Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, January 4, 2024




Never Again and Again and Again - by Mr. Fish

Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of January 4, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 22,438,* 57,613 wounded, and more than 316 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 4,910.

*This figure is the latest confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health as of December 29. Due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 30,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

More than 8,000 are still missing, buried under the rubble. 




Labor for Palestine

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

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.


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


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

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

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

For More Information:


Production of Labor Video Project







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

Labor for Palestine Petition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please sign and forward widely!

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


To endorse as other, please click here:


 Initial Signers on behalf of Labor for Palestine

(Organizational affiliations listed for identification only)

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

The list of signers will be updated periodically.



The Labor for Palestine model resolution can be found at:




Jewish Doctor Speaks Out on Israel and Palestine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—Independent Catholic News, October 16, 2023






the French word

for rabies


la rage -

rage or outrage



the French have a saying -

a man who wants to get rid of his dog

accuses it of spreading rabies


the people of Gaza

treated as inhuman animals

worse than dogs

are charged

with terrorism


come to think of it

what an honor !


world war two's resistance

against nazi extermination

was designated

as terrorism

by the Axis allies


what an honor !



was monitored

as a terrorist

by the CIA


What an honor !



peacefully meditating

near Israeli-funded cop city

was executed

in cold blood

on suspicion

of domestic terrorism 


What an honor !


in the spirit of Mandela

in the spirit of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising

in the spirit of Tortuguita

in the spirit of Attica

may the anti colonial outrage

of the People of Palestine

contaminate us all -

the only epidemic

worth dying for


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



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

77 years of brutal oppression must end!

End all U.S. aid to Israel now!

For a democratic, secular Palestine!



Free Julian Assange

Immediate Repeated Action Needed to Free Assange


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


Find your representatives:



Leave each of your representatives a message individually to: 

·      Drop the charges against Julian Assange

·      Speak out publicly against the indictment and

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

           202-224-3121—Capitol Main Switchboard 


Leave a message on the White House comment line to 

Demand Julian Assange be pardoned: 


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


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

             202-353-1555—DOJ Comment Line

             202-514-2000 Main Switchboard 



Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!


Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Poetic Petition to Genocide Joe Before He Eats His Turkey 

By Julia Wright


Mr Genocide Joe

you have helped broker

a Thanksgiving truce

in Gaza

where your zionist partners

in war crimes

say they will stop

slaughtering "human animals"

for four days



Mr Genocide Joe

closer to home

you have your own hostages

taken in the cointelpro wars

who still languish

in cages

treated worse than animals




as you pardon

two turkeys

in the White House today

as you get ready to eat your military turkey

and have it too

it would at last be time

to unchain

at least two of your own "human animals" -

Mumia Abu-Jamal


Leonard Peltier


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



A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 

Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

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


Dear friends, relatives, supporters, loved ones:


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


I am still here.


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


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


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


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


We are still here.


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


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


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


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


We are still here and you give me hope. 


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


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


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


In the Spirit of Crazy Horse



Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

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

Video at:


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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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



Updates From Kevin Cooper 

March 23, 2023 

Dear Friends and Comrades, 

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

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

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

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

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

In Struggle & Solidarity,

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

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974



Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

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



Letter from Kevin “Rashid” Johnson

November 6, 2023

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

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

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

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

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


      All power to the people!



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


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

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

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


Virginia Department of Corrections Interstate Compact Liaison

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


VADOC ~Central Administration

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


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

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


Red Onion State Prison, Assistant Warden

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


Write to Rashid: 

Kevin “Rashid” Johnson #1007485 

Red Onion State Prison

10800 H. Jack Rose Hwy

Pound, VA 24279




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

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


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



Sign the petition:




Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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

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

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

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

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

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

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



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


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


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


Emergency Hotlines

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


State and Local Hotlines

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


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

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

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

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


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






1) U.S. Helicopters Sink 3 Houthi Boats in Red Sea, Pentagon Says

Iranian-backed Houthi gunmen from Yemen had fired on American helicopters responding to an attack on a commercial ship, U.S. Central Command reported.

By Vivek Shankar, Dec. 31, 2023

“The clash occurred after a commercial container ship was attacked by Houthi fighters in small boats and issued a distress call, prompting U.S. Navy helicopters to respond, the American military said. ‘In the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters with crew-served weapons and small arms,’ Central Command said in a statement on social media. ‘The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews.’”


A man stands on the deck of a ship holding binoculars. An aircraft carrier is seen in the distance.

Looking out at the U.S.S. Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf in November. Helicopters from the aircraft carrier came under fire from the Houthis on Sunday. Credit...US Navy, via Associated Press

American military helicopters came under fire from Iranian-backed Houthi fighters in the Red Sea on Sunday morning and shot back, sinking three Houthi boats and killing those aboard, U.S. Central Command said.


The episode was a significant escalation in the Houthis’ attacks in the Red Sea, where they have launched dozens of missile and drone assaults against commercial ships in response to Israel’s war against another Iran-backed group, Hamas. It was the first time since the Israel-Hamas war began that the Yemen-based Houthis have been known to directly target U.S. forces, which have been deployed to the region to protect vessels transiting a crucial waterway for global shipping.


The clash occurred after a commercial container ship was attacked by Houthi fighters in small boats and issued a distress call, prompting U.S. Navy helicopters to respond, the American military said.


“In the process of issuing verbal calls to the small boats, the small boats fired upon the U.S. helicopters with crew-served weapons and small arms,” Central Command said in a statement on social media. “The U.S. Navy helicopters returned fire in self-defense, sinking three of the four small boats, and killing the crews.”


In recent months, American forces have launched retaliatory attacks in Syria and Iraq against Iran-backed militias that have targeted U.S. troops, and the Pentagon has acknowledged that militants were killed in at least one of those strikes. But the U.S. military has not struck directly at the Houthis in Yemen, where they control a large swath of the country’s north, wary of an escalation that could cause the war in Gaza to further inflame the Middle East.


In early December, the destroyer U.S.S. Carney shot down three drones during a sustained Houthi attack on commercial ships in the Red Sea, the Pentagon said. One of the drones was headed in the direction of the Carney, though it was not clear at the time if the destroyer was the intended target.


The incident on Sunday involved a container ship operated by the shipping giant Maersk, which was transiting the southern Red Sea when it came under attack by Houthis, according to statements by Central Command and by Maersk.


The container ship, the Maersk Hangzhou, reported that it had been struck by a missile at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, when it was about 55 nautical miles southwest of Hudaydah, Yemen. The crew “observed a flash on the deck,” Maersk said in an emailed statement.


Two American vessels responded to the ship’s distress call, and one of them, the U.S.S. Gravely, a destroyer, “shot down two anti-ship ballistic missiles fired from Houthi-controlled areas in Yemen toward the ships,” Central Command said on social media.


No injuries were reported, and Maersk said that its vessel had continued traveling north.


Then, on Sunday morning, four small boats piloted by Houthis attacked the Maersk ship, getting to within about 20 yards of the vessel, and they attempted to board it, Central Command said in its subsequent statement. It said that security officers had opened fire from the container vessel, which issued another distress call, and that U.S. helicopters from the Gravely and the U.S.S. Eisenhower, an aircraft carrier, flew to the scene, where they came under fire from the Houthis.


The U.S. military did not indicate how it knew that the crew members of the three boats it sank had died. The fourth boat fled the area, Central Command said, adding that no U.S. personnel were harmed and no equipment was damaged in the episode.


The clash came just days after Maersk said that it was resuming voyages through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. For about a week before that announcement, the company’s ships had been avoiding the area because of safety concerns.


On Sunday, Maersk said in an emailed statement that it would pause “all transits through the area for the next 48 hours” as it investigates the attack and assesses security in the waterway. The crew of the Maersk Hangzhou, which was traveling from Singapore to Port Suez, was safe, the company said.


The attack was the 23rd by the Houthis in about six weeks, according to the United States. The incidents have prompted some companies to avoid the Red Sea, rerouting their vessels around the Cape of Good Hope, pushing up shipping rates even as the longer voyages increase delays.


There was no immediate statement on the incident from the Houthis. A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, recently said that the group would continue its attacks “until the Israeli aggression against our steadfast brothers in the Gaza Strip stops.”


The United States announced this month that it had set up a naval task force to try to ensure safe passage for commercial ships in the Red Sea. The members of the security initiative, called Operation Prosperity Guardian, include Bahrain, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.



2) Netanyahu Vows ‘Absolute Victory’ Over Hamas

By Isabel Kershner reporting from Jerusalem, Dec.31, 2023


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, center, in Tel Aviv on Sunday. Credit...Pool photo by Abir Sultan

Rebuffing growing international pressure to stop the fighting in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel vowed on Saturday to continue until “absolute victory.”


The goal requires more time, he said at a televised prime-time news conference. Echoing the words of his military chief of staff, he added, “The war will last for many more months.”


Mr. Netanyahu appeared alone, without members of his war cabinet, and sought to reassure Israelis that he was determined to complete the stated mission of eliminating Hamas and freeing the remaining hostages being held in Gaza.


As casualties in Gaza continue to rise, Israel has come under increasing international pressure to cease the hostilities. Its closest ally, the United States, has been urging Israel to scale back its military operations and move to a more precise campaign that would exact fewer civilian casualties and ease the humanitarian crisis in Hamas-run Gaza.


About 20,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have been killed in the war prompted by a Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Gaza health ministry. About 1,200 people were killed in the surprise attack, Israeli officials say, and of the about 240 people abducted to Gaza, 129 remain there.


After days of escalating clashes along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and its boundary with Syria, Mr. Netanyahu warned Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed militia acting in solidarity with Hamas, that if it broadened its attacks against Israel, it and Iran would “absorb blows that it has not dreamed of.”


