Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 28, 2024





"The Art of Movement"

An evening of reading, and discussion on the life of Leonard Peltier

Tuesday, February 6, 2024, 7:30 P.M., in person and virtual

Bound Together Books

1360 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA




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

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of January 28, 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) U.N. Court Orders Israel to Prevent Genocide, but Does Not Demand Stop to War

The court ruling was in line with what most legal experts had predicted.

By Amanda Taub, The Interpreter columnist, Jan. 26, 2024


An overhead shot of people amid wrapped bodies laid out in a row.

Palestinians mourning people killed in a strike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, in December. Credit...Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Although the International Court of Justice on Friday granted “provisional measures,” a temporary order roughly equivalent to an injunction, it declined to order a cease-fire in Gaza, the most stringent measure that South Africa, which brought the genocide case against Israel, had requested. That decision was in line with what most legal experts had forecast.


“I don’t think anyone expected them to order a cease-fire,” said Kate Cronin-Furman, a professor at University College London who studies mass atrocities and human rights.


“They’ve stuck pretty closely to what they did in the provisional measures order in Gambia vs. Myanmar,” she said, referring to another case pending before the court, in which Gambia accused Myanmar of genocide against its Rohingya minority.


There is precedent for the court ordering an immediate cease-fire: it did so in 2022, after Ukraine brought a case against Russia under the U.N. Genocide Convention.


However, that case was quite different from the one against Israel: Ukraine had accused Russia of using the Genocide Convention as a pretext for an illegal invasion, rather than of committing genocide. And that war is also very different: one sovereign state using force to try to take over another, as Russia attempted to do in Ukraine, is one of international law’s biggest taboos.


By contrast, under international law, states are allowed to use force in self-defense after an attack like the one that Israel suffered on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants stormed across the border from Gaza, killing about 1,200 people and taking about 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials. Ordering Israel to halt a defensive war would have been a much more significant step than ordering Russia to cease an aggressive one.


One difference between today’s order and the one in the Myanmar case was that the I.C.J. ordered Israel to enable the provision of humanitarian assistance and basic services to Gaza, which was not part of its order to Myanmar. However, Ms. Cronin-Furman noted, the nature of the Myanmar conflict was different at the stage when the court considered it, because most of the Rohingya had already fled the country.



2) Israel orders the evacuation of tens of thousands of Gazans who were already displaced.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 26, 2024


People walk down a road carrying belongings as a cloud of smoke rises in the background.

Palestinians fleeing Khan Younis on Thursday. Credit...Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters

The Israeli military has ordered the evacuation of tens of thousands of Palestinians who had already been displaced and were sheltering in a United Nations vocational training center in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis.


The order came on Thursday as the Israeli military’s ground offensive in Gaza intensified in the south — where more than a million people have fled seeking safety — telling those in the center to leave by 5 p.m. on Friday, according to Palestinian media.


The training center, which is run by UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, is the largest such U.N. facility in Khan Younis. More than 40,000 people have been sheltering in or around the center, according to the U.N.


There was no immediate confirmation of the Israeli order by UNRWA. But on Thursday night, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency, posted on social media: “A sea of people forced to flee Khan Younis, ending up at the border with Egypt. A never ending search for safety that #Gaza is no longer able to give.”


The post was accompanied by video of hundreds of people fleeing on foot.


The Israeli evacuation order came a day after tank fire struck a building in the same U.N. center, killing at least 13 people and wounding dozens, according to Palestinian officials and media, who blamed the strike on Israel. U.N. officials said the building was hit by two tank rounds. Israel is the only combatant in Gaza with tanks.


The Israeli military denied the accusation, saying it had “currently ruled out” that it was responsible for the strike.


The United Nations did not directly blame Israel. But in statements and social media posts about the strike it said that it shares the location of all its facilities including shelters with Israeli authorities, adding that it had received assurances that people inside the facilities would be safe.


The United Nations said Wednesday’s strike was the third direct hit on that compound.


“The compound is a clearly marked @UN facility & its coordinates were shared with Israeli Authorities as we do for all our facilities,” Mr. Lazzarini said in a social media post on Wednesday. “Once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war.”


The order to leave the U.N. center also came as Israel reiterated orders for a number of entire Khan Younis neighborhoods to flee “for their safety” and directed them to go to the overcrowded coastal area of al-Mawasi, which Israel has unilaterally designated a humanitarian zone.


Gazans and U.N. officials have long said that Israel’s war on Gaza has left nowhere safe for the more than 2 million Palestinian residents of the territory to take refuge.


An estimated 1.7 million Gazans have fled their homes during the war, according to the United Nations, many of them displaced multiple times.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.



3) South Africa Sees Its Moral Conscience in a Genocide Case

By Sean Jacobs, Jan. 26, 2024

Mr. Jacobs is an associate professor of international affairs at the New School and the founder and editor of the website Africa Is a Country.


People waving Palestinian flags at a protest in Johannesburg.

Kim Ludbrook/EPA, via Shutterstock

Earlier this month, I went with my 18-year-old daughter to see the South African singer Thandiswa Mazwai perform with her band at a music festival in Manhattan.


Many of my fellow South African expatriates were in the audience. As we took our seats, my daughter, Rosa, noticed concertgoers waving South African flags. You rarely see such displays outside political or sporting events, but many South Africans seem to be having a moment of self-assertion and patriotism since our government brought a genocide case against Israel to the International Court of Justice in The Hague for its actions in Gaza, solidifying its place on the world stage in solidarity with Palestinians.


On the eve of the hearing, a friend messaged me from Cape Town: “It feels a little bit like Christmas Eve or something here. Or the night before a big final.” Because of the time difference, I watched a recorded version once I got to my office on Jan. 11, the first of two days of hearings. By then, Francesca Albanese, the U.N. special rapporteur on Palestine, had already sent a message on X that “watching African women & men fighting to save humanity” from the “ruthless attacks supported/enabled by most of the West will remain one of the defining images of our time. This will make history whatever happens.”


As a Black South African who grew up during the nation’s liberation struggle and came of age watching the birth of South African democracy, Albanese’s words resonated for me. So does the case, regardless of the outcome on Friday, when the court made a preliminary ruling calling on Israel to take steps to prevent genocide in Gaza but did not demand a cease-fire.


The South Africans in the court that day represented the country that many of us had imagined as we tried to think beyond apartheid to a new country. The lawyers’ last names — Hassim, Ngcukaitobi, Dugard, Du Plessis — evoke a number of the nation’s population groups: Indian South Africans, Xhosas, English-speaking white and Afrikaner. On the bench (countries that are party to a dispute at the International Court of Justice may nominate a judge to hear the case) was Judge Dikgang Moseneke. As a teenager, he had been imprisoned on Robben Island, where he met and befriended Nelson Mandela, and after democracy came, he was elevated to South Africa’s Constitutional Court, the nation’s highest judicial body.


This group in The Hague, in their diversity, represented a country whose national identity is a product of collective struggle and a rejection of the ethnonationalist, blood-and-soil politics that South Africa had left behind when we defeated legal apartheid. That kind of politics seemed to many of us to define Israel’s policy toward Palestinians; for years, the country’s now-governing African National Congress has made common cause with the Palestinians. In the international court, these South Africans were at once fighting for, and helping us imagine, nationhood built on shared struggles and ideals rather than group identities.


After the end of apartheid, there was a sense that South Africa, with its history of struggle and its progressive Constitution, would meaningfully transform its old racial order and be the world’s moral conscience. Except for a brief, hopeful period under President Nelson Mandela, the country has largely failed to live up to that ideal.


Some of this couldn’t be helped. The politics of nonalignment — an ideal that many developing countries at independence set for themselves — largely faded in the 1990s. The Washington consensus on free markets and trade, the exigencies of financial markets and failures of political imagination further limited South Africa’s economic transformation and its hopes of forging a new path. The ideals of the nation’s liberation movement came up against a complicated world of compromise and accommodation. In the past month, we’ve received a glimpse of some of those old hopes.


The case before the court has aligned South Africa firmly with what used to be known as the Third World and now as the global south and has attracted other allies. A barrister from Ireland, another country that experienced colonialism and colonial violence, joined the South Africans at court. Survivors of the Bosnian genocide are also petitioning the court in favor of international action to protect Palestinians.


As the proceedings opened, South Africa’s lawyers were uncompromising and principled, speaking from, and to, our national experience. The lawyers said out loud things that to many South Africans seem self-evident but are often suppressed in public discourse about Israel-Palestine in the West. They said the word “apartheid.” They said the word “Nakba,” which means “catastrophe” in Arabic and refers to the displacement of Palestinians from their land in 1948 when Israel became a state. That same year, South Africa established legal apartheid, which contributed to a process of forced removals of Black South Africans, including my father and his family, from their land and homes. Israel’s representatives forcefully rejected the charges the next day.


In the lead-up to the hearings, some international commentators and critics of South Africa suggested that members of the legal team were political tools, carrying water for the A.N.C., which is facing a tough re-election fight this year and which could benefit from wide public support for the Palestinian cause among South African citizens. Of course, some in the South African government and political circles indeed seem to be backing this case opportunistically. But at home, these same lawyers who are at The Hague have long been thorns in the side of government officials, taking on the South African state over its obligations to redistribute land, support public education and health care, and fight corruption, and representing opposition parties, among many other things.


