Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 28, 2024


Saturday, March 2, 12:00 Noon
Harry Bridges Plaza
Outside the Ferry Building
San Francisco, California

ANSWER San Francisco -- (415) 821-6545 




Art Against Imprisonment Presents

A Benefit for a New Oakland Mural-

Sumud: Resistance Until Liberation


A collaboration between artists and activists that explores and confronts the deep interconnections between the brutal systems of imprisonment in the U.S. and Palestine.


Caroline Davis on Saxophone

Satya Chima, CCWP

Opium Sabbah, Oakland Jericho Movement


Sunday, March 10, 2:00 P.M.

Eastside Cultural Center

2277 International Blvd., Oakland


For more information contact:




Gaza Strip Access Restrictions.pdf since 2007


Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of February 28, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 29,954,* 70,352 wounded, and more than 380 Palestinians have been killed and 4,600 wounded by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.

Israel lowers its estimated October 7 death toll from 1,400 to 1,139, 582 Israeli soldiers killed since ground invasion, 3,221 wounded**

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 35,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

Source: mondoweiss.net




Comment on the New York Times Editorial titled:

“A U.S. Call for a Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza”

Opinion By The Editorial Board, Feb. 24, 2024





2m ago

The root of the cycles of violence is the occupation. The US policy in Israel/Palestine has been a failure and contributed to the ongoing suffering on both sides. Even though the US has the capacity to help resolve this issue, it lacks the will. 


Consider the following published soon after the occupation started, in September 1967 in an Israeli newspaper by Moshe Machover and others.


Our right to defend ourselves from extermination does not give us the right to oppress others


Occupation entails Foreign Rule

Foreign Rule entails Resistance

Resistance entails Repression

Repression entails Terror and Counter-Terror

The victims of terror are mostly innocent people


Holding on to the occupied territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims


Let us get out of the Occupied Territories immediately



We are all Palestinian

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



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


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

We are all Palestinian



Labor for Palestine

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

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.


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


For More Information:


Production of Labor Video Project





Just Like The Nazis Did

By David Rovics


After so many decades of patronage

By the world’s greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

After crushing so many uprisings

Now they’re making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their Final Solution

Just like the Nazis did


They forced refugees into ghettos

Then set the ghettos aflame

Murdering writers and poets

And so no one remember their names

Killing their entire families

The grandparents, women and kids

The uncles and cousins and babies

Just like the Nazis did


They’re bombing all means of sustaining

Human life at all

See the few shelters remaining

Watch as the tower blocks fall

They’re bombing museums and libraries

In order to get rid

Of any memory of the people who lived here

Just like the Nazis did


They’re saying these people are animals

And they should all end up dead

They’re sending soldiers into schools

And shooting children in the head

The rhetoric is identical

And with Gaza off the grid

They’ve already said what happens next

Just like the Nazis did


Words of war for domestic consumption

And lies for all the rest

To try to distract our attention

Among their enablers in the West

Because Israel needs their imports

To keep those pallets on the skids

They need fuel and they need missiles

Just like the Nazis did


They’re using food as a weapon

They’re using water that way, too

They’re trying to kill everyone in Gaza

Or make them flee, it’s true

As the pundits talk of “after the war”

Like with the Fall of Madrid

The victors are preparing for more

Just like the Nazis did


But it’s after the conquest’s complete

If history is any guide

When the occupying army

Is positioned to decide

When disease and famine kills

Whoever may have hid

Behind the ghetto walls

Just like the Nazis did


All around the world

People are trying to tell

There's a genocide unfolding

Ringing alarm bells

But with such a powerful axis

And so many lucrative bids

They know who wants their money

Just like the Nazis did


There's so many decades of patronage

For the world's greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

They're crushing so many uprisings

Now they're making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their final solution

Just like the Nazis did

  Just like the Nazis did

    Just like the Nazis did



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

Join the Fight for Mumia's Life

Since September, Mumia Abu-Jamal's health has been declining at a concerning rate. He has lost weight, is anemic, has high blood pressure and an extreme flair up of his psoriasis, and his hair has fallen out. In April 2021 Mumia underwent open heart surgery. Since then, he has been denied cardiac rehabilitation care including a healthy diet and exercise.

