Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 25, 2024


Friday, January 26, 2024

8:00 A.M.—12:00 P.M.

Oscar Grant Plaza

14th and Broadway

Oakland, Oakland CA


On Friday, January 26, a pivotal moment unfolds in Oakland, CA, as a federal court hears a lawsuit against President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin. Palestinian plaintiffs charge them with complicity in Israel’s genocide. This urgent case demands our attention! 📣 UPDATE: PACK THE COURT! The hearing kicks off at 9:00 A.M., so arrive by 8:00 A.M. to secure your spot. 

Following the proceedings, join us for a rally at 12:00 PM outside the Ronald V. Dellums Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse (14th and Clay St., Oakland). 🗓️ Friday, January 26, 2024 🕗 8:00 A.M.–12:00 P.M. 








Israeli tank overlooking the devastation of Gaza from the Israeli border.

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of January 25, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 25,700,* 63,740 wounded, and more than 393 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.




We are all Palestinian

Listen and view this beautiful, powerful, song by Mistahi Corkill on YouTube at:



Here is my new song and music video, We are all Palestinian, linked below. If you find it inspiring, please feel free to share with others. All the best!


Thousands at stadium sing, "You'll Never Walk Alone," and wave Palestinian flags in Scotland.

We are all Palestinian



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


For More Information:


Production of Labor Video Project




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



Leonard Peltier Update - Not One More Year


Coleman 1 has gone on permanent lockdown.

The inmates are supposed to be allowed out two hours a day. I have not heard from Leonard since the 18th. 

The last time I talked to Leonard, he asked where his supporters were. He asked me if anyone cared about these lockdowns.

Leonard lives in a filthy, cold cell 22 to 24 hours a day. He has not seen a dentist in ten years. I asked him, “On a scale of 1 to 10, is your pain level at 13?” He said, “Something like that.” Leonard is a relentless truth-teller. He does not like it when I say things that do not make sense mathematically. 

That is why Leonard remains imprisoned. He will not lie. He will not beg, grovel, or denounce his beliefs. 

Please raise your voice. Ask your representatives why they have abdicated their responsibility to oversee the Bureau of Prisons and ensure they adhere to Constitutional law.

Uhuru, The African People’s Socialist Party, has stepped up for Leonard. NOT ONE MORE YEAR.


Fight for Free Speech – YouTube:



Leonard should not have spent a day in prison. Click “LEARN” on our website to find out what really happened on that reservation: 


A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 
Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

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 

A Never-ending Constitutional Violation

A summary of the current status of Kevin Cooper’s case by the Kevin Cooper Defense Committee


      On October 26, 2023, the law firm of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP wrote a rebuttal in response to the Special Counsel's January 13, 2023 report upholding the conviction of their client Kevin Cooper. A focus of the rebuttal was that all law enforcement files were not turned over to the Special Counsel during their investigation, despite a request for them to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office.

      On October 29, 2023, Law Professors Lara Bazelon and Charlie Nelson Keever, who run the six member panel that reviews wrongful convictions for the San Francisco County District Attorney's office, published an OpEd in the San Francisco Chronicle calling the "Innocence Investigation” done by the Special Counsel in the Cooper case a “Sham Investigation” largely because Cooper has unsuccessfully fought for years to obtain the police and prosecutor files in his case. This is a Brady claim, named for the U.S. Supreme court’s 1963 case establishing the Constitutional rule that defendants are entitled to any information in police and prosecutor's possession that could weaken the state's case or point to innocence. Brady violations are a leading cause of wrongful convictions. The Special Counsel's report faults Cooper for not offering up evidence of his own despite the fact that the best evidence to prove or disprove Brady violations or other misconduct claims are in those files that the San Bernardino County District Attorney's office will not turn over to the Special Counsel or to Cooper's attorneys.

      On December 14, 2023, the president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Mary Smith, sent Governor Gavin Newsom a three page letter on behalf of the ABA stating in part that Mr.Cooper's counsel objected to the state's failure to provide Special Counsel all documents in their possession relating to Mr.Cooper's conviction, and that concerns about missing information are not new. For nearly 40 years Mr.Cooper's attorneys have sought this same information from the state.

      On December 19, 2023, Bob Egelko, a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle wrote an article about the ABA letter to the Governor that the prosecutors apparently withheld evidence from the Governor's legal team in the Cooper case.

      These are just a few recent examples concerning the ongoing failure of the San Bernardino County District Attorney to turn over to Cooper's attorney's the files that have been requested, even though under the law and especially the U.S. Constitution, the District Attorney of San Bernardino county is required to turn over to the defendant any and all material and or exculpatory evidence that they have in their files. Apparently, they must have something in their files because they refuse to turn them over to anyone.

      The last time Cooper's attorney's received files from the state, in 2004, it wasn't from the D.A. but a Deputy Attorney General named Holly Wilkens in Judge Huff's courtroom. Cooper's attorneys discovered a never before revealed police report showing that a shirt was discovered that had blood on it and was connected to the murders for which Cooper was convicted, and that the shirt had disappeared. It had never been tested for blood. It was never turned over to Cooper's trial attorney, and no one knows where it is or what happened to it. Cooper's attorneys located the woman who found that shirt on the side of the road and reported it to the Sheriff's Department. She was called to Judge Huff's court to testify about finding and reporting that shirt to law enforcement. That shirt was the second shirt found that had blood on it that was not the victims’ blood. This was in 2004, 19 years after Cooper's conviction.

      It appears that this ongoing constitutional violation that everyone—from the Special Counsel to the Governor's legal team to the Governor himself—seems to know about, but won't do anything about, is acceptable in order to uphold Cooper's conviction.

But this type of thing is supposed to be unacceptable in the United States of America where the Constitution is supposed to stand for something other than a piece of paper with writing on it. How can a Governor, his legal team, people who support and believe in him ignore a United States citizen’s Constitutional Rights being violated for 40 years in order to uphold a conviction?

      This silence is betrayal of the Constitution. This permission and complicity by the Governor and his team is against everything that he and they claim to stand for as progressive politicians. They have accepted the Special Counsel's report even though the Special Counsel did not receive the files from the district attorney that may not only prove that Cooper is innocent, but that he was indeed framed by the Sheriff’s Department; and that evidence was purposely destroyed and tampered with, that certain witnesses were tampered with, or ignored if they had information that would have helped Cooper at trial, that evidence that the missing shirt was withheld from Cooper's trial attorney, and so much more.

      Is the Governor going to get away with turning a blind eye to this injustice under his watch?

      Are progressive people going to stay silent and turn their eyes blind in order to hopefully get him to end the death penalty for some while using Cooper as a sacrificial lamb?

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)




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 awkward meeting in Brussels highlights differences between Europe and Israel over the war.

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Monika Pronczuk reporting from Brussels, Jan. 22, 2024


"Mr. Katz surprised the room of 27 E.U. foreign ministers by screening a video of a proposal — first raised several years ago — to create an artificial island off Gaza as a logistics base to inspect cargo and passengers arriving by sea into the territory...Mr. Katz, the officials said, did not propose that Palestinians be moved to this island to live, but he also didn’t offer much context on why exactly he was screening it, nor did he elaborate on how it plays into the urgent discussions among Israel and its allies over how to manage Gaza after the war is over." Link to Island video: https://www.dropbox.com/s/6apf052p5kiym5o/Island_En_HD.wmv?dl=0

Above: screenshot from video updated on June 20, 2017, of Israel’s proposed artificial island to help control Gaza’s population from the sea. It’s to be built 2.8 miles off the coast of Gaza, and would be 2.5 miles long, 1.25 miles wide, encompassing 1300 acres. The connecting road is designed to be quickly detached, making it virtually impossible to escape.

European Union foreign ministers pressed Israel’s top diplomat on Monday to ease civilian suffering in Gaza and move toward supporting the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, in a closed-door meeting that highlighted the governments’ differences over the war.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has been pushing back against international allies, doubling down in recent days on his opposition to a two-state solution. He is also facing growing anger at home over the government’s failure to secure the release of the hostages and frustration over its handling of the war.


The Monday meeting at E.U. headquarters in Brussels largely reinforced the disconnect over the war in Gaza, where more than 25,000 people have been killed, according to health officials there. Rather than garner international support, Israel’s foreign minister, Yisrael Katz, left European officials confused about Israeli plans for the enclave.


Mr. Katz surprised the room of 27 E.U. foreign ministers by screening a video of a proposal — first raised several years ago — to create an artificial island off Gaza as a logistics base to inspect cargo and passengers arriving by sea into the territory, according to six European diplomats and officials familiar with the meeting. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the press on the discussions.


Mr. Katz, the officials said, did not propose that Palestinians be moved to this island to live, but he also didn’t offer much context on why exactly he was screening it, nor did he elaborate on how it plays into the urgent discussions among Israel and its allies over how to manage Gaza after the war is over.


The video was shown as early as 2017, when Mr. Katz was transport and intelligence minister. An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, told The New York Times after the meeting on Monday that Mr. Katz’s proposal was not government policy.


The Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki, who met separately with the E.U. ministers after Mr. Katz, seized on the video.


“We do not need any island. Not a natural one, not an artificial one. We will remain in our homeland. The land of Palestine is ours, it belongs to us, and we will remain in it,” he told reporters, emphasizing that he would advocate for Palestinian statehood and a cease-fire.


“We will not accept anything less than a cease-fire,” he added. “We will not accept anything short of a clear rejection of statements by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the two-state solution and that he will work on preventing it.”