In the days after the hearings, I reflected that this might well be another hopeful moment followed by a complicated and depressing reality. Often, the best one can hope from international judicial bodies is watered-down resolutions of little consequence to perpetrators.


At the same time, by taking these institutions at their word, and forcing the International Court of Justice to act, South Africa is putting down a marker for global civil society. South Africa stepped up. It showed what we could be and how groups that have faced oppression and violence can stand up confidently for one another on the world stage. What those lawyers were saying was: Get used to hearing our voices.



4) Kenyan Court Blocks Deployment of Police Force to Haiti

A contingent of 1,000 Kenyan officers was intended to lead a multinational force financed by the United States to restore security in a Caribbean country terrorized by armed gangs.

By Declan Walsh and Frances Robles, Jan. 26, 2024

Declan Walsh reported from Nairobi, Kenya, and Frances Robles from Florida.


Several soldiers in green pants, camouflage shirts and black berets stand or sit in the back of a truck.

Kenya agreed last summer to lead the mission to Haiti, with backing from Washington, which pledged $200 million. The force was intended to eventually increase to 3,000 security officers. Credit...Pete Muller for The New York Times

A Kenyan court on Friday prohibited the deployment of 1,000 Kenyan police officers to Haiti, jeopardizing a multinational security force charged with stabilizing the chaos-hit Caribbean island nation before it even got off the ground.


The force, which is backed by the United Nations and financed by the United States, had been stalled since October, when Kenyan opponents of the mission challenged it in court, calling it unconstitutional. The High Court upheld those arguments on Friday, throwing into doubt the latest international effort to rescue an impoverished country that is spiraling ever deeper into violence and instability.


“An order is hereby issued prohibiting the deployment of police officers to Haiti or any other country,” Justice Chacha Mwita said at the conclusion of a judgment that took over 40 minutes to read.


The international force was meant to help break the grip of the armed gangs that control most of Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince, and that have turned Haiti into one of the world’s most dangerous nations. Haiti’s government has pleaded for foreign military forces to be sent in to restore order, but the United States and Canada have been unwilling to commit their own troops.


Kenya agreed last summer to lead the mission, with backing from Washington, which pledged $200 million. The force was intended to eventually increase to 3,000 security officers.


But just a handful of Caribbean nations have stepped forward to contribute police officers, and the court order on Friday raised questions about whether the mission will deploy anytime soon.


While Kenya’s military has participated in numerous U.N. peacekeeping missions to countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan, the court ruled Kenya’s government has not followed correct procedure in authorizing the police mission to Haiti — although it also appeared to leave room for the mission to still go ahead.


The Kenyan government said it would appeal the decision.


There was no immediate reaction to Friday’s ruling from the government in Haiti, although a day earlier the country’s foreign minister, Jean Victor Geneus, pleaded for the mission to deploy as quickly as possible. “The Haitian people cannot take any more,” he told the U.N. Security Council.


For the Biden administration, calming the waters in Haiti is important in an election year in which the wave of migrants seeking asylum has become a political and humanitarian crisis. The number of Haitians immigrating to the United States has more than doubled in the past two years, with more than 160,000 people arriving in 2023, according to U.S. data.


The daunting task facing any mission to Haiti was highlighted by the latest violent eruption in the capital last week.


Flaming barricades sprang up across Port-au-Prince as police officers clashed with armed gangs, sending the city into lockdown as residents retreated into their homes, seeking shelter. About 24 people were killed — not an unusual toll in a country of fewer than 12 million people where about 5,000 people died violently last year, twice as many as in 2022, and about 2,500 were kidnapped, the United Nations said this week.


Haiti’s political system is teetering on the verge of collapse. Calls have been growing for the resignation of the interim prime minister, Ariel Henry, who has been in charge since the assassination in 2021 of President Jovenel Moïse.


Western officials who had been briefed on the plans for the Kenyan force said it was intended to initially comprise up to 400 officers drawn mostly from Kenya’s Border Police Unit and the paramilitary General Service Unit — officers whose work normally involves fighting Islamist militants, border smugglers and cattle rustlers.


All of that is now in doubt, even though the Kenyan Parliament approved the mission in November.


The ruling also represents another rebuke to Kenya’s president, William Ruto, from the country’s fiercely independent higher courts, which have blocked or stalled several major policy initiatives in the past six months. (A separate court ruling, also issued on Friday, confirmed that citizens should not pay a contentious housing levy that Mr. Ruto sought to introduce.)   


Those decisions have visibly angered the Kenyan president, whose prominent global image contrasts with his sinking popularity at home. He has publicly hinted that he might defy the courts, stoking worries about a wider clash between his government and  the judiciary.


In his ruling on Friday, the judge said that Kenya’s National Security Council was not authorized to deploy a police mission to Haiti — something that could only happen if a “reciprocal arrangement” was in place with the Haitian government, he said.


The prohibition is also a major challenge for Mr. Ruto’s relationship with the United States, the Haiti mission’s main sponsor.


Since he came to power in 2022, Mr. Ruto has developed a strong relationship with the United States ambassador, Meg Whitman, a former chief executive officer of eBay and Hewlett-Packard. In September, soon after Kenya agreed to lead the international mission to Haiti, Ms. Whitman accompanied Mr. Ruto to California on a tour of major Silicon Valley firms like Apple, Google and Intel, hoping to attract investment in Kenya.


The Haiti mission ran into legal trouble in October when a Kenyan opposition politician brought a court challenge that resulted in an order freezing the deployment. But even as judges considered the case in recent months, the Kenyan police pressed ahead with preparations at training centers near the capital, Nairobi.


In explaining their motivations to undertake a dangerous mission in a distant country, Kenyan officials cited their country’s longstanding ties with the Caribbean stretching back to their founding father, Jomo Kenyatta. Financial considerations may have played a role too: Many developing nations view international security missions as a way to subsidize or reward their security forces.


Still, many Kenyans questioned if the mission was worth it. The Kenyan public is sensitive to casualties and the deaths of Kenyan soldiers deployed to neighboring Somalia to fight Al Shabab militants often stirs vocal public opprobrium. Any further deaths from a Haiti mission could stoke criticism of Mr. Ruto’s government, which is already grappling with a severe economic downturn.


The American commitment of $200 million, about half from the Defense Department, was intended to pay for equipment, advisers and medical support, as well as help with planning, logistics and communications, a State Department spokeswoman said. But Kenyan officials insisted that much more was needed.


Many other Haitians, though, have grown wary of international interventions. In 2010, a United Nations peacekeeping force brought cholera to the country as poor sanitation at a base camp sent sewage downriver, leading to over 9,000 deaths. Sexual exploitation by peacekeepers and aid workers has been documented repeatedly, and researchers say it resulted in the births of hundreds of children.


Despite that, the country’s increasingly desperate security crisis has left many people open to another international intervention. Armed gangs regularly abduct passengers from buses, to be held for ransom. Six nuns were released on Wednesday, six days after they were kidnapped.


At a waiting room in a health clinic in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday, patients said that they would support the effort if the Kenyans were willing to try. None of the patients agreed to be named, saying they feared they would be killed for speaking out.


But several predicted that an international force could succeed only if it were backed by a heavily armed pro-government militia, and not the discredited national police that the Kenyans were expected to be working alongside.


Some communities banded together last year to form vigilante groups that fought back against gangs, sometimes committing atrocities of their own. That movement largely fizzled out.


Jeff Frazier, a former United States paratrooper who runs a nonprofit in Haiti and had been lobbying Washington for a stronger intervention, said that a Kenyan-led mission was the best option in dire times.


“Are there alternatives? Sure, but they’re a mess,” said Mr. Frazier, who spent 43 days in captivity last year after being kidnapped by a gang. The focus, he said, should be to rescue desperate Haitians from “vicious gangs that kidnap women and send torture videos of them with bloodied faces and cigarette-burned backs to their loved ones.”


Andre Paulte contributed reporting from Port-au-Prince, Haiti.



5) What to look for in the ICJ’s ‘provisional measures’ ruling on genocide in Gaza

Do not judge the International Court of Justice solely by whether it calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. Much more important is whether it finds South Africa's genocide allegations deserve a full hearing.

By Mouin Rabbani, January 25, 2024


The International Court of Justice

January 25, 3034—The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a press release stating that it will this Friday “deliver its Order” in response to South Africa’s “Request for the indication of provisional measures” in the case concerning “Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel).”

Many people, rightly horrified by Israel’s genocidal campaign against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip, expect the ICJ to order a comprehensive ceasefire. In their view this is the least the ICJ can and should do. They will consider anything less a failure by South Africa, a betrayal of the Palestinian people, and an indictment of the ICJ and indeed of international law itself.

My own view is that this matter should be looked at very differently and judged by different criteria.

The ICJ can respond in several ways to South Africa’s application. It can determine that South Africa has not presented a plausible case that Israel needs to answer, decline to order any provisional measures, and effectively consider the case closed. The Court could also determine that South Africa has failed to demonstrate that there is a dispute between South Africa and Israel as defined by the Genocide Convention, and dismiss the case on technical grounds. Either scenario would be a clear defeat for South Africa and the Palestinians, and for that matter the concept of international justice. Most specialists consider either of these scenarios to be the least likely outcome, largely because the South African legal team presented such a meticulously detailed and cogently argued legal and factual case, while Israel’s rebuttal was comparatively weak.