Mr. Netanyahu said he appreciated the support of the Biden administration, reflected in its decision on Friday to fast-track additional supplies of weaponry to Israel.


The prime minister added that everywhere he goes in Israel, “I hear the same words: ‘Continue — don’t stop.’ ”



3) ZAKA is not a trustworthy source for allegations of sexual violence on October 7

ZAKA is one of the leading organizations alleging Hamas atrocities on October 7. But the organization’s volunteers have systematically given false testimonies, and continue repeating them to journalists on behalf of the Israeli government.



Volunteers from ZAKA in Kibbutz BE’ERI, October 12, 2023. (Photo: AVI Ohayon/Israel National Photo Collection)

Many of the reports in Israeli and international media networks — including CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, and many others — that accuse Palestinians of committing systematic wide-scale gender-based violence against Israeli women on October 7, 2023, rely on testimonies by Israeli ZAKA volunteers.


ZAKA is a non-governmental religious Haredi organization specializing in collecting dead bodies and body parts from sites of “unnatural” deaths and transporting them to morgues according to strict Jewish religious laws. 


The organization was founded in the late 1990s by Yehuda Meshi-Zahav. Meshi-Zahav was previously the leader of “Keshet,” an ultra-Orthodox Jewish terrorist group that targeted forensic pathologists and used explosives against shops selling “secular newspapers.” Meshi-Zahav led ZAKA until 2021, when he attempted suicide after shocking revelations of dozens of rape and sexual assault cases committed by him. Since its inception, the organization — described as a “militia” by the highly esteemed Israeli journalist Yigal Sarna — has been subject to incessant criticism, investigations, and demands to dismantle it.



The testimonies provided by ZAKA’s members — all men, most of whom are volunteers — on sexual violence on October 7 are based on their interpretation of what they claim to have seen on bodies they collected after the attack. Not only do these men lack the professional qualifications to make such assessments (they are not medical experts), but their testimonies also lack details: no age, no location, and no time. Details and/or evidence have not even been given to journalists who have asked to see them while reporting on these testimonies. This means that it is impossible to either confirm or debunk them. 


In other words, the organization’s testimonies hold no value unless one blindly trusts what its men say.


Since October 7, ZAKA has been playing a key role in Israel’s orchestrated propaganda campaign, spreading fake news and vague information in the service of Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza. Looking closely into ZAKA reveals that the organization and its volunteers lack credibility. In fact, a significant part of their testimonies has been proven to be fabrications.


“We need to buy time, which we also buy by turning to world leaders and to public opinion. You have an important role in influencing public opinion…[ZAKA testimonies] give us the maneuvering room.“

—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ZAKA teams.


For those familiar with the organization, this is consistent with the organization’s questionable reputation. The organization has a troubled and problematic history that further undermines its legitimacy and credibility, from involvement in massive cases of sexual violence and silencing victims to financial corruption and the exploitation of tragic deaths to enhance its media appearance and grow its financial resources.


ZAKA’s reputation for spreading fake news has been known since its early years of activity. As the Israeli Army Radio correspondent in Jerusalem stated back in 2002, “ZAKA sends everything: what happened, what they think happened, and what didn’t happen as well. We verify everything, but they fulfill our need to know as quickly as possible…in the past, they sent numerous pieces of news that turned out to be lies.” 


Vital role in government propaganda


On November 12, 2023, the Israeli website Ynet published a report about how ZAKA was recruited to join Israel’s hasbara campaigns on the events of October 7, and conducted interviews with dozens of foreign journalists coordinated through the Government Press Office. Hasbara is the Israeli term for “public diplomacy” or government propaganda campaigns.


The director of the GPO, Nitzan Hein, stated, “It is difficult to imagine the Israeli hasbara with foreign correspondents without the remarkable, valuable, and effective role of ZAKA’s men. Their activity is extremely important in hasbara.”


ZAKA also closely collaborates with the National Hasbara Headquarters in the Prime Minister’s office. One of the employees in the headquarters told Ynet how the state “worked on cementing the narrative that Hamas equals ISIS and enhancing the state’s legitimacy for a very forceful response…ZAKA’s men’s testimonies have shocked and exposed, in front of the correspondents, the kind of human monsters we are dealing with.”


On November 23, 2023, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the organization’s teams. The meeting revolved around their role in Israeli propaganda. The Prime Minister heard from the volunteers “about their public diplomacy activity in Israel and the world” and urged them to intensify their efforts, as they are important for legitimizing and extending the timeframe of the war: 


“But we need to buy time, which we also buy by turning to world leaders and to public opinion. You have an important role in influencing public opinion, which also influences leaders. We are in a war; it will continue. The war is not only to take care of the 1,400 people…but also to give us the maneuvering room.”

“Non-governmental” organization


ZAKA utilizes its official designation as a “non-governmental” body to present itself as credible, and it is this supposedly independent status and ostensible lack of politicization that gives it particular legitimacy — by the organization’s own admission. For instance, one spokesperson for ZAKA told Ynet, “Being a voluntary organization without a political agenda leads to openness and more receptiveness…our testimonies are fully accepted as if they are dealing with an international humanitarian volunteer or a doctor.” 


In practice, the status of ZAKA is more complex in terms of both function and legal status. This complexity makes disseminating fake news effective while allowing them to evade responsibility. 


ZAKA is technically a non-governmental organization, but it enjoys significant governmental funding, working in full coordination with security and rescue forces. Indeed, ZAKA is recognized by the state as the only entity responsible for dealing with dead bodies in “unnatural” deaths.


In terms of political agenda, ZAKA is open about operating from and being guided by Zionist ideological objectives.


According to Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, ZAKA is also “acting as an arm for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” and “Ideologically, we are a nationalist organization seeking to integrate the Haredi public within Zionism.”


In 2015, the Israel Medicine Association issued guidelines regarding “mass casualty incidents” and how to prioritize the order of medical attention according to the injury severity following objective medical standards. In response, ZAKA’s “operation unit commander” stated that “he puts aside medical consideration and decisions are made on who deserves treatment based on whether they are Jewish.” This policy was dictated by the religious ruling by Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, who said during the discussion: “If it’s clear he is an Arab, don’t save him.” 


A fake medical image and a track record of false testimonies


ZAKA’s men deceivingly draw on a false image of medical credibility, which is designed to make their testimonies trustworthy.


However, the organization’s volunteers lack any medical or healthcare qualifications, and its members are not qualified to infer or confirm any medical or forensic assessment of the bodies. ZAKA men are solely trained to recover and collect dead bodies according to strict religious laws, to ensure the dignity of the deceased, and to prepare bodies for burial.


Most of the so-called witnesses who were interviewed by media work in industry and commerce. Furthermore, as an orthodox Haredi organization, it has a radical religious position against autopsies and forensic procedures. In fact, it is within the organization’s official mandate to work to prevent autopsies, and the organization takes legal action to prevent having to comply with the state’s requests for forensic autopsies.


This murky position between governmental and non-governmental, medical and non-medical, facilitates ZAKA’s ability to lie without bearing responsibility. 


In early December, when an investigation by Haaretz uncovered several lies propagated by the organization’s men since October 7, ZAKA’s official response was: “ZAKA volunteers are not medical experts and do not have the professional means to identify the deceased, ascertain their age, or declare the manner in which they were killed…due to the difficult condition of the bodies, it’s possible that volunteers misinterpreted what they saw.” 


Among ZAKA’s lies, Haaretz listed a falsehood about the “bodies of twenty children with severed heads,” “piles of burned children,” and a “pregnant woman’s stomach ripped open, and her fetus stabbed.” It is hard to conceive of all these false testimonies as accidental “misinterpretations.”


Simcha Greiniman’s testimonies


In early December 2023, Israeli organizations held a session at the United Nations on the allegations of sexual assault on October 7. One of ZAKA’s men, Simcha Greiniman, spoke and was identified by some media outlets as the organization’s foreign media spokesperson. His testimony was featured in a position paper by Physicians for Human Rights Israel on gender-based violence on October 7. 


A settler from the illegal “Modi’in Illit” settlement on the lands of the Palestinian villages Bil’in, Ni’lin, and Saffa, Greiniman’s main profession is carpentry, but he takes pride in his media performance: “They say I do a good job. When I sit in front of a foreign journalist, even if he is anti-Israel, I can make him cry,” Greiniman told Ynet. 


This was evident in his testimony to the United Nations. His speech was emotionally intense. He delivered it very slowly, interrupted by sips of water, holding back tears, and struggling with speech. However, while the testimony focused on three different alleged cases, he gave zero concrete details that can be confirmed or disproven. 


While it is understandable that he did not mention the victims’ names, he omitted other details that could have been mentioned for credibility, such as their ages, the name of the town where he saw these bodies or the time of finding them. In one case, he couldn’t even discern if the victim was male or female.


One might assume that Greiniman accidentally omitted these details due to his intense emotions. However, this was a premeditated decision: the British news website iNews published an interview where he presented the same testimony. When asked about the name of the kibbutz from which he described one of the scenes, he refused to answer. Any possible reason? 


Previous false testimony exposed


Previously, Greiniman presented a horrifying story about two burnt bodies of children found under the rubble of a house in Kibbutz Be’eri. This story first appeared in a long interview with Greiniman on October 19, 2023, spanning two pages in a local Haredi newspaper. No further details about the incident were mentioned there.


Later, he repeated the story twice, but the story evolved in its details. On November 7, in an interview with the Haredi site “Kikar Shabbat,” he added that the age of the first child was 5 or 6 years old. 


As for the second child, whose age was not specified, he claimed the child was found with a large knife lodged in his face. The next day, former minister Ayelet Shaked posted a video of Greiniman stating that the second child was 3-4 years old.


According to Israeli lists, the closest ages of the deceased children in Be’eri are either 12 years old or 10 months old, and there are no children matching the ages mentioned by Greiniman. 