The European Union is striving to find a common voice on the war in Gaza despite divisions among member states. Before the meeting, Josep Borrell Fontelles, the bloc’s top diplomat, drafted an informal policy paper for discussion that strongly backs the establishment of an independent Palestinian state — an idea that is also backed by the Biden administration.


On Saturday, Mr. Netanyahu said on social media: “I will not compromise on full Israeli security control of the entire area west of the Jordan River — and that is irreconcilable with a Palestinian state.”


The creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one was first proposed in 1947 at the time of Israel’s creation, and was rejected by regional Arab governments. In the years since, plans for a two-state solution have been proposed and stymied by both Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Mr. Netanyahu, who even before Oct. 7 opposed the creation of such a state, is particularly adamant that the Palestinians not be rewarded with statehood after Hamas launched its terror attack in October.    


Foreign policy is set by E.U. national governments, and is not an area where the bloc has collective force as it does in trade and economic affairs, and the 27 E.U. member states have often struggled to agree on diplomatic issues including the conflict in the Middle East. But on Monday, even the foreign minister of Germany, seen as Israel’s strongest advocate in the bloc, defended the idea of an independent Palestinian state.


“We are doing everything we can to move toward a two-state solution,” said the German minister, Annalena Baerbock. “There is no alternative that would allow Israelis and Palestinians to live side by side in peace and dignity.”



2) More than half a million people in Gaza face ‘catastrophic hunger,’ the United Nations says.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Jan. 23. 2024


Children wait in a line, carrying empty containers.

Children waiting for food at a charity kitchen in Rafah, Gaza, last week. Credit...Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

More than half a million people in Gaza face “catastrophic hunger,” the United Nations said on Tuesday, as Israel’s restrictions on supplies of food, water and fuel to the territory as part of its war against Hamas continue to take a heavy toll.


The United Nations agency that coordinates aid to Palestinian refugees, known as UNRWA, added that Gaza’s health facilities had been decimated and renewed its appeal for a humanitarian cease-fire to facilitate aid deliveries.


A spokeswoman for the agency, Juliette Touma, visited Gaza and appears in a video that the U.N. released on Tuesday showing people lying on floors in overcrowded medical facilities and receiving rudimentary treatment for wounds. The video also shows families lining up for food and living in makeshift dwellings.


“These are not conditions meant for human beings,” Ms. Touma said, adding that the situation was “absolutely desperate.”


The agency said that its ability to deliver aid had been impeded by intense fighting and blackouts of Gaza’s cellphone networks for days at a time, as well as restrictions on its ability to move around the territory and reach hospitals.


“As risk of famine grows,” the United Nations “calls for a critical increase in humanitarian access,” it said in a separate post on X, formerly Twitter.


Palestinian health authorities said in recent days that the number of people killed in Gaza since Israel began its campaign against Hamas had surpassed 25,000. The United Nations said that 70 percent of those who have died, or roughly 17,500 people, have been women and children.


The Israeli government says it is doing all it can to prevent civilian casualties and blames Hamas, which led an attack on Israel on Oct. 7 in which around 1,200 people were killed, for putting civilians at risk.


Israel, which imposed a siege on the territory shortly after it began its campaign, argues that Hamas hides its forces in civilian areas and has military infrastructure and command posts in tunnels beneath hospitals and other public buildings.


The Israeli government has suggested that reports of a humanitarian disaster in Gaza are overblown. “Hamas’s cynical abuse of medical and other humanitarian infrastructure is intended to make it seem like there is a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” Col. Elad Goren, head of the Israeli agency that oversees policy for the Palestinian territories, said on Monday.


He said Israel had established six field hospitals in Gaza and facilitated the entrance of more than 1,100 trucks carrying over 13,000 tons of medical supplies.


Humanitarian workers say vastly more aid is needed to meaningfully help Gaza’s 2.2 million residents amid dire shortages of food, water and supplies.



3) Stripped, Beaten or Vanished: Israel’s Treatment of Gaza Detainees Raises Alarm

A U.N. office said Israel’s detention and treatment of detainees might amount to torture. It estimated thousands had been detained and held in “horrific” conditions. Some were freed wearing only diapers.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Jan. 23, 2024


Soldiers standing by a flatbed truck, its back full of shirtless, blindfolded detainees.

Palestinian men and at least one woman detained in the Gaza Strip on Dec. 8. The Israeli military reviewed this image as part of the conditions of the photographer’s embed. Credit...Yossi Zeliger/Reuters

Cold, almost naked and surrounded by Israeli soldiers with M16 assault rifles, Ayman Lubbad knelt among dozens of Palestinian men and boys who had just been forced from their homes in northern Gaza.


It was early December and photographs and videos taken at the time showed him and other detainees in the street, wearing only underwear and lined up in rows, surrounded by Israeli forces. In one video, a soldier yelled at them over a megaphone: “We’re occupying all of Gaza. Is that what you wanted? You want Hamas with you? Don’t tell me you’re not Hamas.”


The detainees, some barefoot with their hands on their heads, shouted objections. “I’m a day laborer,” one man shouted.


“Shut up,” the soldier yelled back.


Palestinian detainees from Gaza have been stripped, beaten, interrogated and held incommunicado over the past three months, according to accounts by nearly a dozen of the detainees or their relatives interviewed by The New York Times. Organizations representing Palestinian prisoners and detainees gave similar accounts in a report, accusing Israel of both indiscriminate detention of civilians and demeaning treatment of detainees.


Israeli forces who invaded Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack have detained men, women and children by the thousands.


Some were ordered out of their houses and seized while others were taken as they fled their neighborhoods on foot with their families, trying to reach safer areas after the Israeli authorities ordered them to leave.


Photographs taken by Gaza journalists have shown newly released detainees being treated in hospitals, the skin around their wrists worn down with deep cuts from the tight restraints Israeli forces kept on them, sometimes for weeks at a time.


The United Nations human rights office said last week that Israel’s treatment of Gazan detainees might amount to torture. It estimated that thousands had been detained and held in “horrific” conditions before being released, sometimes with no clothes on, only diapers.


In a statement in response to questions from The Times, the Israeli military said it detains people suspected of involvement in terrorist activity and releases those who are cleared. It said the Israeli authorities were treating detainees in accordance with international law and defended forcing men and boys to strip, saying this was to “ensure that they are not concealing explosive vests or other weaponry.”


“Detainees are given back their clothes when it’s possible,” the military added.


Human rights defenders say Israel’s detention and demeaning treatment of Palestinians in Gaza could violate international laws of war.


“Since the beginning of the Israeli bombardment and ground invasion in Gaza, the Israeli Army arrested hundreds of Palestinians in a barbaric and unprecedented manner and has published pictures and videos showing the inhumane treatment of detainees,” said a recent report by several Palestinian rights groups, including the Palestinian Prisoners’ Commission and Addameer.


“So far, Israel has concealed the fate of detainees from Gaza, has not disclosed their numbers, and prevented lawyers and the Red Cross from visiting detainees,” the report added.


A spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Hisham Mhanna, said his organization received daily reports from families in Gaza about detained family members. The organization is working on some 4,000 cases of Palestinians from Gaza who had vanished, nearly half believed to be detained by the Israeli military, he said.


The group has been seeking information about the conditions and whereabouts of detainees and pushing for visits. But only in a handful of cases has it even received proof of life, Mr. Mhanna said.


Brian Finucane, an analyst at the research organization International Crisis Group and a former legal adviser to the State Department, said international law set “a very high bar” to detain noncombatants and required that they be treated humanely.


During the first month of the war, Israel warned those who did not flee areas under evacuation orders that they “may be considered a partner in a terrorist organization.” Last month, an Israeli government spokesman, Eylon Levy, said Israeli forces were detaining “military-age men” in those areas.


Hamas was estimated to have 20,000 to 40,000 fighters before the war, according to American and other Western analysts, among a population of more than two million people in Gaza.


“The presumption that military-aged males are combatants is troubling,” Mr. Finucane said.


Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territories, said in October that designating civilians who did not evacuate as accomplices to terrorism was not only a threat of collective punishment, but could constitute ethnic cleansing.


Photos and videos taken by Israeli soldiers and Israeli journalists embedded with the military have shown Palestinians with hands bound behind their backs, sometimes blindfolded and in underwear, kneeling outdoors in winter.


In one video taken at a stadium in Gaza City, dozens of males wearing only underwear are lined up or marched across the field surrounded by Israeli soldiers. Some of the men were gray-haired and several were young boys.


Women and girls were also present, but they remained clothed.


One detainee was Hadeel al-Dahdouh, 22, who appeared in another photo published last month in the back of truck bed packed with almost naked men. In the image, her eyes were covered by a white blindfold and her head scarf had been removed.


She and her husband, Rushdi al-Thatha, both from Gaza City in the north, were taken together on Dec. 5, Mr. al-Thatha, 31, said.


“They would hit us on our heads with their weapons,” said Mr. al-Thatha, one of a number of detainees who described being beaten by Israeli soldiers. “They would hit my wife like they hit me,” he said. “They would yell ‘Shut up!’ and curse at her.”


Mr. al-Thatha said he was released after 25 days. Ms. al-Dahdouh is still missing.


On the day when Mr. Lubbad was detained, Dec. 7, he was at his parents’ house with his wife, he said. She had given birth weeks earlier to their third child. They could hear gunfire and tanks in the streets and then an Israeli soldier yelled on a megaphone for all men to come out and surrender.


As soon as he walked out, arms up, he said, he was confronted by a soldier who ordered him to kneel and strip. In the December chill, he was kept on his knees in the back row of a line of Palestinian men and some boys — all in their underwear, some barefoot.


