Palestinians of basic means of survival is unjustifiable.

Al-Atiyah called on the international community to take action against Israel’s genocidal actions against Palestinians, and Israel’s constant dehumanizing rhetoric. He added that the court does indeed have jurisdiction in this case, and urged the court to issue an opinion.

Saudi Arabia condemned Israel’s disregard for ceasefire calls, while expanding illegal settlements in the Occupied West Bank, and the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes.

The Kingdom listed Israel’s violations of international obligations, while ignoring UN resolutions condemning its conduct and preventing Palestinians from their right to self-defense.

Israel was also criticized for its 2018 Basic Law declaring Jerusalem as its capital, which is in clear violation of UN resolutions, and the expansion of illegal settlements, and preventing the self-determination of the Palestinian people, which is a universal human right.

Who else is there?

The UN General Assembly requested the ICJ for an advisory opinion on the Israeli occupation of Palestine. 51 states will present arguments until Feb. 26.

South Africa, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Bangladesh, and Belgium also presented preliminary arguments.

This is the largest case ever presented at the ICJ and at least three international organizations are also slated to address the judges at the UN’s top court until next week. A nonbinding legal opinion will follow the judges’ deliberations.

Gaza changed everything: the world is against Israel, except the U.S.

Amar Bendjama, Algeria’s ambassador to the UN, introduced a ceasefire resolution at the UN on February 20. He said the Council “cannot afford passivity” in the face of what is unfolding in Gaza, and that silence is “not a viable option”.

“This resolution is a stance for truth and humanity, standing against the advocates for murder and hatred,” he said. “Voting against it implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflicted upon them [the Palestinians].”

His words of bitter accusation were directed at one country: The United States of America. The only country to vote against the ceasefire was America. The UN Security Council’s 13 other member countries voted in favor of demanding a halt to the war, while the UK abstained.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, has consistently held her hand up high while voting against every chance to relieve the suffering, injuries and deaths of the people in Gaza.

Thomas-Greenfield’s ancestors were African slaves in the U.S. Her ancestors were deprived of all human rights for hundreds of years until they were granted freedom, and that freedom came resulting from a bloody four-year war. Her ancestors fought for the freedom that she enjoys, and yet she is defending Israel. She fails to empathize with the Palestinians who should remind her of her ancestors.

The U.S. is isolated as a pariah state because of Gaza

The moral authority of the U.S. has been ripped from Washington, DC. by the power of the genocide and war crimes in Gaza, carried out by Israel while using weapons sent to Tel Aviv from the U.S. State Department. Biden’s fingerprints are all over the murder weapons.

How many countries called for ceasefire in Gaza?

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, reports that 26 out of 27 EU countries call for “immediate humanitarian pause in Gaza, that would lead to a sustainable ceasefire.” The U.S. likes to think of Europe as their sheep, blindly following every dictate issued by the Oval Office. But, Gaza has changed that; now the EU is voicing ethical and moral authority over the U.S.

Netanyahu took office on December 29, 2022, and he is allied by the most extreme right-wing politicians in Israel’s history. Ben Gvir and Smotrich have both made racist and genocidal statements about Palestinians. Their views vacillate between the need to either kill all the Palestinians, or force them to move to Egypt and Jordan.

But, Netanyahu faces a prison term for corruption, and these radical allies are all that is keeping him safe, and in office. His hands are tied: he has to keep them happy, which means he must refuse any call for a ceasefire.

President Donald Trump had championed the Abraham Accords while in office, and was successful in getting several Arab countries to normalize their relationship with Israel. Trump had done more for Israel than any other U.S. President.

Israel wanted normal ties with Saudi Arabia to benefit the economy, and to discourage Iranian influence in the region.

How many countries are supporting Palestine?

In 2012, the State of Palestine was accepted as an observer state at the UN. 139 countries at the UN have recognized the State of Palestine, compared with the 165 countries recognizing Israel.

Biden will lose re-election because of Gaza

Andy Levin, a former Representative of Michigan, and a Democrat, was at a gathering on February 20 demonstrating against Biden. Levin explained that Michigan has a large Arab American population, and they are very angry at Biden’s support of the genocide in Gaza. Levin said a Trump victory is very possible if Biden loses support of Michigan voters.

Especially angry are young voters and progressives who believe in human rights and freedom for all peoples, not just Americans.

“Don’t blame us,” said Mr. Levin, who along with Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan has become one of the most prominent supporters of the Uncommitted movement. Levin said, “He needs votes from Arab Americans, from people of color, from progressive Jews and from young people. He only won Michigan by 150,000 votes in 2020, so politically we have a moment where we can raise our voices.”

People at the rally expressed their horror at the over 29,000 deaths in Gaza, and the refusal of the U.S. to demand a ceasefire and humanitarian deliveries. With scenes on social media of starving Palestinians being gunned down by Israeli soldiers as they try to reach the aid trucks, the Americans who are informed and caring are deciding to not vote for Biden, and in such a close race, he needs every vote to win.

A poll in October found that more people ages 18-29 sympathized with Palestinians than with Israelis in the Gaza war.

Young people are very well informed with what is happening in Gaza by their almost constant use of social media, where they get all their news. Older people might be still watching TV channels, which in the U.S. are very heavily biased towards Israel.

Biden’s November re-election depends on young voters, but he has lost their vote because of his steadfast support of the slaughter of over 29,000 people in Gaza.

Why did Saudi Arabia want normalization?

In September, the U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, declared that normalizing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia was a U.S. “national security interest”.

On September 21, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), told Fox News, “Every day we get closer” to a normalization deal with Israel. Gaza has killed that dream, because Saudi Arabia has stressed that normalization now will only be achieved by a two-state solution under UN resolutions. Netanyahu has totally rejected the two-state solution, the end of occupation, and a ceasefire.

Riyadh wanted a U.S. defense pact; including fewer restrictions on U.S. arms sales to it, and assistance in developing its own civilian nuclear program. Another perk from signing with Israel would be AIPAC, the political lobby group which political experts in Washington, DC. accredit with tremendous control over the Oval Office and Capitol Hill.

