Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, December 21, 2023


Labor for Palestine

Thousands of labor representatives marched Saturday, December 16, in Oakland, California. —Photo by Leon Kunstenaar

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.


Bay Area Unions and Workers Rally and March For Palestine In Oakland


Over 1,000 trade unionists from around Northern California rallied and marched in Oakland to oppose the genocide in Gaza. It was announced during the rally that despite bureaucratic obstacles SEIU 1021 which has over 50,000 members had endorsed the rally and resolution. Unions formally endorsed included AFSCME 3299, OEA, UESF, SEIU 1021, ILWU Local 10, Inlandboatmen’s Union SF Region-ILWU, UNITE HERE Local 2, IFPTE Local 21, SF Public Defenders (workers, not union or unit),  Stanford Graduate Workers, Trader Joes United (Rockridge), IWW Bay Area, IWW 460-650 - Ecology Center 

National or statewide unions or units (with Bay Area members) that have called for a ceasefire: UAW (international), UAW Local 2865 (statewide), UAW Local 2320, APWU, Starbucks Workers United, California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee, CIR/SEIU (national) SEIU-USWW (statewide), Staff Union of CIR/SEIU (unit of CWA local 1032).

The rally was sponsored by Bay Area Labor For Palestine and there was also another Labor For Palestine Rally in New York.

For More Information:


Production of Labor Video Project






"The Rock" on top of Bernal Hill overlooking downtown San Francisco re-painted October 26, 2023, after pro-Israeli Zionist's destroyed it. 

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of December 21, 2023the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 20,000* (over 900 killed Dec. 2-5 alone)—50,594 wounded, and more than 289 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank.  

*Please note that the U.S. media is finally reporting that at least 20,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel since Dec. 7th. Israel is continuing to bomb northern Gaza, and has renewed and expanded its bombing and ground assault on southern Gaza killing hundreds more every day. More than 8,000 are still missing, buried under the rubble.  

Israelis killed and abducted by Hamas: 
A total of 1,200* Israelis killed by Hamas (30 of them children) and 239 abducted on October 7, 2023At least three Israeli hostages were killed by Israeli troops December 15 in a "friendly fire" incident.
Israel has revised its official estimated death toll of the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, lowering the number to about 1,200 people, down from more than 1,400, a spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday night.




Eric Clapton performing in London for Medical Aid to Gaza, December 11, playing a guitar painted with the colors of the Palestinian flag.



Ann Boyer’s Powerful New York Times Resignation Letter

November 17, 2023

Read: The War Turns Gaza Into a ‘Graveyard’ for Children, By Raja Abdulrahim, Photographs by Samar Abu Elouf and Yousef Masoud, Nov. 18, 2023


According to Literary Hub[1], "[Early on November 16, 2023], the news broke that Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, essayist, and poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine, Anne Boyer, has resigned from her post, writing in her resignation letter that 'the Israeli state’s U.S.-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone...'"


The letter in full is written below:


"I have resigned as poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine.

"The Israeli state’s U.S-backed war against the people of Gaza is not a war for anyone. There is no safety in it or from it, not for Israel, not for the United States or Europe, and especially not for the many Jewish people slandered by those who claim falsely to fight in their names. Its only profit is the deadly profit of oil interests and weapon manufacturers.

"The world, the future, our hearts—everything grows smaller and harder from this war. It is not only a war of missiles and land invasions. It is an ongoing war against the people of Palestine, people who have resisted throughout decades of occupation, forced dislocation, deprivation, surveillance, siege, imprisonment, and torture.

"Because our status quo is self-expression, sometimes the most effective mode of protest for artists is to refuse.

"I can’t write about poetry amidst the ‘reasonable’ tones of those who aim to acclimatize us to this unreasonable suffering. No more ghoulish euphemisms. No more verbally sanitized hellscapes. No more warmongering lies.

"If this resignation leaves a hole in the news the size of poetry, then that is the true shape of the present."

—Anne Boyer

[1] https://lithub.com/read-anne-boyers-extraordinary-resignation-letter-from-the-new-york-times/



Viva Fidel!






Stand With Palestinian Workers: Cease the Genocide Now—Stop Arming Israel!

Labor for Palestine Petition

“We need you to take immediate action—wherever you are in the world—to prevent the arming of the Israeli state and the companies involved in the infrastructure of the blockade.” —An Urgent Call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel (October 16, 2023)

 The undersigned U.S. workers, trade unionists, and anti-apartheid activists join labor around the world in condemning the Israeli siege on Gaza that has killed or maimed thousands of Palestinians—many of them children—and stand with Palestinians’ “right to exist, resist, return, and self-determination.”

 The latest Israeli attacks reflect more than a century of ongoing Zionist settler-colonialism, dispossession, ethnic cleansing, racism, genocide, and apartheid—including Israel’s establishment through the uprooting and displacement of over 750,000 Palestinians during the 1947-1948 Nakba. Indeed, eighty percent of the 2.3 million people in Gaza are refugees from other parts of historic Palestine.

Israel’s crimes are only possible because of more than $3.8 billion a year (or $10-plus million per day) in bipartisan U.S. military aid that gives Israel the guns, bullets, tanks, ships, jet fighters, missiles, helicopters, white phosphorus, and other weapons to kill and maim the Palestinian people. This is the same system of racist state violence that, through shared surveillance technology and police exchange programs, brutalizes Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) and working-class people in the United States and around the world.

In response, we demand an immediate end to the genocide, and embrace the recent urgent call from Palestinian Trade Unions: End all Complicity, Stop Arming Israel:

1.     To refuse to build weapons destined for Israel. To refuse to transport weapons to Israel. 

2.     To pass motions in their trade union to this effect. 

3.     To take action against complicit companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege, especially if they have contracts with your institution. 

4.     Pressure governments to stop all military trade with Israel, and in the case of the U.S., funding to it.

We further reaffirm the call on labor bodies to respect previous Palestinian trade union appeals for solidarity by adopting this statement, and/or the model resolution below to divest from Israel Bonds, sever all ties with the Israel’s racist labor federation, the Histadrut, and its US mouthpiece, the Jewish Labor Committee, and respect the Palestinian picket line for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS). 

Please sign and forward widely!

To endorse the following statement as a trade unionist, please click here:


To endorse as other, please click here:


 Initial Signers on behalf of Labor for Palestine

(Organizational affiliations listed for identification only)

Suzanne Adely, Labor for Palestine, US Palestinian Community Network, Arab Workers Resource Center; Food Chain Workers Alliance (staff); President, National Lawyers Guild; Monadel Herzallah, Arab American Union Members Council; Ruth Jennison, Department Rep., Massachusetts Society of Professors, MTA, NEA; Co-Chair, Labor Standing Committee River Valley DSA; Delegate to Western Mass Area Labor Federation; Lara Kiswani, Executive Director, Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC); Block the Boat; Michael Letwin, Former President, Association of Legal Aid Attorneys/UAW Local 2325; Jews for Palestinian Right of Return; Corinna Mullin, PSC-CUNY International Committee; CUNY for Palestine; Clarence Thomas, Co-Chair, Million Worker March; Executive Board, ILWU Local 10 (retired.)

The list of signers will be updated periodically.



The Labor for Palestine model resolution can be found at:




Jewish Doctor Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine

Dr. Gabor Maté, Hungarian-Canadian physician and author describes his own life experience and expresses his view on the situation in Israel and Palestine.

“I’m personally a Holocaust survivor as an infant, I barely survived. My grandparents were killed in Auschwitz and most of my extended family were killed. I became a Zionist; this dream of the Jewish people resurrected in their historical homeland and the barbed wire of Auschwitz being replaced by the boundaries of a Jewish state with a powerful army…and then I found out that it wasn’t exactly like that, that in order to make this Jewish dream a reality we had to visit a nightmare on the local population.

“There’s no way you could have ever created a Jewish state without oppressing and expelling the local population. Jewish Israeli historians have shown without a doubt that the expulsion of Palestinians was persistent, pervasive, cruel, murderous and with deliberate intent—that’s what’s called the ‘Nakba’ in Arabic; the ‘disaster’ or the ‘catastrophe.’ There’s a law that you cannot deny the Holocaust, but in Israel you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba, even though it’s at the very basis of the foundation of Israel.

“I visited the Occupied Territories (West Bank) during the first intifada. I cried every day for two weeks at what I saw; the brutality of the occupation, the petty harassment, the murderousness of it, the cutting down of Palestinian olive groves, the denial of water rights, the humiliations...and this went on, and now it’s much worse than it was then.

“It’s the longest ethnic cleansing operation in the 20th and 21st century. I could land in Tel Aviv tomorrow and demand citizenship but my Palestinian friend in Vancouver, who was born in Jerusalem, can’t even visit!

“So, then you have these miserable people packed into this, horrible…people call it an ‘outdoor prison,’ which is what it is. You don’t have to support Hamas policies to stand up for Palestinian rights, that’s a complete falsity. You think the worst thing you can say about Hamas, multiply it by a thousand times, and it still will not meet the Israeli repression and killing and dispossession of Palestinians.

“And ‘anybody who criticizes Israel is an anti-Semite’ is simply an egregious attempt to intimidate good non-Jews who are willing to stand up for what is true.”

—Independent Catholic News, October 16, 2023






the French word

for rabies


la rage -

rage or outrage



the French have a saying -

a man who wants to get rid of his dog

accuses it of spreading rabies


the people of Gaza

treated as inhuman animals

worse than dogs

are charged

with terrorism


come to think of it

what an honor !


world war two's resistance

against nazi extermination

was designated

as terrorism

by the Axis allies


what an honor !



was monitored

as a terrorist

by the CIA


What an honor !



peacefully meditating

near Israeli-funded cop city

was executed

in cold blood

on suspicion

of domestic terrorism 


What an honor !


in the spirit of Mandela

in the spirit of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

in the spirit of Tortuguita

in the spirit of Attica

may the anti colonial outrage

of the People of Palestine

contaminate us all -

the only epidemic

worth dying for


 (c) Julia Wright. October 17 2023. All Rights Reserved To The family of Wadea Al- Fayoume.



The ongoing Zionist theft of Palestinian land from 1946 to now.

77 years of brutal oppression must end!

End all U.S. aid to Israel now!

For a democratic, secular Palestine!