Mr. Lubbad, himself a human rights worker with the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, said his detention lasted a week. In the first moments, he said, he told himself he would do whatever the soldiers ordered.


“We didn’t know what awaits us,” he said.


His hands were tied with rope that immediately began digging into his skin, he said. The detainees were forced into trucks, blindfolded and hands restrained, still in their underwear, as soldiers hit them, Mr. Lubbad said.


They were then driven for hours into Israel.


Only when they arrived at a prison in the southern Israeli city of Be’er Sheva were they given clothes — gray tracksuits. Each person was given a number on a blue tag and guards called them by their numbers, not names.


Mr. Lubbad was held in a large barrack for three days. From 5 a.m. to midnight, all of the dozens of detainees were forced to sit on their knees in a position he described as agonizing. Anyone who tried to shift would be punished, Mr. Lubbad said.


He was not interrogated until days later, he said, after being taken to another detention facility in Jerusalem.


The interrogator asked him where he was on Oct. 7 and whether he had any information on members of Hamas, the armed group that controls Gaza, or Islamic Jihad, a smaller armed faction, he said. He was asked about tunnels and Hamas positions.


When he repeatedly answered that he didn’t know anything and spent much of his time either at work or at home, the interrogator grew angry and hit him under his eye, he said, then put his blindfold back — tying it painfully tight.


He was detained for several more days, but not interrogated again.


Early on Dec. 14, Mr. Lubbad said, he was among busloads of detainees driven to Gaza’s southern border and told to start walking.


Several other detainees gave similar accounts.


Majdi al-Darini, a 50-year-old father of four and retired civil servant, said he was held for 40 days with his hands restrained nearly the entire time. The restraints cut into his wrists, leaving wounds that eventually became infected. A video of Mr. al-Darini after he was released shows scabs around his wrists.


“All the while, your hands are tied and your eyes are blindfolded and you are on your knees,” he said. “And you’re not allowed to move right or left.”


He said he was detained in mid-November as he and his family were walking south, after leaving their homes in northern Gaza in response to an evacuation order.


“They treated us like animals,” he said. “They would hit us with sticks and hurl curses at us.”


Mr. al-Thatha, the man who was detained with his wife, said that 25 days into his ordeal, a prison guard came to his barracks and asked him: “‘Can you run?’”


He didn’t understand the question.


Hours later at about 2 a.m., he said, his name was called and he was put on a bus to the Kerem Shalom border crossing from Israel into Gaza. As he got off the bus, he said, a soldier warned them that there was a sniper watching and ordered them to run for 10 minutes.


“We ran for 10 minutes without turning our heads,” he said.


Ameera Harouda, Hiba Yazbek and Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting.



4) At Columbia, Student Protesters Say They Were Attacked With Chemicals

After pro-Palestinian students said they had been sprayed with a foul-smelling substance during a demonstration, the university began an investigation and barred those accused from campus.

By Gaya Gupta, Published Jan. 22, 2024, Updated Jan. 23, 2024


Protesters on stairs in front of a Columbia University library building.

Columbia University’s Low Library, where pro-Palestinian student demonstrators reported being sprayed with chemicals Friday, has been the site of several recent protests, such as this November rally for academic freedom. Credit...Bing Guan for The New York Times

Columbia University and the Police Department are investigating reports that pro-Palestinian student demonstrators were sprayed with a foul-smelling chemical during a protest last week, leading the university on Monday to bar the people accused of spraying it from campus.


In a statement that was emailed to all Columbia students and faculty members on Monday night, Dennis A. Mitchell, the university’s interim provost, said that the individuals had been barred while the Police Department investigated “what appears to have been serious crimes, possibly hate crimes.”


He called the events at the protest, on the steps of Low Library, “deeply troubling” and added that the university condemned “in the strongest possible terms any threats or acts of violence” directed toward its community members. Some students required medical treatment, the statement said.


A spokesman for the Police Department said that there had been no arrests and that an investigation was continuing.


The Columbia statement did not say how many people had been barred from campus or whether they were students. It did not specify what substance had been sprayed on the protesters or what had led to the incident.


Since the Israel-Hamas war began in October, pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstrations have roiled Columbia and other American college campuses. While the demonstrations have largely been peaceful, some acts have crossed the line into harassment or violence.


At Columbia in October, an Israeli student was assaulted by a 19-year-old after putting up hostage posters. And pro-Palestinian students have been threatened online, and their faces and names have been displayed on a truck, funded by an outside group, that labeled them antisemites.


In November, seeking to reduce tensions on campus, the president of Columbia, Minouche Shafik, suspended two pro-Palestinian student groups, Students for Justice in Palestine and Jewish Voice for Peace. The university said that the groups had violated student event rules by repeatedly failing to ask for permission well before protesting. The groups pushed back, calling the rules unjust, and entered a coalition that continued organizing protests under different banners.


A Columbia University official said that Friday’s events had been unsanctioned and had violated the university’s policies.


According to a Barnard College student who was at the protest on Friday, people from the two suspended groups were involved in the Low Library demonstration and were protesting peacefully when at least two men sprayed them with a foul-smelling liquid.


“Halfway through the protest, we started smelling this horrible smell,” said the Barnard student, Maryam Iqbal, an 18-year-old freshman. “I can only describe it as raw sewage and dead mouse.”


Layla Saliba, a 24-year-old Palestinian American graduate student at Columbia’s School of Social Work, said that two men, whom she did not recognize, looked as if they had wanted a confrontation and called some of the protesters “terrorists.” She added that they had seemed “especially aggressive” toward students holding up signs saying “Jews for cease-fire” and called them “self-hating Jews.”


She said on Monday that she was continuing to vomit and still smelled the odor on her clothes and hair, even after nearly a dozen showers.


On Sunday, Ms. Iqbal said she had reported the incident to Columbia’s public safety department and had showed personnel there a jacket she was wearing during the protest as evidence. But she said that when she smelled the jacket, she had become sick to her stomach and was treated for nausea at a hospital.


In its statement, Columbia asked anyone who had photos, videos or other evidence of the event to share it with the Police Department.


Sharon Otterman and Chelsia Rose Marcius contributed reporting.



5) After a Botched Execution, Alabama Is Trying an Untested Method

The state plans to carry out the first U.S. execution via nitrogen hypoxia with Kenneth Smith, who survived an earlier attempt to execute him by lethal injection.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Jan. 23, 2024


A barbed wire fence surrounds a white building with an external staircase; a surveillance tower is in the background.

The William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala., is where Kenneth Smith has been on death row. Credit...Jeff Haller for The New York Times

It was Nov. 17, 2022, and Kenneth Smith was lying on a gurney inside Alabama’s execution chamber, his arms and legs strapped down as he waited to be put to death. Mr. Smith, who had been on death row for more than a quarter-century after being convicted of murdering a woman, recalled thanking God for his final week alive and thinking of his family.


At the time, the state was using the same method of execution that has been used in the vast majority of modern U.S. executions: lethal injection. And like many other states, Alabama had problems. That night, a team of people tried and repeatedly failed to insert an intravenous line into Mr. Smith’s arms and hands and, eventually, a vein near his heart. The jabbing stopped — according to his lawyers, who recounted in court documents Mr. Smith’s experiences that night — when prison officials decided that they might not have time to carry out the execution before the death warrant expired at midnight.


Now, more than a year later, Alabama is preparing once again this week to execute Mr. Smith, this time employing a method that has never been used in a U.S. execution: nitrogen hypoxia. Under this method, which has been used in assisted suicides in Europe, Mr. Smith will be fitted with a mask and administered a flow of nitrogen gas, effectively depriving him of oxygen until he dies.


The execution, scheduled for Thursday evening, is the latest turn in the fraught battle over executions in the U.S., where a growing number of states are banning the death penalty; those that retain the punishment are finding it difficult to carry out. Pressure from activist and medical groups has made it challenging for prison officials to procure lethal drugs, and a series of executions in the last two years were plagued by trouble finding veins. Alabama is one of several states that are looking at alternatives, including nitrogen hypoxia, and some states have recently authorized the use of a firing squad.


This week’s planned execution has galvanized death penalty critics who say that Alabama prison officials are making Mr. Smith a test subject for an unproven and potentially macabre experiment. State officials argue that death by nitrogen hypoxia is painless because it quickly causes a person to lose consciousness. They note that Mr. Smith’s lawyers have themselves identified nitrogen hypoxia as preferable to Alabama’s troubled administration of lethal injection drugs.


Last week, a federal judge in Alabama rejected a request by Mr. Smith’s lawyers to halt the execution. Mr. Smith has appealed, and the case will most likely be appealed further to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in recent years has been reticent to halt executions at the last minute.


Mr. Smith, who responded to written questions via email, said he was worried that the procedure could go wrong.


”I am worried that we have told Alabama that these risks could happen — will happen — just like we warned them last year,” he said. “And they will do nothing to prevent these dangers from happening.”


The details of how the procedure is expected to unfold are outlined in a 40-page protocol document that Alabama issued last summer, the public version of which is heavily redacted.


What is known is that Mr. Smith will be led from his cell in the William C. Holman Correctional Facility to the prison’s death chamber. The complex is in Atmore, Ala., about 55 miles northeast of Mobile, and five reporters will be allowed to witness the execution. Mr. Smith will be put on a gurney and a mask will be placed over his face, and then he will be given two minutes to say his last words. Then, the prison warden or an assistant will initiate the pumping of the gas into Mr. Smith’s mask for at least 15 minutes.