Saudi Arabia and Iran normalize relations

In March 2023, China brokered a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Beijing proved their influential role in the Middle East in contrast to the diminishing role of the United States.

That Chinese deal was a major blow to Biden, who had wanted to keep Iran and Saudi Arabia enemies because Israel views Iran as their enemy.

Since then, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been expanding their cooperation in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Israel is accused of genocide at the ICJ

Israel stands accused of genocide at the ICJ. The ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

“We have dozens and dozens of statements made by senior Israeli political and military leaders with respect to genocidal intent. So I think, at least the plausibility has been established, and there’s quite possibly genocide itself or a genocide in the making, according to the definition of the Genocide Convention,” said Michael Lynk, former UN special rapporteur.

Lynk also pointed to the role of the U.S. in supporting Israel in its onslaught that has left nearly 30,000 Palestinians dead, noting that Washington, besides replenishing Tel Aviv’s shrinking ammunition stocks with 3.8 billion in military aid, is also providing it diplomatic cover at the UN.

“So, it’s hard to see how this offensive and this coming catastrophe in Rafah is going to stop unless the U.S. pulls to a stop and tells Israel that ‘enough is enough,’” said Lynk, while adding “I don’t see that coming.” ... -election/
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Re: Palestine

Post by blindpig » Mon Feb 26, 2024 12:31 pm

Lebanese resistance continues to strike Israeli sites in support of Gaza

Hezbollah’s operations came as Israel launched attacks on Syria and several villages in the south of Lebanon

News Desk

FEB 25, 2024

(Photo credit: Hezbollah Military Media)

Hezbollah attacked several Israeli targets on the morning and afternoon of 25 February amid continued crossfire between Israel and the Lebanese resistance.

“In support of our steadfast Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and in support of their valiant and honorable resistance, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance targeted at 2:00 PM … the enemy’s artillery positions and the deployment of its soldiers south of Kiryat Shmona with missile and artillery weapons,” Hezbollah said via its media page on Sunday afternoon.

The group announced the deaths of two of its members, Hussein Ali al-Dirani and Ahmad Muhammad al-Affi, as “martyrs on the road to Jerusalem.”

It also attacked the Zebdin Barracks and troop gatherings near the Ramia Barracks with a Falaq-1 missile and other types of weaponry earlier on 25 February, “achieving direct hits.”

Israeli airstrikes targeted the Syrian town of Qusayr near the Lebanese border on Sunday morning, killing several people. North Press Agency (NPA) claimed the strikes killed two members of Hezbollah.

Warplanes also struck the southern Lebanese village of Blida, with Israeli artillery targeting several other villages in the south of Lebanon. Jets also carried out sonic booms over a number of towns at low altitudes.

Israeli attacks on south Lebanon have resulted in several massacres this month. Israeli strikes on the town of Majdal Zoun killed a six-year-old girl and her mother on 21 February. Eleven people, including children, were killed by Israeli strikes on Nabatiyeh a week earlier, on 14 February.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in his latest speech on 16 February that Israel will pay “with blood” for killing civilians in Lebanon.

Western countries, namely the US and France, continue to pressure Lebanon and Hezbollah into de-escalation and a withdrawal of the resistance from the border without demanding any concessions from Israel.

The Lebanese resistance has repeatedly vowed that it will not stop attacking Israeli sites until the war in Gaza is brought to an end. ... rt-of-gaza

Israel ramps up attacks on Gaza from north to south

A truce agreement seems out of reach as starvation hits the north and as a devastating assault looms over the south

News Desk

FEB 25, 2024

(Photo credit: AFP)

Several Palestinians were killed in Israeli strikes across Gaza on 25 February as optimism for a truce agreement continues to dwindle.

In the Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, north Gaza, three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a home.

A Palestinian was also killed and several inured in an Israeli strike on a home in the Shaaf area east of Gaza City.

One was reported killed and several missing under the rubble following artillery attacks in the northern town of Beit Lahia, northern Gaza.

Artillery shelling west of Gaza’s southern city of Khan Yunis also killed several Palestinians on Sunday.

The death toll in the strip is now at least 29,692 killed, mostly women and children, and at least 69,879 others injured.

Heavy bombing was also heard in Al-Zaytoun neighborhood in Gaza City, where clashes with the Palestinian resistance are ongoing.

Hamas’ Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement’s Quds Brigade, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and the Mujahideen Brigades confronted Israeli troops in the Zaytoun neighborhood on 24 February, targeting them with RPGs, explosive devices, and short-range rockets, the groups announced via their media channels.

Heavy clashes also took place between resistance fighters and Israeli forces in Khan Yunis in the south.

Israel’s planned attack on the southernmost city of Rafah, desperately overcrowded with over a million Palestinians, has hampered ongoing efforts to reach a new truce and prisoner exchange agreement.

Israel claims the city is Hamas’ last stronghold, despite continued resistance across most of the strip. The UN and several countries have warned that an attack on Rafah poses the threat of an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.

Starvation has hit the north of Gaza severely due to a lack of sufficient aid and the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) suspension of deliveries to the northern strip recently. A two-month-old baby died of hunger in north Gaza on Friday.

“The atmosphere of optimism that an agreement … will soon be reached does not reflect the truth. Killing our people by starvation in the north is a genocidal crime that threatens the entire negotiation process,” a source within Hamas leadership told Al-Jazeera on 25 February.

The Hamas source said that the group will stand by its terms for an immediate end to the war and a withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza. ... h-to-south

Israeli strikes target trucks in Syria's Qusayr

The strikes killed three people as Israel has escalated its attacks on both Syria and Lebanon in recent weeks

News Desk

FEB 25, 2024

(Photo credit: LBC)

Israeli airstrikes destroyed two trucks, killing three people in Homs governorate in western Syria, Al-Mayadeen reported on 25 February.