Donate to Mumia Abu-Jamal's Emergency Legal and Medical Defense Fund, Official 2024

Mumia has instructed PrisonRadio to set up this fund. Gifts donated here are designated for the Mumia Abu-Jamal Medical and Legal Defense Fund. If you are writing a check or making a donation in another way, note this in the memo line.

Send to:

 Mumia Medical and Legal Fund c/o Prison Radio

P.O. Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94103

Prison Radio is a project of the Redwood Justice Fund (RJF), which is a California 501c3 (Tax ID no. 680334309) not-for-profit foundation dedicated to the defense of the environment and of civil and human rights secured by law.  Prison Radio/Redwood Justice Fund PO Box 411074, San Francisco, CA 94141



We are saddened to announce the passing of Leonard Peltier’s sister, Linda.


Leonard is humbly requesting help with funeral expenses.


Even a dollar or two would be greatly appreciated.





Dawn Lawson

Personal Assistant Leonard Peltier

Executive Assistant Jenipher Jones, Esq.

Secretary Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee




Leonard Peltier Update - Not One More Year


Coleman 1 has gone on permanent lockdown.

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fight for Free Speech – YouTube:



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


A Plea for the Compassionate Release of 
Leonard Peltier

Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier

Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

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

Video at:


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




Email: contact@whoisleonardpeltier.info

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



Updates From Kevin Cooper 

A Never-ending Constitutional Violation

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Kevin Cooper

C-65304. 4-EB-82

San Quentin State Prison

San Quentin, CA 94974


Call California Governor Newsom:

1-(916) 445-2841

Press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, 

press 6 to speak with a representative and

wait for someone to answer 

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




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

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


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



Sign the petition:




Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale


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

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

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

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

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

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

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)

Twitter: @JesselynRadack



Resources for Resisting Federal Repression



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


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


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


Emergency Hotlines

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


State and Local Hotlines

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


Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312

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

Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963

National Hotline

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


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






1) A Jordanian-French airdrop underscores the urgency of Gazans’ need.

By Anushka Patil, Feb. 27, 2024


Large crowds gathered along the coast in Deir al Balah on Monday as Jordan and France airdropped food and other aid supplies, some of which ended up in the sea. Credit...Alaa Fayad, via X (Screenshot)

Jordan and France airdropped food and other supplies to people in Gaza on Monday, parachuting some packages of aid into the sea, a challenging effort that underlined the desperate need in Gaza as aid groups have warned of growing restrictions on their ability to distribute supplies.


Video footage showed a cluster of parachutes falling into the sea near Deir al Balah, a city in central Gaza. Men in small boats paddled out through choppy water to retrieve the aid, watched by a crowd of hundreds who scrambled for the packages once they had reached the shore.


Alaa Fayad, a veterinary student who shot footage of the scene on the beach that he posted online, said the aid did not amount to much. “It was sad seeing people I know well running and crowding to get aid that’s not nearly enough,” he said.


Three planes from the Royal Jordanian Air Force and one from its French counterpart dropped the supplies, including ready-made meals, over several sites, the Jordanian Army said in a statement. The French plane dropped more than two tons of food and hygiene supplies, the French foreign ministry said.


The amount is just a fraction of what the United Nations says is the need facing Gaza’s more than two million residents. The two tons of aid dropped by the French plane is less than a single truckload of supplies. It was not immediately clear why at least some of the aid was dropped over the sea.


Aid groups typically drop supplies by air only as a last resort, given the inefficiency and relative cost of the method compared to road deliveries, as well as the risk to people who could potentially be hit as it falls to the ground.


Still, France, which participated in an earlier airdrop, said it was ramping up its work with Jordan because Gaza’s “humanitarian situation is absolutely urgent,” according to a French foreign ministry statement.


“With a growing number of civilians in Gaza dying of hunger and disease,” the statement said, there need to be more avenues for aid deliveries, including the port of Ashdod in Israel, north of Gaza.