Furthermore, in the case of Be’eri, several testimonies by survivors have confirmed intense battles, with survivor Yasmin Porat testifying that the 10-month-old infant was killed by a shell from an Israeli tank amid gunfire exchanges. However, in his testimony, Greiniman stated that when he entered Be’eri, he “did not find any signs of fighting whatsoever.”


Baseless data


Several pieces of strange information emerge in ZAKA interviews. For instance, Greiniman reiterated in one of his interviews that “85% of the bodies of women arriving at the morgue were naked.” 


Despite the hundreds of workers at the Shura Military Morgue, this detail has not been repeated anywhere. Some have spoken about the presence of “some” or “many” naked bodies, but no one came close to describing the quantity and proportion as Greiniman did.


Another official from ZAKA, Yossi Landau, claimed that “80% of the bodies showed signs of torture.” In another interview, the same official said, “70% of the bodies were shot from behind.” Later, he said that “80% were shot in the back.” None of the statistics above was ever officially stated or confirmed.


Another baseless claim is Greiniman’s testimony that they found in the pockets of Hamas fighters’ bodies foreign ID cards that prove “the fighters came from different countries.”


Greiniman also claims to have seen a video in which Hamas fighters killed Gazan workers who worked with permits inside Israel. Greiniman assured the interviewer that the fighters “knew they were from Gaza” because “the car plate was Palestinian…and you cannot mistake a person from Gaza. Their appearance is different from Israelis, even from Israeli Arabs, the mentality is different.”


This is another baseless lie. Apart from the racist assessment that “their appearance is different, the mentality is different,” there is no video showing such an incident. Moreover, Gazan workers are not allowed to enter Israel with cars, and Palestinian car plate numbers are generally not permitted in Israel, except in very rare cases of businesspersons and VIP permits.


In the same interview and others, Greiniman asserts that he has photos proving everything he says. He challenges anyone in doubt to come to Israel to personally show them the photos. However, in his interview with the Times of Israel on November 9, 2023, he was asked about the photos and replied: “I don’t have one picture in my phone.” 


Times of Israel reports that Greiniman claims that “some emergency workers did photograph other scenes and sent pictures directly to official authorities.” They, however, add that: “The Times of Israel was not able to obtain images from various government sources.”


Yossi Landau, another source of fake news


The earliest mentions by ZAKA members of rape allegations appeared in the testimonies of Yossi Landau, a central figure in the organization who made multiple international media appearances. His testimony was also endorsed, without any verification of authenticity, by Physicians for Human Rights Israel in their report that accuses Palestinians of using sexual violence as a weapon of war.


Similar to Greiniman, Landau has also been discovered to have disseminated fake news. On December 3, 2023, Haaretz published a report detailing several false testimonies disseminated by Israeli entities, confirming Landau’s personal responsibility for propagating some of these fake stories.


Among Landau’s lies was the myth of “dozens of beheaded children,” a claim that was refuted. Another reported lie was about the piles of children’s bodies burned together, a narrative that he repeated time and again, likening it to the Holocaust.


Landau also claimed, while crying in front of foreign reporters, to have seen “a pregnant woman, her abdomen ripped open, with the fetus outside her womb tied by the umbilical cord, and the fetus itself stabbed with a knife.” This has also proven to be a fabrication. Haaretz refuted any knowledge of a similar known case and interviewed the residents of the kibbutz, who denied the existence of such a case or even of a pregnant woman among their neighbors.


Landau’s lies shouldn’t come as a surprise. In a conversation with foreign journalists, he said, “When we go into a house, we use our imagination. The bodies were telling us stories that happened, that’s what happened.” 


Disturbingly, despite being proven to be a pathological liar, Landau’s testimonies are still cited in PHRI publications and are circulating in major international media networks, including The New York Times‘ latest report on “how Hamas weaponized sexual violence on Oct. 7”.


In the Times article,  Landau claims that ZAKA volunteers are not allowed to take pictures. Other volunteers, such as Haim Otmezgin and Simcha Greiniman, assured reporters that they have photos. The Times report also says that ZAKA volunteers “inadvertently” destroyed evidence. Sources in the Israeli army claimed this happened when ZAKA members changed the body bags to take photos of the bodies in bags bearing their logo.


Haim Otmezgin defending rape victims?


The head of ZAKA’s “special unit,” Haim Otmezgin, testified on November 30 in front of the “Women’s Affairs Committee” in the Israeli Parliament.


The Israeli press widely covered the testimony, which was endorsed by many Israeli women’s organizations. When he posted the video of his testimony in parliament on his Facebook page, he wrote: “The world needs to know in order to support us and enable us to accomplish the task.”


Like other testimonies by ZAKA’s men, his testimony lacked information and repeated false stories (beheaded babies, again). Otmezgin claims to “possess photos” of “a naked woman with a sharp object stuck in her crotch.” Nearly two months into the propaganda campaign, not a single journalist reported seeing these pictures. This isn’t the first time he has claimed to have evidence unseen by anyone else.


Since we are left to believe Otmezign’s words with no evidence to back them up, we must question his credibility.


Otmezgin is a reserve soldier in the Israeli army and the owner of a human resources company. His name appeared in the press earlier this year after his participation in the Israeli rescue team following the earthquake in Turkey. Upon his return, Turkish authorities opened an investigation against him, accusing him of stealing and smuggling from Turkey into Israel an antique manuscript from “the Book of Esther” found under the rubble.


But when it comes to believing Otmezgin, one must consider his connection to ZAKA’s founder, Yehuda Meshi-Zahav.


ZAKA leaders and the silencing of rape victims


In 2021, two investigative reports shook Israel. The first appeared in Haaretz newspaper, followed by TV reportage by the investigative news program Uvda. Both presented testimonies from victims of sexual assaults committed by the ZAKA founder over decades against both males and females, including children from the age of 12 and adults. The victims confirmed that those sexual crimes were widely known in Meshi-Zahav’s surroundings, likely also to Otmezgin, who was one of his closest trusted friends and worked alongside him for over 25 years.


Otmezgin publicly defended Meshi-Zahav, even after a series of testimonies emerged: “I recently spoke to him, asked how he’s facing the case, how he spends these days, supported him, and we talked about faith matters. Anyone who knows him knows he cannot harm any person.”


But Haim Otmezgin wasn’t the sole supporter of Meshi-Zahav. The ZAKA leadership, which is still in power, provided full support for him as well. Meshi-Zahav, according to evidence, used the organization’s funds, volunteer cards, and other properties for his criminal acts. In one of the first testimonies that emerged in Haaretz, a woman recounted how Meshi-Zahav threatened her during the rape: “If you utter a word, a ZAKA truck will run you over.” 


Once the police investigation began, investigators announced they planned to interrogate the organization’s leadership on suspicions of silencing victims and concealing evidence. With Meshi-Zahav’s suicide, the file was closed.


In June 2023, Channel 12 revealed that the ZAKA organization, using donation funds, hired a private investigation office to track and gather smearing information about Isaac Weinhaus, an Orthodox Jewish activist working to expose sexual violence in the community. Weinhaus was one of the figures who contributed to breaking the silence surrounding Meshi-Zahav.


The fact that women’s organizations are now endorsing the statements of ZAKA leadership and demanding the world to blindly believe Meshi-Zahav’s defenders when it comes to the events of October 7 is not only absurd and cynical but is indicative of how deep anti-Palestinian racism runs.



4) Israel Plans to Withdraw Some Troops From Gaza

Reservists from at least two brigades will be sent home this week, and another three brigades will return to Israel for training, the military said.

By Aaron Boxerman, Reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 1, 2024


Destroyed buildings; the sun can be seen in the background behind some structures.

Gaza City on Monday. More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, according to local health authorities. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Israeli military announced on Monday that it will begin withdrawing several thousand troops from Gaza at least temporarily, in what would be the most significant publicly announced pullback since the war began.


The military cited a growing toll on the Israeli economy following nearly three months of wartime mobilization with little end in sight to the fighting. Israel had been considering scaling back its operations, and the United States has been prodding it to do so more quickly as the death toll in Gaza continues to rise. More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war, according to local health authorities.


Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, emphasized that the move to demobilize some soldiers did not indicate any compromise on Israel’s intention to continue fighting, and he did not mention the American requests to scale back. He indicated that some will be called back to service in the coming year. Still, the fighting remains intense across Gaza.


Reservists from at least two brigades will be sent home this week, the Israeli military said in a statement, and three brigades will be taken back for training. Brigades vary in size, up to roughly 4,000 troops. The Israeli military does not disclose how many troops it has deployed in Gaza.


“This move is expected to significantly alleviate economic burdens and enable them to gather strength for upcoming activities in the next year,” the Israeli military said.


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is expected to return to Israel in early January for further talks on the war, according to U.S. officials, after having met with a top Netanyahu aide in Washington last week alongside Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser. The three discussed pivoting to a different phase of the war to “maximize focus on high-value Hamas targets,” a White House official said.


Israel began its campaign against Hamas after 1,200 people were killed in Israel in an attack by the Palestinian armed group and more than 240 people were taken hostage, according to the Israeli authorities. In response, the Israeli government launched a campaign to topple Hamas’s rule in Gaza and authorized the mobilization of over 350,000 reservists for the war effort.


The call-up added to the economic burden faced by hundreds of thousands of Israelis who fled their homes on Israel’s borders following the attacks. The Israeli economy is expected to shrink by 2 percent this quarter, the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies, a nonpartisan think tank in Israel, said in late December, as many left the labor force for reserve duty or abandoned businesses in their hometowns.


Israeli leaders have continued to tell the public to expect a long military campaign, even as some critics have voiced skepticism as to whether the goal of eliminating Hamas is ultimately feasible.