If the Court does indeed order provisional measures, it is not bound by those requested by South Africa. It can adopt all of them, some of them, or entirely different ones than those proposed by South Africa. In the relevant precedents, Bosnia and thereafter Myanmar, the ICJ sufficed with general injunctions ordering the accused state to “take all measures within its power” to prevent acts that amount to or contribute to the crime of genocide. In doing so, it may even prohibit specific acts identified in the Convention, such as deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of the threatened group. 

The ICJ did indeed order a ceasefire in the case of Ukraine, but as was pointed out to me in response to a previous thread, this was an entirely different case. Ukraine did not claim that it was the victim of genocide, but rather that unsubstantiated Russian accusations of genocide against Ukraine were being used by Russia to justify military operations on Ukrainian territory. It was on this basis that Ukraine requested, and the ICJ ordered, Russia to halt those operations.

Although South Africa has, in the present case, asked the Court to order an “immediate” suspension of Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip in order to prevent further Israeli violations of the Genocide Convention, it has not asked the Court to specifically rule on the legality of Israel’s military operations against the Gaza Strip. The ICJ is, therefore, highly unlikely to offer its view on the matter by, for example, declaring Israel’s Operation Iron Sword illegal or intrinsically genocidal and, on this basis, ordering it to a halt. 

On the basis of the above, I do not expect the ICJ – which does not operate in a vacuum – to voluntarily wade into a political hornet’s nest and order a ceasefire. Even if it did, such a ruling would be dead on arrival because Israel has already stated it would ignore it. The Court does not have the power to enforce its rulings. That role is performed by the United Nations Security Council. And so long as the United States remains a veto-wielding permanent member of the Council, it will block any attempt by the ICJ to prevent Israel from committing genocide. I have it on good authority the U.S. Constitution will soon include a 28th amendment codifying Israeli impunity.

It would, in my view, therefore, be a mistake to judge the Friday ICJ Order by whether or not it calls for a ceasefire. It won’t, for reasons largely unrelated to the substance of this case, and even if it did, this would have only symbolic value and have zero impact on the ground.

Much more important, in my view, is whether the Court issues any provisional measures at all. If it does anything other than dismiss South Africa’s application, this would be hugely significant because it means the world’s highest court has judged that South Africa has made a plausible case that Israel is in violation of the Genocide Convention and that its allegations deserve a full hearing. Think of it as a formal accusation requiring a proper and full trial. And any provisional measures mean there will be that full trial.

As has been noted elsewhere, the Court is, at this stage, not determining whether or not Israel is guilty of the crime of genocide. Rather, it is only examining whether South Africa has plausibly accused Israel of genocide and if so, what “provisional measures” are required to prevent irreparable harm pending the conclusion of the hearings. If it indeed proceeds to that stage, these hearings can be expected to last several years. (The Bosnia case was initiated in 1993 and concluded in 2007; the Myanmar case was launched in 2019 and remains ongoing.)

While anything is possible Friday, including an ICJ ruling that either dismisses the case or orders a ceasefire, many specialists expect neither. Rather, they seem to believe that the Court will agree to proceed with the case and adopt more generic provisional measures. This would, as noted, be hugely significant. It means that Israel stands legitimately accused of genocide, widely considered the most serious crime on the books, “the crime of crimes.” 

The state that claims to be a “Light unto the nations,” that claims to have “the most moral army in the world” because it fights according to the code of “purity of arms,” and that claims to exist so that “Never Again,” will stand accused of intentionally seeking to destroy a group of people on the basis of their identity, and be forced to defend itself. A searchlight unto the nations, determined to do it yet again. Irrespective of the ultimate outcome, it is a stain from which Israel will never recover.

I am indebted to Ardi Imseis, professor of law at Queen’s University, for pointing out a further significant aspect of an ICJ Order on provisional measures: “The Convention is not just about the punishment of the crime of genocide, it is also about the prevention of the crime of genocide. Once you have a plausible case of genocide, which is implied if the Court does issue a provisional measures order, that triggers a positive obligation on the part of other signatories to the Genocide Convention: to prevent genocide. This leads to the need to adjust their own policies vis-à-vis the occupying power’s actions in Gaza, including arms transfers and diplomatic protection.” 

In other words, judge the ICJ Order Friday by whether it endorses or dismisses South Africa’s application, not on the basis of whether or not it orders measures that Israel will ignore and the U.S. render meaningless.

It is also worth reflecting on how far South Africa has come since its white minority regime was one of Israel’s closest allies. Given Israel’s long and sordid record of alliances with anti-Semites, it should come as no surprise that many of the South African apartheid regime’s ruling National Party leaders, such as D.F Malan, H.F. Verwoerd, John Vorster, and P.W. Botha, actively supported the Nazis during WWII or otherwise openly espoused anti-Semitic policies. During the 1970s and 1980s, both Israel and South Africa were international pariahs, bringing these institutionally racist, supremacist states even closer together. US intelligence strongly suspected that they jointly conducted a nuclear test in the Indian Ocean in 1979. Birds of a feather…

South Africa is today a, if not the, leader of the free world. By contrast, the US and EU merely posture as beacons of freedom and preach empty slogans that, as we see in Gaza today, are primarily honored in the breach. And speaking of nuclear weapons and sanctimonious posturing, Israeli cabinet minister Amichai Eliyahu today once again advocated dropping a nuclear bomb on the Gaza Strip. “Even in The Hague they know my position,” he noted. 

Why does he speak so brazenly? Because when he previously advocated nuclear war in late 2023, each and every Western capital ignored his genocidal advocacy and looked the other way. Because their official position is that Israel does not possess the nuclear weapons it has, and only Iran is a proliferation risk. That’s how their disintegrating rules-based international order operates.



6) How Leaders and Diplomats Are Trying to End the Gaza War

Top American, Israeli and Arab officials are seeking to forge three parallel but related deals that could end the war in Gaza, finalize its postwar status, and, most ambitiously, set commitments for the creation of a Palestinian state.

By Patrick Kingsley and Edward Wong, Jan. 27, 2024

To understand the secret negotiations, New York Times reporters spoke to more than a dozen diplomats and officials from seven nations and the Palestinian Authority.


Black smoke billows into a darkening sky above Khan Younis.

Smoke from an Israeli airstrike this past week in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Top officials from at least 10 different administrations are trying to forge a head-spinning set of deals to end the Gaza war and answer the divisive question of how the territory will be governed after the fighting stops.


The narrowest set of major discussions is focused on reaching a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This would involve the exchange of more than 100 Israeli hostages held by Hamas for a cease-fire and thousands of Palestinians detained in Israeli jails.


A second track centers on reshaping the Palestinian Authority, the semiautonomous body that administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank. American and Arab officials are discussing overhauling the leadership of the authority and having it take control of Gaza after the war ends, assuming power from Israel and Hamas.


In a third track, American and Saudi officials are pushing Israel to agree to conditions for the creation of a Palestinian state in exchange for Saudi Arabia forging formal ties with Israel for the first time ever.


The demands and outcomes discussed in all three processes are linked, and the talks are mostly seen as long shots. The war began with the Hamas terrorist attack of Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 people, Israeli officials said. The Israeli counterattack has left more than 25,000 Palestinians dead in Gaza, say Health Ministry officials there. President Biden has given Israel full support for the war.


Significant obstacles need to be overcome in each set of negotiations. Most notable, Israel’s government says it will not allow full Palestinian sovereignty, raising doubts about whether progress can be made on the major fronts. And the Israeli military campaign has not destroyed Hamas, so it is unclear how Hamas would be persuaded to step aside while it still controls part of Gaza.


The United States is the power trying to stitch it all together. Brett McGurk, the top White House official on the Middle East, was in the region this past week, and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke to him by phone several times while on a trip in Africa, a senior State Department official said. The Biden administration wants to ensure a top U.S. official is speaking face-to-face at all times with Israeli and Arab leaders.


Officials are tossing around many ideas, most of which are provisional, long shots or strongly opposed by some parties. Several contentious suggestions are:


Transferring power within the Palestinian Authority from the incumbent president, Mahmoud Abbas, to a new prime minister, while letting Mr. Abbas retain a ceremonial role.


Sending an Arab peacekeeping force to Gaza to bolster a new Palestinian administration there.


Passing a U.N. Security Council resolution, backed by the United States, that would recognize the Palestinians’ right to statehood.


The following is a road map to the three tracks, based on interviews with more than a dozen diplomats and other officials involved in the talks, all of whom spoke anonymously in order to discuss them more freely.


1. Hostages and a Ceasefire


The Americans see an end to the war as the first thing the parties need to deliver. Those talks are entwined with negotiations for the release of more than 100 hostages seized during the rampage of Oct. 7 and held by Hamas and its allies. Hamas has said it will not release the hostages until Israel agrees to a permanent cease-fire, a stance that is incompatible with Israel’s stated goal of fighting until Hamas is removed from Gaza.