Free Julian Assange

Immediate Repeated Action Needed to Free Assange


Please call your Congressional Representatives, the White House, and the DOJ. Calls are tallied—they do count.  We are to believe we are represented in this country.  This is a political case, so our efforts can change things politically as well.  Please take this action as often as you can:


Find your representatives:



Leave each of your representatives a message individually to: 

·      Drop the charges against Julian Assange

·      Speak out publicly against the indictment and

·      Sign on to Rashida Tlaib's letter to the DOJ to drop the charges: 

           202-224-3121—Capitol Main Switchboard 


Leave a message on the White House comment line to 

Demand Julian Assange be pardoned: 


             Tuesday–Thursday, 11:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. EST


Call the DOJ and demand they drop the charges against Julian Assange:

             202-353-1555—DOJ Comment Line

             202-514-2000 Main Switchboard 



Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!


Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Poetic Petition to Genocide Joe Before He Eats His Turkey 

By Julia Wright


Mr Genocide Joe

you have helped broker

a Thanksgiving truce

in Gaza

where your zionist partners

in war crimes

say they will stop

slaughtering "human animals"

for four days



Mr Genocide Joe

closer to home

you have your own hostages

taken in the cointelpro wars

who still languish

in cages

treated worse than animals




as you pardon

two turkeys

in the White House today

as you get ready to eat your military turkey

and have it too

it would at last be time

to unchain

at least two of your own "human animals" -

Mumia Abu-Jamal


Leonard Peltier


(c) Julia Wright. November 25, 2023. All Rights Reserved to Mumia Abu-Jamal and Leonard Peltier.



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

Leonard Peltier’s Letter Delivered to Supporters on September 12, 2023, in Front of the Whitehouse


Dear friends, relatives, supporters, loved ones:


Seventy-nine years old. Mother Earth has taken us on another journey around Grandfather Sun.  Babies have taken their first breath. People have lived, loved, and died. Seeds have been planted and sent their roots deep below red earth and their breath to the Stars and our Ancestors.


I am still here.


Time has twisted one more year out of me. A year that has been a moment.  A year that has been a lifetime. For almost five decades I’ve existed in a cage of concrete and steel.  With the “good time” calculations of the system, I’ve actually served over 60 years.


Year after year, I have encouraged you to live as spirit warriors. Even while in here, I can envision what is real and far beyond these walls.  I’ve seen a reawakening of an ancient Native pride that does my heart good.


I may leave this place in a box. That is a cold truth. But I have put my heart and soul into making our world a better place and there is a lot of work left to do – I would like to get out and do it with you.


I know that the spirit warriors coming up behind me have the heart and soul to fight racism and oppression, and to fight the greed that is poisoning our lands, waters, and people. 


We are still here.


Remember who you are, even if they come for your land, your water, your family. We are children of Mother Earth and we owe her and her other children our care.


I long to turn my face to the sky. In this cage, I am denied that simple pleasure. I am in prison, but in my mind, I remain as I was born: a free Native spirit.


That is what allows me to laugh, keeps me laughing. These walls cannot contain my laughter – or my hope.


I know there are those who stand with me, who work around the clock for my freedom. I have been blessed to have such friends.


We are still here and you give me hope. 


I hope to breathe free air before I die. Hope is a hard thing to hold, but no one is strong enough to take it from me. 


I love you. I hope for you. I pray for you. 


And prayer is more than a cry to the Creator that runs through your head.  Prayer is an action.


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

Note: Letters, address and return address must be in writing—no stickers—and on plain white paper.

Video at:


Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

Address: 116 W. Osborne Ave. Tampa, Florida 33603



Updates From Kevin Cooper 

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

This is Kevin Cooper writing and sending this update to you in 'Peace & Solidarity'. First and foremost I am well and healthy, and over the ill effect(s) that I went through after that biased report from MoFo, and their pro prosecution and law enforcement experts. I am back working with my legal team from Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.

'We' have made great progress in refuting all that those experts from MoFo came up with by twisting the truth to fit their narrative, or omitting things, ignoring, things, and using all the other tactics that they did to reach their conclusions. Orrick has hired four(4) real experts who have no questionable backgrounds. One is a DNA attorney, like Barry Scheck of the innocence project in New York is for example. A DNA expert, a expect to refute what they say Jousha Ryen said when he was a child, and his memory. A expect on the credibility of MoFo's experts, and the attorney's at Orrick are dealing with the legal issues.

This all is taking a little longer than we first expected it to take, and that in part is because 'we' have to make sure everything is correct in what we have in our reply. We cannot put ourselves in a situation where we can be refuted... Second, some of our experts had other things planned, like court cases and such before they got the phone call from Rene, the now lead attorney of the Orrick team. With that being said, I can say that our experts, and legal team have shown, and will show to the power(s) that be that MoFo's DNA expert could not have come to the conclusion(s) that he came to, without having used 'junk science'! They, and by they I mean my entire legal team, including our experts, have done what we have done ever since Orrick took my case on in 2004, shown that all that is being said by MoFo's experts is not true, and we are once again having to show what the truth really is.

Will this work with the Governor? Who knows... 'but' we are going to try! One of our comrades, Rebecca D.   said to me, 'You and Mumia'...meaning that my case and the case of Mumia Abu Jamal are cases in which no matter what evidence comes out supporting our innocence, or prosecution misconduct, we cannot get a break. That the forces in the so called justice system won't let us go. 'Yes' she is correct about that sad to say...

Our reply will be out hopefully in the not too distant future, and that's because the people in Sacramento have been put on notice that it is coming, and why. Every one of you will receive our draft copy of the reply according to Rene because he wants feedback on it. Carole and others will send it out once they receive it. 'We' were on the verge of getting me out, and those people knew it, so they sabotaged what the Governor ordered them to do, look at all the evidence as well as the DNA evidence. They did not do that, they made this a DNA case, by doing what they did, and twisted the facts on the other issues that they dealt with.   'more later'...

In Struggle & Solidarity,

An immediate act of solidarity we can all do right now is to write to Kevin and assure him of our continuing support in his fight for justice. Here’s his address:

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974



Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

(Monday-Friday, 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. PST—12:00 P.M. to 8:00 P.M. EST)



Letter from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

November 6, 2023

      I’m back at Red Onion. I have no lines of communication. They have me in the B-3 torture cellblock again where there is no access to a kiosk and they’re withholding my tablet anyway. Even if I had it, it’s no use with no kiosk to sync it to and send/receive messages.

      This was a hit. Came from DOC HQ in response folks complaining about my being thrown in solitary at Sussex and the planted knife thing. Kyle Rosch was in on it. The warden and AW here said he’s having me sent back out of state. In any case I don’t want be in this racist trap.

      They cut all my outstanding medical referrals to send here cuz there’s no major medical facility in this remote region. I was pending referral to the cardiac clinic at MCV hospital (Medical College of Virginia), which is on the other side of the state. Also was pending referral to urology there. They were supposed to do testing for congestive heart failure and kidney problems related to my legs, feet, and ankles chronic swelling, and other undiagnosed issues: chronic cough, fluid weight gain, sweats, fatigue, chest pain. They just cut these referrals all of which I have copies of from my medical files.

      They’ve been removing documents from my file too. Like the order I had for oversize handcuffs—which I was gassed the morning I was transferred here for asking the transferring pigs to honor. They took the order out of my file to try to cover their asses. I and others have copies of that too. At this point things are hectic. I’m back in old form now. I was somewhat in hiatus, trying to get the medical care I needed and not provoking them to avoid the bs while that was going on. But the bs has found me once again : ). I need all possible help here. At a level a bit more intense than in the past cuz I need that diagnostic care they cut the referrals for and it’s not available in this remote area. They’d have to send me back to Sussex or another prison near MCU in the VDOC’s Central or Eastern Region. I’m in the most remote corner of the Western Region. My health is not good! And they’re using the medical quack staff here to rubber stamp blocking my referrals.

      Although that lawyer may have given you a message from me, she is not helping me in any way. So no-one should assume because a lawyer surfaced that she is working on anything to aid me. Just have to emphasize that cuz past experience has shown that folks will take a lawyer’s seeming presence as grounds to believe that means some substantial help is here and their help is not needed. Again, I need all possible help here….My health depends on this call for help in a more immediate sense than the cancer situation. I’m having breathing and mobility problems, possibly cardiac related.


      All power to the people!



We need to contact these Virginia Department of Corrections personnel to protest:: 


VADOC~ Central Administration; USPS—P.O. Box 26963; Richmond, VA 23261

David  Robinson Phone : 804-887-8078, Email~david.robinson@vadoc.virginia.gov

Virginia DOC ~ Director, Chadwick S Dotson, Phone~ (804) 674-3081 Email~Chadwick.Dotson@.vadoc.virginia.gov


Virginia Department of Corrections Interstate Compact Liaison

Kyle Rosch, Phone: 804-887-8404, Email: kyle.rosch@vadoc.virginia.gov


VADOC ~Central Administration

Rose L. Durbin, Phone~804-887-7921Email~Rose.Durbin@vadoc.virgina.gov


Red Onion~ Warden, Richard E White, USPS—10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy., Pound, VA 24279

Phone: (276) 796-3536;(or 7510)  Email~ rick.white@vadoc.virginia.gov


Red Onion State Prison, Assistant Warden

Shannon Fuller Phone: 276-796-7510  Email: shannon.fuller@VADOC.virginia.gov


Write to Rashid: 

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson #1007485 

Red Onion State Prison

10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy

Pound, VA 24279




The writers' organization PEN America is circulating this petition on behalf of Jason Renard Walker, a Texas prisoner whose life is being threatened because of his exposés of the Texas prison system. 

See his book, Reports from within the Belly of the Beast; available on Amazon at:


Petition: https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/protect-whistleblowers-in-carceral-settings



Sign the petition:




Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


I’m pleased to announce that last week our client, Daniel Hale, was awarded the Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence. The “Corner-Brightener Candlestick” was presented to Daniel’s friend Noor Mir. You can watch the online ceremony here.

As it happens, this week is also the 20th anniversary of the first drone assassination in Yemen. From the beginning, the drone assassination program has been deeply shrouded in secrecy, allowing U.S. officials to hide significant violations of international law, and the American Constitution. In addition to the lives directly impacted by these strikes, the program has significantly eroded respect for international law and thereby puts civilians around the world in danger.

Daniel Hale’s revelations threw a beam of light into a very dark corner, allowing journalists to definitively show that the government's official narrative was a lie. It is thanks to the great personal sacrifice of drone whistleblowers like Hale that public understanding has finally begun to catch up to reality.

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

 “Mr. Hale was well aware of the cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment to which other courageous officials have been subjected — and that he would likely suffer the same. And yet — in the manner of his famous ancestor Nathan Hale — he put his country first, knowing what awaited him at the hands of those who serve what has become a repressive Perpetual War State wreaking havoc upon much of the world.”