There are few people who have intimate knowledge of what an execution by nitrogen hypoxia might look like. However, one of them is Dr. Philip Nitschke, a pioneer in assisted suicide who recently invented a pod that fills with nitrogen as a way for people to end their lives.


Dr. Nitschke estimates he has witnessed at least 50 deaths by nitrogen hypoxia. He was called to testify by Mr. Smith’s lawyers in December during their effort to block the execution, and he met with Mr. Smith. After visiting the Alabama execution chamber and examining the mask that will be used by the state for Mr. Smith’s death, Dr. Nitschke said in an interview that he could imagine scenarios ranging from a quick and painless death to one involving substantial suffering if things were to go wrong.


He said that the big difference between Alabama’s protocols and those of his assisted suicide work in Europe and Australia lies in Alabama’s plan to use a mask. He said it would create a higher chance of there being a leak — allowing oxygen in and prolonging the process — than a room, pod or a plastic bag would.


“I feel anxious about Kenny, and I just don’t know which way things are going to go,” Dr. Nitschke said of Mr. Smith, whom he said seemed very nervous when the two met.


“What he would’ve liked to hear from me,” Dr. Nitschke said, “was that this was going to work well.” But, he said, he did not feel that he could promise Mr. Smith as much, instead viewing Alabama’s protocols as a “quick and nasty” attempt at nitrogen hypoxia that ignores the potential dangers of vomiting and air leakage.


In the room during the execution will be Mr. Smith’s spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeff Hood, who lives in Little Rock, Ark. He began speaking with Mr. Smith in November, developing what he describes as a close bond, and planned to be present during the execution.


Mr. Hood said in an interview that he was fearful of what Mr. Smith might have to endure, and he raised the possibility that Mr. Smith might physically resist the execution attempt.


“This is not going to be a peaceful experiment,” Mr. Hood said, adding: “I think it’s important for people to realize, when you strap someone down like that, you can’t expect someone who’s choking to death — suffocating to death — to not resist.”


Mr. Hood said he was also worried about his own safety, noting that prison officials required him to sign a waiver that warns about the potential hazards of nitrogen and to stay three feet away from Mr. Smith while he is wearing the mask.


Mr. Smith is facing execution for the 1988 stabbing murder of Elizabeth Sennett, after testimony that Ms. Sennett’s husband, a pastor, had offered to pay Mr. Smith and two other men $1,000 each to kill her. (The pastor, Charles Sennett Sr., later killed himself.) The jurors who convicted Mr. Smith voted 11 to 1 to spare his life and instead to sentence him to life in prison, but a judge overruled them and condemned him to death. In 2017, Alabama stopped allowing judges to overrule death penalty juries in such a way, and such rulings are no longer allowed anywhere in the United States.


Mr. Smith said that he did not believe that it was just for the judge to override the jury’s sentence in his case. Since the failed execution attempt, Mr. Smith said, he had struggled with severe anxiety and depression.


To Ms. Sennett’s sons, the execution cannot come soon enough — particularly after the botched attempt in 2022 — and they have said that the novel method was of little concern to them.


“Some of these people out there say, ‘Well, he doesn’t need to suffer like that,’” one son, Charles Sennett Jr., told WAAY 31 television station. “Well, he didn’t ask Mama how to suffer. They just did it. They stabbed her multiple times.”


Mr. Sennett said that he and other family members planned to attend the execution.


Another son, Michael Sennett, told NBC News last month that he was frustrated that the state had taken so long to carry out an execution that the judge ordered decades ago.


“It doesn’t matter to me how he goes out, so long as he goes,” he said, noting that Mr. Smith had been in prison “twice as long as I knew my mom.”


A slew of botched executions in Alabama, including that of Mr. Smith, led the state’s governor, Kay Ivey, a Republican, to order a temporary pause in executions while prison officials reviewed their procedures. Ms. Ivey lifted the pause after a few months, with prison officials describing some minor changes and a new rule allowing the state more time to carry out executions.


Since executions resumed, the state has killed two death row prisoners and has not had the kind of problems that plagued its previous attempts.


Polling has consistently showed that a slight majority of Americans support the death penalty, with a sharp divide along political lines. Most Republicans (81 percent) and just 32 percent of Democrats support the death penalty for people convicted of murder, according to one Gallup poll last year.


Still, executions have declined significantly since the modern peak of 98 carried out in 1999. Last year, states executed 24 people, and the federal government has played an increased role in recent years. The Trump administration put to death 13 people by lethal injection, the first executions by the federal government since George W. Bush was president.


Last week, the Justice Department under President Joe Biden, who campaigned on ending the federal death penalty, said it would seek the death penalty against a white gunman who killed 10 Black people in a racist attack on a supermarket in Buffalo.


Anna Betts contributed reporting.



6) An attack caused fire and ‘mass casualties’ at a shelter for displaced people, the United Nations says.

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Ameera Harouda, Jan. 24, 2024



Two tank rounds on Wednesday hit a United Nations center in southern Gaza, killing at least nine people, injuring 75 others and starting a blaze at a facility where hundreds of people displaced by fighting had taken shelter, a senior official at the U.N. agency aiding Palestinian refugees said.


The official, Thomas White, head of Gaza operations for the agency, known as UNRWA, said that the center in the southern city of Khan Younis had been unreachable for two days and that people were trapped. Khan Younis has been hit by heavy fighting as Israel says it is hunting down Hamas leaders, leaving hospitals and other facilities in the middle of a war zone.


A team from UNRWA and the U.N. World Health Organization trying to reach the center via a route agreed with the Israeli Army had been blocked by an earth barrier, Mr. White said.


The Israeli military said that it was checking on the U.N. report. Mr. White did not specifically name Israel, but Israel is the only party to the conflict in Gaza with tanks.


In an earlier statement, the military said that it was conducting an operation in the western part of Khan Younis, the largest city in the southern Gaza Strip, and had begun to operate against military targets, including Hamas command and control centers.


“This operation will continue for several days,” the statement said.


Mr. White posted two reports on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter, about the incident. In the first, he said that tens of thousands of displaced people had been sheltering at the U.N. center. The second said that the building that was hit sheltered 800 people.


“Buildings ablaze and mass casualties,” the initial post said, adding that people were trapped.


A woman who had been displaced by previous fighting and was staying at the shelter, Hanan Al-Reifi, said that “many people were killed and wounded.” Reached by telephone, she said that emergency services had not responded to calls for help and that people at the shelter did not have fire extinguishers. She said that she had witnessed the start of the fire.


Multiple videos that appeared to be of the episode that were posted on social media and that were not independently verified showed onlookers watching plumes of black smoke rise from a two-story building in flames.


Almost all of Gaza’s population of around 2.2 million has been forced to flee during the war, which began when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people. Many have taken shelter at U.N. facilities in the south of the territory, including in Khan Younis.


Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of UNRWA, said on Tuesday that six displaced people had been killed the previous day in fighting at a U.N. shelter.


Palestinian health authorities say that more than 25,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7. According to the United Nations, 70 percent of the dead have been women or children.


Hiba Yazbek in Jerusalem and  Farnaz Fassihi in New York contributed reporting.



7) Israel orders evacuations from a packed area with 2 major Gazan hospitals.

By Victoria Kim and Hiba Yazbek, Jan. 24, 2024


A crowd of people gathers, with a few children seated on a cart pulled by a an animal in the foreground.

Wounded Palestinians arriving at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, on Monday. Credit...Mohammed Dahman/Associated Press

Thousands of people were trapped at a hospital by heavy fighting in southern Gaza, and Israeli forces on Wednesday had surrounded a second hospital where displaced people were sheltering, aid agencies said, after Israel’s military ordered evacuations for that part of the city of Khan Younis.


The evacuation order posted by the military’s Arabic-language spokesman, Lt. Col. Avichay Adraee, designated blocks that include the grounds of the two facilities, Nasser Hospital and Al-Amal Hospital. They are among the last hospitals still providing some medical care to Gazan patients even as many more people seek refuge there from intensifying Israeli air and ground attacks.


The Palestine Red Crescent Society on Wednesday reported “intense shelling” near Al-Amal hospital, which it runs, and said that a strike had killed three people outside its offices in an adjacent building. Israeli forces were “surrounding” its teams and “enforcing restrictions on movement” around its offices and the hospital, the group said.


The Gazan health ministry said in a statement that Nasser Hospital effectively been cut off by “continuous bombing,” preventing injured people from getting there and blocking the transfer of patients to a nearby Jordanian field hospital. The United Nations’ humanitarian affairs office said in its daily update on Tuesday that the Jordanian hospital was also included in the evacuation area.


The three hospitals, with a total of more than 600 beds, account for a fifth of the remaining functional hospital capacity in Gaza, according to the U.N. It said the evacuation area held 88,000 residents and an estimated 425,000 displaced people, packed into about 1.5 square miles.


“The Israeli occupation isolates Nasser Medical Complex and puts the lives of staff, patients and displaced people at risk,” Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Gazan Health Ministry, said in a statement.


The aid group Doctors Without Borders said late Tuesday that its staff at Nasser could hear bombs and heavy gunfire, and that 850 patients and thousands of others sheltering there were unable to leave because the roads from the hospital were either inaccessible or too dangerous. The group said that it was “deeply concerned” for the people’s safety.


The evacuation orders came around the same time that the military said it had encircled Khan Younis after weeks of intense fighting and bombardment. The Israeli military has said it was focused on hunting down Hamas leaders in the city, which is densely packed with displaced civilians who fled the northern half of the territory at the military’s urging.