The Lebanese news outlet's correspondent said the strikes occurred near the Orontes Bridge in Qusayr near the Lebanese border.

North Press Agency (NPA) claimed the strikes killed two members of Hezbollah.

During the US-led regime change war against Damascus starting in 2011, Qusayr served as an important conduit for western and regional intelligence agencies to funnel weapons from Lebanon to extremist armed groups.

Israel has intensified its strikes in Syria in recent weeks, as it has in southern Lebanon, as part of its ongoing war against the Axis of Resistance.

Since the start of the Hamas-led Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October, Israel has targeted Gaza, Lebanon, and Syria with strikes. Hezbollah has fiercely responded by striking Israeli military points and settlements in northern Israel.

On Wednesday, Israeli strikes targeted a residential building in the Kafr Sousa neighborhood in Damascus, killing two civilians and injuring one more.

Days before that, Israel bombed several points in the Damascus countryside. Syrian officials stated that the air defense systems "intercepted the aggression's missiles and shot down some of them."

The Syrian Ministry of Defense announced on Sunday that "seven terrorist drones were shot down and destroyed in Hama and Idlib countryside."

On 5 October, more than 100 were killed in a drone attack on a graduation ceremony at a military academy in the Homs region.

Several weaponized drones hit the Homs Military Academy's courtyard, where families were gathered with the new officers.

The drones were allegedly deployed by extremist armed groups, including those with ties to Al-Qaeda, which have controlled the Idlib governorate since 2015 with the support of western intelligence agencies and Turkiye. ... ias-qusayr


Deconstructing US House Resolution 3202: Israel Lobby’s Persistent Role in Sanctioning Syria
FEBRUARY 25, 2024

Compilation image showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad being targeted by a gun shaped as the Star of David, representing the Zionist lobby. Photo: MintPress News.

By Hekmat Aboukhater – Feb 22, 2024

On February 13, the US House of Representatives deliberated on Resolution 3202, the “Assad Regime Anti-Normalization Act of 2023.” The following day, the House passed the bill with a 389 to 32 bipartisan majority. Now, the bill moves on to the Senate, where it will most likely pass with similar bipartisan support and a ringing endorsement from President Biden once it reaches his desk.

The bill was pushed with a veneer of Syrian support represented by the advocacy of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) and the Syrian American Council (SAC)—Syrian opposition groups in the US. While its aims seem, at face value, to focus on humanitarian issues and a quest for accountability, the reality is much more complicated.

The stated aims of the bill
The bill was presented to the public as a tool for accountability purely targeting the Assad-led government of Syria and any of its in-country partners. The bill purports to achieve this by “Prohibiting any U.S. official action to normalize relations with any Syrian government led by Bashar al-Assad, “Strengthening the human rights sanctions levied on Syria,” and” Examining the Assad government’s manipulation of the United Nations.”

In keeping with the polite presentation of the bill, Moaz Moustafa, SETF Executive Director, said: “We are proud to see legislation that holds the Assad regime and those normalizing with war criminals accountable” as a response to the passage of the bill.

Similarly, on the House floor, House Foreign Relations Committee chairman Mike McCaul announced that “Congress is sending a message that it remains committed to justice for the Syrian people.”

The true aims of the bill
While the stated aims seem to be focused on accountability and human rights, the real thrust of the bill was conveniently left unmentioned in the SETF and house representatives’ celebratory posts on X (formerly Twitter).

One line, deep within the 22-page bill, reads: “Section 7438 of the Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 is amended by striking ‘the date that is 5 years after the date of the enactment of this Act’ and inserting ‘December 31, 2032.’” This hidden line, left out of all the explainer content dished out by SETF and SAC, extends the Caesar Act, set to expire in 2024, for eight more years.

The perversely named Caesar Syria Civilian Protection Act of 2019 has immiserated the more than 12 million Syrian people living under the government of Syria. Since the enactment of the Act, the percentage of the Syrian population below the poverty line has reached 90%, 600,000 Syrian children’s growth was stunted, and cases of anemia in pregnant and breastfeeding women saw a 60% rise.

Described as “unprecedented,” as one of the “strictest and most complex collective regimes in recent history,” and as the “most complicated and far-reaching sanctions regimes ever imposed,” the Syrian groups pushing for Caesar’s eight-year extension understandably shied away from mentioning the most crucial part of this new bill, even though they helped provide Syrian cover for its passing.

None of the four articles written by the SETF mention the extension of the Caesar Sanctions to 2032.

As for normalization, although the bill purports to impose only a U.S. policy of wholesale rejection of normalization with the Syrian government, in reality, the bill lists several measures that would threaten a whole list of other countries wishing to restore diplomatic relations with Syria.
The bill calls on the Secretary of State to submit an annual report to Congress detailing a “strategy to describe and counter actions taken or planned by foreign governments to normalize, engage with, or upgrade political, diplomatic, or economic ties with the regime led by Bashar al-Assad in Syria.” This annual report must also include “a full list of diplomatic meetings at the Ambassador level or above, between the Syrian regime and any representative of the Governments” mentioned.

The report must also include a list of any transaction of $500,000 or more between any “foreign person located in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, or Lebanon” and any “recipient in any area of Syria held by the Assad regime.”

Sanctioning Syria: A Washington tradition
H.R. 3202 is not the first, nor will it be the last, sanctions bill to target Syria. The economic war that the United States has been waging against Syria started long before a Tunisian banana salesman self-immolated, launching what would come to be known as the Arab Spring.

In 1973, as the October War was waging, Henry Kissinger was perfecting his shuttle diplomacy in hopes of breaking the thorn that was former Syrian President Hafez Al Assad. Kissinger tried everything in his arsenal to get the then-Syrian president to abandon the military struggle and resistance of alliances he was waging against the U.S. presence in the Middle East, particularly Israel.

Upon failing to sway Assad’s Syria from supporting Hezbollah, Palestinian Jihad, Hamas, and other resistance groups, and once Syria’s position was weakened by the Egyptian signing of the 1978 Camp David Accords, the ire of the U.S. State Department and Treasury, fell upon the Arab Republic.