We hope you’ll join the growing call to pardon or commute Hale’s sentence. U.S. citizens can contact your representatives here.

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests. 


The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page. 


Please visit the NLG Mass Defense Program page for general protest-related legal support hotlines run by NLG chapters.


Emergency Hotlines

If you are contacted by federal law enforcement, you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities. 


State and Local Hotlines

If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for: 


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or fbi_hotline@nlgsf.org

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:


National NLG Federal Defense Hotline: (212) 679-2811






1) An Al Jazeera cameraman is killed in southern Gaza.

By Gaya Gupta, Traci Carl and Ephrat Livni, Dec. 16 2023


A man in a blue flak jacket with the word press on the back kneels and buries his face in the white shroud the the body of an Al Jazeera cameraman, Samer Abu Daqqa, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike. Mr. Abu Daqqa’s flak jacket and helmet are on his chest.

Colleagues and relatives mourn a Al Jazeera cameraman, Samer Abu Daqqa, at his funeral on Saturday after he was killed during an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

An Al Jazeera cameraman was killed and the network’s Arabic-language Gaza Strip bureau chief was wounded on Friday during an attack in southern Gaza, Al Jazeera said, the latest in a long string of journalist casualties in the war.


The cameraman, Samer Abu Daqqa, and Wael al-Dahdouh, the bureau chief, were covering the aftermath of airstrikes at a U.N. school-turned-shelter in Khan Younis when both were wounded, the network said. Mr. al-Dahdouh told Al Jazeera that he was able to walk out of the area and seek help. Mr. Abu Daqqa bled to death from his injuries, as emergency medical help was unable to reach him, the network said.


Mr. Abu Daqqa, 45, was the 13th Al Jazeera journalist killed since the network opened in 1996, according to Al Jazeera.


His funeral was held in Khan Younis on Saturday. Al Jazeera televised part of his funeral, where Mr. al-Dahdouh spoke alongside dozens of other colleagues, family members. Fellow journalists, including Mr. al-Dahdouh, wept in anguish, some caressing the cameraman’s his bloodied face. His press flak jacket and blue helmet rested atop his shrouded body. Mr. al-Dahdouh accused Israeli forces of targeting of dozens of journalists, their offices and their families. “We will continue to do our duty with the best professionalism and transparency,” despite the targeting of journalists, he said. “We will carry our message.”


The Israeli military said that it “has never, and will never, deliberately target journalists,” and it takes “operationally feasible measures” to protect civilians and journalists. Khan Younis is one of three areas that Israel has said it is targeting in its battle to eradicate Hamas from Gaza.


In October, Mr. al-Dahdouh’s wife, son, daughter and infant grandson were killed at the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, where they had been sheltering.


Mohamed Moawad, Al Jazeera’s managing editor, described Mr. Abu Daqqa as “a compassionate soul” whose photography “captured the raw and unfiltered reality and life in Gaza.”


“In the pursuit of truth, our cameraman faced immense risks to bring viewers a deeper understanding of the human experience in Gaza,” he said in a post on social media. “His lens became a window into the lives of those affected by conflict, shedding light on stories that needed to be told.”


According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit organization based in New York that defends the rights of journalists around the world, 64 journalists and media workers have been killed in Gaza since the war between Israel and Hamas began on Oct. 7, more than in any other similar period of time since the group started collecting data in 1992.


The C.P.J. defines journalists as “people who cover news or comment on public affairs through print, digital, broadcast media and other means,” and media workers as essential support staff, including translators, drivers and fixers. The group has said it does not include people in its tallies if there is evidence of their “acting on behalf of militant groups or serving in a military capacity at the time of their deaths.”


According to the C.P.J.’s data, some of the 64 killed in Gaza were freelancers and did not work for traditional news outlets, and its website noted that it was unclear whether all of them were covering the conflict at the time of their deaths. Israel and Egypt have largely prevented international journalists from entering the enclave since the conflict began; Hamas, which controls Gaza, has long restricted what the news media there can cover.


Carlos Martínez de la Serna, C.P.J.’s program director, said the organization was concerned about “the pattern of attacks on Al Jazeera journalists and their families.”


In a statement, Al Jazeera blamed Israel for Friday’s attack in Khan Younis and for “systematically targeting and killing Al Jazeera journalists and their families.” It urged “the international community, media freedom organizations, and the International Criminal Court to take immediate action to hold the Israeli government and military accountable.”


John Kirby, a White House spokesman, said he was not aware of any evidence that Israel was intentionally targeting journalists, who he said must be protected.


“It’s never acceptable to deliberately target them, as they do such vital, dangerous, dangerous work,” he said, adding, “That’s a principle that we’re going to continue to abide by.”


International watchdogs have said that an Israeli strike on Oct. 13 that killed a videographer for the Reuters news agency and injured six other journalists was a targeted attack carried out by the Israeli military. Earlier this year, a C.P.J. report found that no one had been held accountable for nearly 20 journalists killed by the Israeli military since 2001.


Katie Rogers contributed reporting.



2) Jewish and Arab women unite for a small peace protest in Tel Aviv.

By Adam Sella reporting from Tel Aviv, Dec. 16, 2023

“It was a rare protest in Israel calling for an end to the war in Gaza, which has broad popular support among the country’s Jewish majority. Yahav Erez, a demonstrator from Tel Aviv, said: ‘It’s safe to say, people want the killing to stop.’ ,,,'At the end of the day, there are 14 million people here who need to live together,' said Alma Beck, a demonstrator from Tel Aviv, referring to the combined population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Ms. Beck said that her dream is to sit with the women journalists from Gaza she follows on Instagram, 'that they will be my friends and that we will build a new reality together.”

People wearing white sitting cross-legged in an outdoor plaza, holding signs in Hebrew, Arabic and English, including one that reads, “Empathy.”
Women holding signs written in Arabic, Hebrew and English at a peace protest in Tel Aviv on Friday. Credit...Adam Sella for The New York Times

Wearing all white, they sat silently in a circle on a public plaza in Tel Aviv — dozens of women, Jewish and Palestinian, holding up signs with pro-peace slogans written in English, Hebrew and Arabic.


It was a rare protest in Israel calling for an end to the war in Gaza, which has broad popular support among the country’s Jewish majority. Yahav Erez, a demonstrator from Tel Aviv, said: “It’s safe to say, people want the killing to stop.”


With tensions high over the war, the women’s protest was an unusual public collaboration between Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of the country.


“Joint activism is crucial because it brings about a more just solution for everyone,” said Miar Sliman, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who drove over an hour from Akko, in northern Israel, for the demonstration.


A small crowd gathered around the protest circle, and from time to time a heckler called out at them, dismissing the idea of peace. The protesters demanded a political agreement, such as a two-state solution, saying that only a negotiated agreement that ensures security for both sides could bring an end to the cycles of violence between Israel and the Palestinians.


“At the end of the day, there are 14 million people here who need to live together,” said Alma Beck, a demonstrator from Tel Aviv, referring to the combined population of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Ms. Beck said that her dream is to sit with the women journalists from Gaza she follows on Instagram, “that they will be my friends and that we will build a new reality together.”



3) Hostages Shot by Israel Had White Flag, Early Inquiry Finds

By Aaron Boxerman and Ronen Bergman, Dec. 16, 2023

Protesters, some carrying Israeli flags, march at a night.
Protesters in Tel Aviv on Friday night demanding the return of the remaining hostages. Credit...Ahmad Gharabli/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The three Israeli hostages who were fatally shot by Israeli forces in Gaza on Friday were bearing a makeshift white flag, the military said on Saturday, asserting that the soldiers had violated the military’s rules of engagement.


The Israeli military announced the accidental killings on Friday, hours after saying it had recovered the bodies of three other Israeli hostages in Gaza. The deaths underscore the continuing risks for the more than 120 people who Israel says remain in captivity after being kidnapped during the Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7.


In a written statement sent to The New York Times, describing the results of a preliminary inquiry, the Israeli military said its soldiers had been operating in Shejaiye, an area of Gaza City that has seen intense fighting. Earlier this week, at least nine Israeli soldiers were killed during battles in the neighborhood as the military sought to root out Palestinian militants there.


On Friday, the soldiers were on high alert for attempts by Hamas to ambush Israeli forces, possibly in civilian clothes, as they patrolled the area, the military said.


On Friday, the three hostages emerged, shirtless, from a building tens of yards away from the Israeli soldiers, bearing a stick with a white cloth, the military said its preliminary investigation found. One of the soldiers, believing they posed a threat, opened fire on the three hostages, killing two of them and wounding the third, the early investigation found.


The third hostage fled into the building, from which a cry in Hebrew for help could be heard. The battalion commander ordered the forces to hold their fire. But the wounded hostage later re-emerged, after which he was fatally shot, the military statement said.


In a briefing with reporters, an Israeli military official called the incident a violation of the military’s regulations. The hostages may have escaped or been abandoned by their captors, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity under military protocol.


Critics of how Israel has prosecuted its war in Gaza said the incident reflected how Israel had taken insufficient measures to protect civilians.


“Nobody batted an eye before killing them, and the investigation came after they were suspected of being Israeli civilians,” said Sari Bashi, the program director at Human Rights Watch. “The Israeli military is right to investigate the apparently unlawful attacks on these three men, but it should investigate when Palestinian civilians are the victims too and enforce civilian protections.”


The military identified the three men killed on Friday as Yotam Haim and Alon Shamriz, both taken from Kibbutz Kfar Aza, and Samer Talalka, who had been kidnapped from Kibbutz Nir Am, all in southern Israel near the Gaza border.


“This is a sad and painful incident for all of us,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the Israeli military, said on Friday. He vowed “full transparency” as the military investigates how the tragedy unfolded, and said the Israel Defense Forces bore “responsibility for everything that happened.”


The families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza were scheduled to address the tragedy on Saturday in a gathering next to the Israeli military’s headquarters at what is now known as Hostages Plaza in Tel Aviv, according to a spokeswoman for the group Hostages and Missing Families Forum.


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called the three hostages’ deaths “an unbearable tragedy.” Yair Lapid, Israel’s opposition leader, who has been fiercely critical of Mr. Netanyahu, said in a social media post that his heart went out to the families.


Israeli officials, including Mr. Netanyahu, have insisted that military pressure on Gaza helps Israel to secure the hostages’ release. But both the families of some of the hostages and military analysts have expressed skepticism that the two goals go readily hand-in-hand, especially given the dangers the hostages face.


“More Palestinians killed and more ground operations don’t contribute to our leverage against Hamas. They don’t care,” said Michael Milshtein, a former Israeli military intelligence official, who instead stressed the efficacy of diplomatic pressure from Hamas backers like Qatar in helping get the hostages released.