Officials from the U.S., Israel, Egypt and Qatar are discussing a deal that would pause the fighting for up to two months. In November, the parties agreed to a brief pause that resulted in Hamas releasing more than 100 hostages.


In one proposal, the hostages would be released in phases during a pause of up to 60 days in exchange for Palestinians jailed by Israel. Some officials have suggested Israeli civilians would be released first, in exchange for Palestinian women and minors detained by Israel. Then captured Israeli soldiers would be exchanged for Palestinian militant leaders serving long-term sentences.


Diplomats on various sides say they hope that more detailed discussions could be held during the pause about a permanent truce that might involve the withdrawal of most or all Israeli troops, the departure of Hamas’s leaders from the strip and a transition of power to the Palestinian Authority. For now, Israel and Hamas have each rejected some of those conditions.


To try to advance these negotiations, William J. Burns, the C.I.A. director, plans to meet in Europe in the coming days with senior Israeli, Egyptian and Qatari counterparts.


Some observers hope that the World Court’s call on Friday for Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention will give momentum and political cover to Israeli officials who are pushing internally to end the war.


2. Overhaul the Palestinian Authority


The Palestinian Authority briefly controlled Gaza after Israeli troops left in 2005, but Hamas forced it from power two years later. Now, some want the authority to return to Gaza and play a role in postwar governance. To make that idea more appealing to Israel, which opposes it, there is a push by the United States, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states to overhaul the authority and change its leadership.


Under its current president, Mahmoud Abbas, 88, the authority is widely perceived as both corrupt and authoritarian. Mediators are encouraging him to take a more ceremonial role and to cede executive power to a new prime minister who could oversee Gaza’s reconstruction and reduce corruption. U.S. officials say the goal is to make the authority a more plausible administrator of a future Palestinian state. Israeli officials also assert that the authority needs to change its education system, which they say does not promote peace, and end welfare payments to those convicted of violence against Israelis.


Some critics of Mr. Abbas want him replaced by Salam Fayyad, a Princeton professor credited with modernizing the authority during a stint as prime minister a decade ago, or Nasser al-Kidwa, a former Palestinian envoy to the U.N. who broke with Mr. Abbas three years ago. But diplomats say Mr. Abbas is pushing for a candidate over whom he has more influence, like Mohammad Mustafa, his longtime economic adviser.


Some officials have proposed an Arab peacekeeping force to help the new Palestinian leader keep order in a postwar Gaza. Israeli officials reject that notion, but have floated the idea of a multinational force under Israel’s oversight in the strip. American diplomats told the Israelis this month that Arab leaders oppose their idea.


3. Saudi Normalization With Israel


In the most ambitious set of talks, the Biden administration has revived discussions with Saudi Arabia to have the Saudis agree to formal diplomatic relations with Israel.


The three-way deal had been under discussion before the Oct. 7 attacks, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia seemed amenable to it because the Biden administration was offering a U.S.-Saudi defense treaty, cooperation on a civilian nuclear program and greater arms sales. Under that arrangement, American officials say, the Saudis would have accepted Israel’s relatively minor concessions on the Palestinian issue in return for Saudi recognition.


That recognition would be an important political win for American and Israeli leaders because of Saudi Arabia’s status as a leading Arab and Muslim nation.


Since the war began, however, Saudi Arabia and the United States have raised the price for Israel, now insisting that Israel commit to a process that leads to a Palestinian state and includes Palestinian governance of Gaza. U.S. officials have also told the Israelis that Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations would agree to give money for the reconstruction of Gaza only if Israeli leaders commit to a pathway to Palestinian statehood.


These new terms were first voiced publicly by Mr. Blinken after he met with Prince Mohammed in a desert tent camp in Saudi Arabia this month. He delivered them to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel after flying from there to Tel Aviv. He reiterated them again in a public talk at Davos, Switzerland, as did Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser.


Mr. Netanyahu has publicly rejected that proposal — pledging recently to maintain Israel’s military control of the entirety of the West Bank and Gaza. Many Israelis support that, although some U.S. officials wonder whether it is an opening bargaining position by Mr. Netanyahu.


To reassure the Saudis and the Palestinians, some officials have suggested a U.N. Security Council resolution, backed by the United States, that would enshrine the Palestinians’ right to sovereignty. But the idea has yet to gain traction.


There is also the question of whether the Biden administration can deliver a Senate-approved mutual defense treaty to Prince Mohammed. Some Democratic senators have already raised concerns about such a treaty. And the chances of Republican senators opposing it are expected to grow as the November U.S. presidential election draws closer.



7) Four Countries Join U.S. in Pausing Funding for U.N. Aid Agency in Gaza

By Victoria Kim and Aaron Boxerman, Jan. 27, 2024

“In a notable show of support for UNRWA, Ireland said it had no plans to suspend the agency’s ‘vital Gaza work.’ Micheál Martin, the country’s foreign minister, wrote on social media that the agency’s staff members had worked to ‘provide life saving assistance’ in Gaza ‘at incredible personal cost,’ with over 150 killed since the start of the war.”


A crowd gathers around a light blue hand truck piled with white sacks with light blue writing, and two brown and light blue cardboard boxes. A person in a light blue vest, red shirt and dark jeans handles one of the boxes

Workers for UNRWA handing out flour rations and other supplies in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip in December. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Britain, Finland and Australia became the latest countries to freeze additional funding to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees on Saturday after it fired a dozen of its employees accused by Israel of participating in the Oct. 7 attacks.


The three joined the United States and Canada, which said late Friday that they would temporarily pause additional funding to the body, known by the acronym UNRWA (often pronounced Un-ruh-WUH or simply Un-RUH). Other major donors, including Germany and the European Union, expressed concern but did not immediately suspend funding.


The United States has been the biggest donor by a large margin, providing the agency with several hundred million dollars in 2023 and $340 million in 2022. Australia, Britain, Canada and Finland together contributed about $66 million that year, according to the agency.


It was not immediately clear how the decisions would affect the agencies operations. They come as the United Nations’ highest court said on Friday that Israel must take action to prevent acts of genocide by its forces.


The agency has long been a vital lifeline in Gaza, which has grown increasingly desperate as Israel pursues a military campaign there in an attempt to eradicate Hamas.


None of the donor countries specified for how long they would pause the funding. A Security Council diplomat, speaking Friday on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the news, said UNRWA appeared to have funding in the near-term but that the frozen funds could paralyze the agency some time in the future.


On Saturday, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, welcomed the decisions by the United States and Canada, and called for UNRWA to stop its work in Gaza after Israel’s military campaign there was over.


Israel aims to ensure that “UNRWA will not be a part of the day after,” Mr. Katz said on social media, referring to the end of the war. He added that he would seek support for the goal from European Union, the United States and other countries.


Earlier in the week, Israel made accusations to the United Nations that the employees had helped plan and had participated in the cross-border assault that the country says left 1,200 people dead and more than 240 taken hostage. A senior U.N. official briefed on the accusations against the employees said they were “extremely serious and horrific.”


Neither Israel nor the United Nations released more details on Saturday.


Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said in a statement Friday that any employee involved in acts of terrorism would be “held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”


Hamas slammed UNRWA for firing the employees before completing their internal investigation and said it was overstepping its mandate to provide services to Palestinians.


“UNRWA has been subjected to blackmail by countries that support Zionist terrorism under the pretext of continued financial support,” the Palestinian armed group said.


Canada’s minister of international development, Ahmed Hussen, said in a statement that the country was conferring with other donors on the issue and had “temporarily paused any additional funding” to UNRWA while the agency investigates the allegations.


Britain said it was “appalled” by the allegations against UNRWA staff members and that it was pausing funding during a review. “We remain committed to getting humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza who desperately need it,” the British foreign ministry said.


UNRWA has for decades provided an array of social services for the people of Gaza, who have been under a longstanding Israeli blockade. The agency builds and operates schools, shelters and medical clinics and employs some 13,000 people, mostly Palestinians.


The demand for and dependence on its services have sharply increased since Israel’s campaign in Gaza began, displacing more than 80 percent of the enclave’s civilians and disrupting basic supplies of food, water and medical services.


In a notable show of support for UNRWA, Ireland said it had no plans to suspend the agency’s “vital Gaza work.” Micheál Martin, the country’s foreign minister, wrote on social media that the agency’s staff members had worked to “provide life saving assistance” in Gaza “at incredible personal cost,” with over 150 killed since the start of the war.


Emma Bubola, Farnaz Fassihi and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.



8) Suspension of funds hits as Gaza is struggling with vast hunger.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Jan. 27, 2024


Men stand next to containers full of sacks of flour.

A distribution of flour by UNRWA, the U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, in November in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

The suspension of potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in funding by a number of Western countries to the U.N. agency that aids the Palestinians could not have come at a worse time for Gazans, who are in the middle of an ever worsening humanitarian catastrophe, facing death, hunger and disease as a result of Israel’s attacks and siege on the territory.


The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and Finland have all announced that they are suspending funding for the agency, UNRWA, after Israel said that 12 of the agency’s local employees were involved in the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7. UNRWA has 13,000 workers in Gaza, most of them Palestinian, and is one of the largest employers in the enclave.