Syria’s name was written atop the inaugural “State Sponsors of Terrorism” (SST) list in 1979, along with Iraq, Libya, and South Yemen. Today, Syria remains the only inaugural member still on the list, sharing the limelight with newly added countries: Cuba, Iran, and North Korea.

A timeline showing the membership of the US State Department’s State Sponsors of Terrorism list. Source: Wikipedia

For the past 45 years since Syria made it on the SST list, the sanctions have never stopped. Below is a summarized list of all the sanctions that have been progressively levied upon the country of Syria and its people:

In 1979, the Export Administration Act added Syria to the SST and thus restricted Syria from receiving foreign assistance funds from the United States. The Act added that the Secretary of State must notify Congress before licensing the export of goods or technology worth more than $7 million to Syria.
In 1985, the threshold for notifying Congress before licensing the export of goods or technology to Syria was lowered from $7 million to $1 million.
In 1986, the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986 and Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 respectively banned U.S. military sales to Syria and denied foreign tax credits on income or war profits from Syria with both of these laws citing alleged Syrian government support for terrorism.
In 1989, the threshold for notifying Congress before licensing the export of goods or technology to Syria was lowered from $1 million to any value.
In 1994, an amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 mandated that the United States withhold a proportionate share of funding and contributions to international organizations for programs that benefit Syria.
In 1996, under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, the U.S. President was required to withhold aid to third countries that provided assistance or lethal military equipment to Syria.
In 2003, the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act (SALSRA) imposed broad sanctions based on alleged WMDs accusations against Syria and Syria’s support of “Hezbollah, Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.”
In 2004, Bush announced an executive order expanding upon the SALSRA. The expansion cited Syria as being “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States” in its “undermining of […] stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.“
In 2008, three years before the Arab Spring, the Bush administration imposed further blocks on assets related to public corruption in Syria.
Once the uprisings of the Arab Spring reached Syria, the trickle of sanctions became a flood, and a bevy of bills and executive orders levied an array of sanctions on multitudes of industries in Syria, all culminating in the 2019 Caesar Civilian Protection Act.

Today, Syria is the most heavily sanctioned country per capita in the world, falling third behind only Russia (after the Ukraine war) and Iran. Syria, however, is much smaller than the valedictorian and salutatorian of U.S. sanctions and orders of magnitude worse off economically, therefore desperately tethered to the international export-import economy for its survival and more vulnerable to the damage of sanctions.

Who is responsible for the tradition of sanctions?
Although H.R. 3202 is not the first bill sanctioning Syria, it shares a crucial element with all its predecessor bills that have targeted Syria for the past half-century: the Israel Lobby.

The 1979 bill that introduced Syria to the cruel reality of sanctions was a direct response to Syria’s role in the October War of liberation waged against Israel and for Syria’s unwavering support of the Palestinian resistance.

The SALSRA Act of 2003 and the Caesar Civilian Protection Act of 2019 – the second and first most robust sanctions bills imposed upon Syria, respectively – were both written by Eliot Engels, a former Democratic congressman from the Bronx.

Engels, a New York Democrat accused of tax fraud, is one of the top recipients of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) money in Congress, with a total of $1,847,342 raised from the Zionist PAC.

Eliot Engel's Campaign Fundraising Sources

OpenSecret’s profile of former Congressman Eliot Engel’s campaign fundraising sources
As a member of the Arab-Israeli Peace Accord Monitoring Group, Congressional Hellenic-Israeli Alliance, and the Israel Allies Caucus, Engels is perhaps the foremost supporter of Israel amongst his Democrat peers.

One of the first bills he introduced was to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. He also wrote a resolution condemning a United Nations Security Council Resolution that condemned illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and was one of the few Democrats who broke rank and voted with their Republican peers to kill a bill that would have banned the sale of U.S. made-cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia – cluster bombs that would later be dropped on Yemeni civilians by the monarchy.

Eliot Engel, center, greets Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, left, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 27, 2015. Photo: Carolyn Kaster/AP.

Following in Engels’ footsteps, Joe Wilson, the author of H.R. 3202, also receives AIPAC money, albeit much less than the man whose work he extended by eight years.

OpenSecret’s profile of South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson’s campaign fundraising sources

Wilson, a South Carolina Republican who cut his teeth as a young aide working for civil rights opponent Strom Thurmond and later defended his legacy, has also been one of the most ardent supporters of Israel in Congress throughout his service.

Grateful for the opportunity to join my colleagues in a bicameral, bipartisan support of Israel. Thousands gathered on the National Mall to hear the collective sounds of solidarity in the ‘March for Israel. March to Free Hostages. March Against Antisemitism.’ #StandWithIsrael

— Joe Wilson (@RepJoeWilson) November 14, 2023

In an interview with AIPAC, Wilson, who also serves as the chair of the Middle East and North Africa subcommittee, Global Counter Terrorism Committee member, and House Committee on Foreign Affairs member, raised the alarm about threats posed by Iran and the Houthis towards Israel and the United States. He added that he is “grateful for the military service and what America has provided for the world.” So extensive is Wilson’s dedication to the cause of Israel that he once bragged that a Jewish person described him as “a real mensch,” Yiddish nomenclature meaning “a person of honor.”

Syrian window dressing
Even the facade of faux grassroots Syrian support that was put forth for H.R. 3202 has shady links to account for its advocacy of regime change and rampant sanctions.

The Syrian Emergency Task Force has been widely documented to have direct funding links to the U.S. State Department and extensive ties to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and AIPAC. The group was condemned for its incessant push to get the Obama Administration to launch a Libya, or even Iraq-style invasion of Syria in order to force a regime change.

Mouaz Moustafa (left) stands with Mike Pompeo, second right, and Joe Wilson, right, at an event condemning the Syrian government. Source: Twitter

As journalist Max Blumenthal documented for Mondoweiss magazine, SETF has publicly celebrated a donation of $1 million from Cuba regime change organizations in a post on their website that has since been removed.