Victoria Kim contributed reporting.



4) In an apparent shift, Britain and Germany call for a ‘sustainable cease-fire.’

By Steven Erlanger Reporting from Berlin, Dec. 17, 2023

Demonstrators with placards and Palestinian flags.
A pro-Palestinian demonstration in London. In a joint opinion article, the foreign secretaries of Britain and Germany expressed support for a “sustainable cease-fire.” Credit...Alberto Pezzali/Associated Press

As Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III travels to the Middle East on Sunday to press Israel to scale back its military campaign against Hamas in Gaza, two of Israel’s most important allies are urging the same — while advocating for a “sustainable” cease-fire.


In a joint opinion article published in The Sunday Times of London, the foreign secretaries of Britain and Germany displayed an important change in tone from their previous, all-out support for Israel. That echoes an apparent tonal shift from Washington, which has said Israel must do more to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza.


David Cameron of Britain and Annalena Baerbock of Germany argued, as has President Biden, that calls for an immediate cease-fire would only benefit Hamas. And they echoed the Biden administration in saying that “too many civilians have been killed” in Gaza by the Israeli military.


But they expressed support for a cease-fire that would go beyond a temporary pause in the fighting. Calls for an immediate cease-fire, they wrote, are “an understandable reaction to such intense suffering, and we share the view that this conflict cannot drag on and on. That is why we supported the recent humanitarian pauses.”


“Our goal cannot simply be an end to fighting today. It must be peace lasting for days, years, generations,” they added. “We therefore support a cease-fire, but only if it is sustainable.”


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected calls for an immediate cease-fire and has opposed American calls for Gaza to be governed by a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority as a stage toward a two-state solution. In a news conference on Saturday night, Mr. Netanyahu boasted that he was “proud” to have prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and described the Oslo Accords as “a fateful mistake.”


Mr. Cameron and Ms. Baerbock wrote that Israel has the right to defend itself, but it “must abide by international humanitarian law” and do more to protect civilians in Gaza. And its friends must push for a long-term solution embodying two states for two peoples, they said.


“Israel will not win this war if its operations destroy the prospect of peaceful coexistence with Palestinians,” they wrote, while noting that “leaving Hamas in power in Gaza would be a permanent roadblock on the path to a two-state solution.”


Their call for a sustainable cease-fire came as the foreign minister of France, Catherine Colonna, arrived in Israel for talks. Ms. Colonna reiterated on Sunday that France was calling for a truce to facilitate the release of any remaining hostages and to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza.


“What we think and what we say is that an immediate truce is needed, to move towards a cease-fire,” Ms. Colonna said, a day after her ministry confirmed that an Israeli bombing had killed one of its employees in southern Gaza.


American officials have made it clear that they are asking the Israelis to move in the next few weeks to a less violent phase of the war, using smaller squads of elite forces that would move in and out of population centers in Gaza, conducting more precise, intelligence-driven missions to find and kill Hamas leaders, rescue hostages and destroy tunnels.



5) More Than 100 Members of This Gaza Clan Have Been Killed in War

Family trees have been dismembered, and whole branches obliterated, since the war between Israel and Hamas broke out on Oct. 7.

By Vivian Yee and Iyad Abuheweila, Reporting from Cairo, Dec. 17, 2023

"Israel’s war in Gaza is killing women and children at a faster pace than in almost any other conflict in the world this century."

A crying child covered in dust with a gash across his face sitting on a hospital table. Another person sits next to him, her face obscured by a scarf and hair.
Children who were wounded in a strike on an al-Astal family home being treated last month at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Children who were wounded in a strike on an al-Astal family home being treated last month at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza.Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times


People whispered that Nasser al-Astal had come undone, dazed by grief. Weeks after the Israeli airstrike that he said had crashed into his family’s home, his words came in loud, quivering spurts, darting frantically from memory to memory, from loss to loss — his wife, two of their sons and four of their daughters, all dead.


A daughter-in-law and a son-in-law, dead. His older brother and his family, dead. His first grandchild, dead, he said, his second never born: His elder son’s wife had been pregnant.


“When I look at photos of my family on my phone, I cry to myself at night,” Mr. al-Astal said in a phone interview a few weeks after his loss. “But men hide their tears, so I try to do it away from people, alone.”


All of their names were there in black and white on a list of 6,747 Palestinians who Gaza health officials said had been killed by Israeli attacks in the first 19 days of the war. No. 14: his wife, Marwa al-Astal, 48. No. 84: their granddaughter, 1, also named Marwa.


The first 88 people on the list were all from the extended al-Astal family. The next 72 were Hassounas. The next 65 al-Najjars. The next 60 al-Masrys. The next 49 al-Kurds.


Such numbers capture the magnitude of Gaza’s loss like little else: family trees dismembered, whole branches of them obliterated.


It has been almost two months since the list was released on Oct. 26, and the death toll given by Gaza’s Health Ministry has nearly tripled, approaching 20,000.


A ministry spokesman, Ashraf al-Qudra, said early last month that more than 100 people in the Astal family alone had been killed in Israeli attacks. Of 88 family members on the Oct. 26 list, 39 were identified as children and 25 as women.


Israel’s war in Gaza is killing women and children at a faster pace than in almost any other conflict in the world this century.


A few of the family’s dead were linked to Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years and that led the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.


One family member, Hamdan al-Astal, appears to have been among those who attacked Israel. He was not on the Oct. 26 list, but Palestinian news media in Gaza reported his death the day after the assault, saying he had participated.


Another family member who survived, Yunis al-Astal, is a longtime Hamas lawmaker and firebrand sheikh who has compared Jews to bacteria and apes and said it was justifiable to “wipe them out of existence.”


Ten days after Hamdan al-Astal’s death was reported, family members buried Ramzi al-Astal, also identified in Palestinian news media as a Hamas fighter.


Relatives and local news media said he was killed when an Israeli airstrike leveled his home, along with his wife and sons Muhammad, 17, and Karim, 11. One of Ramzi’s brothers and at least five nieces and nephews, the youngest 9, were on the list.


They were just some of the thousands of civilians who have become casualties of Israel’s campaign to eradicate Hamas, family members said.


“If you want to assassinate him, assassinate him alone,” said Sami al-Astal, a distant relation, referring to Ramzi al-Astal. “If you want to assassinate him, why did you do it with his children and his family while they were at home?”


Sami al-Astal, a humanities dean at Al Aqsa University in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza city where much of his extended family lives, said some relatives supported Hamas, while others supported other Palestinian political factions, or none at all. Some were plumbers or doctors — ordinary citizens.


He was for peace, he said, and opposed killing any civilians.


Israel has moved with staggering force in its drive to wipe out Hamas, striking more than 22,000 targets in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the military.


An estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Hamas fighters live in Gaza, an impoverished, narrow strip of land home to more than two million Palestinians.


Civilians have virtually no safe places to hide or ways to escape. The density of Gaza, where extended families often live together in multistory buildings and have crowded in even more for shelter during the war, turbocharges the potential civilian toll of many airstrikes. It also makes it difficult to separate combatants from civilians, and Israel accuses Hamas of intentionally placing members in or near hospitals, schools and homes.


Hamas is “unlawfully embedding their military assets in densely populated civilian areas, showing blatant disregard for the civilians in Gaza by using them as human shields,” said Nir Dinar, an Israeli military spokesman.


But human rights advocates, many governments and a growing number of experts say that Israel may be violating international laws against putting civilians at “excessive” risk, laws that require it to do its utmost to protect noncombatants by, for example, giving warnings or waiting until a target leaves home to strike.


Israel’s closest ally is also asking it to do more to protect civilians.


“The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected,” Vice President Kamala Harris said this month. “Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.”


Even if Hamas uses civilians as human shields, those civilians are entitled to full protection under international law unless they directly participate in the fighting, said Janina Dill, an Oxford professor who studies the laws of war. Potential war crimes by Hamas cannot justify potential war crimes by Israel, she added.


“There’s no guilt by association in international law,” she said. “Even if a family is sympathetic to Hamas, voted for them, made supportive statements — none of them is a legitimate target at any time.”


Amid a growing international outcry over casualties, Israel has insisted that it is taking “all feasible measures” to protect civilians, mainly by telling them to evacuate areas with the heaviest fighting. Gazans, however, say the places they flee to are also being struck.


An Israeli military legal adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity under military rules, argued that Israel was not violating international law. When considering any individual strike, he said, factors including Hamas’s proximity to Israel, its threat of rocket attacks on Israeli civilians and its large weapons stockpile could affect the threshold for what is considered proportionate harm to civilians.


Yet, Professor Dill said, the scale of Israel’s onslaught, along with comments by Israeli leaders that they are more focused on damage than accuracy, cast doubt on the claim that they are acting legally. Israel is deploying powerful unguided bombs in dense areas and targeting every type of building normally considered a civilian building, and therefore legally protected in most cases, she said.


Sheer probability dictated that the war would plow straight into the Astal clan. One of the largest and most influential families in southern Gaza, the Astals number in the thousands, said Sami al-Astal, who moonlights as a family historian.


Al-Astals have worked as mayors, farmers, doctors and fruit exporters. Others have been waiters and construction workers in Israel or distinguished themselves as medical researchers abroad, he said.


Strikes are battering Gaza so fast that Islam al-Astal, 47, who is distantly related to Nasser and Sami, said she barely had time to count the relatives, old classmates, friends and neighbors who have been killed, let alone mourn them.


“We need time,” she said, “time to breathe, to cry, to feel the normal things in the middle of all this ugliness.”


On Oct. 9, local news media in Gaza reported that an Israeli airstrike on a house belonging to one branch of the Astals killed at least 10 people. Two days later, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said Israel had hit another al-Astal home.


At least four more strikes have chopped into the family tree since then, according to Palestinian news agency reports. In all, the family has been struck at least eight times over the past two months, according to relatives and those news reports.


The Israeli military said it could not address questions about specific strikes on the Astals.


Nasser al-Astal, whose wife, some children, a grandchild as well as his older brother and his brother’s family were killed on Oct. 22, said he was working as a security guard at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis around 3 a.m. when he got the call.


A relative told him that an Israeli airstrike had crushed the three-story house that he and his family shared with his brother’s family. They were coming to the hospital, alive and dead.


He ran to the emergency room in bare feet, he said. His colleagues tried to calm him as he rushed from one daughter to the next, daughters who had spent recent nights curled up next to him as they slept.


“When will they help us?” his eldest daughter, Hafsa, 24, gasped before she died, he said.