The agency had been a vital lifeline for Palestinians in Gaza for decades, long before Oct. 7, when Israel’s military offensive on Gaza began. With Israel’s unrelenting bombardment of the territory for nearly four months now, and the displacement of nearly all of the more than two million Palestinian residents of Gaza, UNRWA has played an even more vital role in providing critical food, water, aid and services.


The entire population of Gaza is in crisis or facing acute levels of food insecurity, according to the World Food Program. Nearly 600,000 Palestinian residents of the territory are facing catastrophic hunger and starvation in Gaza, the organization said.


UNRWA has been distributing food, including flour and water, to more than one million Palestinians seeking shelter in the agency’s overcrowded schools and centers across Gaza, as well as to other Palestinians registered with the agency, it says.


In addition to emergency relief, UNRWA has built and operated schools, medical clinics, shelters and playgrounds in Gaza. It gives housing assistance and emergency loans, and it even oversees garbage collection in some areas.


But UNRWA’s ability to help Gazans during the war — like that of all humanitarian groups in Gaza — has been severely hampered by Israel’s siege on Gaza, which has prevented most aid and commercial shipments from entering and has severely limited the distribution of aid within the enclave.


The loss of the funding could have a swift effect on UNRWA operations because, unlike other U.N. agencies, the group has no strategic financial reserve, a senior U.N. official said.


U.N. officials are particularly worried about how they will fund the 150 UNRWA shelters housing roughly 1.2 million displaced Gazans, the official said, as well as the agency’s ability to distribute aid. UNRWA is the lead group coordinating the aid trucks that enter Gaza every day with humanitarian aid.


Hussein al-Sheikh, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a close aide to the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, called on the countries suspending funding to immediately reverse their decisions and cautioned that the funding suspensions would come with great political and humanitarian risks.


“At this particular time and in light of the continuing aggression against the Palestinian people,” he wrote on social media, “we need the maximum support for this international organization and not stopping support and assistance to it.”


The State Department said it was temporarily suspending its funding of UNRWA — more than $343 million a year based on the latest figures available from 2022 — while a review was underway.


The announcements came after the United Nations’ highest court, in a landmark case against Israel alleging genocide, ordered Israel to ensure that basic services and humanitarian aid get into Gaza.


UNRWA said that it had fired the accused workers. The U.N. is investigating the Israeli claims.


“To protect the agency’s ability to deliver humanitarian assistance, I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these staff members and launch an investigation in order to establish the truth without delay,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said on Friday.


Western donor countries have used the strategy of suspending aid before as a sign of disapproval with political situations, said Irwin Loy, policy editor at The New Humanitarian, a nonprofit news organization focused on humanitarian issues and based in Geneva. But in recent examples, such as the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, the United States suspended development aid but maintained humanitarian aid.


“In this case, it is really affecting humanitarian funding,” he said. “They are using the aid to signal their displeasure but it really has impacts on actual people right now.”


“It is literally live-saving aid,” he said, adding: “UNRWA is the biggest provider of boots on the ground for aid so you can’t just replace that overnight.”


Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.



9) Israel says it is advancing in Khan Younis, a day after the top U.N. court declined to order an end to the war.

By Aaron Boxerman, Jan. 27, 2023


A tank amid debris.

An Israeli tank during a military operation in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Friday. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Israeli forces advanced in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on Saturday, the military said, the day after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to ensure more aid and prevent genocide in the enclave but declined to call for an end to its campaign.


Israeli forces were continuing to sweep through Khan Younis, which Israel has called a Hamas stronghold, and had killed “numerous terrorists in various encounters,” the Israeli military said in a statement on Saturday.


Gazans have been facing cold weather and increasing hunger as Israel continues its campaign, with many saying there was no safe place to go. Israel has ordered Gazans sheltering in several densely packed neighborhoods of Khan Younis to flee, and the fighting has reached the vicinity of at least two hospitals — Nasser Hospital, a major medical complex, and the Al-Amal Hospital, run by the Palestinian Red Crescent.


On Saturday, Israeli troops bombarded the area near Al-Amal for a sixth consecutive day, the Red Crescent said. Some 7,000 displaced Palestinians are sheltering at the hospital, Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent, said.


The Israeli military said intelligence showed Hamas militants were operating from within both Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals. In a statement, the Red Crescent denied the allegations against Al-Amal. Gazan health officials have denied Hamas uses hospitals as military assets, disputing accounts presented by the Israeli authorities and the testimony of released Israeli hostages.


In a statement, the Israeli military said it had not ordered the hospitals to evacuate, but said that it had opened a corridor for Gazans wishing to do so.


The Israeli military has ordered many Gazans remaining in Khan Younis to head for Al-Mawasi, the coastal area that Israel has called a humanitarian zone. But Palestinian refugees who have fled there say conditions are little better.


Mustafa Abu Taha, who fled Khan Younis for Al-Mawasi this week, said there was little food and scant shelter against the cold for the thousands of displaced Gazans in the area. Some had eaten spoiled canned goods, making them sick, he said.


“We are waiting for a miracle that will end all our pain and suffering,” Mr. Abu Taha added in a text message on Saturday. “It is starvation that is intimidating so many.”


Some 2.2 million people — roughly the entire population of Gaza — are facing an “imminent risk of famine,” according to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Roughly 378,000 are facing a catastrophic level of food insecurity, the highest on a five-point scale used by aid agencies, the U.N. said.


Hundreds of thousands of displaced Gazans have also sought refuge in Rafah, on the enclave’s southern border, fearing for their lives in the face of Israel’s ground invasion. Sewage is running in the street amid “conditions of desperation conducive to a complete breakdown in order,” Ajith Sunghay, a U.N. official, said on Friday.


“I saw displaced people who had been ordered by Israeli authorities to leave their homes, with no provision for their accommodation, literally living on the street,” said Mr. Sunghay, who heads a U.N. office that monitors human rights in the Palestinian territories.



10) What is UNRWA, the aid agency with some employees accused of involvement in the Oct. 7 attack?

By Monika Pronczuk and Richard Pérez-Peña, Jan. 27, 2024


A group of people, some wearing blue vests labeled “U.N.,” beside a fence around a warehouse where food is being distributed, while in the background others stand on stacked sacks of food.

Workers of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, handing out flour and other supplies at a warehouse in Rafah, in southern Gaza, in December. Credit...Getty

The U.N. agency that provides aid to Palestinians has been a vital lifeline in the Gaza Strip for generations — and it was a point of contention with Israel long before some of the agency’s employees were accused of involvement in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 assault on Israel.


The allegation, made by Israel, is a serious blow to the reputation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, generally known as UNRWA. The claim was acted on by both the United Nations, which said on Friday that it had fired the accused workers and was investigating, and the United States, which said it was suspending some funding for the agency.


Here’s a closer look at the organization and its work.


What does UNRWA do?


UNRWA provides an array of social services for people registered as Palestinian refugees in the wars surrounding the formation of Israel, and for their descendants in Gaza, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.


The agency looms especially large in Gaza, where most of the population of more than two million people are registered as refugees. Gaza has been under a longstanding Israeli blockade, and Hamas — considered a terrorist group by much of the world — wields control. No nation’s government takes even partial responsibility for governing the territory, and the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited powers in the West Bank, was effectively expelled from Gaza in a 2007 power struggle with Hamas.


UNRWA builds and operates schools, medical clinics, shelters and playgrounds throughout the territory. It provides food, housing assistance and emergency loans and even oversees some garbage collection. It is one of the largest employers in Gaza, with 13,000 workers, most of them Palestinian, a rarity in an enclave where almost half of adults are unemployed.


“Essentially, for the last few decades we have been operating a parallel government in Gaza,” Hector Sharp, the head of the agency’s legal office, said in an October interview.


What are the allegations against UNRWA?


It’s not entirely clear.


U.N. and American officials referred to claims that some UNRWA employees may have been “involved in” the Oct. 7 attacks, but did not elaborate on that involvement or say whether it included any of the worst atrocities committed that day.


The State Department referred to 12 employees being accused and fired — UNRWA did not offer a number — but it is unclear what kind of work they did or how senior they were. It also remains to be seen whether investigations will yield more such allegations.


What is UNRWA’s relationship with Israel?


Israel has long accused UNRWA of operating in collusion with Hamas, helping it indoctrinate Gazans with anti-Israel propaganda, and turning a blind eye to Hamas militants firing rockets at Israel and operating a vast tunnel network in the territory.


Hamas oversees what little civilian public administration exists in Gaza, so people and agencies under its control inevitably interact with the agency, but the extent and nature of that cooperation has been the subject of many competing claims.


Israel also objects to labeling those born outside of Israel as refugees.


The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has gone so far as to blame the agency for perpetuating rather than alleviating the plight of Palestinians and has called on the United Nations to disband it.


Israeli officials have long charged that Arab nations “want the Palestinian refugee problem to remain unresolved, so that there’s a constant reminder of the Palestinian tragedy,” said Ahron Bregman, a senior teaching fellow at King’s College London who specializes in the Arab-Israeli conflict. “UNRWA, as the Israelis see it, is a tool to keep the Palestinian refugee problem unresolved.”


But some experts say that despite the hostile public remarks, Israel, which occupied Gaza from 1967 to 2005, has needed the agency to provide stability there. “Behind the scenes Israel has often favored UNRWA’s work,” said Anne Irfan, an expert on Palestinian refugee rights at University College London.