A Palestinian who fled Khan Younis on foot Wednesday morning, Yafa Abu Aker, recounted a terrifying and dangerous journey under intense bombardment.


“Our last night in Khan Younis felt like doomsday,” she said from Rafah. “Actually, we felt like maybe doomsday would have been easier,” she added.


Ms. Abu Aker said she had already fled three times since the war began, and had landed in a refugee camp in Khan Younis because “Israel said it was a safe zone.”


But then, over the last three days, she said, “we see violent clashes and over 200 military planes flying above us and intensively dropping dozens of bombs in every direction along with shelling from tanks and gunshots.”


Eventually, Ms. Abu Aker said that she realized that she had no choice but to evacuate again.“We will die if we stay and we will die if we leave,” she said, but at least by leaving, she thought she could avoid being “buried under the rubble.”


In a statement on Wednesday, Israel accused Hamas of exploiting the civilian population and said that its operation in Khan Younis would continue until it had finished “dismantling Hamas’s military framework and Hamas strongholds.”


As many as 7,000 people were believed to have been sheltering on the grounds of Nasser hospital last week, many of whom fled as fighting intensified. The Israeli military has said that mortar fire has been launched at its troops from the hospital, which is the largest in southern Gaza. Its claim could not be independently verified. Israel has long said that Hamas uses hospitals to hide militants and weapons.


The World Health Organization said last week that Nasser Hospital alone had treated 700 patients in one day and was struggling to attend to growing numbers of wounded people amid the escalating violence in Khan Younis.



8) Israel says a buffer zone in Gaza would protect its people; critics say it could be a war crime.

By Patrick Kingsley, Ronen Bergman and Natan Odenheimer reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 24, 2024


Buildings, some of them appearing to be crumbling, of various levels of destruction are seen in the distance across a field.

Damaged buildings in the Gaza Strip, along the border with Israel, in November. Credit...Jack Guez/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel was trying to demolish part of a Palestinian neighborhood as it pursued a plan to create a buffer zone between Gaza and Israel when around 20 Israeli soldiers were killed Monday in an explosion, according to three Israeli officials and an Israeli officer involved in the demolitions.


The explosion on Monday occurred after Gazan militants fired toward a tank guarding an Israeli unit that had been setting explosives inside Palestinian buildings on the border in central Gaza with the intention of demolishing them, according to a news briefing given by the Israeli military on Tuesday. In the firefight, the explosives went off, killing many of the soldiers inside, the military said.


Israel wants to demolish many of the Palestinian buildings close to the border in order to create what they describe as a “security zone,” according to the three officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue.


Two of the officials said that Israel’s goal was to create a buffer of up to roughly six-tenths of a mile along the entire length of Israel’s roughly 36-mile border with Gaza. At its narrowest point, the territory is less than four miles wide.


Their intention is to make it harder for militants to repeat a raid like that of Oct. 7, in which roughly 1,400 people were killed and abducted, according to Israeli estimates, and which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of residents of southern Israel. One of Israel’s war goals is to create conditions that will persuade Israeli evacuees that it is safe to return home. Some of the demolished areas are a few hundred yards from Israeli neighborhoods that were attacked.


Asked about the creation of a buffer zone, the military said its forces were “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings,” which it said was necessary to implement a defense plan for southern Israel.


The military’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said in a news briefing on Tuesday that the soldiers who were killed had been involved in an operation to “create the security conditions for the return of the residents of the south to their homes.’’


The idea of a buffer zone gained such momentum in Israeli discourse that the State Department spoke out against it in December, because it would effectively reduce the size of Gaza, a process opposed by the U.S. administration.


John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, repeated that objection on Tuesday, when asked at a White House news briefing about Israel’s moves to create a buffer zone. “We do not want to see the territory of Gaza reduced in any way,” Mr. Kirby said. “We won’t support that.”


However, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, speaking during a visit to Nigeria, said that the United States was open to a temporary buffer zone, though solely to enable Israelis who had fled homes along the Gaza border after Oct. 7 to return.


“If there need to be transitional arrangements to enable that to happen, that’s one thing to happen,” Mr. Blinken said. “But when it comes to the permanent status of Gaza going forward, we’ve been clear, we remain clear about not encroaching on its territory.”


To Palestinians, the practice is cruel and would keep Gazans in an already crowded enclave from being able to return to their homes. Critics of Israeli policy say the practice is part of a wider disregard for civilian housing and property. The majority of Gaza’s buildings have been damaged during the war, according to United Nations estimates, and more than 25,000 Gazans have been killed, according to Gazan officials.


Balakrishnan Rajagopal, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, said a systematic demolition of Palestinian border homes could constitute a war crime because they pose no immediate threat to Israel.


“There is simply no provision in the Geneva Conventions for what Israel is doing along the border, which is kind of a pre-emptive clearing of property,” Mr. Rajagopal said in a phone interview.


“On a particular property by property basis, Israel can take action — but not on a widespread basis across the entire border,” Mr. Rajagopal said. “Israel, as the occupying power, has an obligation not to engage in what’s called wanton destruction of property.” The military did not respond to a request for comment on the claims.


While Israel has never formally announced the demolition of Palestinian border homes, the concept of a buffer zone lining the length of the Gazan border has been widely discussed by the Israeli news media since early December, when the idea was reported by Reuters.


Israeli ministers have also hinted of plans to create such a buffer zone since the first weeks of the war. Eli Cohen, the foreign minister at the time, said that after the war, “the territory of Gaza will also decrease.”


Days later, Avi Dichter, the agriculture minister, spoke of creating “a margin” along the Gaza border. “No matter who you are, you will never be able to come close to the Israeli border,” Mr. Dichter said.


Gabby Sobelman, Rawan Sheikh Ahmad, Erica L. Green and Michael Crowley contributed reporting.



9) Barnard College’s Restrictions on Political Speech Prompt Outcry

Professors and free speech advocates are protesting a decision by the college to monitor and remove pro-Palestinian statements and other speech the college deems too political.

By Sharon Otterman, Jan. 24, 2024


Students are seen from behind walking up a staircase on Barnard’s campus lined by grassy steps, with buildings on either side.

Barnard College is regulating when and how protests can take place on campus. Credit...Bing Guan for The New York Times

Three weeks after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel, the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Barnard College in New York posted a statement on its departmental website in support of the Palestinian people.


Below the statement, the professors posted links to academic work supporting their view that the struggle of Palestinians against “settler colonial war, occupation and apartheid” was also a feminist issue. Two days later, they found that section of the webpage had been removed, without warning, by Barnard administrators.


What happened next has sparked a crisis over academic freedom and free expression at Barnard at a time when the Israel-Hamas conflict has led to tense protests on American college campuses and heated discussions about what constitutes acceptable speech.


Asked to explain why the page was removed, college administrators told the department that the statement and links were “impermissible political speech,” a statement from the department said.


The Barnard administration then, in late October and November, rewrote its policies on political activity, website governance and campus events, giving itself wide latitude to decide what was and was not permissible political speech on campus, as well as final say over everything posted on Barnard’s website.


The moves caught the attention of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which wrote a letter to Barnard’s new president, Laura Rosenbury, in December, warning that the website and political speech policies violated fundamental free speech principles and were “incompatible with a sound understanding of academic freedom.”


“Such a regime will inevitably serve as a license for censorship,” the letter said.


In a statement, the Barnard administration said that it had barred college resources from being used for political activity for at least a decade. Another policy barring political signs from being posted on campus was not directed at any ideology, it contended.


“Barnard supports the academic freedom of our faculty and the free expression of our faculty and students,” Kathryn Gerlach, a Barnard spokeswoman, said in an email.


Janet Jakobsen, a professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies, said that the removal of her department’s pro-Palestinian material was only one of the new challenges to free expression that students and faculty were experiencing.


Faculty members who have posted pro-Palestinian signs on their office doors have been asked to remove them or put them inside, she and other faculty said. And about two dozen students who attended a peaceful, but unauthorized, pro-Palestinian campus protest in December have been summoned to appear before a college disciplinary committee.


“The purpose of academic freedom and free expression is precisely to contribute to democratic discussion,” Dr. Jakobsen said. “And so to treat our students as if their participation in participatory democracy is so deeply dangerous, that a demonstration at which there is no disruption should be disciplined, is a very strong statement.”


Since the Oct. 7 attacks, administrators have been facing pressure from some donors, alumni and students and faculty to limit some pro-Palestinian speech on the grounds that opposing Zionism or the state of Israel can veer into antisemitism and can make those who support Israel feel uncomfortable.


But pro-Palestinian students have been targeted on campus as well, including during a demonstration at Columbia last Friday, when some Barnard and Columbia students said someone sprayed them with a foul-smelling chemical, and several sought medical treatment after.


Colleges often defend the measures limiting speech as necessary for security and to create a calmer environment.


At both Columbia and Barnard, an all-women’s college that is formally part of Columbia University but has its own leadership and policies, administrators have asked the community to refrain from slogans and words that others may find hurtful. Both institutions have also issued reworded administrative rules that officially apply to everyone. But critics say that in reality, they are being used to curtail views the college does not want aired.


Under new rules Barnard emailed to faculty on Nov. 6, for example, all academic departments must submit changes to the content of their websites to the Office of the Provost for review and approval. All content on the college’s website may be amended or removed without notice, a related policy states.


Arthur Eisenberg, executive counsel with the N.Y.C.L.U., said that the policy gives the administration discretion to determine what is permissible academic discourse on the website. “And that’s the problem,” he said.