Hours later, after neighbors pulled them from the rubble, more bodies of family members arrived. By 3 p.m., Mr. al-Astal said, he had lowered all of them into the family cemetery.


Before the war, there were more than 100 empty plots there, Sami al-Astal said. Now, they were all full. Mr. al-Astal said he buried the women in one mass grave, the men in another.


The memories were tumbling through his mind and he could not stop talking, about his daughters and granddaughter and about Marwa, his wife of nearly 30 years. He had fallen in love with her when he was 15 and she was 13 and lived down the street, he said.


She had always known how to survive Gaza’s many trials, becoming expert in economizing when money was tight and their sons’ university bills were due. She would split their one Friday chicken among 10 people. When it became too difficult to buy bread, she made flatbread.


“She’s the kind of woman who makes you laugh and smile. She was so kind to me, so affectionate to me,” he said, recalling how she had nursed sick neighbors. “I loved her in good times and in bad times. I can’t imagine that I’ll ever marry another woman.”


The hospital where he worked was a bedlam of screaming patients, bone-tired staff and newly homeless people, but administrators found a small room for him. Though many there were weeping, they seemed to recognize that he, especially, needed somewhere private to cry.


On the Oct. 26 list, Nasser and Marwa’s oldest son, Hamza, 26, was No. 36. Their second son, Muhammad, 22, was on it, as were their daughters — Hafsa, 24; Sarah, 19; Fatima, 15; and Weam, 11.


Hamza, 26; Muhammad, 22; and Weam, 11, were on the list. “When I look at photos of my family on my phone, I cry to myself at night,” Nasser al-Astal said.via Nasser al-Astal.

His older brother Muhammad al-Astal and his family, along with his 3-year-old grandson, were listed, too. His 4-year-old grandson died of his wounds a few days after the list was published.


Nasser al-Astal still had his son Suleiman, 16, and his daughter Shaima, 13, who were wounded. He said he hoped Shaima would become a nurse to treat those injured in war with Israel.


And Suleiman?


“I’ll send my son to university to become a journalist,” he said, “so he can expose the crimes of the Israeli occupation.”


Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.



6) Israel says the hostages had created signs calling for help.

By Andrés R. Martínez, Dec. 18, 2023

People at a protest hold up signs with pictures of people on them and candles.
A protest in Tel Aviv on Friday, after Israel’s military announced that its troops had mistakenly killed three Israeli hostages. Credit...Violeta Santos Moura/Reuters

As Israel’s military releases more information about the killing of three hostages by its troops, more Israelis and international allies are calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to scale back the war in Gaza, which has left nearly 20,000 people dead and created a humanitarian crisis.


The Israeli military said on Sunday that the hostages, all Israelis, had tried to use leftover food to create signs calling for help. The men emerged shirtless from a building, carrying a makeshift white flag, and tried to tell approaching Israeli soldiers in Hebrew that they were civilians, the military said in earlier updates about the Friday shooting.


The killing of the hostages in error has fueled anguish in Israel, with some demanding answers from Mr. Netanyahu, who was already facing criticism for the prosecution of a war that many said was not doing enough to protect civilians. The prime minister reiterated this weekend, after the hostage deaths, that he would not end the war until Hamas was destroyed. Protesters again took to the streets on Saturday in Tel Aviv, this time in anger over the killing of the hostages.


The foreign secretaries of Germany and Britain called for a “sustainable” cease-fire, a change in tone from their previous messages of support for Israel. The United States, Israel’s staunchest ally, sent Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III to the Middle East, the latest in a series of trips by senior Biden administration officials to press Israel to scale back its military campaign.


After more than 10 weeks of fighting, which began after Hamas’s Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel that Israeli officials said killed 1,200 people, the military’s disclosure of what led to the killing of the hostages was a glimpse into its techniques in Gaza. More than 90 percent of residents there have fled their homes, some more than once, into an ever-shrinking piece of land near the border with Egypt. Gazans are running out of food and medicine, and the United Nations and other aid agencies have warned that the humanitarian situation is increasingly dire.


Israel has said that the Friday shooting violated the military’s rules of engagement and that its soldiers are instructed never to shoot at unarmed civilians. The chief of staff of the military, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, spoke to soldiers in Gaza on Sunday and reminded them of the rules.


He urged them to “take two seconds” when they see unarmed people without shirts — a way of showing that they do not have explosives — and their hands held up. “And I want to tell you something just as important, and if it’s two Gazans with a white flag coming out to surrender, why would we shoot at them? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. That’s not the I.D.F.,” he said.



7) Israeli forces raided northern Gaza’s last operational hospital, health officials say.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Dec. 18, 2023

A medical worker in scrubs in a  damaged hospital room, where furniture is in disarray and a hole is visible in the wall.
A hospital worker inspecting shelling damage in a room at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israeli forces raided the last operational hospital in northern Gaza overnight Sunday, according to Gaza’s health ministry and hospital officials, who added that several medical staff members had been briefly detained.


Israel released 21 medical staff members at Al-Awda Hospital after holding them for three hours, according to a statement by Al-Awda Health and Community Association, which runs the hospital. The group said that the hospital’s director, Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, remained in Israeli custody.


The health ministry said that the detainees had been stripped and interrogated, calling the conditions “inhumane.”


The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the accounts of the association and the health ministry. Israel has in the past defended the mass detention of men in northern Gaza, saying it needed to strip them to check for explosives and to interrogate them to determine if any were connected to Hamas.


The ministry added that it was worried Israeli forces would repeat the scenes that took place at Kamal Adwan Hospital, where Israeli forces destroyed part of its building and interrogated staff members for a week, according to the health ministry and two people at the scene.


The Israeli military defended its actions at Kamal Adwan, saying the hospital was being used by Hamas as a command and control center and asserting that it had detained about 80 fighters. Gazan health officials said that some of the hospital’s workers, including its director, were among the detained.


Hamas and medical staff at other Gaza hospitals have denied Israeli allegations that hospitals have been used by the armed Palestinian group. The Israelis say they have uncovered tunnels and weapons, including at the territory’s largest hospital complex, Al-Shifa, that it considers proof of its allegations.


The health ministry said on Monday that no more hospitals were operational in the northern strip after both Kamal Adwan and Al-Awda went out of service following Israeli raids. Both hospitals had severely limited their operations over the last few weeks because of nearby ground fighting and a severe lack of fuel and supplies.


According to health officials in Gaza, more than 90 medical workers have been detained since Israel began its bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza, including the director of Al-Shifa Hospital, Dr. Mohammed Abu Salmiya. The health ministry said on Monday that Dr. Salmiya remained in detention and was being interrogated in “starvation and extreme cold.”


A volunteer at Kamal Adwan Hospital, Osama Al-Absi, said in an interview on Sunday that he was among those detained and later released by Israeli forces. He said the detainees were taken to an Israeli military base in Gaza, stripped, and left in a ditch for hours. “Most of us were beaten and insulted,” he said.


Al-Awda Hospital, in the northern neighborhood of Jabaliya, had been surrounded by Israeli soldiers and tanks for nearly two weeks as ground fighting raged nearby, according to the association that runs it.


It added that 43 patients and 96 staff members had been “trapped inside the hospital” for at least some of last week, and said that the hospital had been hit by Israeli gunfire and artillery over the last two months.


The few hospitals that remain operational in the south have also been hit in recent days.


The Nasser Medical Complex in southern Gaza’s largest city, Khan Younis, was hit by an unexploded Israeli artillery shell on Sunday, with shrapnel and debris killing a 13-year-old and wounding three others, according to the health ministry. The child, Dunia Abu Muhsen, had lost her leg in a strike on her home that killed her father, mother and two of her brothers a few weeks ago and was receiving treatment at the hospital when she was killed, the ministry said.


The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the description of what happened.


Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar.



8) Human Rights Watch says Israel is using starvation as a weapon in Gaza.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Dec. 18, 2023

A line of children wait in line. Some are holding pots and bowls in their hands.
Palestinian children waiting in line for a food distribution in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, last week. Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of blocking deliveries of food, water and fuel and impeding humanitarian access in violation of international law. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

Human Rights Watch accused Israel on Monday of using starvation of civilians as a weapon in its war in Gaza against Hamas by blocking deliveries of food, water and fuel, and by impeding humanitarian access. The group said Israel’s actions could constitute a war crime.


It cited statements by senior Israeli leaders to support its claim that depriving Gazans of necessities was a policy implemented by the country’s armed forces.


The Israeli military said it would issue a formal response to the report later on Monday.


Israel’s government and military have consistently said that Israeli forces are targeting Hamas militants in Gaza and taking steps to avoid civilian casualties, including by urging civilians to flee areas before military operations. It has also pointed to instances in which its forces have rescued or provided aid to civilians caught in fighting.


Human Rights Watch cited a statute of the International Criminal Court that lists as a war crime the act of “intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including willfully impeding relief supplies.”


On Oct. 9, two days after Hamas-led attacks killed roughly 1,200 people in Israel, according to Israeli authorities, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant ordered a “complete siege” of Gaza, a territory already impoverished by a 16-year blockade by Israel and Egypt. Mr. Gallant said that no food, water or fuel would be allowed into the territory, which is home to about 2.2 million people.


In the ensuing months, Israel has sharply restricted the entry of goods into Gaza, including nearly all fuel, which it said could be diverted by Hamas for military use. The lack of basic goods has caused many of Gaza’s hospitals to cease functioning and led the United Nations to warn in November that civilians in Gaza faced the “immediate possibility of starvation.” The U.N. World Food Program said last week that more than half of Gaza’s households were facing “severe levels of hunger.”


Human Rights Watch also cited comments by other Israeli officials who said that permission to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza would be contingent on the release of hostages captured by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attacks. In one example, it cited a comment by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in October in which he said he would not allow food and medicine into Gaza from Israel while hostages remained held.


During a weeklong truce between Israel and Hamas last month that allowed for the release of roughly 100 hostages in exchange for about 240 Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, the Israeli authorities allowed more supplies, including fuel, into Gaza, but aid groups have warned that the amount getting in is a fraction of what is needed.


“Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare,” said Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and the Palestinian territories.


“World leaders should be speaking out against this abhorrent war crime, which has devastating effects on Gaza’s population,” Mr. Shakir said in a statement.


Nearly 20,000 people have died in Gaza, many as a result of Israeli airstrikes, according to Gazan health authorities, who say that the majority of those who have died have been women and children.



9) Israel’s use of unguided munitions could explain the high death toll in Gaza, Pentagon officials say.

By Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt, Dec. 18, 2023

"The United States and Britain used dumb bombs over Dresden, Germany in 1945, killing about 25,000 people." 