Why was UNRWA set up?


UNRWA was established in 1949 to assist some 700,000 Palestinians who fled or were expelled from Israel during the wars surrounding its creation and were prohibited by Israel from returning.


Many settled in refugee camps that the agency helped create, which have since become built-up, mostly impoverished urban areas.


Palestinians are the only refugee group whose support is not handled under the global mandate of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


UNRWA is funded almost entirely by voluntary donations by U.N. member states, with the United States and European Union countries providing most of the financing.


The agency, which has said it was short of funds even before the current war began, has appealed for a major infusion of money to handle the additional need.


What has UNRWA’s role been during this war?


Since Israel began its bombing campaign and ground invasion in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack, UNRWA has taken primary responsibility for trying to shelter Gazans displaced from their homes — now nearly 90 percent of the population.


The agency has converted its schools, clinics and offices into emergency shelters that have become badly overcrowded, and has also set up sprawling tent camps. It has also been heavily involved in distributing deliveries of badly needed food, water and medicine.


It has also shared the suffering of people in Gaza, where the health ministry says more than 25,000 people have been killed in the war. The agency says that 152 of its employees are among the dead and that 141 of its facilities have been damaged or destroyed.


Megan Specia and Ben Hubbard contributed reporting.



11) A Collective ‘No’: Anti-Putin Russians Embrace an Unlikely Challenger

Long lines have popped up in Russia and beyond to get Boris B. Nadezhdin, an antiwar candidate, onto the ballot for Russia’s presidential election in March.

By Paul Sonne, Alina Lobzina and Ivan Nechepurenko, Jan. 27, 2024


A man in a blue sports jacket sits in a room by a large brown chair.

Boris B. Nadezhdin is trying to gather enough signatures to be on the ballot for Russia’s presidential election — if the authorities let him. Credit...Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press

His surname comes from the Russian word for hope — and for hundreds of thousands of antiwar Russians, that is, improbably enough, what he has become.


Boris B. Nadezhdin is the only candidate running on an antiwar platform with a chance of getting on the ballot to oppose President Vladimir V. Putin in Russia’s presidential election in March. Russians who are against the war have rushed to sign his official petition inside and outside the country, hoping to supply enough signatures by a Jan. 31 deadline for him to succeed in joining the race.


They have braved subzero temperatures in the Siberian city of Yakutsk. They have snaked down the block in Yekaterinburg. They have jumped in place to stay warm in St. Petersburg and flocked to outposts in Berlin, Istanbul and Tbilisi, Georgia.


They know that election officials might bar Mr. Nadezhdin from the ballot, and if he is allowed to run, they know he will never win. They don’t care.


“Boris Nadezhdin is our collective ‘No,’” said Lyosha Popov, a 25-year-old who has been collecting signatures for Mr. Nadezhdin in Yakutsk, south of the Arctic Circle. “This is simply our protest, our form of protest, so we can somehow show we are against all this.”


The grass-roots mobilization in an authoritarian country, where national elections have long been a Potemkin affair, has injected energy into a Russian opposition movement that has been all but obliterated: Its most promising leaders have been exiled, jailed or killed in a sweeping crackdown on dissent that has escalated with the war.


With protests essentially banned in Russia and criticism of the military outlawed, the long lines to support Mr. Nadezhdin’s candidacy have offered antiwar Russians a rare public communion with kindred spirits whose voices have been drowned out in a wave of jingoism and state brutality for nearly two years.


Many of them don’t particularly know about or care for Mr. Nadezhdin, a 60-year-old physicist who was a member of Russia’s Parliament from 1999 to 2003, and who openly acknowledges lacking the charisma of anti-Kremlin crusaders like Aleksei A. Navalny, the jailed opposition leader.


But with a draconian censorship law stifling criticism of the war, Mr. Nadezhdin’s supporters see backing him as the only legal way left in Russia to demonstrate their opposition to Mr. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. And they like what the candidate is saying — about the conflict driving Russia off a cliff; about the need to free political prisoners, bring the troops home and make peace with Ukraine; about Russia’s anti-gay laws being “idiotic.”


“The purpose of my participation is to oppose Putin’s approach, which is leading the country to a dead end, into a rut of authoritarianism, militarization and isolation,” Mr. Nadezhdin said in a written response to questions from The New York Times.


“The more votes that a candidate against Putin’s approach and the ‘special military operation’ receives, the greater the chances are for peace and change in Russia,” he added, using the Kremlin’s term for the war to avoid running afoul of Russian law.


He has dismissed questions about his safety, noting in a YouTube appearance this past week that, in any case, the “tastiest and sweetest years of my life are already in the past.”


The Kremlin tightly controls the election process to ensure Mr. Putin’s inevitability as the victor, but allows nonthreatening opponents to run — to provide a veneer of legitimacy, drive turnout at the polls and give Russians opposed to his rule an outlet for venting their dissatisfaction. So far, 11 people, including Mr. Nadezhdin and Mr. Putin, have been allowed to register as potential candidates and are collecting signatures.


Many of Mr. Nadezhdin’s newfound supporters accept that he might have initially been viewed as just a useful tool for the Kremlin — a 1990s-era liberal with a folksy grandpa vibe who is willing to play the state’s game.


Of particular suspicion is his work in the 1990s as an aide to Sergei V. Kiriyenko, a prime minister under President Boris N. Yeltsin who is now the top Kremlin official responsible for overseeing domestic politics.


Skeptics also point to Mr. Nadezhdin’s presence on state television, where he has contributed to an illusion of open debate by serving as a token liberal voice, there to be shouted down by pro-Putin propagandists. Opposition figures the Kremlin considers a real threat, such as Mr. Navalny, have long been barred from appearing, let alone running for president.


Mr. Nadezhdin has countered that if he were a Kremlin marionette, he would not be scrambling for signatures and money, nor would the main state television channel have excluded his name from its list of presidential candidates.


His supporters are pressing ahead regardless.


“He may well turn out to be a decorative candidate, but if so, there’s a sense that everything hasn’t gone according to plan,” said Tatyana Semyonova, a 32-year-old programmer who showed up at a crowded courtyard in Berlin to sign her name.


She said she didn’t have any particular affinity for Mr. Nadezhdin but was signing as an act of protest.


Pavel Laptev, a 37-year-old designer standing next to Ms. Semyonova in line, said that even the smallest chance to change something should not be wasted. “Even if he is a decorative candidate, once he has all this power, maybe he will decide he’s not so decorative,” he said.


The unexpected groundswell of support for Mr. Nadezhdin has presented the Kremlin’s political maestros with a thorny question in the first presidential vote since Mr. Putin launched his invasion: Will they allow an antiwar candidate of any stripe to stand for election?


“I will be surprised, surprised but delighted, if I see you on the electoral ballot,” Ekaterina Schulmann, a Russian political scientist based in Berlin, told Mr. Nadezhdin this past week during a YouTube show. “I’m not convinced that our political management at this stage in its development, of its evolution, can afford to take such risks.”


Mr. Nadezhdin’s campaign says it has far surpassed the 100,000 total signatures required, but a candidate is allowed to submit only a maximum of 2,500 from any single Russian region. On Friday, his campaign said it was on track to gather enough signatures from regions inside Russia and would not need any from abroad.


But even if Mr. Nadezhdin amasses enough signatures, the Russian authorities could find a way to disqualify him. The long, visible lines of support, he has said, will make that harder to do.


Many antiwar Russians initially coalesced around Ekaterina S. Duntsova, a little-known former television journalist and local politician who launched a campaign in November and quickly rose to prominence. But the Central Electoral Commission rejected her application to become a candidate because of what she called trivial mistakes in her paperwork.


She has since backed Mr. Nadezhdin.


Members of Mr. Navalny’s team, including his wife, have also publicly backed the former lawmaker. So have one of Russia’s most famous rock stars, Yuri Shevchuk, and another influential exiled opposition activist, Maxim Katz.


In Yakutsk, a frigid city in eastern Siberia, it was minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit when Mr. Popov, the head of the campaign there, started collecting signatures. Eventually, the weather warmed up and the crowd increased.


Few places downtown would allow Mr. Popov to set up a stand in support of an anti-Putin candidate. But he persuaded a shopping mall to give the operation a spot in a corridor, where people can sign their names at a school desk and folding table.


“If people don’t know Boris Nadezhdin, I can tell them who he is,” Mr. Popov said. But he emphasizes that he is not there because of Mr. Nadezhdin. “I am here collecting signatures against Putin,” he tells people. “We’re collecting signatures against Putin, yes, against military action.”


Those signing must give their full names and passport details — in effect a ready-made list of Russians who oppose the war — spurring fears of reprisal.


But that has not deterred Karen Danielyan, a 20-year-old from Tver, about 100 miles northwest of Moscow, whose entire adult life so far has been spent with Russia at war. “The fear that this will continue further is much stronger and heavier than the fear that they will do something to me for working as a signature collector,” he said.


Mr. Nadezhdin portrays himself as an unremarkable politician who decided to run as an “act of despair” and found himself accidentally at the forefront of a movement.