While the pro-Palestinian statement was taken down, for example, a statement by the Africana Studies Department decrying anti-Black racism and state-sanctioned violence in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in 2020 was permitted to stay up.


Barnard also issued a policy on Nov. 13 defining political activity in a way that many faculty members say was broader than previously understood. Rather than just barring partisan activity like rallies from campus, the policy now defines it as “all written communications that comment on specific actions, statements, or positions taken by public officials or governmental bodies at local, state, federal, and international levels.”


Faculty can make such statements so long as they make clear they are speaking for themselves but not the college. But political statements cannot be posted on the Barnard website without approval, and “no member of the college may post signs containing political statements” on the college grounds.


A newly articulated events policy also requires that 28 days’ notice must be given before most public demonstrations on campus are held.


In response to the administration’s actions, more than 1,000 Columbia and Barnard faculty, students and alumni have signed a letter saying that academic freedom is under attack at Barnard. More than 100 Barnard faculty members also signed a letter sent to President Rosenbury on Sunday expressing concern over the recent summoning of roughly 20 students to “inquiry meetings” about accusations that they violated the code of conduct.


A new group, Faculty and Staff for Justice in Palestine, published a letter on the school newspaper’s website on Monday, pledging to “take back” Barnard and Columbia. The letter said the group would fight efforts to “curtail speech that is critical of the actions taken by the State of Israel, that sympathizes with Palestinians, or that attempts to place the current conflict in a longer historical context.”


The Barnard faculty also held a vote in December affirming the “Chicago Principles,” a commitment to free expression, several professors said.


In its letter to President Rosenbury, the N.Y.C.L.U. suggested that instead of blocking academic speech on the Barnard website, faculty be permitted to publish freely provided they make clear with disclaimers that their views are not necessarily that of the college.


The Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies has now created its own website that is not administered by the college, and posted its pro-Palestinian statement and resources there. It has for the past two months been in discussions with Barnard’s provost office about permitting a link from its official website to this website, Dr. Jakobsen said.


Only two of the resources — including a newly published book chapter by a faculty member — have been permitted to be published on the main Barnard website so far, she said.



10) Gaza health authorities say a strike hit a crowd waiting for aid in the north.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 25, 2024


Israeli soldiers walking in the central Gaza Strip this month, during an escorted tour by the military. Credit...Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times

A strike hit a crowd of Palestinians who were waiting for humanitarian aid trucks in Gaza City on Thursday, killing multiple people and injuring scores of others, the Gazan health authorities said.


Many details of the incident remained unclear. Gaza’s health ministry blamed the strike on Israel. The Israeli military said that it was looking into the reports but would not immediately comment further. The U.N. agency that aids Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said it could not comment.


In a statement, the health ministry said that an attack had taken place at the Kuwait roundabout, on the southern edge of Gaza City in the enclave’s north.


The Israeli Army, after appearing to establish control over northern Gaza in late December, has withdrawn thousands of troops from the area and said it had turned its focus to southern Gaza and rooting out Hamas leadership there. But Hamas fighters and civilian officials have tried to reassert their authority in the north, where some fighting has continued.


The United Nations and other aid groups say that Palestinians who have remained in the north during the fighting are mostly cut off from humanitarian aid.


The U.N. has said that delays at an Israeli checkpoint in central Gaza have prevented the relatively few aid trucks that are getting into the enclave from reaching their destinations. Israel has denied it is obstructing aid, saying its permission is contingent on the security situation and its efforts to keep supplies from reaching Hamas.


The health ministry said that casualties from Thursday’s strike were being taken to Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, which was raided by the Israeli military in November but has begun to slowly resume some operations, according to the World Health Organization. Israel said this month that it had dismantled a tunnel beneath the hospital, which it says had been used by Hamas as a military site; hospital officials have denied the allegation.


The W.H.O. said on Tuesday that its crews had supplied the hospital with fuel the day before but described extreme deprivation among “hundreds of thousands of people” who it said are “cut off from aid.”


“The roads leading to the hospital were severely damaged, and the desperation in northern Gaza was apparent, as thousands of civilians surrounded the U.N. vehicles and fuel truck in the hopes of finding food and water, also delaying the mission,” it said in a statement.


Hunger remains dire in Gaza. The World Food Program said on Tuesday that very little food aid since the start of the war had made it beyond southern Gaza, where relief supplies enter from Egypt or Israel. Pockets of the Palestinian enclave remained at risk of famine, it said.


In the north, no bakeries are functioning and food distribution “falls far below needs,” according to the United Nations.


“Access to the north is very very limited and restricted,” said Juliette Touma, the director of communications for UNRWA. “The clock is ticking against famine, and the pockets of hunger and starvation are most acute in the north.”


Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar.



11) Israel Tries to Rebut Genocide Charge by Declassifying Cabinet Decisions

South Africa has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Israel’s legal team has challenged the charge by providing the court with secret orders made by Israel’s civilian and military leaders.

By Patrick Kingsley, Jan. 25, 2024


A woman in a hijab kneels over a row of bodies wrapped in white shrouds.

A woman mourning the loss of family members killed in Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip in October. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Israel has declassified more than 30 secret orders made by government and military leaders, which it says rebut the charge that it committed genocide in Gaza, and instead show Israeli efforts to diminish deaths among Palestinian civilians.


The release of the documents, copies of which were reviewed by The New York Times, follows a petition to the International Court of Justice by South Africa, which has accused Israel of genocide. Much of South Africa’s case hinges on inflammatory public statements made by Israeli leaders that it says are proof of intent to commit genocide.


Part of Israel’s defense is to prove that whatever politicians may have said in public was overruled by executive decisions and official orders from Israel’s war cabinet and its military’s high command.


The court, the U.N.’s highest judicial body, began hearing arguments in the case this month, and is expected to provide an initial response to South Africa’s petition — in which it could call for a provisional cease-fire — as soon as Friday.


Since October, Israel has pounded Gaza in a campaign that has killed more than 25,000 Gazans, or roughly one in 100 residents of the territory, according to Gazan health officials; displaced nearly two million people; and damaged the majority of the buildings, according to the U.N. The campaign is a response to a Hamas-led assault that led to the deaths and abductions of roughly 1,400 people in Israel, according to Israeli officials.


The Genocide Convention of 1948, which South Africa has accused Israel of violating, does not define genocide solely as killing members of a particular ethnic or national group. Crucially, it says the killings must be committed “with intent to destroy” that group.


“Everything hinges on intent,” said Janina Dill, a professor at Oxford University and co-director of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict.


To that end, both South Africa and Israel are focused not only on what leaders and soldiers have done, but also what they have said. The roughly 400-page defense includes what Israel says is evidence that it sought a legal war with Hamas and not a campaign of genocide against the Palestinians.


Among the declassified Israeli documents are summaries of cabinet discussions from late October, in which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered supplies of aid, fuel and water to be sent to Gaza. He also instructed the government to examine how “external actors” might set up field hospitals to treat Gazans, as well as consider mooring a hospital ship off the coast of the territory.


Mr. Netanyahu’s most declarative statements were made in November, according to the released documents.


“The prime minister stressed time and again the need to increase significantly the humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip,” reads one declassified document that Israel’s lawyers said was taken from the minutes of a cabinet meeting on Nov. 14.


“It is recommended to respond favorably to the request of the U.S.A. to enable the entry of fuel,” another document said.


On Nov. 18, according to the declassified minutes of another meeting, Mr. Netanyahu emphasized “the absolute necessity” of allowing basic humanitarian aid to continue.


But the dossier is also highly curated and omits most wartime instructions given by the cabinet and the military. The available documents do not include orders from the first 10 days of the war, when Israel blocked aid to Gaza and shut off access to the electricity and water it normally provides to the territory.


While the court could take years to reach a verdict, it may seek to impose “provisional measures” as soon as this week. Those measures could include a symbolic — and largely unenforceable — request for Israel to cease its attacks while the court deliberates.


To do so, the court’s 17 judges must find it plausible that Israel has killed residents of Gaza with the deliberate goal of destroying Palestinians as a group, according to international legal experts.


Actions that can constitute genocide can “be features of a war without being genocide,” Professor Dill said. “So it is really imperative to show this intent.”


Israel’s cabinet decisions could prove more relevant in several months, when the court begins to assess the merits of the case. The judges will need to decide whether Israel had no other motive to kill Palestinians aside from genocide, the experts said.


But at the current “provisional measures” stage, the experts said, the judges need only be convinced of the plausibility of South Africa’s claim in order to instruct Israel to suspend its campaign.


South Africa has tried to prove genocidal intent by citing more than 50 comments and statements made since October by Israeli leaders, lawmakers, soldiers and commentators.


Those cited include Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, who said Israel was fighting “human animals”; Amichay Eliyahu, the minister for heritage, who suggested dropping a nuclear bomb on Gaza; the country’s mainly ceremonial president, Isaac Herzog, who described Palestinians as “an entire nation out there that is responsible”; and Ghassan Alian, the Israeli general who oversees the distribution of aid to Gaza.


Israel has also submitted to the court a handful of emails between military officers and aid workers that it says shows its efforts to supply Gaza with food, medicine and vaccinations. Were Israel intent on the wholesale destruction of Gaza’s Palestinian population, the Israelis argue, it would not be working with the U.N. to distribute lifesaving aid.


One email, from a senior U.N. official to an Israeli officer overseeing aid distribution to Gaza, detailed an approved request to deliver solar-powered refrigerators to the territory to store vaccines and lab tests. A U.N. official confirmed the messages were authentic.