Several people stand in an open area amid debris and bomb-damaged buildings.
Palestinians looking over damage in Khan Younis, the largest city in southern Gaza, in early December. Credit...Yousef Masoud for The New York Times

Nearly half of the air-to-ground munitions that Israel has used in Gaza have been unguided, according to a U.S. intelligence assessment, which Pentagon officials say may help explain the high civilian death toll.


Even the precision-guided munitions that the United States military has favored in its campaigns in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan produced high civilian casualties. Unguided munitions — so-called dumb bombs — pose an even greater threat to civilians, analysts say.


As the U.S. defense secretary, Lloyd J. Austin III, visits Israel, Pentagon officials say that one of his key messages in meetings with top Israeli leaders is the importance of limiting harm to Gazans. Israel, Mr. Austin recently predicted, could face “strategic defeat” that would leave the country less secure if it does not do more to protect civilians.


Critics of Israel’s bombing campaign say the message is long overdue, as the death toll in Gaza nears 20,000, according to health officials there.


The United States and Britain used dumb bombs over Dresden, Germany in 1945, killing about 25,000 people. But “military doctrine has evolved since World War II days, and today, the preferred doctrine in highly dense urban areas is to do intelligence-led precision strikes with precision munitions, and special operations forces,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview.


“You have to go slower, with greater precision, and it’s going to take longer and it’s harder, but you have to do that — that’s what Austin is trying to get at,” General Milley said. “He is a soldier. He has experience in combat operations. He understands the military instrument and how you should use it.”



10) Shame on Israel for Exploiting the Holocaust to Justify Genocide

By Sig Giordano

Mondoweiss, December 18, 2023


Permanent representative of Israel, Gilad Erdan, at the UN wearing a yellow star. (Photo: screenshot from video on the Telegraph YouTube Channel.)

       If my grandparents were alive today, this October would have marked the 80th anniversary of their meeting. In 1943, my grandparents, Isidor and Marianne, met in Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in what was Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia. I was quite close to my grandfather, Isi, who outlived my grandmother. Among some of his things, he entrusted me with a yellow cloth “Jewish” star he was made to wear in the camp, with the word “Jude” on it.


At a United Nations (UN) meeting, on October 31, Gilad Erdan, Israel’s UN Ambassador, put on a Jewish star reminiscent of my grandfather’s. Addressing the UN Security Council, he said the reason he wore the star was to denounce their silence regarding the October 7 attack on Israel. Erdan compared this silence to the silence that allowed for the Holocaust to happen. In response to Erdan, Dani Dayan, the director of Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial museum, quickly called out this misuse of the star, arguing that Erdan was “disgrac[ing] the victims of the Holocaust as well as the state of Israel.”


Dayan was absolutely right to call attention to how offensive it was for Erdan to don the yellow star. Dayan’s reasons, however, are entirely wrong. To make his point, Dayan argued that the yellow star symbolizes the weakness of the Jewish people during the Holocaust, continuing a disturbing and false historical narrative.


Zionists have long sought to paint Holocaust victims as weak to make the case for the founding and then maintenance of the state of Israel. These moves began even before the Holocaust when some Zionists aligned themselves with the eugenic racial science of the day, arguing that Jews must purify their own race creating their own strong breed. Arthur Ruppin, a leading social scientist and head of the World Zionist Organization’s Palestine office in the early 20th century, promoted the settlement of Palestine as the answer to the dangerous results of “racial-mixing” for European Jews. He was not alone, as many Jewish intellectuals argued that forming the Zionist state would allow Jews to “regenerate their own bodies” which were degenerated by the conditions of both assimilation and oppression in Western and Eastern Europe, respectively.


Once Israel was founded, Holocaust victims were regularly treated as weak and as examples of the opposite of what the Zionist state represented, leading to poor treatment for those survivors who became Israeli citizens. As Dayan, himself reiterated, the Holocaust represents a cautionary tale about the weakness of Jews in the diaspora to be juxtaposed with the strength of Jews in the State of Israel.


Despite their disagreement, Israeli leaders like Erdan and Dayan regularly make use of the Holocaust to defend state violence against Palestinians. Unlike Erdan and Dayan, learning about the genocide against my ancestors has allowed me to understand that what is happening today in Palestine is genocide. To know a genocide is happening is painful in and of itself. To know a genocide is being carried out supposedly in one’s name (as a Jewish person) is extra painful. But, to know a genocide is being justified through an appropriation of my family’s suffering, is infuriating. I am furious. How dare the state of Israel insult my family’s history. 


The horrors that my family endured are unimaginable to most. My grandmother and grandfather, teenagers when they met at the camp, were the only surviving members of their families. My grandfather was part of a resistance in the camp, hiding people who were on lists to be transported to Auschwitz. My grandfather literally saved my grandmother’s life. This is not a story of weakness. However, it is a story from which I have learned many lessons about the conditions that allow for genocide.


I remember being 8 or 9 years old, sitting at the kitchen table for breakfast while my mother cooked. The radio was on as it was every morning listening to 1010 WINS news, “You give us 22 minutes, we’ll give you the world.” In the headlines, a resistance group claimed responsibility for a bombing somewhere outside of the U.S. I asked my mom, ‘What is a resistance group?” She explained the idea of resistance by talking about the Holocaust and her father’s struggle to fight back. While not every person claiming to resist is automatically righteous, I realized when I was older that how one views resistance in any given situation is based on their vantage point. That may seem obvious, but in Western media, politics, and educational contexts, we regularly see an association made between resistance groups and terrorism which creates a taken-for-granted right and wrong side.


In the days after September 11, 2001, as a U.S. citizen living in the United States, I was reminded when I challenged the drive to invade Afghanistan, that I was either with “us” or “against us.” To me, the forced nationalism reminded me of the studies I had taken up during college about the Holocaust. The creation of the “Us vs. Them” mentality to protect Germany was a key part of bringing on board large segments of non-Jewish Germans to the fight against Jewish people.


Resistance takes place against those in a place of power. Also, oppression, by definition, is about being on the losing side of a power dynamic. Then, how is it that, Israel, a country with one of the most powerful militaries in the world, supported by the most powerful military and economic power in the world, the United States, has tried to paint itself as champion of an oppressed people who must fight against Palestinian resistance movements?


Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), published an opinion piece in Time magazine after the October 7 attack, arguing that there is no way to understand Hamas’ attack except as “hate” and “toxic intolerance in its purest form.” Instead of exceptionalizing Jewish experience so that the Holocaust becomes one example in thousands of years of Jewish hatred, what would it look like to pay attention to the real lessons we can learn from the horrors of the Holocaust? The lesson we need is not that Jewish people have always been and always will be hated. The lesson of the Holocaust is that those with economic and political power used nationalism and the idea of so-called inferior types of people being a threat to the nation-state to justify genocide. Many Jewish and non-Jewish people resisted as much as they could. The problem was not a weak resistance, the problem was the strength of nationalist, eugenic narratives.


The good news is that millions of Jewish people and others are undertaking critical study of the situation and pushing against the messages being brought to us by the most powerful Israeli and U.S. leaders. We are standing in solidarity with Palestinians who are fighting for their right to existence and self-determination. We see changes in public opinion polls, and the number of Jewish-led and supported actions against the current genocide is greater than ever before. Many are speaking out and saying loudly, Never Again means Never Again for Anyone.



11) Israel believes that 129 people, mostly men, are still being held captive in Gaza.

By Patrick Kingsley, Ben Hubbard and Aaron Boxerman, Dec. 20, 2023


Ismail Haniyeh, with white hair and a white beard, in a suit and white shirt with no tie.

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s top political leader, in 2021. He was in Cairo on Wednesday for more mediated talks on a possible truce and hostage releases. Credit...Aziz Taher/Reuters

Ismail Haniyeh, the top political leader of Hamas, was in Cairo on Wednesday to hold talks with Egyptian officials about a possible truce in the war in Gaza as concerns in Israel grow over the fates of the dozens of hostages still being held in the enclave.


Israel and Hamas are attempting, via mediators in Egypt and Qatar, to discuss a new cease-fire that would see the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza, and some proposals have been put on the table, said an official familiar with the talks. An Israeli official said initial steps had been made in the negotiations, but emphasized there was no deal yet.


A senior Hamas official said Israel would need to abide by a new sustained cease-fire and allow the unlimited entry of aid into Gaza before Hamas would start discussing the release of more hostages. If Hamas sticks to those demands, that would mark a departure from an earlier hostage deal that was secured in November, when Hamas discussed a hostage release as part of a wider cease-fire arrangement.


“No negotiations under fire,” the official, Basem Naim, said in a text exchange.


“Allow all the needed aid to enter. Then we can start a comprehensive negotiation.”


Zaher Jabareen, another member of Hamas’s leadership, said “so far, there has been no positive response to any initiative.”


The comments may be more of an opening bid than a final offer: A full cease-fire, enacted without preconditions, would be unacceptable for Israel, since it would allow Hamas to remain in control of parts of Gaza.


“Anyone who thinks we will stop is disconnected from reality. We will not stop fighting until the realization of all the goals we’ve set: eliminating Hamas, freeing our hostages, and removing the threat from Gaza,” Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said in a statement on Wednesday.


But recent events have complicated the Israeli government’s negotiating position. International calls have grown for a cease-fire, and the accidental killing of three hostages by Israeli soldiers last week has heightened domestic pressure to secure another hostage deal.


Israel has vowed to topple Hamas’s rule in Gaza. On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a devastating surprise attack against Israel, killing roughly 1,200 people and abducting over 240, according to the Israeli authorities. Israel launched its campaign in Gaza in response. The war has devastated the small, densely populated coastal enclave, killing nearly 20,000 people, according to Gaza health authorities.


For many Palestinians there, the search for food and water has become a daily struggle. Although convoys of trucks bearing humanitarian aid trickle into Gaza on a daily basis, the United Nations and aid groups said they are far outmatched by the desperate need for essential supplies.


The United States, Britain and Germany — Israel’s biggest allies — have been pushing for Israel to at least slow down fighting in Gaza after nearly 10 weeks of war. Israeli officials, including Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, have said the fighting could go on for at least several months at varying levels of intensity.


Israel believes that 129 people kidnapped on Oct. 7, mostly men, are still being held captive in Gaza. A weeklong cease-fire that had allowed the release of dozens of hostages collapsed on Dec. 1 over disagreements about the remaining hostages. Israel resumed its bombardment of the enclave, pushing deeper into southern Gaza, where Israel says Hamas’s leaders are hiding.