As for the neocon-aligned 501 (c) Syrian American Council (SAC), a more bloodthirsty front organization for regime change war could not be found. In 2018, as a response to the now debunked Douma chemical attacks, the SAC urged President Trump to “follow through on his tweets Sunday morning, and to take immediate action against this tyrannical regime…by grounding Assad’s air force.”

In 2017, the SAC publicly lamented Trump’s refusal to continue the Obama administration CIA funding program of Jihadist terrorists in Syria, claiming that the $1 billion a year program “was always too weak to tip the scales.”

Syrian civilians: Not a US priority
After the death toll of Palestinian children in Gaza reached a staggering 12,000, skepticism arises when observing the Permanent U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas, vetoing a fourth U.N. Security Resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. It becomes evident that the U.S. establishment’s concern for the lives of the Syrian people, let alone non-Israelis in the Middle East, is dubious at best.

US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield raises her hand in opposition to a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, February 20, 2024. Photo: Yomiuri Shimbun/AP.

Likewise, anyone listening to U.S. special envoy for Syria, James Jeffrey, characterize the suffering of the Syrian people as part of a geostrategic policy to transform Syria into “a quagmire for the Russians,” akin to the U.S. experience in Vietnam can comprehend the true motivations behind H.R. 3202 and preceding bills imposed on Syria.

Lastly, observers noting the statements of Dana Stroul – Democratic co-chair of the bipartisan Syria Study Group (2018-2020), former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East (2021-2023), and current researcher at WINEP – discussing the “rubble” that the U.S. intends to keep Syria in and the “leverage” it plans to maintain over Syria, grasp that the policy of sanctioning Syria and obstructing reconstruction has long been endorsed by the bipartisan consensus in Washington. The driving force behind these detrimental policies has consistently been neoconservative regime change proponents and individuals affiliated with pro-Zionist think tanks.

Biden official Dana Stroul in 2019: via military occupation, US "owns" Syria’s "resource-rich" "economic powerhouse" region. And via sanctions, it can "preventing reconstruction aid and technical expertise from going back", leaving Syria in "rubble."

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) June 13, 2021

In an interview with Joshua Landis, one of the few independent U.S. experts on Syria, Landis shared his opinion on the crass and transparent language used by the likes of Jeffrey and Stroul, telling MintPress, “They’re saying that even if we don’t succeed in getting rid of Assad.. At least we lock [Syria] into a stalemate… A stalemate that denies Iran and Russia a strategic Victory.”

In describing the U.S.’ long-term goals in Syria to MintPress, Landis evokes the Arabic word for swamp or mustanka’a. “The long-term goal of America is to deny Syria as a strategic asset that’s got some money, and that can help [Russia and Iran], and so keep it as poor as possible and make it mustanka’a,” Landis concluded.

Long-term damage
The Anti-Assad Regime Normalization Bill is the latest in a series of measures that the U.S. has taken against the Syrian people for the crime of winning a regime-change war imposed upon them.

The U.S. hypocrisy on the global stage is now clearly evident to all who wish to see it. While the U.S. condemns and sanctions Venezuela for barring an opposition leader convicted of treason from running in the upcoming election, it supports and even provides IMF loans for Pakistan even after the latter ousted its democratically elected leader who chose neutrality in the Ukraine war.

The U.S. system of rules-based order that has prevailed since 1945 with the establishment of the Bretton Woods Institutions is slowly unraveling. The dollar’s strength is waning, and the bite of U.S. unilateral sanctions has become duller over the years, as evidenced by the failure of the Russian sanctions regime.

While the U.S. will undoubtedly succeed in causing another generation of Syrian kids’s growth to be stunted, and while it will succeed in bringing more Syrian families below the poverty line during the coming eight years of Caesar Sanctions, it is all the while wrecking any semblance of credibility it might still have on the global stage, and – most unfortunate as Joshua Landis surmised while sharing his thoughts on the new bill – losing its identity along the way:

Through much of American history, America believed that a stronger middle class made democracy and contributed stability in the world. But with this promiscuous use of sanctions, America is betraying its own values to lift people into the middle class. And now by trying to drive them into poverty, and using sanctions as a central instrument of its foreign policy, it’s creating deeper anger, and impoverished people who are less educated, and less capable of competing in the modern world. In theory, all this is to promote democracy or Justice … but of course it’s not going to do that. It’s just going to make people more desperate, more Islamist, and more available to radical ideologies. ... ing-syria/

That has never been the identity of the US, rather a useful façade enabled by the circumstances at the end of WWII. Since the mid 70s the material basis of that front began diminishing and nears the point of crumbling like old plaster.


The West Bank: Settler Colonial Spillover of the Gaza Genocide
Posted by INTERNATIONALIST 360° on FEBRUARY 25, 2024
Samia al-Botmeh, Basil Farraj, Fathi Nimer, Abdaljawad Omar


Since the assault on Gaza began in October, 2023, tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed, injured, or missing, likely buried under the rubble of their homes or shelters. Nearly two million Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, with cold, thirst, and hunger ravaging the entire population. While the world deliberates on the technicalities of genocide, Israeli colonization of the West Bank and disruption to Palestinian life there has only accelerated.

In this roundtable, Fathi Nimer, Abdaljawad Omar, Basil Farraj, and Samia Botmeh discuss the situation in the West Bank since October 7th 2023. Parallel to the Israeli regime’s genocide campaign on Gaza, the authors delve into the false dichotomy between settler and state, the passivity of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the individual and collective imprisonment of Palestinians, and the dire state of the West Bank economy.

Settlers and the State: Pieces of the Same Puzzle

Fathi Nimer

Concurrent to the Israeli army’s ongoing genocide in Gaza, Israeli settlers have increasingly rampaged across the West Bank. Widespread calls for revenge and collective punishment have fueled campaigns of terror against Palestinian communities, resulting in the forced displacement of nearly 1,000 residents from 13 villages in the first four weeks alone following October 7th, 2023. Between October 7th and December 14th, 2023, West Bank settlers likewise killed 11 Palestinians, including 3 children, and injured an additional 83.