International legal experts said that the secret orders and emails provided important context, but that the court would regard them as one part of a wider picture.


Israel’s submission contained only a few of the decisions made by its cabinet and military leadership since October. The judges will need to assess whether or not the dossier tells the whole story of Israel’s plans, said William A. Schabas, an international law professor at Middlesex University, London, and the author of “Genocide in International Law.”


“When you’re trying to prove that you didn’t give an order to do something, obviously you’re going to show orders that indicate something else,” Professor Schabas said. “And if there is an order to do something or a plan to do it, you’re not going to provide that.”


Orders to provide sufficient humanitarian aid to Gaza would also need to be assessed against what Israel has actually allowed to happen on the ground, Professor Schabas said.


“Things that appear to be directed at sustaining life don’t necessarily disprove the opposite,” he said.


The United Nations, for example, recently accused Israel of blocking aid to north Gaza, a charge Israel denied. The U.N. has also warned of a looming famine amid food shortages and the collapse of Gaza’s health system.



12) Protests resume at the Israel-Gaza border after aid trucks were rerouted.

By Victoria Kim and Roni Rabin, Jan. 25, 2024


Soldiers standing outside a large truck with fencing on either side of it. Another person is seen on the other side of one of the barriers.

Israeli soldiers checking an Egyptian truck carrying humanitarian aid at the Israeli side of the Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza this week.Credit...Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Families of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza protested at a border crossing on Thursday in a bid to to block aid from entering the territory as they take more aggressive action to push their government to give priority to the captives’ return and put more pressure on Hamas.


Demonstrations at the Kerem Shalom crossing a day earlier had forced more than 100 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to reroute through Egypt, the United Nations said. On Wednesday, Israeli protesters at the crossing held up aid trucks for hours, the U.N. humanitarian affairs office said in its daily update.


Nine trucks made it through the checkpoint in southern Israel, while 114 others were redirected to the crossing in Rafah, the update added.


A total of 153 truckloads of food, medicine and other supplies entered through the two crossings on Wednesday, according to the United Nations.


Photos from the crossing on Thursday showed a small group of demonstrators holding signs with the faces of hostages on them. The Hostages and Missing Persons Families Forum, the group representing the relatives of Israeli hostages abducted to Gaza in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks, said that the aim of Thursday’s protest was “stopping aid to Hamas until all hostages return.”


“Our soldiers are fighting in Gaza and we are giving supplies to Hamas,” Danny Elgarat, whose 69-year-old brother, Itzik, was kidnapped from his home in Kibbutz Nir Oz, said in an interview on Israeli television.


“It’s just not acceptable that soldiers are putting themselves at risk fighting in Gaza, and the terrorists they’re fighting are getting fuel and food from us,” said Mr. Elgarat, who said he participated in a protest at the border on Wednesday.


Kerem Shalom is one of two border crossings through which aid enters Gaza; most of it transits through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. Relatives of hostages believe that stopping aid from reaching Gaza will raise pressure on Hamas to release the hostages.


Mr. Elgarat said in the interview that Hamas militants steal humanitarian supplies that get into Gaza and that civilians get only “the leftovers,” a common view in Israel. Hamas officials have denied diverting humanitarian aid.


Israel opened the crossing at Kerem Shalom in December after pressure from the United States to speed up the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza, where most of the territory’s 2.2 million civilians are enduring extreme shortages of basic supplies and are at risk of starvation. At the time, Israel said it was committing to 200 trucks a day, but the rate of entry has fallen far short of that goal, averaging around 130.


With virtually no commercial goods available inside Gaza, its residents are dependent on aid to survive, international agencies and aid groups say.


The United Nations said that since its reopening, about a fifth of the aid has been going through Kerem Shalom.


Hostage families and other supporters have taken more aggressive steps in recent weeks to demand the release of their loved ones — storming into the Israeli Parliament, taking over highways and staging protests outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s homes.


The families have sought to pressure Mr. Netanyahu’s government to give priority to the safe return of the hostages, who were taken during the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel.



13) Plans for Gaza’s ‘Day After’ Seem Ever Distant

The very idea that there will be a clear line between war and peace is misleading, given the politics, security needs and anxieties of all sides.

By Steven Erlanger, Jan. 25, 2024


Debris from a destroyed mosque in Rafah, Gaza, on Wednesday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As the war in Gaza grinds on, there is increasing talk of some “day after” formula for the broken territory. But that notion is an ephemeral one — there is not going to be a bright line between war and peace in Gaza, even if some sort of negotiated settlement is reached.


Israel has made it clear that it will not subcontract security along its southern border to anyone else, and Israeli military officials say their forces will come in and out of Gaza based on intelligence for a very long time to come, even after troops finally withdraw.


“The whole conceit of ‘the day after’ has to be retired,” said Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. official at the Carnegie Endowment. “It’s misleading and dangerous,” he said, because there will be no clear dividing line “between the end of Israeli military operations and a relative stability that allows people to focus on reconstruction.”


There are a variety of sketchy ideas — “plans” would be too specific a word — for what happens in the aftermath of hostilities. But there is a growing understanding that any sustainable settlement would require a regional deal involving countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar.


Inevitably such a deal would have to be led by the United States, Israel’s most trusted ally. Most officials and analysts assume it would require new governments both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which partially governs the West Bank but is considered stale and corrupt, an indication of the long road ahead.


As a starting point, the American special envoy, Brett McGurk, is touring the region, his focus on “the potential for another hostage deal, which would require a humanitarian pause of some length to get that done,” according to a White House spokesman, John Kirby. Mr. McGurk will be joined in the coming days by C.I.A. Director William J. Burns, officials familiar with the talks said.


Mr. McGurk’s efforts are complicated, working through Qatar, which sends messages to Hamas leaders. Even with an agreement in principle between Israel and Hamas, the two sides will have to negotiate a phased exchange of hostages, women and children first, for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.


To get all the hostages released, including soldiers, would require the controversial release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners, including those who have been convicted of murdering Israelis. Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, was just such a case, let out in a previous prisoner exchange in 2011 after 23 years in jail.


Then there is the question of Mr. Sinwar and other Hamas leaders, if they are alive — will they go into exile as part of any settlement? For now, Hamas has rejected the idea.


But a first hostage deal “is the sine qua non of the administration’s larger regional deal,” said Martin S. Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.


That, American officials hope, could open the way for broader negotiations. They would include moderate Sunni Arab states who have no great love for Hamas and its main backer, Shiite Iran, and who are concerned by Iran’s growing power.


While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel supports efforts for a hostage deal, he is also campaigning for his political survival and has opposed a significant pillar of President Biden’s larger concept.


Mr. Biden has said that he would like a “revitalized Palestinian Authority” eventually running Gaza as a stage toward an eventual “two-state solution” — an independent Palestine, largely demilitarized, alongside Israel and committed to a lasting peace.


Mr. Netanyahu is portraying himself as the one person who can prevent the Americans from imposing a Palestinian state on a traumatized Israel or significant restrictions on the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank that is gradually absorbing Palestinian land.


But the Americans believe they may have important leverage over Israel and Mr. Netanyahu to move ahead. Saudi Arabia, the key regional actor, has indicated that it wants to continue a path toward normalization with Israel in return for American security guarantees against Iran, itself a controversial demand.


But Saudi Arabia has also said that normalization, let alone any cooperation on a post-Gaza future, both in reconstruction and security aid, depends on the creation of an “irrevocable” pathway toward a Palestinian state, which Mr. Netanyahu rejects.


Mr. Netanyahu’s vision of a future Gaza is unclear. He continues to insist that Hamas will be “destroyed” and all the hostages released. But those goals seem more contradictory as the Israeli military operation in Gaza moves slowly and casualties on both sides mount, creating more domestic and international pressure on him.


He has stated what he does not want: Hamas to survive militarily and politically in Gaza; the Palestinian Authority to be given control over Gaza; any foreign peacekeepers; and an independent Palestinian state. He has denied wanting to reoccupy Gaza for the long run, but insisted that Israel retain security control over not just Gaza, but the West Bank as well.


Others have staked out positions on either side of Mr. Netanyahu.


His far-right partners, Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben Gvir, have suggested displacing Palestinian citizens and resettling Gaza with Israelis. The idea is considered a non-starter and drew a specific American rebuke.


Opposition members of the current security cabinet, like Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, who are seen as popular alternatives to Mr. Netanyahu, are more likely to go along with the American idea of a larger regional deal, Mr. Indyk said.


So is the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, who has distanced himself from Mr. Netanyahu. All recognize that American support is indispensable for Israel, Mr. Indyk said.


Mr. Gallant, who is from Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party, has laid out his own vague plan. He wants Israel to maintain security control of Gaza, with the military free to come and go as needed. He proposes that Egypt and Israel control Gaza’s southern border crossing together.


There would be no Israeli civilian presence in Gaza, in his vision, with civil administration run by Palestinians with foreign oversight, but not by the Palestinian Authority.


Mr. Gallant’s plan is thought to be similar to what Mr. Netanyahu privately thinks. But Mr. Gallant is also partly reflecting the Israeli military’s view, said Nahum Barnea, a well-connected columnist with the popular daily Yediot Ahronoth.


“The vision is not victory,” he said, but a managed intermittent conflict without a large permanent Israeli presence.


The military would like to turn Gaza into something akin to the situation in the restive, volatile northern West Bank cities like Nablus and Jenin, where it goes where it wants. In Gaza, it envisions operating from a buffer zone inside Gaza, now being constructed, and going deeper into the territory from time to time on specific operations.