“The goals of the war require prolonged fighting and we are preparing accordingly,” Rear Admiral Hagari told reporters in a televised news briefing on Sunday night.


But Israeli officials have said they intend to eventually transition to a new stage of the war, which would see more directed attacks against Hamas rather than the all-out ground invasion seen thus far.


In the Gaza Strip, months of war have displaced more than 85 percent of Gaza’s 2 million-plus residents, according to the United Nations, many of whom have crowded into shrinking safe zones in the enclave’s south. Many have sought shelter in hospitals and schools, where the search for adequate food and water has become a daily ordeal.


Fighting continued overnight on Monday. Shortly after midnight — just after Israelis and Palestinians rang in the New Year — Hamas took responsibility for a rocket barrage from Gaza that sent scores fleeing to bomb shelters in central Israel.


Israeli troops also struck targets in northern and central Gaza, the Israeli military said on Monday, claiming to eliminate a Hamas militant commander. There was no immediate confirmation by Hamas.



5) Half of Gazans Are at Risk of Starving, U.N. Warns

More than 90 percent of Palestinians in the territory say they have regularly gone without food for a whole day, according to the United Nations.

By Liam Stack, Gaya Gupta and Abu Bakr Bashir, Jan. 1, 2024


People thrust containers toward others who are serving food.

Palestinians crowded in to get a free meal in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza last month. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

They ask for sandwiches, fruit juice and homemade Palestinian dishes like she used to cook before the war began. In a fleeting moment of internet access, she said, she once caught the children huddled around her phone to watch a YouTube video of someone eating French fries.


The most they can hope for these days, she said in a recent telephone interview, is a can of peas, some cheese and an energy bar distributed as a family’s rations by the United Nations once a week in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where they fled to in early December to escape Israeli bombardment farther north. It is not nearly enough to feed her family of seven.


“It’s a daily struggle,” said Ms. Zaiter, 37, whose children range in age from 9 months to 13 years. “You feel you are under pressure and hopeless, and you cannot provide anything.”


Israel’s war in Gaza has created a humanitarian catastrophe, with half of the population of about 2.2 million at risk of starvation and 90 percent saying that they regularly go without food for a whole day, the United Nations said in a recent report.


Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, said the humanitarian disaster in Gaza was among the worst he had ever seen. The territory appears to meet at least the first criteria of a famine, with 20 percent of the population facing an extreme lack of food, he said.


“I’ve been doing this for about 20 years,” Mr. Husain said. “I’ve been to pretty much any conflict, whether Yemen, whether it was South Sudan, northeast Nigeria, Ethiopia, you name it. And I have never seen anything like this, both in terms of its scale, its magnitude, but also at the pace that this has unfolded.”


Eylon Levy, an Israeli government spokesman, contended that Israel did not stand in the way of humanitarian assistance and blamed Hamas, the Palestinian group that rules Gaza, for any shortages. He accused Hamas of seizing some of the aid for its own uses. He did not provide evidence, but Western and Arab officials have said that Hamas is known to have a large stockpile of supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.


The war began on Oct. 7 after Hamas attacked Israel and killed an estimated 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials. To retaliate, Israel launched a devastating air bombardment of the small, impoverished enclave, followed by a ground invasion that has displaced roughly 85 percent of the population.


More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and it has destroyed much of the territory’s civilian infrastructure and economy. Israel has also imposed a siege on Gaza for months now, cutting off most water, food, fuel and medicine.


Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians, said he recently saw desperately hungry Gazans stop the organization’s aid trucks in Rafah, raid their food supplies and devour them on the spot.


“I witnessed this firsthand,” he told a news conference in Geneva two days after visiting Rafah at the southern end of Gaza. “Everywhere you go, people are hungry, desperate and terrified.”


Human Rights Watch has accused Israel of collectively punishing Gaza civilians for the actions of Hamas and of “using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare.” Both are potential war crimes.


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

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


At the beginning of the war, Israeli officials vowed to deny humanitarian aid to Gaza.


“I have ordered a complete siege on the Gaza Strip: There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Oct. 9. “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”


Nothing was allowed in for the first two weeks. Then some deliveries began to flow, but no fuel was allowed in until Nov. 18.


In recent weeks, Israel has allowed 100 to 120 trucks to enter Gaza each day, said Dr. Guillemette Thomas, a Jerusalem-based medical coordinator for Doctors Without Borders. That is still far less than the 500 trucks that entered each day before the war, and far below what is needed, she said.

Mr. Levy, the government spokesman, pushed back recently against the idea that Israel was preventing or slowing the flow of aid.


“We categorically reject the despicable and libelous allegations that Israel is somehow obstructing the delivery of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” he said on Dec. 20.


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


But Mr. Lazzarini said on Friday that it was “baseless misinformation” to blame the international community for the lack of aid into Gaza. He said deliveries were “limited in quantities and riddled with logistical hurdles” imposed by Israel.

Those include a complicated and lengthy verification process, a ban on the delivery of commercial goods to markets and private businesses, and restricted access to much of Gaza, either because of airstrikes, fighting or Israeli military checkpoints.


Gaza spiraled so quickly into humanitarian catastrophe when the war began because it had already been deep in crisis for many years.


Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on the territory after Hamas seized power in 2007, largely cutting off Gaza’s economic activity with the outside world. The blockade made up to 80 percent of Gazans reliant on humanitarian aid even before the war, the United Nations said.


Azmi Keshawi, an analyst for the research organization International Crisis Group, said that even if Israel says it does not view its war as one against Gaza’s population, it is civilians who are paying the heaviest price.


“Our daily nightmare is to go hunt for food,” said Mr. Keshawi, who fled his home in Gaza City in the north and now lives in a tent on a sidewalk in Rafah with his children. One of his children was injured by an Israeli airstrike, he said.


“You cannot find flour,” he said. “You cannot find yeast to make bread. You cannot find any kind of food — tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, eggplant, lemon, orange juice.”


When food can be found for sale, he said, the prices have skyrocketed. In Rafah, a sack of flour that might have cost $13 before the war now sells for $138 to $165.


Thousands of displaced people who fled to Rafah, one of the few so-called safe zones in Gaza today, now struggle to pay for a can of tuna, which once cost less than 30 cents and is now more than $1.50, or a can of corned beef, which once cost about $1.40 but now is more than $5.50, he said.


“These people left home with no money,” Mr. Keshawi said. “Surviving becomes a challenge.”


Tahrir Muqat, 46, said she had fled her home in Gaza City and now lived with four relatives, including a baby, in a school in Maghazi refugee camp in central Gaza. There is virtually no regular running water, and on the rare occasions when it does turn on, people stockpile it in the toilet bowl and drink from that, she said.

She waits in line for hours each day to get two packs of feta cheese and three crackers from aid workers at a shelter. Then she and her relatives go from door to door, begging for scraps at ruined houses crammed with displaced people.


“Most of the time we get a ‘No!’ with insulting comments like ‘Go back to Gaza City! Everything has become too expensive since you arrived!’” Ms. Muqat said.


She said she had once seen children eating rotten tomatoes that they had found in the street.


Last month, she said, an airstrike hit nearby while they were begging. Her daughter, Nasayem, in her mid-20s, was sprayed with shrapnel in her leg, arm, chest and back. There is scant medicine to treat her and no heat in their shelter to cut the winter chill. And the injury has made her more exhausted and listless. But Nasayem is focused on protecting her baby, her mother said.


“When it is cold, it hurts her more,” Ms. Muqat said of her daughter last week. “She fell asleep early today and said she would go out tomorrow morning to look for food for her baby,” she added. “She has to.”



6) Police Officers Are Charged With Crimes, but Are Juries Convicting?

Since the death of George Floyd, a national movement promised sweeping justice reform. So far, police prosecutions have resulted in a mixed bag of convictions, acquittals and a mistrial.

By Audra D. S. Burch and Kelley Manley, Jan. 1, 2024


Elijah McClain smiling and wearing a red, plaid button-down shirt and glasses.

Elijah McClain died days after he was subdued by three officers and injected with ketamine by paramedics in 2019. Credit...Family photo, via Reuters

A few days before Christmas, a jury in Washington cleared three Tacoma police officers of criminal charges in the death of Manuel “Manny” Ellis, a 33-year-old Black man who died in police custody in 2020 after pleading that he could not breathe.


The next day, on Dec. 22, a jury in Colorado convicted two paramedics of criminally negligent homicide in the death of Elijah McClain, a 23-year-old Black man who died in police custody in 2019 after officers subdued him and medics injected him with the powerful sedative ketamine.


In the three years since the murder of George Floyd, whose death in police custody ignited a national movement against police brutality, prosecutors have charged the police and emergency medical workers in a number of high-profile cases.


The result has been a mixed bag of verdicts: convictions, acquittals and in one case, a mistrial. Civil rights activists and legal experts say the different outcomes reflect a country still struggling with how to view cases of police use of lethal force, and shifting public sentiment on law enforcement and safety.


“Police accountability is still up for debate. Even with actual evidence, even with body cam footage, we’re still in a place where we cannot be certain that an officer’s conviction for wrongdoing will take place through our judicial system,” Charles Coleman Jr., a civil rights lawyer, former Brooklyn prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst, said in an interview in October.


The deaths of Mr. Floyd, Mr. McClain, Mr. Ellis and Breonna Taylor — all killed in fatal police encounters within a nine-month span — came to occupy a central place in the racial justice movement and in some cases inspired reforms in the cities where they were killed.


In total, 16 police officers and paramedics faced state and federal charges in the four cases, with eight convictions so far, including a former police detective who pleaded guilty to federal charges in Ms. Taylor’s case.


But convictions are only one piece of the justice system, reform activists pointed out.


“The algorithm of justice are charges, arrest, conviction and sentencing,” MiDian Holmes, a community activist in Aurora, Colo., said following the paramedics’ conviction in Mr. McClain’s death.  She said she is thankful for the three convictions in the case, but “we do not know justice until we see sentencing.”