“But, comrades, I do have one quality — I endlessly love my family and my country,” he said this past week in a YouTube appearance alongside Ms. Schulmann, the political analyst. “I endlessly believe that Russia isn’t worse than any other country and can achieve, with the help of democracy, elections and the will of the people, tremendous results.”


Ms. Schulmann told him he would be judged by what happens to the people who have signed his petition.


“I won’t betray anyone,” he said. “I will fight.”



12) Where Is Hamas Getting Its Weapons? Increasingly, From Israel.

The very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza are now being used against them.

By Maria Abi-Habib and Sheera Frenkel, Jan. 28, 2024


Residents stare and take pictures as a crane lifts an unexploded missile out of a neighborhood.

Explosives engineers in 2021 removing an unexploded Israeli missile in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a significant number of weapons used by Hamas in the Oct. 7 attacks and in the war in Gaza came from an unlikely source: the Israeli military itself.


For years, analysts have pointed to underground smuggling routes to explain how Hamas stayed so heavily armed despite an Israeli military blockade of the Gaza Strip. But recent intelligence has shown the extent to which Hamas has been able to build many of its rockets and anti-tank weaponry out of the thousands of munitions that failed to detonate when Israel lobbed them into Gaza, according to weapons experts and Israeli and Western intelligence officials. Hamas is also arming its fighters with weapons stolen from Israeli military bases.


Intelligence gathered during months of fighting revealed that, just as the Israeli authorities misjudged Hamas’s intentions before Oct. 7, they also underestimated its ability to obtain arms.


What is clear now is that the very weapons that Israeli forces have used to enforce a blockade of Gaza over the past 17 years are now being used against them. Israeli and American military explosives have enabled Hamas to shower Israel with rockets and, for the first time, penetrate Israeli towns from Gaza.


“Unexploded ordnance is a main source of explosives for Hamas,” said Michael Cardash, the former deputy head of the Israeli National Police Bomb Disposal Division and an Israeli police consultant. “They are cutting open bombs from Israel, artillery bombs from Israel, and a lot of them are being used, of course, and repurposed for their explosives and rockets.”


Weapons experts say that roughly 10 percent of munitions typically fail to detonate, but in Israel’s case, the figure could be higher. Israel’s arsenal includes Vietnam-era missiles, long discontinued by the United States and other military powers. The failure rate on some of those missiles could be as high as 15 percent, said one Israeli intelligence officer who, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.


By either count, years of sporadic bombing and the recent bombardment of Gaza have littered the area with thousands of tons of unexploded ordnance just waiting to be reused. One 750-pound bomb that fails to detonate can become hundreds of missiles or rockets.


Hamas did not respond to messages seeking comment. The Israeli military said in a statement that it was committed to dismantling Hamas but did not answer specific questions about the group’s weapons.


Israeli officials knew before the October attacks that Hamas could salvage some Israeli-made weapons, but the scope has startled weapons experts and diplomats alike.


Israeli authorities also knew that their armories were vulnerable to theft. A military report from early last year noted that thousands of bullets and hundreds of guns and grenades had been stolen from poorly guarded bases.


From there, the report said, some made their way to the West Bank, and others to Gaza by way of Sinai. But the report focused on military security. The consequences were treated almost as an afterthought: “We are fueling our enemies with our own weapons,” read one line of the report, which was viewed by The New York Times.


The consequences became apparent on Oct. 7. Hours after Hamas breached the border, four Israeli soldiers discovered the body of a Hamas gunman who was killed outside the Re’im military base. Hebrew writing was visible on a grenade on his belt, said one of the soldiers, who recognized it as a bulletproof Israeli grenade, a recent model. Other Hamas fighters overran the base, and Israeli military officials say some weapons were looted and returned to Gaza.


A few miles away, members of an Israeli forensic team collected one of the 5,000 rockets fired by Hamas that day. Examining the rocket, they discovered that its military-grade explosives had most likely come from an unexploded Israeli missile fired into Gaza during a previous war, according to an Israeli intelligence officer.


The Oct. 7 attacks showcased the patchwork arsenal that Hamas had stitched together. It included Iranian-made attack drones and North Korean-made rocket launchers, the types of weapons that Hamas is known to smuggle into Gaza through tunnels. Iran remains a major source of Hamas’s money and weapons.


But other weapons, like anti-tank explosives, RPG warheads, thermobaric grenades and improvised devices were repurposed Israeli arms, according to Hamas videos and remnants uncovered by Israel.


Rockets and missiles require huge quantities of explosive material, which officials say is the most difficult item to smuggle into Gaza.


Yet Hamas fired so many rockets and missiles on Oct. 7 that Israel’s Iron Dome air-defense system could not keep up. Rockets struck towns, cities and military bases, giving cover to the militants who stormed into Israel. One rocket hit a military base believed to house part of Israel’s nuclear missile program.


Hamas once relied on material like fertilizer and powdered sugar — which, pound for pound, are not as powerful as military-grade explosives — to build rockets. But since 2007, Israel has enforced a strict blockade, restricting the import of goods, including electronics and computer equipment, that could be used to make weapons.


That blockade and a crackdown on smuggling tunnels leading into and out of Gaza forced Hamas to get creative.


Its manufacturing abilities are now sophisticated enough to saw into the warheads of bombs weighing up to 2,000 pounds, to harvest the explosives and to repurpose them.


“They have a military industry in Gaza. Some of it is above ground, some of it is below ground, and they are able to manufacture a lot of what they need,” said Eyal Hulata, who served as Israel’s national security adviser and head of its National Security Council before stepping down early last year.


One Western military official said that most of the explosives that Hamas is using in its war with Israel appear to have been manufactured using unexploded Israeli-launched munitions. One example, the official said, was an explosive booby trap that killed 10 Israeli soldiers in December.


The military wing of Hamas, the Qassam Brigades, has flaunted its manufacturing abilities for years. After a war in 2014 with Israel, it established engineering teams to collect unexploded munitions like howitzer rounds and American-made MK-84 bombs.


These teams work with the police’s explosive ordnance-disposal units, allowing people to safely return to their homes. They also help Hamas gear up for the next war.


“Our strategy aimed to repurpose these pieces, turning this crisis into an opportunity,” a Qassam Brigades commander told Al Jazeera in 2020.


Qassam’s media arm has released videos in recent years showing exactly what they were doing: sawing into warheads, scooping out explosive material — usually a powder — and melting it down to reuse.


In 2019, Qassam commandos discovered hundreds of munitions on two World War I-era British military vessels that had sunk off the coast of Gaza a century earlier. The discovery, Qassam boasted, allowed it to make hundreds of new rockets.


Early in the current war, a Qassam video showed militants assembling Yassin 105 rockets in a sunless manufacturing facility.


“The most essential way for Hamas to obtain weaponry is through domestic manufacture,” said Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Middle East policy analyst who grew up in Gaza. “It’s just a tweak of chemistry and you can make pretty much whatever you want.”


Israel restricts the mass importation of construction materials that can be used to build rockets and other weapons. But each new round of fighting leaves behind neighborhoods of rubble from which militants can pluck pipes, concrete and other valuable material, Mr. Alkhatib said.


Hamas cannot manufacture everything. Some things are easier to buy from the black market and smuggle into Gaza. Sinai, the largely uninhabited desert region between Israel, Egypt and the Gaza Strip, remains a hub for arms smuggling. Weapons from conflicts in Libya, Eritrea and Afghanistan have been discovered in Sinai, according to Israeli intelligence assessments.


According to two Israeli intelligence officials, at least a dozen small tunnels were still running between Gaza and Egypt before Oct. 7. A spokesman for the Egyptian government said its military had done its part to shut down tunnels on its side of the border. “Many of the weapons currently inside the Gaza Strip are the result of smuggling from within Israel,” the spokesman said in an email.


But the besieged streets of Gaza itself are increasingly a source of weapons.


Israel estimates that it has conducted at least 22,000 strikes on Gaza since Oct. 7. Each often involves multiple rounds, meaning tens of thousands of munitions have likely been dropped or fired — and thousands failed to detonate.


“Artillery, hand grenades, other munitions — tens of thousands of unexploded ordnance will be left after this war,” said Charles Birch, the head of the U.N. Mine Action Service in Gaza. These “are like a free gift to Hamas.”


Vivian Yee contributed reporting from Cairo, and Zakaria Zakaria from Rotterdam, the Netherlands.



13) Hospitals in Khan Younis struggle amid intense fighting.

By Hiba Yazbek Reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 28, 2024


Screenshot of scene inside hospital.

The Israeli military reported intense fighting on Sunday in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, where local officials warned that two hospitals were struggling to operate after seven days of bombardment.


In recent days, Israeli forces have been sweeping through Khan Younis and ordered Gazans sheltering in several densely packed neighborhoods of the city to flee. The fighting has reached the vicinity of at least two hospitals — Nasser, a major medical complex, and Al-Amal, run by the Palestinian Red Crescent — where thousands of Gazans have sought shelter.


The Red Crescent said on Sunday that oxygen supplies at Al-Amal Hospital were depleted “due to the ongoing siege” of the area, leaving medical staff unable to perform surgeries.


The statement came as the Israeli military said that “intensive battles” were underway in Khan Younis. Israel has referred to the city as a Hamas stronghold. The Israeli military has said that intelligence showed Hamas militants were operating from within both Al-Amal and Nasser hospitals.