Since the collapse of the deal, efforts to revive talks had failed to gain traction. Mr. Netanyahu vowed to keep fighting, even as criticism of his government’s handling of the war mounts both at home and abroad.


The Israeli military’s announcement on Friday that its forces had mistakenly shot and killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza City underscored the risks Israel’s campaign in Gaza poses to the remaining hostages. It has prompted desperate pleas from their families for an immediate deal to release them.


On Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu met with representatives from the families of Israelis held hostage in Gaza and again pledged to bring them home. Israel’s largely ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog, also told foreign ambassadors that the country was willing to accept another cease-fire to free those held captive by Hamas.


“Israel is ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages,” said Mr. Herzog, according to a statement by his office following the meeting.


The C.I.A. director, William J. Burns, met in Warsaw on Monday with David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, and Qatar’s prime minister for talks aimed at restarting hostage and prisoner exchanges, according to U.S. officials.


However, on Tuesday, President Biden expressed only cautious hopes of a deal. Answering a reporter’s question during a trip to Milwaukee, Wis., he said, “There’s no expectation at this point, but we are pushing.”


Rachel Abrams contributed reporting.



12) Nearly all Gazan households are facing a severe lack of food and water, U.N. and aid groups say.

By Liam Stack, Dec. 20, 2023


A man stirs a pot of warm food, as crowds hold out containers.

Palestinians lining up for a free meal in Rafah, Gaza, on Wednesday. Credit...Hatem Ali/Associated Press

The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip has been dire for weeks, but the U.N. indicated on Wednesday that the enclave was reaching new depths of catastrophe, saying  that almost every household was facing a severe lack of food and water.


The conditions in Gaza are the result of Israel’s near-total blockade since the fighting began on Oct. 7, leading Human Rights Watch to level accusations on Monday that Israel was “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.”


Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement, “Israel has been depriving Gaza’s population of food and water, a policy spurred on or endorsed by high-ranking Israeli officials and reflecting an intent to starve civilians as a method of warfare.”


On Wednesday, Eylon Levy, a spokesman for the Israeli government, accused Hamas of stealing food and water and said “if the aid entering Gaza is inadequate” then international organizations should send more.


“We categorically reject the despicable and libelous allegations that Israeli is somehow obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” Mr. Levy told reporters.


“If they want more food and water to reach Gaza, they should send more food and water to Gaza,” he added. “And while they’re sending more aid, they should condemn Hamas for hijacking aid deliveries and diverting them to its fighters. Their silence is shameful. We will not accept international officials deflecting blame onto us to cover up the fact they’re covering up for Hamas.”


On Wednesday, the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said it had been able to deliver food aid to a small number of people in Gaza — including food packages to 2,350 people and hot meals to 1,750 people — but that it was far less than was needed. There are roughly 1.9 million displaced people in Gaza, out of a population of some 2.2 million.


The U.N.’s warning was based on a study conducted by the World Food Program between Dec. 3 and Dec. 12, which said humanitarian conditions had deteriorated severely since the end of November. The study was based on 151 phone interviews with displaced people in southern Gaza.


Among its findings:


·      An estimated 85 percent of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee their homes because of Israeli military operations, and 93 percent of those families said they did not have access to enough food. That number rose from 83 percent in November.


·      Ninety-six percent of displaced families said they were relying on what the U.N. called “consumption-based coping strategies” to deal with the lack of food, with adults skipping meals so children could eat or families turning to food sources they otherwise would not, like uncommonly eaten animals.


·      Most Gazans have inadequate access to water: on average, less than 2 liters of water per day for things like drinking, cooking and bathing. That is far below what the W.F.P. called the “basic survival-level water requirement” of 15 liters per day.


·      Most displaced people (70 percent) now burn firewood to cook because of a lack of fuel, while the number of people who say they have no way to heat food at all has risen to 15 percent from 7 percent in late November. The U.N. said 13 percent reported burning garbage to cook. All of these activities increase the risk of respiratory diseases, the U.N. said.



13) ‘It was a family home.’ Exiled Gazan learns his relatives were killed in an Israeli strike.

By Liam Stack, Dec. 20, 2023


A crowd near a demolished home.

Palestinians gathered last week around the destroyed Shehada family home following Israeli bombardment of Rafah. Credit...Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib was at home in San Francisco when the panicked calls started. An Israeli airstrike on Thursday had hit his family’s home in Rafah, in the so-called safe zone of the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of thousands of people have sought refuge from the war.


Soon, his phone was flooded with news footage of the home, where he used to go for family barbecues and to play with his grandmother’s ducks. He watched neighbors scramble over its smoking ruins, looking for survivors.


Instead, they found at least 31 bodies, he said, including two women in their 70s, several people in their 60s, and nine children between the ages of 3 months and 9 years. More remain missing. He learned the names of the dead from texts and Facebook updates, spread out over hours and days.


“It was sickening and nauseating,” said Mr. Alkhatib, 33, a writer and vocal critic of Hamas who was granted asylum in the United States after the armed group took power in Gaza in 2007. “My heart was beating out of control with worry and fear. These are people I grew up with. It was a family home.”


The strike that killed many members of Mr. Alkhatib’s family is one of several in recent weeks that have hit zones where the Israeli military told people to go to avoid airstrikes, calling into question the advice and the safety of those who followed it.


The war began on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led gunmen attacked Israel, killing roughly 1,200 people and taking 240 more hostage. Since then, the Israeli military has carried out a massive air campaign and a ground offensive that has displaced 1.9 million people, roughly 85 percent of Gaza’s population, the United Nations says. The campaign has killed almost 20,000 people, according to Gazan health officials, obliterating whole branches of family trees. It has also destroyed the strip’s civilian infrastructure and economy and crippled hospitals.


Azmi Keshawi, a Rafah-based researcher for the International Crisis Group, an independent research organization, said he witnessed three airstrikes there last week: one on Sunday that killed 21 people, one on Monday that killed 11 and one on Tuesday that killed 15.


“The situation on the ground in Rafah is not so calm,” he said.


Nir Dinar, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said Israel has taken “significant steps to urge civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to move toward the safer area in southern Gaza, as well as taking feasible measures to mitigate incidental harm to civilians and civilian property during its operations.”


He declined to answer questions about the airstrikes in Rafah, but said “unfortunately Hamas is embedding itself in safer areas as well, choosing to do so on the expense of the safety of the residents of Gaza.”


Before the war, Rafah Province — which is roughly one third the size of Brooklyn — had a population of around 260,000. But in recent weeks, hundreds of thousands of people from towns to the north have fled there, and now there are signs that public order has begun to break down.


Last week, Philippe Lazzarini, head of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, told reporters that on a recent visit to Rafah he watched Gazans stop aid trucks, raid their food and devour it on the spot.


“This is how desperate and hungry they are,” he said. “Everywhere you go, people are hungry, desperate and terrified.”


Mr. Keshawi, the researcher, said he fled his home in Gaza City in the north of the enclave and now lives in a tent on a Rafah sidewalk with his family. No one in Rafah, which lies on the border with Egypt, seemed to have been “ready to receive this amount of people,” he said.


“Living conditions in the shelters are really miserable,” he said. “They have a lot of diseases. You have to line up for hours to go to the bathroom. There is a lack of hygiene, a lack of services by the U.N. to clean up the garbage. Dirty water is running in between the tents.”


When the airstrike hit Mr. Alkhatib’s family home on Dec. 14, dozens of people were inside, and more were in the backyard. He said that was a reflection of the dire conditions in Rafah and the generosity of his uncle, Dr. Abdullah Shehada, 69, and his aunt, Zainab, 73. Both were killed in the strike.


“She opened up the house to dozens of people,” Mr. Alkhatib said, “If there is a building left standing, people squeeze in, and that’s a common feature of what is happening right now in southern Gaza.”


His aunt was a retired teacher at a U.N. school, and his uncle was a well-known physician, he said. The dead also included two more of his aunts, Fatma Nassman, 76, and Hind Nassman and an another uncle, Hassan Nassman, who were both in their 60s. Several children, including his 3-month-old cousin, Ellen, and his 4-month-old cousin, Iyla, were also among the dead.


Mr. Alkhatib said he knew of no justification for the strike: the house was not being used by Hamas.


“I am telling you from my heart, nothing was happening there,” Mr. Alkhatib said. “Even if there was some Hamas guy walking past the place, don’t destroy an entire house and kill everybody in it.”



14) In Jordan, a Sprawling Palestinian Diaspora Looks Towards Gaza

Photographs by Moises Saman Text by Nicholas Casey, Dec. 20, 2023


Kids play in a courtyard.

A school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), Baqa’a Camp.

Jordan is home to the world’s largest Palestinian diaspora, communities forged by decades of war.


Multiple generations are bound together by a narrative of exile and a longing for a homeland.


The Palestinian diaspora, more than six million people worldwide today, spans the borderlands of Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, together home to nearly a million Palestinians, and includes enclaves as far-flung as Dearborn, Mich., and Santiago, Chile.


The largest proportion of Palestinian exiles, however, is in Jordan, on Israel’s eastern border. One in five people living in Jordan is Palestinian — more than 2.3 million registered refugees in all, a population slightly larger than that of the Gaza Strip. Most of them have full citizenship. Some, including Jordan’s Queen Rania, born to Palestinian parents in Kuwait, have even attained considerable power, but many still reside in Jordan’s 10 official United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) refugee camps or three unofficial camps run with some United Nations assistance. The history of these refugees is a narrative of exile and national aspirations, of longing for a homeland — a palimpsest written and rewritten with each new wave of arrivals.


During and after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that established Israel, more than 700,000 Arabs were forced from their homes, some at gunpoint, an event that would be remembered in Arabic as the nakba — the catastrophe. Stateless, they sought temporary refuge in camps that began as rows of tents in empty fields in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and beyond. Years went by, and the tents were replaced by aluminum buildings, then by concrete ones as clothes stores, restaurants, flea markets and barber shops filled the gaps among the homes and transformed these camps into towns in their own right. Then came the Arab-Israeli War of 1967. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which had been controlled by Jordan and Egypt, respectively, were conquered by Israel — and thousands more Palestinians fled east. In 1988, Jordan surrendered its claim to the West Bank and stopped recognizing its residents — including its post-1988 refugees — as citizens.


In November, I traveled to the camps with Moises Saman to interview and photograph those living there. We came not just to get a sense of what the war looked like to other refugees but also to gain a greater understanding of what it means to be a Palestinian in this new era of war and displacement.