No organization comprehensively tracks the number of law enforcement prosecutions. But legal experts and those pushing for police reform say prosecutors seem more willing to bring charges against police officers, though juries are not as willing to convict.


“There’s at least a situation in which police are subjected to the same criminal law processes as the rest of us would be,” said Ian Farrell, associate professor of law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.


Jurors, however, are often reluctant to second-guess “the split-second decisions of police officers in potentially violent street encounters,” said Philip Stinson, a criminal justice professor at Bowling Green State University.


Mr. Stinson, whose research includes police misconduct, has built a public database of police officers charged in shootings compiled from media reports.


From 2020 to 2023, 71 officers were charged with murder or manslaughter stemming from an on-duty shooting, compared to 43 officers from 2016 to 2019. The data is limited to shooting deaths, which means some of the most recent notable police killings, such as Mr. Floyd’s, Mr. McClain’s and Mr. Ellis’s, were not in the count.


The trial of the officers in Mr. Ellis’s case was considered a test of Washington’s police accountability legislation, approved by voters in 2018.


During trial, jurors heard prosecutors describe how officers beat, choked and hogtied Mr. Ellis and placed a hood over his head. Defense lawyers said police actions were justified because Mr. Ellis fought the officers with “extraordinary strength,” The Seattle Times reported. They argued Mr. Ellis died from methamphetamine found in his system and a pre-existing heart condition. Before the case went to trial, the Ellis family reached a $4 million settlement agreement with Pierce County in 2022.


Mr. Stinson’s data also leaves out the case of Tyre Nichols, a 29-year-old Black man who died in police custody in January 2023. Five former Memphis police officers were accused of beating Mr. Nichols during a police stop and charged with second-degree murder and assault in state court, plus civil rights violations in federal court. One officer has pleaded guilty to some state and federal charges; the other four have pleaded not guilty.


Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest law enforcement organization with more than 373,000 members, said no blanket standard can be applied to cases of police custody deaths. He said each situation is different, and each case must be considered on its own merits.


“There are all kinds of things that have to be factored into a judgment as to whether or not use of force is appropriate,” Mr. Pasco said, adding that officers should be afforded due process like any other citizen. “They don’t check their civil rights at the station door any more than anyone else should have to.”


And defense lawyers and defendants have argued that they were doing their best to react to often chaotic situations where at times they felt their own lives were at risk.

After the conviction of two paramedics in Mr. McClain’s death, Chief Alec Oughton of the Aurora Fire Department said he was “discouraged that these paramedics have received felony punishment for following their training and protocols in place at the time and for making discretionary decisions while taking split-second action in a dynamic environment.”


Social justice activists who are watching the cases say the different outcomes are a sign there is still work to be done, and are a way to understand shifting public attitudes on policing. But charges are just the first step in a long criminal justice process.


“You have to be able to prove the case. You have to be able to collect that evidence and to tell the story that is convincing to a jury,” said Tracie L. Keesee, co-founder of the Center for Policing Equity, which conducts research and collects data to improve policing.  


In the case of Mr. Floyd, who was 46, Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who was captured on video pressing his knee into Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, was convicted on murder and manslaughter charges. Mr. Chauvin was sentenced to 22 and a half years. Three other officers who were present were found guilty on various state and federal charges.


Two months before Mr. Floyd’s death, Ms. Taylor, 26, was killed in her apartment in a botched raid in Louisville, Ky. No officer has ever been charged with shooting Ms. Taylor, but last year, the Justice Department charged four officers with federal civil rights violations. One police detective pleaded guilty and faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.


One officer faced state charges related to endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbor, and a jury acquitted him last year. Federal prosecutors hope to retry that same officer after a deadlocked jury prompted a mistrial in November.


In the case of Mr. McClain, two paramedics and one police officer were convicted, but two police officers were acquitted of all charges, and one of them has returned to the force.


The death of Mr. McClain, who was placed in a neck restraint and given a fatal sedative dose during a police stop in Aurora, offers one of the clearest examples of the impact of national protests and public pressure leading to charges.


Not long after he was killed in 2019, a local prosecutor declined to charge police officers and paramedics. But Colorado’s attorney general later opened an investigation that resulted in a 32-count indictment, including manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges. Two months after the indictment, the city of Aurora agreed to pay the parents of Mr. McClain $15 million to settle a civil rights lawsuit.


Community activists and the families of victims have also looked for accountability in other ways, outside of criminal prosecutions.


After a jury found one of the officers convicted in Mr. McClain’s case not guilty, he returned to his job on the Aurora force, but is currently on paid personal leave.


A local N.A.A.C.P. chapter began organizing a response. Members of the civil rights organization are demanding a public apology from the officer, Nathan Woodyard, and applying pressure to keep him from returning to a role that would require him to interact with civilians.


“Mr. Woodyard’s lack of humanity is a key reason Elijah is not with us,” said Omar Montgomery, president of the Aurora N.A.A.C.P. “He should not be working with the public.”


Mr. Woodyard’s lawyer, Megan Downing, declined to comment about his future at the Aurora Police Department.


Art Acevedo, Aurora’s interim police chief, said he understands that many in the community do not want Mr. Woodyard back on the force. But he said there’s also a segment of the community who support his return.


It is unclear if Mr. Woodyard would return to active duty, Mr. Acevedo said, but if he does, “we’re going to take into consideration what’s best for the department, for the community and, ultimately, for Officer Woodyard himself.”


Even in cases of failed criminal convictions, families have been awarded millions and dedicated some of that to furthering police reform.  


Four years after the 2018 death of 19-year-old Anton Black in police custody in Maryland, his family and a community coalition partially settled a federal civil rights lawsuit that included $5 million payout and reform initiatives.

The partial settlement requires the three Maryland law enforcement agencies involved to overhaul their use-of-force policies, and requires training for implicit bias and de-escalation. It also includes a requirement for more resources for police officers who encounter people with mental health issues in crisis.


“No family should have to go through what we went through,” Jennell Black, Mr. Black’s mother, said in a statement after the settlement. “I hope the reforms within the police departments will save lives and prevent any family from feeling the pain we feel every day.”



7) The Twin Fronts in the Battle Over Israel’s Identity

Monday’s court ruling joined the war in Gaza in a widening crisis over what kind of state Israel will be.

By Steven Erlanger, Jan. 2, 2024


A huge cloud of smoke above an urban landscape.

Smoke over Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Tuesday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The decision by the Israeli Supreme Court to reject legislative control over the judiciary ends for now the languishing effort by the far-right government of Benjamin Netanyahu to diminish the courts, which had already sparked nine months of protests that only ended when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.


The protests had deeply divided Israel, but the subsequent war united it, with even pilots and reservists who had vowed to ignore military exercises immediately showing up to fight before they were called.


If the court’s decision on Monday ripped off this wartime poultice, displaying anew the cultural war at the heart of Israeli politics, Mr. Netanyahu and his government responded by appealing again to wartime unity to try to downplay their loss. It was another version of Mr. Netanyahu’s argument against just about every critic of his performance and his policies — that these are all subjects to be discussed “after the war.”


And the ruling of the court, however important, is expected to have little or no impact on the conduct of the war itself.


“I don’t think the ruling will change anything,” said Amit Segal, a political columnist for the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth who reported a leak of the ruling and is considered close to Mr. Netanyahu. Even before the war, he said, “Netanyahu did not have enough artillery, so to speak, to overwhelm the opponents.” So it helps him that this ruling has arrived during war, Mr. Segal said, because “he can justify a lack of reaction, and after the war he will have more pressing matters,” like his own political survival.


But the court and the war are connected in a way, because they are both crucial to Israel’s future and future identity. Israel regards the war as existential — the best way to restore its reputation in the region as ineradicable and as a beacon of security for Jews worldwide. The court decision goes to the heart of the debate over whether Israel will remain a thriving democracy, which is vital to its special relationship with the West.


Seen narrowly, the court has ruled that the judiciary must be able to provide a check on the ability of a simple majority in Israel’s Parliament, the Knesset, to change the country’s fundamental laws and to alter the democratic character of the state. It left open the possibility of fundamental legal changes by a special vote with a larger majority.


Mr. Netanyahu and his allies have argued that the courts have too much power over legislation by elected lawmakers, are too liberal and are chosen undemocratically.


The court ruling was seen by critics of Mr. Netanyahu, whose own trial on corruption charges is ongoing, as having saved the nature of a balanced democracy in a country with no constitution and no upper house. Some, like the former attorney general and former Supreme Court judge Menachem Mazuz, called it “the most important ruling since the foundation of the state.”


Until now, Mr. Mazuz said in a telephone interview, “the Knesset had the feeling that they could do whatever they wanted, determine that there are two suns during the day and four at night.” But the court had ruled “that there are limitations on the Knesset’s authority, that it is impossible to harm the democratic or Jewish character of the state, that there are limitations.” That, he said, could allow a different and improved agreement down the road “between the legal and political systems.”


But the ruling also “plays into existing issues of cultural war in Israel,” said Bernard Avishai, an Israeli-American analyst in Jerusalem. “Increasingly there is a divide between people who think the war is winnable and — like Netanyahu — that Israel’s sole objective is to get stronger and more intimidating, and those who think that the war is not really winnable in those terms, that we need some kind of diplomatic vista, that we can’t continue to alienate the rest of the world, the region and the United States, where we get our weapons,” he said.


The court ruling “has made more vivid this growing tension between those who want a plausible diplomatic solution and those who want to go back to the status quo before the war, who are the same people who wanted to defang the court,” Mr. Avishai said.