Whenever Israeli settlers reign terror in the West Bank, mainstream media insists on drawing a false distinction between the violent groups and the Israeli army, suggesting the latter has simply lost control or is powerless to stop the attacks. This narrative was peddled in the aftermath of the February 2023 Huwara pogrom, and is similarly being employed today. Such a framing denies a fundamental truth of the dynamics at play in the West Bank, and stems from an erroneous assumption that the Israeli army’s mission is at odds with that of Israeli settlers. In reality, the Israeli military has been explicitly tasked with carrying out the state’s goals of supporting the settlement project and facilitating the transfer of the Palestinian population since 1967. In this regard, Israeli settlers in the West Bank are ideological foot soldiers: their aims are those of the Israeli regime, and vice-versa.

We cannot speak about the settler movement as separate from larger state-backed colonization projects, such as the Allon plan, the guidelines of which animate much of the Israeli regime’s settlement activity to this day. Hence, settler outposts and colonies do not spontaneously sprout from the ground; rather, they result from deliberate policy choices. Most settlements are designated as national priority areas, entitling their residents to subsidized housing, education, and other benefits to encourage land grabs. Moreover, when settlers roam Palestinian neighborhoods and burn down their villages, they are protected and escorted by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Should Palestinians dare to defend themselves, the army springs into action to beat, detain, and even kill them.

In such a context, it is farcical to suggest a distinction between settler and state violence: They are part of the same settler-colonial structure, and not only complement each other but depend on one another. On the rare occasion when there is friction between settlers and soldiers, such a dynamic emanates from disagreements over the tactics of West Bank colonization, not about the goal itself. Settlers typically encourage a quick and direct takeover of territory, while the army follows the state’s policy of a more methodical approach to maintain plausible deniability in front of its global audience. This can lead to tension, as the settlers view the state as indecisive, while the state views the settlers’ actions as indiscreet.

While some erroneously claim that West Bank settlers represent a “fringe” radical group, they enjoy popular support from vast swaths of the Israeli population. Evidence of this has been seen over multiple elections, as settler leaders have reached the highest echelons of the political establishment and serve as generals and ministers. Parties declaring that they exist to serve and expand the West Bank settlement movement now form an integral part of the governing coalition. Such progress has granted the settlers further impunity and privileges—indeed, they have been armed with over 150,000 assault rifles since the beginning of the genocidal incursion into Gaza on October 7th.

In light of the Biden administration’s unwillingness to exert pressure on Israel to cease its bloody assault on Gaza—and the resulting drop in Biden’s approval ratings—the White House scrambled to announce a visa ban on “extremist settlers” in the West Bank as a way to placate its base ahead of the 2024 presidential elections. Such measures target “dozens” of settlers and are designed primarily to give the illusion that the US is taking tangible action to protect Palestinians. The performative nature of this action becomes especially clear when considering that over 160,000 settlers in the West Bank are US citizens and would remain unaffected by such a ban. These US squatters and their supporters have been widely-documented as some of the most belligerent groups responsible for taking over Palestinian homes.

Of course, the distinction made by the international community between West Bank settlements and those elsewhere across colonized Palestine is inaccurate to begin with. All Israeli communities from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea are built on stolen Palestinian land, and attempts to legitimize those within 1948 territory deny the fundamental settler colonial nature of the Israeli state project. Thus, when we recall that Israelis are settlers by definition, the facade of distinction between settler and state crumbles and we are left with only the glaring reality that the two are one and the same.

The Palestinian Authority’s Gamble of Inaction

Abdaljawad Omar

The Fatah-ruled PA has maintained a consistent strategy of indifference toward the fate of Palestinians in Gaza, as well as those it governs in the West Bank. Rather than forcefully challenge the ongoing genocide, PA representatives have offered only empty rhetoric that absolves them from their responsibility to respond with action. In doing so, the PA’s intent to maintain its existing approach toward the Israeli regime is clear—namely, that it will continue to center security collaboration and containment of collective political action in the West Bank as a means to guarantee that the interests of the political elite remain unimpacted by the genocide unfolding kilometers away.

To fully grasp the intricate dynamics shaping the PA’s response—or lack thereof—to the ongoing massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, one must delve into the multitude of pressures it faces. Foremost among these is the West Bank settler movement, which now wields significant influence over policymaking in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government. This movement’s approach seeks to render the PA obsolete by doing away with any notion that it can protect the Palestinians it oversees. Indeed, as mentioned in the aforementioned section, settlers are continuing to seize Palestinian property and kill Palestinians with impunity. To ensure that he can galvanize this large settler base in support of his continued leadership, Netanyahu continues to withhold funds from the PA and insist that it will be absent from any “day after” plan for Gaza following the current ethnic cleansing.

Another pressure can be found from the re-emergence of popular Palestinian resistance to the Israeli colonial project in the West Bank. Recent armed insurrections in the northern regions are indicative of an upending of Fatah’s social base. This politics of unbinding from the PA has slowly proved effective in mustering self-defense zones and challenging both Israeli occupation forces and PA passivity. A new generation of fighters is backed by established political organizations—PFLP, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad—in the effort to create a more organized and sustainable armed resistance movement. This rebellion wouldn’t have been possible without the loss of the PA’s ideological and social hold on the Palestinian people, especially among working-class communities in refugee camps and dense urban spaces in the north. The popularity of these groups and the scope of their resistance activities demonstrates the weakening of PA dominance—a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Israeli forces, which have responded with repeated military incursions in places such as Jenin, Tulkarem, and Nablus, as well as targeted assassinations of those with purported affiliation.