The Red Crescent has rejected the allegations about Al-Amal, and Gazan health officials have denied Hamas uses hospitals as military assets, disputing accounts presented by the Israeli authorities. Some 7,000 displaced Palestinians are sheltering at Al-Amal Hospital, according to Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent.


Gaza’s health ministry warned of the impact that fighting was having on Nasser Hospital. It said on Saturday that the hospital’s generators could stop working within four days due to fuel shortages and that shrapnel had damaged the facility’s water tanks, resulting in leaks in the intensive care unit.


Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization, said on Friday that Nasser Hospital was running out of fuel, food and supplies, adding that 350 patients and 5,000 displaced people remained at the hospital.


Nasser Hospital is one of only two referral hospitals that provide advanced surgical and medical emergency services, according to the International Committee for the Red Cross, which said on Thursday that “the world will bear witness to untold thousands of preventable deaths” if the hospital ceases to function.



14) Black Pastors Pressure Biden to Call for a Cease-Fire in Gaza

Black congregants’ dismay at President Biden’s posture on the war could imperil his re-election bid.

By Maya King, Jan. 28, 2024


Cynthia Hale, wearing glasses and a blue shirt, looks to her left. A spotlight shines on her from above.

“They are oppressed people. We are oppressed people,” said the Rev. Cynthia Hale of the Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga. Credit...Alyssa Pointer for The New York Times

As the Israel-Hamas war enters its fourth month, a coalition of Black faith leaders is pressuring the Biden administration to push for a cease-fire — a campaign spurred in part by their parishioners, who are increasingly distressed by the suffering of Palestinians and critical of the president’s response to it.


More than 1,000 Black pastors representing hundreds of thousands of congregants nationwide have issued the demand. In sit-down meetings with White House officials, and through open letters and advertisements, ministers have made a moral case for President Biden and his administration to press Israel to stop its offensive operations in Gaza, which have killed thousands of civilians. They are also calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas and an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.


The effort at persuasion also carries a political warning, detailed in interviews with a dozen Black faith leaders and their allies. Many of their parishioners, these pastors said, are so dismayed by the president’s posture toward the war that their support for his re-election bid could be imperiled.


“Black faith leaders are extremely disappointed in the Biden administration on this issue,” said the Rev. Timothy McDonald, the senior pastor of First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta, which boasts more than 1,500 members. He was one of the first pastors of more than 200 Black clergy members in Georgia, a key swing state, to sign an open letter calling for a cease-fire. “We are afraid,” Mr. McDonald said. “And we’ve talked about it — it’s going to be very hard to persuade our people to go back to the polls and vote for Biden.”


Any cracks in the ordinarily rock-solid foundation of Black support for Mr. Biden, and for Democrats nationally, could be of enormous significance in November.


The intense feeling on the war in Gaza is among myriad unexpected ways that the war has scrambled U.S. politics. And it comes as Mr. Biden is already facing signs of waning enthusiasm among Black voters, who have for generations been the Democrats’ most loyal voting base.


The coalition of Black clergy pushing Mr. Biden for a cease-fire is diverse, from conservative-leaning Southern Baptists to more progressive nondenominational congregations in the Midwest and Northeast.


“This is not a fringe issue,” said the Rev. Michael McBride, a founder of Black Church PAC and the lead pastor of the Way church in Berkeley, Calif. “There are many of us who feel that this administration has lost its way on this.”


Seeing images of destruction in Gaza, many Black voters whose churches have become involved in the cease-fire movement have voiced increasing disenchantment with Democrats, who they feel have done little to stop the war.


Their pastors said their congregants’ strong reactions to the war were striking.


“Black clergy have seen war, militarism, poverty and racism all connected,” said Barbara Williams-Skinner, co-convener of the National African American Clergy Network, whose members lead roughly 15 million Black churchgoers. She helped coordinate recent meetings between the White House and faith leaders. “But the Israel-Gaza war, unlike Iran and Afghanistan, has evoked the kind of deep-seated angst among Black people that I have not seen since the civil rights movement.”


When Hamas invaded Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 Israelis and taking about 240 people hostage, leagues of Black pastors joined their counterparts in interfaith prayer for Israel, whose land they revere as holy.


But since then, the pastors’ Palestinian allies in the United States, Gaza and the West Bank have sought their assistance on behalf of civilians suffering under Israel’s counteroffensive. And the pastors have gotten an earful from their own congregants, especially younger churchgoers, about the conflict and Mr. Biden’s full-throated support for Israel.


That sentiment more broadly reflects a strong sense of solidarity between Black Americans and Palestinians that has shaped opinion since the war began.


“We see them as a part of us,” said the Rev. Cynthia Hale, the founder and senior pastor of Ray of Hope Christian Church in Decatur, Ga. “They are oppressed people. We are oppressed people.”


The Black pastors’ effort has forced the Biden administration to pay attention, as the president readies for what is expected to be an extremely close election against former President Donald J. Trump.


It began in late October, when a delegation of Black faith leaders from across the country descended on Washington, where they called for an end to the fighting in meetings with the White House and members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Hundreds of pastors signed open letters to Democratic leaders and paid for full-page advertisements in national newspapers, including The New York Times, to push for a cease-fire on humanitarian grounds and call for the release of all hostages being held in Gaza.


Since its founding, the Black church has been considered a power center of Black political organizing. In addition to providing spiritual guidance and challenging political leaders on moral grounds, Black religious leaders have galvanized their members to exercise their hard-won voting rights, often with great success.


Mr. Biden, especially, has recognized the importance of the Black church. One of his first campaign events of 2024 took place at Mother Emanuel A.M.E. in Charleston, S.C., on Jan. 8, making him the first sitting president to speak from the church’s storied pulpit. When protesters interrupted his speech with calls for a cease-fire, their cries were drowned out by shouts of “Four more years!”


Mr. Biden’s campaign did not comment on the record for this article.


Some leaders say Mr. Biden still has time to change the trajectory of the conflict abroad and, in turn, recover any love lost between his administration and Black voters.


“As long as Blacks feel that the president is being genuine, I think he will continue to have our support,” said Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who presides over more than 500 African Methodist Episcopal churches in Georgia. He, too, signed the letter calling for a cease-fire and the return of hostages. “I think he’s demonstrating his authenticity by the friction that you can tell is between him and Netanyahu as relates to what’s going on in the Middle East,” he said, referring to Israel’s prime minister.


Still, six Black faith leaders who spoke with The New York Times said they or their colleagues had considered rescinding invitations to Democratic politicians hoping to speak during their Sunday services, or withholding public support for Mr. Biden’s re-election until his administration committed to a cease-fire.


“What they are witnessing from the administration in Gaza is a glaring contradiction to what we thought the president and the administration was about,” said the Rev. Frederick D. Haynes, the senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in Dallas and the president and chief executive of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, the civil rights organization founded by the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. His church has more than 12,000 members. “So when you hear a president say the term, ‘redeem the soul of America,’ well, this is a stain, a scar on the soul of America. There’s something about this that becomes hypocritical.”


Black faith leaders are nonetheless conscious of the risks in pushing Mr. Biden on a cease-fire with Mr. Trump looming as the likely Republican presidential nominee. Even pastors most critical of Mr. Biden on the war in Gaza agreed that a Trump re-election would be a worst-case scenario for their largely Black and working-class congregations.


They also suggested that Mr. Trump, who has said he would bar refugees from Gaza from entering the United States, would most likely have less sympathy than Mr. Biden for the plight of Gaza’s civilians.


But the difference between grudging and enthusiastic support could be significant. Asked whether the war in the Middle East could threaten Mr. Biden’s chances in November, the Rev. Jamal Bryant, the senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Stonecrest, Ga., said, “I think Biden threatens his own success.”


Democrats, Mr. Bryant observed, have seemed to be “almost on cruise control and feel like: Oh, the Black people will come around. They’ll be forgiving, and they’ll go along with us.” But, he added, as the war drags on, “I really think that the ante is going to really elevate itself.”


The cease-fire calls have strained some relationships between Black pastors and Jewish leaders.


Rabbi Peter S. Berg, the senior rabbi of the Temple in Atlanta, described in an email his “extraordinary relationship” with Black pastors and recalled a service at the nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend in which Christians and Jews prayed together for peace and the safe return of the hostages.


He added, though, that he felt the demand for a cease-fire, from some pastors whom he has long considered friends, did not fully consider the feelings of Jews with ties to Israel.


“While we all want peace and for this war to end, I was disappointed to see that some faith leaders call for a cease-fire without focusing on bringing the hostages home and holding Hamas accountable for the atrocities they have committed,” Rabbi Berg said, adding, “This is the time to double down on our strong relationships and to be open and honest with each other.”


Black pastors said they had sought to reassure Jewish leaders who took issue with their cease-fire push, underlining that their demand was not rooted in antisemitism and that they were also calling for the release of Israeli hostages and for Israel to be safe from attack.


“Our call for a cease-fire ought not be read as a call for the killing or terror of Jewish individuals and families,” said Mr. McBride, who took part in the meetings in Washington. “We’re against all of these wicked expressions of dehumanization and terror, wherever they show up.”