Mr. Netanyahu and his allies, he added, are pushing for a “Jewish state ruling over the whole land of Israel,” including annexing large parts of the West Bank and even, as some ministers suggest, resettling Gaza, while “the court was seen as trying to liberalize the country, which was a challenge to the status quo and the annexation and ‘Land of Israel’ supporters.”


For Dahlia Scheindlin, an Israeli analyst and pollster, “there is a direct link between the outcome of this war and the nature of Israel, what kind of state it will be and whether it can continue to claim to be democratic.”


The war, she said, “has been a great accelerator for the most far-reaching designs of a far-right government, including the annexation, possible expulsion and complete, formal Jewish sovereignty over all of the land and the people within it.”


Mr. Netanyahu is expected to use the ruling to continue to try to shore up his thin majority in Parliament, built on his coalition with religious nationalists and the far right. Already, Mr. Netanyahu has refused to condemn some of the harshest statements by his allies about annexing the West Bank and resettling Gaza. He has presented himself as the vital bulwark against the criticisms of the rest of the world, including the United States, and the whole idea, favored by President Biden, of a future Gaza ruled by a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority.


In one recent example, Mr. Netanyahu has supported his far-right finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who rejected Mr. Biden’s demand that Israel transfer to the Palestinian Authority the part of the Palestinian tax funds it collects on behalf of the authority, intended for its employees in Gaza, intimating that he would resign from the government.


“Bibi is still their champion,” Mr. Avishai said.


Mr. Netanyahu has also made clear, as recently as a news conference on Saturday, that he does not intend to resign, even after the war and even as his Likud party sinks in the opinion polls. A Channel 13 poll said that elections now would secure Likud only 16 seats and, along with its current coalition parties, only 45 seats in the 120-seat Knesset, compared to 38 seats for Mr. Netanyahu’s rival Benny Gantz and 71 seats for opposition parties.


Ms. Scheindlin, the pollster, said Likud’s coordinated call for wartime unity after the court ruling was politically savvy, because even the party’s supporters did not care as much about the judicial overhaul as about other issues, including the outcome of the war. Mr. Segal, however, said that the ruling might help shore up Likud’s support, because many of the party’s voters would be angry about it.


Still, the call for unity and the charge that the court ruling hurts the war effort are “pretty cynical,” Ms. Scheindlin said, “since it was the judicial reform bill that actually ripped apart the country.”


Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud party said that “the court’s decision contradicts the people’s desire for unity, particularly at a time of war,” while Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister, said: “At a time when our soldiers are giving their lives for the people of Israel in Gaza every day, the judges of the high court decided to weaken their spirit.”


The subtext, Ms. Scheindlin said, is that “nothing we don’t like should happen until the war is over, and the war will never be over,” at least not for a very long time.


Natan Odenheimer contributed reporting from Jerusalem.



8) In Gaza’s crowded south, each tent has ‘a story of sadness.’

By Vivian Yee, Rachel Abrams and Axel Boada, Jan. 3, 2023


Ahmed Alfarra gave a tour of the makeshift shelter, bathroom and kitchen he and his family use at a camp in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Ahmed Alfarra (Screenshot)

As the Israeli military tells Gazans to evacuate their homes in the central part of the territory, the crowding in the southernmost part of the strip is getting worse. More than 1 million people have squeezed into Rafah, the city on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, according to the United Nations.


Drone footage published by The Associated Press and a video sent to The New York Times by a family sheltering in Rafah showed row upon row of tents set up on the sandy ground, each one just a few feet from the next. Some looked to be sturdy tents provided by Qatar and other countries and groups that have offered aid; others were no more than tarps draped over flimsy wooden frames.


“You can see thousands,” said Ahmed Alfarra, a pediatrician at Al Nasser Hospital living with his family and his brother-in-law’s family in a pair of tents in Rafah, who sent a video showing their quarters to a reporter for The Times on Tuesday. Every tent, he added, “has a story, a story of sadness, a story of tears.”


He gestured toward a tent a few dozen yards away where smoke could be seen rising, explaining that people there were burning wood to cook. Rain had dappled the laundry hanging over the partition separating two tents, the small stove where his family was making tea and their makeshift pantry — neat little piles of cooking oil, bottled water and jarred olives on a pair of wire shelves. His sons were bundled in winter jackets against the cold.


Jerrycans of water they used for drinking sat on a plastic chair and on the ground. The toilet was in an outhouse of sorts, a spindly wooden frame covered in black plastic. Breakfast for the whole family, Mr. Alfarra said, would be two eggplants smoking over a charcoal grill, with some lemon squeezed on top.


“You can see the situation here is miserable,” he said. And yet, he added, his family — which counted itself among the elite of Gaza, with doctors, engineers, professors and college graduates — was much better off than others in Rafah: “We have some food that we can take, but other tents, maybe they don’t have these facilities.”


Grim statistics from aid groups back him up. Half of Gaza’s population of about 2.2 million is at risk of starvation, and 90 percent say they regularly go without food for a whole day, the United Nations said in a recent report.



9) The W.H.O. chief condemns a strike on the Red Crescent headquarters in southern Gaza.

By Rachel Abrams and Matt Surman, Jan. 3, 2023


Smoke from an explosion rises on the horizon over buildings in the foreground.

Smoke rising from Khan Younis in Gaza after an Israeli attack on Tuesday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The World Health Organization’s chief has condemned a deadly strike that hit the headquarters of the Palestine Red Crescent Society in southern Gaza, an area where hundreds of thousands of displaced people are living in crowded conditions.


The Red Crescent accused Israel of shelling its headquarters in Gaza on Tuesday, resulting in at least five deaths among displaced Palestinians who had been sheltering in the area, including a five-month-old baby. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


In a statement on social media, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., said workers for the W.H.O. and the U.N. humanitarian office who visited the Red Crescent’s facilities in Khan Younis found extensive damage. He said that 14,000 people had been sheltering at the Red Crescent’s Al-Amal hospital next door, and that many had now left or were “planning to leave a place they had turned to for refuge and protection.”


“Today’s bombardments are unconscionable,” Dr. Tedros said. “Gaza’s health system is already on its knees, with health and aid workers continuously stymied in their efforts to save lives due to the hostilities.” The W.H.O. statement did not name Israel.


The Red Crescent said that the 7th and 8th floors of its headquarters had been hit in two separate strikes about half an hour apart. A video posted to its account on X, formerly known as Twitter, appeared to show rescue workers making their way through rubble on one floor of the building, and broken glass shattered on makeshift sleeping areas.


More than 20,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war, most of them civilians, according to the local health authorities, primarily in Israeli bombing. Israel has said that its bombardment of Gaza is aimed at eradicating Hamas, which conducted the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, according to Israeli authorities.



10) The State Department rebukes Israeli ministers pushing for Gazans to leave the enclave.

By Andrea Kannapell, Jan. 3, 2024


A man wearing a suit, glasses and a white kippah resting his chin on his left hand and listening to a man to his left with a close-cropped salt-and-pepper beard.

Itamar Ben Gvir, the Israeli national security minister, left, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister, at the swearing-in ceremony for Israeli lawmakers at the Knesset in Jerusalem last year. Credit...Associated Press

The State Department issued a sharp rebuke on Tuesday over statements a day earlier by two Israeli ministers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition government suggesting that Palestinian civilians should voluntarily leave Gaza and pressing for the return of Israeli settlements in the enclave as part of a long-range solution to the war.


A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, issued a statement criticizing the officials by name — Itamar Ben Gvir, the national security minister, and Bezalel Smotrich, the finance minister — and calling their comments “inflammatory and irresponsible.”


“We have been told repeatedly and consistently by the Government of Israel, including by the Prime Minister, that such statements do not reflect the policy of the Israeli government,” Mr. Miller said. “They should stop immediately.”


Mr. Ben Gvir, speaking at a meeting on Monday of his Otzma Yehudit party in the Israeli Parliament, said that the war with Hamas presented an “opportunity to concentrate on encouraging the migration of the residents of Gaza,” according to The Times of Israel, saying that would be “a correct, just, moral and humane solution.”


He added: “We cannot withdraw from any territory we are in in the Gaza Strip. Not only do I not rule out Jewish settlement there, I believe it is also an important thing.”


And Mr. Smotrich told his Religious Zionism party, according to the same report in The Times of Israel, that the “correct solution” to the war was “to encourage the voluntary migration of Gaza’s residents to countries that will agree to take in the refugees,” and that Israel would “permanently control the territory of the Gaza Strip,” including through the establishment of settlements.


In his statement, Mr. Miller said: “We have been clear, consistent, and unequivocal that Gaza is Palestinian land and will remain Palestinian land, with Hamas no longer in control of its future and with no terror groups able to threaten Israel. That is the future we seek, in the interests of Israelis and Palestinians, the surrounding region, and the world.”


Both Mr. Ben Gvir and Mr. Smotrich are residents of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are considered illegal by the United States and much of the world.


Israel removed all of its settlements in Gaza, and a few small ones in the West Bank, under a “separation plan” organized by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2005, which Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs describes as an effort “to improve Israel’s security and international status in the absence of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.”


Mr. Netanyahu, then Israel’s finance minister, resigned over the removal of the settlements, warning that it would leave Gaza vulnerable to takeover by militant groups like Hamas.



11) 103 Reported Killed in Iran in Blasts Near General’s Tomb

The explosions took place at a commemoration for Qassim Suleimani, the top commander killed by a U.S. drone strike four years ago.

By Vivian Yee and Farnaz Fassihi, Jan. 3, 2024

Emergency workers attending to a victim.
A photograph released by Iranian state media showing emergency personnel at the blast site in Kerman, Iran. The explosions struck the road toward the cemetery, officials said. Credit...Mehr News Agency, via Associated Press

A pair of explosions on Wednesday at a commemoration for Iran’s former top military general Qassim Suleimani killed at least 103 people and wounded another 171, according to Iranian officials. The blasts sowed fear and grief in Iran and heightened tensions in the broader region even further a day after an explosion killed several Hamas officials in a suburb of Beirut, Lebanon.