In addition to internal pressures, the PA has become increasingly isolated on both regional and global stages in recent years. Even the US—a significant supporter of the PA for its role as a native enforcer—has excluded it from various diplomatic maneuverings. One example of this was in the US-brokered Abraham Accords, which completely bypassed the PA and effectively ignored the existence of Palestine. Further proof can be seen as the genocide in Gaza unfolds, as US policymakers signal their desire for a “revitalized” PA—including its leadership, composition, and the alliances that form the PA’s political class. Yet despite their desire for “new blood” in the PA, the US and its allies in the region undoubtedly remain reassured by the current PA’s inaction and steadfastness with its policy of security coordination with the Israeli regime.

Nonetheless, the Al-Aqsa Flood operation has shattered the status quo—not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank. The PA has long anchored itself on pragmatism, which promulgates the notion that avenues for change are limited. Leaders such as Abbas and his close advisors heavily rely on this narrative and often critique Palestinian armed resistance as futile. This approach, however, is increasingly unpopular. Recent polls in the West Bank saw a staggering 60% of respondents supporting the disintegration of the PA and more than 90% demanding the resignation of Abbas.

Amidst these pressures, the PA is biding its time; a relative victory for the Palestinian resistance in Gaza or a wider regional solution may bring it back from the sidelines. Until then, the PA hopes that its stasis will enable it to reap the benefits of the war without immersing itself in the battle.

Fortifying Carcerality in the West Bank

Basil Farraj

Prisons have always been central to the Israeli regime’s geographies of violence and torture. Across the West Bank and Gaza, imprisonment has also evolved into a broader state under which the entire Palestinian population lingers. This has particularly been the case since the start of the genocide in Gaza, as the Israeli military escalates its arrest campaigns against Palestinians and holds entire communities under siege, placing severe restrictions on their movement and daily lives.

The number of Palestinian prisoners has more than doubled over the past four months. According to recent figures, the number of Palestinians from the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, detained by Israeli forces since October 7th has reached 6,500 detainees. This is in addition to dozens arrested from the 1948 territories. Reports and testimonies indicate that Palestinians from Gaza are also being held in extremely harsh conditions and are subjected to new levels of torture. Indeed, prisoners have described the conditions in Israeli prisons as akin to the early years of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. This includes numerous measures designed to entirely isolate prisoners, including banning family visitations and restricting lawyer visits. Other measures used by the Israel Prison Service include cutting access to water and electricity, providing inadequate and insufficient food, closing prison canteens, confiscating prisoners’ belongings, and denying medical care, further exacerbating its policy of systematic medical negligence. This brutal campaign of torture and violence against Palestinian prisoners has so far led to the deaths of seven prisoners, in addition to an unknown number—recently revealed—of Palestinians killed at an Israeli military base in southern Palestine.

The abuse of Palestinian political prisoners cannot be separated from the wider treatment of the Palestinian population at the hands of the Israeli regime. Indeed, Palestinians have long drawn parallels between what is commonly referred to as the small prison—i.e. Israeli prisons and detention facilities—and the larger prison, which is Palestine, under Israeli settler colonialism. The violence and torture practiced inside Israeli prisons mirror the measures put in place to confine and control the Palestinian population across all of colonized Palestine.

This dynamic has been acutely felt in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has even further restricted the already controlled movement of Palestinians since the start of its genocide in Gaza. This includes blocking entrances to most Palestinian villages, towns, and cities through cement blocks, military checkpoints, and iron gates. Palestinians across the West Bank have reported spending hours at checkpoints to get to their places of work and schools, and facing assaults and beatings by the Israeli military at the entrances of Palestinian villages and towns. This is in addition to Israel’s banning of access to Jerusalem and the 1948 territories. As a result, the West Bank has, in effect, been cordoned off from the rest of colonized Palestine.

Moreover, the Israeli army continues to invade Palestinian towns and villages on a daily basis, arresting, torturing, and harassing Palestinians and employing a “shoot to kill” policy across the West Bank. These violent practices, including by armed settlers, have resulted in the deaths of over 350 Palestinians since October 7th. Palestinians have similarly been killed, tortured, and abused during and after their arrests by the Israeli military. Thus, similar methods of violence are being employed across the West Bank, both within and outside the confines of Israeli prisons.

These practices are not novel, but rather central to Israel’s settler-colonial project. Still, their intensification over the past months, in addition to rising settler violence and land thefts, is transforming the West Bank into a fragmented collection of prisons, where Israeli mechanisms of control and violence are rampant. The measures taken to change the conditions of captivity inside Israeli prisons are mirrored in the violent practices to transform Palestine’s colonized geographies into localized spaces of confinement. Importantly, the Palestinian notion of the small and large prison is not merely metaphorical but a reality that, unless resisted, will etch itself into a permanent carceral condition.

Gaza Genocide and the West Bank Economy

Samia Botmeh

The Palestinian economy is no stranger to economic devastation. The Israeli regime’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 set in motion a series of policies aimed at ensuring a dependent Palestinian economy. The 1993 Oslo Accords further institutionalized the colonial structures of dependency and decapacitated the Palestinian economy to ensure its continued suppression and reliance on non-endogenous sources for its economic survival. The Israeli regime’s devastation of the Palestinian economy during the second Intifada and repeated wars on Gaza since 2008 have further eroded the economy’s productive base and confiscated necessary resources for its potential development.

Though the West Bank has escaped bombardment in this latest assault, the Israeli regime has nonetheless targeted the territory with a set of oppressive measures with grave economic repercussions. Such measures have included movement restrictions, delays in processing trade in goods and services, raids and incursions that prevent Palestinians from the 1948 territories from accessing goods markets in the West Bank, as well as the pirating of Palestinian clearance revenues.

Additionally, the Israeli regime has barred thousands of Palestinian workers from accessing their work in the Israeli labor market, resulting in increased unemployment and higher competition for jobs in the West Bank. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) and International Labor Organization (ILO), unemployment across the West Bank and Gaza more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2023, reaching an estimated 29% in the West Bank since the genocidal assault on Gaza began. At the same time, daily wages in the West Bank have declined due to the overwhelming availability of workers, creating a market rife with wage exploitation. Daily losses in income total a staggering $12.8 million for workers in the West Bank. Losses in income of this magnitude have resulted in increased poverty rates and inequality across the West Bank and are likely to have devastating consequences beyond the short-term.