The military, Mr. Barnea said, “is not looking for Somalia, but Nablus.”


No one thinks there is a quick deal to be done. To train some 6,000 Palestinian security forces to police Gaza, even in cooperation with some multinational Arab force, would take up to 10 months, American officials estimate.


In the meantime, they hope Arab countries, possibly including Turkey, heir to the Ottoman rulers of Gaza, would agree to police Gaza. That is a highly questionable aspiration, given the political sensitivity of Muslim nations policing Palestinians partly on behalf of Israeli security.


There is, then, no rapid path to an “R.P.A.,” the latest Biden administration acronym for a “revitalized Palestinian Authority.” At a minimum it would require the retirement or “emeritus” status of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, internal reform and some form of Palestinian elections, senior American officials say.


The last elections were held in 2006, and new ones would almost surely result in some political role for Hamas. And there would have to be a temporary administration in Gaza made up of Palestinian notables or technocrats in the meantime, they say.


The Palestinians themselves are not ready. “To put it starkly, there is a complete disconnection between the international community’s call for a two-state solution and the willingness of Israelis and Palestinians to contemplate it now as a viable way to end their conflict,” Mr. Indyk said.


Still, he said, Washington “must try to fashion a new, more stable order in Gaza, and that cannot be done without also establishing a credible political horizon that leads eventually to a two-state solution.”


Despite the huge task for American diplomacy, time is limited — probably only until September, officials say — and that may create pressure to act. Mr. Netanyahu is conscious that Mr. Biden is up for re-election in November and may want to see what happens in the U.S. vote.


The Arab interlocutors are also acutely conscious that unless some sort of deal is done by autumn, they could be dealing with a lame duck Mr. Biden and awaiting the unpredictable Donald J. Trump. Even senior American officials think that the best chance for a deal is if Mr. Biden is re-elected, a senior Western diplomat conceded.


Yaakov Amidror, a former general and national security adviser, said he sees 2024 as a year of low intensity warfare. The next year or 18 months will be dedicated to finding and destroying Hamas tunnels, infrastructure and fighters, said Mr. Amidror, now a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, a conservative think tank.


At the end, by mid-2025, he said, he believes Hamas will no longer have military and political capacity to run Gaza. And the Israeli army may be in a position to operate in Gaza along the lines of its West Bank model, he said.


So even with good intentions, there is a long road ahead to a true “day after,” and many possible ways for the best plans to fail. Prime among them may be, despite all American efforts, if war breaks out between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, which could make the destruction in Gaza seem simply a prologue.


Reporting was contributed by Patrick Kingsley, Gal Koplewitz and Aaron Boxerman in Jerusalem and Vivian Nereim in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.



14) John Pilger, Crusading Journalist and Documentarian, Dies at 84

A prolific filmmaker and writer who took sides, he was best known for a documentary about the Khmer Rouge’s genocide in Cambodia in the 1970s.

By Richard Sandomir, Jan. 25, 2024


A black-and-white photo of John Pilger, with long blond hair and sideburns, standing in front of a columned mausoleum.

John Pilger in 1979 at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam. His many films made in Southeast Asia won praise, but he was also accused of subordinating journalism to advocacy. Credit...Hulton-Deutsch Collection/Corbis, via Getty Images

John Pilger, a muckraking foreign correspondent and documentarian who trained his often righteous anger on injustices around the globe, like the Khmer Rouge’s genocide in Cambodia and human rights abuses in East Timor, died on Dec. 30 in London. He was 84.


His son, Sam, said the cause of death, in a hospital, was pulmonary fibrosis.


A tireless critic of Western imperialism and a voice for the voiceless, Mr. Pilger was comfortable with his role as a journalistic provocateur. He once derided impartiality as “a euphemism for the consensual view of established authority.”


But he was sometimes criticized for shaping his reporting to fit his leftist worldview — that United States foreign policy had often helped cause misery around the world.


Mr. Pilger (pronounced PILL-jer), with blond surfer looks, was among the first journalists to enter Cambodia after Vietnam drove out Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge in 1979, ending its nearly four-year reign of terror during which about two million people died.


His reporting from there filled almost an entire issue of The Daily Mirror, the British newspaper for which he had worked since 1963, and it was the basis of his best-known documentary, “Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia,” directed by David Munro.


In that film, Mr. Pilger took viewers on a harrowing 52-minute tour of what he called the “human hemorrhage,” depicted in scenes showing the many unburied skulls and bones lying in killing fields; survivors of the genocide recalling in detail how they had been tortured; former Khmer Rouge soldiers each admitting to killing hundreds of fellow Cambodians; and children and adults dying of malnutrition and anthrax poisoning for lack of medicine.


Mr. Pilger left little doubt about whom he blamed for Cambodia’s vulnerability to the brutal Khmer Rouge: President Richard M. Nixon and his national security adviser, Henry A. Kissinger, architects of the secret bombing of Cambodia in 1969 and, a year later, the invasion of the country by the United States and South Vietnam.


“The bombing was their personal decision, illegally and secretly,” Mr. Pilger said, calmly, early in the film. “They bombed Cambodia, a neutral country, back to the Stone Age.”


“Year Zero” was one of dozens of documentaries he made while also writing for The Daily Mirror and other publications, including The Guardian.


His honors include a Peabody Award in 1989 for “Cambodia: Year Ten,” a documentary about the conditions in the country a decade after the departure of the Khmer Rouge; an International Emmy in 1991 for “Cambodia: The Betrayal” (1990), which exposed worsening conditions in the country and tied to track arms shipment to the Khmer Rouge; and the Sydney Peace Prize in 2009, for holding governments to account for human rights abuses.


But the praise was tempered by criticism of his style — that he subordinated journalism to advocacy, leading to some notable mistakes and questionable claims.


Mr. Pilger lost a libel suit over his contention in “The Betrayal” that British agents were training the Khmer Rouge. A story about a young Thai girl forced into slavery until Mr. Pilger rescued her turned out not to be true.


“Pilger’s reporting, particularly on television, has sharply divided the journalistic world,” the British journalist Jon Snow wrote in a review in The Observer of “In the Name of Justice” (2001), a book by Anthony Hayward about Mr. Pilger’s documentaries. “There were the loyal minority who cried, ‘Thank God for Pilger,’ and the vociferous majority who damned his side-taking and campaigning style as ‘too much’ and ‘simply not done.’”


John Richard Pilger was born on Oct. 9, 1939, in Bondi, New South Wales, Australia, to Claude and Elsie (Marheine) Pilger. His mother was a teacher, his father a carpenter and trade unionist. John started a student newspaper with a friend when he was 12.


After a four-year journalistic apprenticeship with Australian Consolidated Press, a newspaper company, Mr. Pilger became a reporter for The Daily and Sunday Telegraph in Sydney in 1958. He later freelanced in Italy and worked for Reuters in London until he was hired by The Mirror in 1963. He remained with it until 1986.


He started his parallel career making documentary films in 1970 with “Vietnam: The Quiet Mutiny,” about the disintegrating morale of U.S. troops in Vietnam.


His other documentaries include “Thalidomide: The Ninety-Eight We Forgot” (1974), about uncompensated victims of the drug that caused birth defects; “The Secret Country: The First Australians Fight Back” (1985), the story of his homeland’s mistreatment of the Aborigines; and “Death of a Nation: The Timor Conspiracy” (1994), about Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor, in which witnesses described mass killings.


The Timor film was praised by the columnist Anthony Lewis in The New York Times for offering “much new material on the role of Britain, Australia and the United States in aiding Indonesia and condoning the invasion.”


But Mr. Pilger occasionally ran into problems. In 1982, he wrote in The Mirror that in Bangkok he had purchased an 8-year-old slave girl, Sunee, insisting that she was one of many children in Thailand who had been forced into hard labor in sweatshops or as domestics or into prostitution.


The illegal deal he got — for 85 pounds, memorialized on a receipt — was that he would keep the girl for a year without having to pay any wages. He did not keep her and returned her to her mother.


The story got enormous attention, but it wasn’t true: Another journalist found that Sunee was a schoolgirl living with her family, that she had been found by a cabdriver hired by Mr. Pilger to find a young slave, and that the driver had bribed the girl and her mother into playing along. Mr. Pilger said he was the victim of a hoax.


When the conservative British journalist Auberon Waugh questioned the story in The Spectator, Mr. Pilger sued (how it was resolved remains unclear). Mr. Waugh subsequently coined the verb “to pilger”: to “present information in a sensationalist manner to reach a foregone conclusion,” and to use “emotive language to make a false political point.”

In 1991, Mr. Pilger lost a libel judgment to Christopher Geidt, a former British military intelligence officer, and another former Army officer, after accusing Mr. Geidt in “Cambodia: The Betrayal” of helping to train the Khmer Rouge to lay land mines. Mr. Pilger apologized, and the broadcaster, Central Independent Television, paid a financial settlement.


In addition to his son, Sam, from his first marriage, to Scarth Flett, which ended in divorce, Mr. Pilger is survived by a daughter, Zoe Pilger, from a relationship with Yvonne Roberts; his partner, Jane Hill; and two grandchildren.


In recent years Mr. Pilger was a vociferous supporter of Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who faces extradition from Britain to the United States under the Espionage Act for obtaining and publishing secret government documents.


“Remember the pursuit of Julian is a measure of his achievements,” Mr. Pilger told the World Socialist Web Site in 2022. “He informed millions about the deceptions of governments too many trusted; he respected their right to know. It was a remarkable public service.”