Iranian officials told state media that a pair of bombs placed in bags along the road toward the cemetery in Kerman, Iran, had exploded as a procession of people was on its way there to commemorate the four-year anniversary of General Suleimani’s assassination by the United States. The officials said the bags appeared to have been detonated via remote control, leaving bodies in pieces on the ground.


Given the sheer scale of the blasts, which state media described as a terrorist attack, the death toll was likely to rise.


Videos and photos of the explosions’ aftermath on state media showed widespread carnage and chaos, with sirens blaring and the injured — among them children — collapsing to the ground. Bloodied, several of the wounded screamed, “God help us. Everyone is killed.”

Just before the explosions, videos showed a dense crowd of thousands walking along a road lined with food and drink stalls and flags as a prayer from the Quran played from speakers. Then a huge blast rocked the area. The air filled with screams, and people scattered in all directions, videos showed.


“Unfortunately many of the injured people are in critical condition,” said Babak Yektaparast, the spokesman for the country’s emergency relief operations. He said all medical facilities in the province of Kerman were on standby to treat patients and emergency airplanes were being deployed for medical evacuations to hospitals in Tehran.


The head of Iran’s judiciary, Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, said all the country’s intelligence, security and military organs were being enlisted to determine who was behind the explosions.


Iran’s interior minister, Ahmad Vahidi, told state television that most of the casualties were from the second explosion, which followed minutes after the first, as crowds had gathered to help the injured. He said the situation in the city of Kerman was now under the control of security and military.


“We will God willingly deliver a big slap to those responsible for this terrorist attack,” said Mr. Vahidi. “They are mistaken to think our resolve will be broken by such cowardly attacks.”


The explosions came four years after an American drone strike assassinated General Suleimani, the longtime commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ powerful Quds Force, at Baghdad airport.


General Suleimani had been hailed in Iran and in parts of the wider region as a hero for building and arming a Tehran-led network of regional proxy militias that countered the United States and Israel across the Middle East, and he continues to enjoy near-mythic status among pro-government Iranians. His funeral in 2020 drew more than a million mourners, according to official estimates. Every year, on the anniversary of his assassination, some Iranians hold processions and ceremonies in his honor.


By cultivating close personal ties with the leaders of partners across the region, the Arabic-speaking General Suleimani became the face of Iran’s Shiite axis of influence, which reshaped Middle East geopolitics for years to come. The Syrian and Iraqi militias he helped establish also played a critical role in defeating the Islamic State, the extremist group that overran large swathes of Syria and Iraq in the mid-2010s.


The regional allies General Suleimani armed and funded also included Hamas, the military and political group that controls Gaza, as well as Hezbollah, the armed political party that dominates much of Lebanon. Hezbollah has been clashing with Israeli forces on Lebanon’s southern border even as Hamas battles Israel in Gaza.


The identities of those who died in Iran on Wednesday were not yet known.


Some Iranians on social media were blaming the government and local security officials for failing to secure such a high-profile event. During the funeral ceremony for General Suleimani in 2020, a stampede along the same road as Wednesday’s explosions killed 60 people.


Leily Nikounazar contributed reporting.



12) Imam Is Critically Wounded in Shooting Outside New Jersey Mosque

The shooting took place early Wednesday morning outside a mosque in Newark.

By Claire Fahy, Jan. 3, 2024


Police cars are parked outside a yellow and green building.

The police responded on Wednesday to the Masjid Muhammad mosque in Newark, where an imam was shot. Credit...Dakota Santiago for The New York Times

An imam was shot and critically wounded outside a New Jersey mosque on Wednesday, the authorities said.


The police responded to the scene of the shooting, the Masjid Muhammad mosque in Newark, shortly after 6 a.m., according to Fritz Fragé, Newark’s public safety director.


The victim, whom the police identified as an imam at the mosque, was taken to University Hospital and is in critical condition. An investigation is underway, said Mr. Fragé, who added that the gunman was at large and did not reveal a motive for the shooting.


On Wednesday morning, the mosque was cordoned off as people milled around looking for information.


Lateef Murphy, 53, who sometimes prays at the mosque, said that the shooting would have ripple effects throughout the Muslim community in Newark.

“It’s a shame, our religion is not about violence,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s about how to live your life without hatred.”


Dwayne Hill, 64, said he had lived near the mosque his entire life and that those who worship there had always been good neighbors.


“The mosque people are no problem. They keep to themselves and do what they believe in,” he said. “They’ve been feeding and clothing the neighborhood for years.”


This is a developing story and will be updated.


Mark Bonamo contributed reporting from Newark.



13) Attacks Heighten Fears of a Wider War for the Middle East and U.S.

The killing of a top Hamas leader in Lebanon and mysterious twin explosions in Iran heighten fears of a regional war that could draw in the United States.

By Eric Schmitt, Julian E. Barnes, Helene Cooper and David E. Sanger, Jan. 3, 2024


Emergency works carrying the body of a man to a vehicle.

A photograph released by Iranian state media showing emergency personnel near the blast site in Kerman, Iran. Credit...Sare Tajalli, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

American, Israeli and Lebanese officials insist that few parties want Israel’s war in Gaza to become a wider conflict that engulfs the Middle East.


But the assassination of a top leader of Hamas in Lebanon on Tuesday, and the deaths of scores of people in mysterious twin explosions in Iran on Wednesday, threatened to bring the Middle East — and the United States — closer to the brink of a regional war, which the Biden administration has tried to stave off since Hamas’s deadly attacks against Israel on Oct. 7.


Just hours after the bombs went off in Iran, the United States and 12 of its allies issued a written warning to another militia group in the region, the Houthis of Yemen, who have been mounting near-daily missile, drone and seaborne attacks on commercial vessels.


So far the United States has held back from retaliating against Houthi bases in Yemen, in large part because it does not want to undermine a fragile truce in Yemen’s civil war.


But now Biden officials are signaling that their patience is running out.


“Let our message now be clear: We call for the immediate end of these illegal attacks and release of unlawfully detained vessels and crews,” White House officials said in a statement issued on Wednesday, a day after the shipping giant Maersk announced it would pause operations in the Red Sea.


“The Houthis,” the statement continued, “will bear the responsibility of the consequences should they continue to threaten lives, the global economy, and free flow of commerce in the region’s critical waterways.”


The warning — also signed by Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Singapore and the Netherlands — stopped short of threatening military strikes. Over the weekend, the U.S. Navy sank three Houthi boats, killing all the crew members, when they fired on American helicopters coming to aid a Maersk cargo ship.


On Monday, Iran’s navy announced the deployment of a flotilla of warships to the waterway. On the same day, Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian of Iran expressed “gratitude and appreciation” to a Houthi official visiting Tehran for the group’s support for Hamas, the government-run IRNA news agency reported.


A senior Iranian official said dispatching the warships, which join an Iranian spy ship already in the region, was meant to signal that Iran is supporting the Houthis and to raise the stakes. But the official said Iran has no plans for the warships to engage in a confrontation with U.S. naval vessels in the waterway.


President Biden has said he wants to avoid direct military attacks on the Houthis to avoid escalating a Middle East conflict.


“We remain incredibly concerned, as we have been from the outset of this conflict, about the risk of the conflict spreading into other fronts,” Matthew Miller, a State Department spokesman, told reporters on Wednesday.


Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group, has pledged that Tuesday’s killing of Saleh al-Arouri, the Hamas leader, in a Beirut suburb, would not pass without a response. A key ally to Hamas, Hezbollah exercises de facto control over Beirut’s southern suburbs where the explosion occurred and has been engaged in escalating clashes with Israeli forces for months.


The circumstances surrounding the blasts at a memorial for Iran’s former general, Qassim Suleimani, in Kerman, Iran, were murkier. While Iran was quick to blame Israel, European and American officials said they doubted that the Israelis conducted the strike: Most of their actions against Iran have been highly targeted, from taking out the chief architect of Iran’s nuclear program to blowing up specific nuclear and missile facilities.


Three senior American officials and one senior European official said on Wednesday that the Islamic State or another terrorist group was a possible perpetrator. While there is some intelligence that points to Islamic State involvement in the attack, the officials cautioned the assessment is preliminary and no final conclusions have been drawn.


“It is entirely possible that one of the Israeli proxy groups let an attack get out of hand,” Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who writes often about Iran, said on Wednesday.


Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, issued a statement on Wednesday blaming the attack on the nation’s “malicious and criminal enemies,” but stopped short of naming any group or country. Mr. Khamenei vowed that Iran’s enemies should know that “this tragedy will have a strong response.”


Two people familiar with Iran’s internal discussions said that the ayatollah had instructed Iranian military commanders to pursue “strategic patience” and avoid getting Iran into a direct military confrontation with the United States.


Several American officials said it was too soon to predict whether any kind of wider war would erupt. Israel, the officials said, would not have struck Mr. al-Arouri without some belief that they could do so without escalating the conflict on the Lebanon border. But with the explosions, whatever the cause, coming so quickly after the assassination, there was little doubt that the risk of a spreading conflict was once more front of mind in the United States and Europe.

Israeli officials would not comment on whether their forces had targeted Mr. al-Arouri, but Lebanese and American officials ascribed the attack to Israel.


In the wake of the strike, Biden administration officials made plans to step up diplomatic efforts with officials in Lebanon as part of an effort to pressure Hezbollah not to escalate the conflict. In coming days, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken is expected to travel to the Middle East, where containing potential escalation will be one of his foremost goals.


“The chances of a regional war in the Middle East go up from 15 percent to as high as 30 percent,” said retired Adm. James Stavridis, the former NATO commander. “Still relatively low, but higher than before, and certainly uncomfortably high.”