The loss of work in the Israeli labor market is not the only reason for the sharp rise in unemployment rates. Restrictions on labor mobility as a result of movement barriers in the West Bank, as mentioned in the previous section, have also affected labor markets. The steep rise of barriers and checkpoints across the West Bank since October 7th has led to significant increases in time and cost of commuting. As a result of being confined to their localities and unable to reach employers in other communities, many workers have had their employment terminated. The PCBS and ILO estimate that in the first two months after the assault on Gaza started, a quarter of a million jobs were lost in the West Bank.

Such movement restrictions and closure of the Israeli market have also affected private sector businesses in the West Bank, in part by raising the costs of acquiring production materials and equipment, which are overwhelmingly sourced from outside the main cities and often from outside of the West Bank. The costs of delivery and shipment, both domestically and internationally, have also risen, thus further reducing profit margins. As a result, preliminary estimates from the PCBS indicate that, during October and November 2023, production in the West Bank decreased by approximately 37%, with an estimated loss of $500 million per month.

Still, while the current state of the Palestinian economy may be exceptionally dire, it must not be mistaken for the product of unavoidable circumstances. Instead, it is the result of functioning under one of the most vicious forms of settler colonization in modern times. Moreover, it is abundantly clear that “recovery models”—pushed by the World Bank and other international institutions—have routinely failed to confront this context and instead focused on ineffective neoliberal policies, further exacerbating Palestinian economic subjugation.

This horrific moment in the Palestinian experience necessitates a rethinking around the political nature of economic recovery. To do so, steps must be taken to end colonial dependency and strengthen the productive base of the Palestinian economy. Such steps include terminating what remains of the forced customs union with Israel, ending policies aimed at pushing people to access bank credit to finance their everyday consumption, investing in local agriculture and manufacturing, and restoring principles of economic solidarity among Palestinians. These initiatives could lay the groundwork for stronger collective resistance against the Zionist settler colonial siege of the Palestinian economy. ... -genocide/


US soldier self-immolates outside Israeli embassy to protest Gaza genocide

'Free Palestine' the active-duty airman yelled before collapsing to the ground

News Desk

FEB 26, 2024

(Photo Credit: X)

An active-duty member of the US Air Force set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC, on 25 February in an act of protest against Israel’s campaign of genocide in Gaza.

“I will no longer be complicit in genocide,” the man, identified as Aaron Bushnell, said during a Twitch livestream. “I am about to engage in an extreme act of protest,” he added before igniting himself.

“Free Palestine!” Bushnell yelled until he fell to the ground.

Officers from the US Secret Service extinguished the fire outside the embassy. Bushnell was rushed to the hospital on Sunday with “critical life-threatening injuries,” where he reportedly passed away.

The US Air Force confirmed the incident involved an active duty airman.

Bushnell is the second US citizen since December to self-immolate outside an Israeli diplomatic building in an act of political protest.

Near-daily protests have rocked major US cities for the past several months as an increasing number of people in the west demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

At least 30,000 people have been killed by the Israeli army in Gaza since 7 October, most of them women and children. The genocide of Palestinians has been facilitated with military and political support from the White House.

International organizations have warned that famine and disease will send the death toll soaring as Israeli protesters continue to block the entry of humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave. ... a-genocide

(Extreme honor)

Yemen targets US oil ship despite western aggression

The latest US–British attack on Yemen on Sunday resulted in several civilian casualties

News Desk

FEB 26, 2024

The UK vessel, Marlin Luanda, which was struck by Yemeni forces and caught fire in late January. (Photo credit: Reuters)

The US confirmed on 26 February that one of its oil ships was targeted by Yemen’s Armed Forces and Ansarallah resistance movement in the Gulf of Aden.

“On 24 February at 11:45 pm (Sanaa time), the Iranian-backed Houthis launched one anti-ship ballistic missile likely targeting the M/V Torm Thor, a US-flagged, owned, and operated chemical/oil product tanker in the Gulf of Aden,” CENTCOM said in a statement early on Monday, claiming that the missile “impacted the water” and caused no injuries.

The US statement added that two Yemeni drones were shot down over the Red Sea and that another crashed. CENTCOM said the drones “presented an imminent threat to merchant vessels.”

Yemen’s Armed Forces announced the attack in a statement a few hours earlier, just after midnight on Sunday.

“The naval forces of the Yemeni Armed Forces … carried out an effective military operation in which they targeted the American oil ship TORM THOR in the Gulf of Aden with a number of naval missiles,” it said, adding that Sanaa’s air force “targeted a number of American warships in the Red Sea with a number of drones.”

“The Yemeni Armed Forces confirm that they will [continue to] confront the American–British escalation with more military operations.”

Washington and London launched a brutal campaign against Yemen last month in response to its naval operations against Israeli shipping in the Red and Arab seas. The US and UK have launched hundreds of attacks on Yemen since 12 January.

A civilian was killed and six others wounded in US–British airstrikes on the Maqbanah district in Yemen’s Taiz province at midnight on 25 February.

Since the US-led campaign began, Yemen has expanded the scope of its naval operations to include US and UK vessels.

Last week, the Yemeni navy announced the destruction and sinking of a UK ship in the Gulf of Aden. This was the third British ship struck by Yemen in a span of days. Several US ships, including warships, have also been targeted.

Sanaa has repeatedly vowed that the western campaign will not deter its support for the Palestinians.

“As long as the Zionist massacres continue in Gaza, we will continue to carry out our [duty],” Defense Minister of the Sanaa government, Major General Mohammed Nasser al-Atifi, said on 25 February. ... aggression
"There is great chaos under heaven; the situation is excellent."

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