Each home told a different story. There was the house of Issa Mahmoud Ahmed Ayesh, a proud patriarch in Jordan’s Baqa’a Camp, with 14 children and 63 grandchildren. His family had fled the 1948 war, and he was born in 1949 in a refugee camp in the West Bank. When war came again in 1967, his family fled again, ultimately to Baqa’a Camp. Life there was desolate, Ayesh said. “It was all muddy. There were no schools. I studied at home; it was a bare existence.” Today Baqa’a is a sprawling Middle Eastern city, the largest camp in Jordan, with more than 130,000 residents. Despite his decades there, Ayesh hesitates to call it home. “We will never forget Palestine,” he said.


Additional reporting by Hussam Hasan


Halima Hussein al-Kiswani at Zarqa Camp, established 1949.


Ceremonial keys like the one hanging on the wall behind Halima Hussein al-Kiswani are found in many Palestinian houses; they represent the desire to go back home — in this case, to Beit Iksa, the village near Jerusalem where al-Kiswani, 85, grew up. She gained stardom last year when a video of her singing folk songs she learned as a child was watched more than five million times online. She has had requests for more songs, she says. “But I don’t feel like singing when the people in Gaza are being collected in bags.”


Saadi Mahmoud Ahmed al-Karamla, Madaba Camp.


Saadi Mahmoud Ahmed al-Karamla, 80, fled the village of Dayr Aban, near Jerusalem, in 1948. He recalls that his grandfather — the community’s mokhtar, or designated elder — met many times with Egyptian Army officers, who assured him that his family would return within a week. Instead, his family came eventually to Madaba, an unofficial camp, where it is al-Karamla himself who has been designated as his community’s mokhtar.


Fatima Ali Abdel Rahman Attia, Madaba Camp, established 1955.


Fatima Ali Abdel Rahman Attia and her family were displaced in 1967 from Halhul, in the West Bank, to Amman, Jordan’s capital. They initially took refuge in a mosque and eventually settled in Madaba Camp. As she told her story, Attia clutched a string of prayer beads, a common sight in the Palestinian camps, home to many religious families.


Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim al-Titi, Irbid Camp, established 1951.


Ibrahim Muhammad Ibrahim al-Titi, 16, was born in Irbid Camp, and so was his father. It was his grandparents who fled — in 1948, from Iraq al Manshiyya, an Arab village near Gaza City, eventually landing in Irbid Camp. Many Gazan Palestinians cannot claim citizenship in Jordan, which — like many countries around the world — does not offer birthright citizenship. Al-Titi may remain a refugee forever.


Khader Hussein Saleem al-Masa'ed.


Khader Hussein Saleem al-Masa'ed still remembers life as a boy on his family’s farm in the West Bank, cultivating oranges and grapes, surrounded by friends and family visiting from Haifa, Jaffa and Hebron. After the 1967 war, he and his family fled to Baqa’a Camp. A political agitator even in his later years, al-Masa'ed sometimes takes buses to Amman to join demonstrations demanding a right to return to the West Bank. “The camp for me is a temporary emergency residence,” he said. “Is it fair that someone like me, at 70, is homeless?”


Fasayel Ahmed Muhammad Aweij, 48, and Urjwan Abed al-Rahman Abu al-Hana, 9.


Fasayel Ahmed Muhammad Aweij, 48, and her 9-year-old daughter, Urjwan Abed al-Rahman Abu al-Hana near their home in Husn Camp, where al-Hana was born. As her mother looked on, Urjwan offered a song: “My land, they occupied it. My house, they demolished it. And one day they put my family in prison,” she sang. “They killed my childhood.”


Abdul Karim Suleiman al-Asifi, 77.


Abdul Karim Suleiman al-Asifi, 77, was born in Bassat Al-Falq, a tiny village in the West Bank. In the aftermath of 1948, he was displaced to another village in the West Bank, and then another. With the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, he moved again, this time to Sokhna Camp, an unofficial refugee camp in Zarqa, Jordan. Now he is a lifetime away from Bassat Al-Falq, but only about 70 miles.



15) The W.H.O. describes grim scenes at hospitals in Gaza’s north.

By Liam Stack, Dec. 21, 2023


An overview of the Al-Shifa hospital, with people crowded around an entrance and smoke rising in the background.

Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza, seen earlier this month, is able to provide little more than first aid, the head of the World Health Organization said. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Northern Gaza has no more functioning hospitals, the director general of the World Health Organization has said, describing scenes of horror witnessed by aid workers in the ruins of two partially destroyed medical facilities.


Aid workers who visited Al-Ahli and Al-Shifa hospitals on Wednesday during a rare humanitarian mission to deliver supplies “struggled to describe the immense impact recent attacks have had on these health facilities,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the W.H.O. chief, said in a statement posted to social media.


At Al-Ahli, the aid workers found rows of dead bodies lined up outside the hospital, while severely injured civilians writhed in pain on the floor and the pews of the chapel inside of it, he said.


In a video that Dr. Tedros posted to social media, a member of the medical mission stands inside the chapel, with injured people and crucifixes on the wall visible behind him.


“There are patients here who have been injured for more than a month and have had no surgery; there are patients who have been operated on and are now getting post-operative infections because the hospital doesn’t have sufficient antibiotics,” the aid worker in the video, Sean Casey, says.


“They are suffering enormously here,” he adds. “This is a completely unacceptable situation.”


The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs took part in the mission, which it said was only the third humanitarian convoy to reach northern Gaza since a pause in fighting ended on Dec. 1 because of “the ongoing hostilities.”


A spokeswoman for the Israeli government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the W.H.O.’s claims. Israel has accused Hamas of using hospitals as command and control centers, allegations that Hamas and medical staff have denied. The Israeli military says it has uncovered tunnels and weapons, including at Al-Shifa, the territory’s largest hospital complex, that it considers proof of its allegations.


Diplomats at the United Nations Security Council have been in intense negotiations this week over a resolution calling for a halt in fighting in the war in Gaza and a major increase aid deliveries. The United States has delayed the vote, according to diplomats, and has been the only member of the Security Council to block demands for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, vetoing two such resolutions.


Dr. Tedros said a cease-fire was necessary “to reinforce and restock remaining health facilities, deliver medical services needed by thousands of injured people and those needing other essential care, and, above all, to stop the bloodshed and death.”


Both hospitals visited by the team of aid workers on Wednesday are unable to provide much more than first aid — which means there are no working hospitals left in northern Gaza, he said. And only a few doctors and nurses remain at Al-Ahli to provide limited care to severely injured people in dire need of surgery and other complex procedures, he added.


Dr. Tedros said aid workers found a courtyard filled with bodies lined up in rows outside Al-Ahli because staff members were unable to leave the hospital to safely bury them. Aid workers also encountered 80 injured people, including older people and young children, sheltering in the hospital’s chapel and orthopedics department, he added.


“They included a 10-year old girl who lost her leg and had no family left to care for her, and an older man awaiting surgery for a gun wound to the chest he may never get, whose entire family had been killed,” said Dr. Tedros.


On Thursday, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that only nine of Gaza’s 36 hospitals were even “partially functional.”


All of those were located in southern Gaza, which has been flooded in recent weeks with hundreds of thousands of displaced people fleeing violence, and were operating at three times their normal capacity, the U.N. said in a statement.



16) Israel’s deployment of more troops in Gaza signals unshaken intent, experts say.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Dec. 21, 2023


An Israeli army vehicle drives down a dirt road amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas.

An Israeli army vehicle near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel, on Wednesday. Credit...Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel’s decision to send thousands more troops to southern Gaza signals a determination to finish its campaign, despite pressure from the United States to modify its tactics to slow the rate of civilian casualties, experts said on Wednesday.


Announcing the deployment of a brigade to the city of Khan Younis in southern Gaza, Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said late Tuesday that Israel was “deepening” its operations in an effort to defeat Hamas.


His comment suggested to experts that no imminent softening of Israel’s approach should be read into an announcement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Monday that, as Hamas’s fighting ability degrades, Israel could “transition gradually to the next phase” of its operation.


The military will likely not gain control of southern Gaza until the end of January at the earliest, according to Yaakov Amidror, a retired major general who served as national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an earlier government.


Israeli forces have not gained full control of northern Gaza after invading on Oct. 27. Mr. Amidror said that the operation in the south would likely take longer, given the number of civilians, the presence of hostages and the fact that Hamas had effectively been corralled in that part of the territory.


If Israel’s military were to gain full control of Gaza, it would launch a second phase of the operation to prevent Hamas or a similar group from regaining control or attacking Israel, he said. That second phase could last all of next year, he added.


Senior U.S. officials who visited Israel in recent days were made aware both of the imperative of the operation and its likely duration, said Mr. Amidror, who received briefings on the security situation.


He said he didn’t think Israel was responding to pressure by Washington to bring the operation to a halt or modify its tactics.


“It’s more a dialogue,” Mr. Amidror said. “They want to express their point of view.”


About 20,000 people have died in Gaza since Oct. 7 when Hamas attacked Israel, according to Gaza health officials. The United Nations has warned of a catastrophic situation for civilians, nearly 90 percent of whom have been displaced from their homes.


The destruction appears also to have made it more complicated for Israel’s allies to offer unconditional support for the war, given a shift in voter sentiment since the military campaign began. A New York Times/Siena College poll this week showed that U.S. voters have broadly disapproved of President Biden’s stance on the conflict.


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Wednesday that the United States wants to see “a shift to more targeted operations, with a smaller number of forces that’s really focused in on dealing with the leadership, Hamas’s tunnel network and a few other critical things.”


“The last couple of months have been gut-wrenching,” he said, which is why the U.S. is “doing everything possible to minimize the harm to those who are caught in the crossfire.”


The question remains about how much the timing and scope of Israel’s military campaign will be affected by the views of its key backers.


Many Israelis argue that even the country’s supporters can fail to fully grasp how the defeat of Hamas is an imperative following the attack on Oct. 7, in which 1,200 people were killed in Israel and about 240 others were taken hostage.


Mr. Netanyahu is also under pressure in Israel to secure the release of more of the hostages. A pause in the fighting, as happened for a week starting in November, could be a mechanism to achieve that.


Sending more troops to southern Gaza in advance of a possible truce makes it more likely that Israel can secure its military goals and also achieve the possible elimination of Hamas’s top leadership, said Ahron Bregman,  a senior teaching fellow at King’s College London who specializes in the Arab-Israeli conflict and a former Israeli military officer.


That would allow Mr. Netanyahu to argue to a domestic electorate that the campaign had been a success, even if the pace of operations slows in the coming weeks.


“To do that, you need more boots on the ground,” Mr. Bregman said. “Time is short. They are in a hurry.”


Michael Crowley contributed reporting.