But Biden administration officials and Middle East analysts noted that while Hezbollah and Iran have engaged in skirmishes and proxy attacks against Israel, they are not necessarily eager to widen the conflict.

“Throughout the devastation in Gaza, Hezbollah has maintained that they will engage in a limited way” to tie up some of Israel’s forces near Lebanon, Paul Salem, the president of the Middle East Institute, said in an interview. “It’s been crystal clear that they are not joining the fight directly.”


He and other analysts said that while Iran has helped plan and orchestrate some of the attacks taking place in the Middle East — including the Houthi’s missile attacks on shipping in the Red Sea — it has not taken on the United States or Israel directly.


Mr. Biden and his top aides have sought since the Oct. 7 attacks to contain the conflict between Israel and Hamas to the Gaza Strip. The Pentagon dispatched two aircraft carriers and doubled the number of American warplanes to the Middle East to deter Iran and its proxies in Lebanon, Yemen, Syria and Iraq from widening the war. Now that strategy is fraying. One of those carrier groups, led by the Gerald R. Ford, is leaving the area, the Pentagon said this week.


Iran-backed militias have attacked U.S. troops stationed in Iraq and Syria for counterterrorism duties 118 times since the Oct. 7 attacks, most recently on Monday. Several U.S. service members have been injured in the strikes, at least one critically, prompting the Pentagon to retaliate five times with airstrikes against the groups.

In recent weeks, the Biden administration declassified intelligence indicating that Iranian paramilitary groups were coordinating the Houthi attacks, providing targeting information about commercial shipping passing through the waterway and the Suez Canal. Israel is heavily dependent on Red Sea shipping traffic.


In response to the attacks, the United States has created a multinational naval task force to protect commercial ships in both the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden.


Pentagon officials have worked up detailed plans for striking missile and drone bases in Yemen, and some of the facilities where fast boats of the kind used to attack the Maersk container ship appear to be tied up. But there is concern that such strikes would play into Iran’s strategy to bog down Israel and its allies on multiple fronts.


But the most serious threat to containing the Gaza conflict burst onto the scene Tuesday with the assassination of Mr. al-Arouri.


“The loss of someone so intimately involved in both tactical operations and strategic diplomacy is a serious setback for Hamas,” Hanin Ghaddar and Matthew Levitt wrote in an analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “What remains to be seen is how the group’s allies, especially Hezbollah, react to the attack.”


Western leaders sought to tamp down the fast-rising tensions. President Emmanuel Macron of France said shortly after the strike that it was “essential to avoid any escalatory attitude, particularly in Lebanon.”


In a phone call with Benny Gantz, an opponent of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel who has joined the country’s wartime unity government, Mr. Macron said that “France would continue to pass on these messages to all players directly or indirectly involved in the area,” according to a summary of the call from the French presidency.


Farnaz Fassihi contributed reporting from New York, and Michael Crowley from Washington.



14) Strikes in Southern Gaza Leave Deadly Toll

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 4, 2024


Children outside a heavily damaged building.

Destruction after a strike in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Wednesday. Gazan officials said on Thursday that Israeli strikes in Rafah had killed more than 30 people over the last three days. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

Israel’s military pressed on with its bombardment of areas of southern Gaza that it has told civilians to evacuate to amid fierce fighting, Palestine Red Crescent and Gazan officials said Thursday. Palestinian news media reported that a strike had hit a family home and left more than a dozen people dead.


The Gazan government media office said on Thursday that Israeli strikes in six locations in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, had killed more than 30 people over the last three days. The statement said Israel had been bombing areas that it had claimed were safe and where it had been “forcing civilians” to go.


The statement added that attacks on these so-called safe areas had occurred 48 times since the start of the war, underscoring United Nations complaints that Israel’s attacks have left nowhere for residents to seek shelter as the enclave is increasingly plunged into humanitarian disaster.


The Israeli military did not immediately comment on the specific claims, but it has said that its strikes are part of its efforts to eradicate Hamas and that it does not deliberately target civilians. On Thursday, it described fierce fighting and strikes that killed Hamas fighters across Gaza, including around the southern city of Khan Younis, where intense urban fighting has been raging for weeks.


A strike on Thursday on a family home housing displaced people west of Khan Younis killed at least 14 people and injured several others, including women and children, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency.


Yazan Abu Azzum, who is sheltering in Al-Mawasi — a small seaside village in southern Gaza where Israel has said civilians can find safety — said intense bombardment in the area over the last two days has sent shrapnel flying into the shelter where he is staying.


“Shrapnel and bombs were flying all around us,” he said in a series of voice messages on Thursday from a tent he shares with more than 30 members of his family.


“We are staying in a safe area, as they call it,” said Mr. Abu Azzum, a senior in high school, referring to the Israeli military. “But the sound of airstrikes is very close by. We are not safe at all.”


The Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Thursday that “intense” Israeli shelling had continued around its headquarters in Khan Younis and the Al-Amal hospital next door, causing significant damage to its facilities and “hindering the movement of ambulance crews.” It added that the fifth floor of its headquarters was directly attacked, killing one and injuring several others.


Footage posted by the agency on social media showed a plume of smoke rising from a building near its headquarters after a strike there caused “a state of panic and fear among the displaced.” Another video showed smoke coming from the headquarters after what the Red Crescent described as an Israeli strike that it said directly hit the building and injured seven displaced people. The videos could not immediately be verified.


On Tuesday the Red Crescent accused Israel of attacking its headquarters in two consecutive strikes and killing at least five people, including a 5-day-old baby. The World Health Organization’s chief condemned the strikes and said United Nations staff members had witnessed extensive damage.


The Israeli military said in a statement that it was looking into the incident. It said Thursday that it had been striking Hamas infrastructure around Khan Younis both above and below ground and had dismantled a tunnel shaft in the area.


Israel has long said that Hamas, which led an incursion into Israel on Oct. 7 that killed more than 1,200 people, uses hospitals and other civilian facilities to hide fighters and weapons. Hamas uses a vast network of underground tunnels and facilities to move freely and plan attacks.


Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar.



15) In Overnight Sweep, Police in Berkeley Clear Protesters From People’s Park

The University of California, Berkeley, has been trying for years, against determined opposition, to build new student housing on part of the iconic property.

By Shawn Hubler, Jan. 4, 2024


A banner reading “Defend People’s Park” hangs on an improvised fence surrounding a small encampment. In the foreground, wood chips and the trunks of felled trees lie on the bare ground. A sign that says “Don’t cut this trunk!” is on one of the trunks.

The People’s Park in Berkeley, Calif., has been the site of protests and demonstrations for generations. The University of California, Berkeley, which owns the property, wants to build student housing on part of it. Credit...Eric Risberg/Associated Press

A fraught battle to build long-sought student housing at the storied People’s Park in Berkeley, Calif., took an extraordinary turn early on Thursday when hundreds of law enforcement officers surrounded the site and removed several dozen activists and homeless campers in preparation for the construction of a wall of shipping containers around the perimeter of the park.


The midnight operation, conducted while most students at the nearby University of California, Berkeley, were still away for the winter break, was the latest effort to proceed with a $312 million construction project that was originally scheduled to break ground in 2022. It underscored the mounting tensions surrounding California’s acute housing shortage, particularly in college towns.


Law enforcement officers far outnumbered activists at the site who had been tipped off about the operation and who greeted the show of force from trees and tents pitched in the darkness.


“We’re trying to let people leave, but if they refuse, they’re being arrested,” Dan Mogulof, a university spokesman, said by phone from inside the police perimeter at about 2 a.m. “Everyone was offered shelter. A few took us up on it. But some of the activists are still on the site. I’m looking at a couple perched on the roof of the park bathroom and a couple in a tree fort right now.”


About two hours later, the authorities said the site had been cleared, and construction crews prepared to double-stack about 160 empty shipping containers to wall off the park site.


By dawn, seven activists had been arrested on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and failure to disperse, and had been cited and released, the university said.


Of the eight homeless people who were in the park when the authorities arrived, Mr. Mogulof said, three accepted offers of transitional housing and the rest left voluntarily.


The university provides housing for only 23 percent of its students, by far the lowest percentage in the 10-campus University of California system. A plan to build 1,100 new units of student housing and 125 units of supportive housing for homeless people on part of the park site, which is owned by the university, has been repeatedly delayed since last summer.


A small contingent of Berkeley residents and activists has pushed aggressively to preserve the entire park, which was the center of bloody counterculture protests in the 1960s. In late February last year, a state appeals court in San Francisco sided with the development plan’s opponents, who claimed that the university had failed to conduct environmental reviews required by state law. An appeal to the California Supreme Court is pending.


The university has struggled to cordon off the property, which is strewed with litter and graffiti, and to deter encampments. In August 2022, when the university tried to fence the site, large protests erupted and the crowd tore the fence down.


Since then, Mr. Mogulof said, the city and university have spent more than $6 million to lease motel space and move homeless people occupying the park into shelter and supportive housing, including an initiative in November when most of the roughly two dozen people who were still camped on the site were moved into a local motel.


University officials acknowledged that construction could not begin until the environmental review question was settled by the courts, but they said that the site’s legal status as a closed construction zone had been “repeatedly affirmed,” and that fencing the park was vital to preventing a resurgence of crime and new encampments on the property.


“Given that the existing legal issues will inevitably be resolved, we decided to take this necessary step now, in order to minimize disruption for the public and our students when we are eventually cleared to resume construction,” the chancellor of U.C. Berkeley, Carol Christ, said in a prepared statement.


“Unfortunately, our planning and actions must take into account that some of the project’s opponents have previously resorted to violence and vandalism,” she said, “despite strong support for the project on the part of students, community members, advocates for unhoused people, the elected leadership of the City of Berkeley, as well as the legislature and governor of the state of California.”