Jordan began airdropping aid in November and has completed more than a dozen missions since, largely to resupply its field hospitals in Gaza. At least one airdrop mission was jointly carried out with France in January, and two others delivered aid supplied by the Netherlands and Britain.


In previous airdrops, Jordan said it had coordinated its efforts with the Israeli authorities, who have insisted on inspecting all aid entering Gaza. The Israeli military confirmed that it had approved the latest airdrops and said that it had not advised the French and Jordanians to drop the aid over the sea.


Calls for internationally coordinated airdrops have intensified as aid groups simultaneously warn that the hunger crisis in Gaza is reaching a tipping point and that some obstacles to traditional aid distribution have become insurmountable.


Last week, the World Food Program suspended food deliveries to northern Gaza, saying that despite extreme needs there, it could not safely operate amid gunfire and the “collapse of civil order” in recent days. The W.F.P. and other United Nations aid agencies have repeatedly warned that their access to northern Gaza was being systematically impeded by Israeli authorities, calling on the government to ease its restrictions. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.


The suspension of W.F.P. deliveries in an area where they are needed most indicates that, despite their many limitations, airdrops may be one of the few viable options remaining to quickly get food to northern Gaza, according to Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib, a Middle East policy analyst who grew up in the enclave. Jordan’s airdrops, he said, have set a “critical precedent” for the feasibility of the approach.


“Simply wishing for a cease-fire or simply wishing for better Israeli cooperation” is not enough, Mr. Fouad Alkhatib said. “We need action right now.”


Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Nader Ibrahim contributed reporting.



2) Israel submits a report on measures to prevent genocide in Gaza, as ordered by the U.N.’s top court.

By Anushka Patil, Feb. 27, 2024


A group of people carry a stretcher out of a damaged building.

Palestinians recovering a victim as they searched a damaged building in Rafah on Monday. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

The Israeli government said on Monday that it had submitted a progress report demanded by the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the U.N.’s highest court, on measures it ordered Israel to take last month to prevent the genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and to allow more humanitarian aid into the enclave.


The filing from Israel, whose contents were not made public, came after several human rights groups issued statements on Monday accusing Israel of violating the court’s legally binding order. Because the court does not have an enforcement mechanism, the rights groups also called on other countries to pressure Israel to comply and to stop providing it with weapons.


In an interim ruling on Jan. 26 in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide, the court ordered Israel to immediately implement six measures to limit harm to Palestinian civilians and report back within a month. The measures included taking all steps within Israel’s power to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and enabling the provision of “urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”


The International Federation for Human Rights said that Israel had “utterly failed” to comply with the court’s order and that violence against Palestinian civilians had “continued unabated.”


Similar condemnations were issued by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, which cited data from the United Nations Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs showing that even as the risk of famine grew, Israeli restrictions on aid distribution remained in place and the daily average number of aid trucks entering Gaza dropped significantly in the weeks after the court’s order.


“The Israeli government is starving Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians, putting them in even more peril than before the World Court’s binding order,” Omar Shakir, Human Rights Watch’s director for Israel and Palestine, said in a statement.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusations made by the human rights groups. It has previously denied responsibility for the lack of aid reaching civilians. The Israeli military’s top lawyer recently found “unacceptable conduct” by Israeli forces in Gaza, including some that appeared criminal, and warned commanders to prevent violations of international law that would damage Israel’s standing.


Airwars, a nonprofit watchdog that monitors civilian deaths in conflict zones, released a report on Monday that detailed “patterns of harm” for Palestinian civilians in Gaza during the two weeks following the court’s interim ruling.


Civilians in Gaza were reported killed each day during that time period, Airwars said. It identified five incidents in which civilians waiting to receive humanitarian aid were killed or injured, and six in which health care workers or emergency medical workers were killed.


According to the Gaza Health Ministry, about 3,700 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since the court’s ruling on Jan. 26. The ministry said that as of Monday, more than 29,000 people had been killed since the start of the war.



3) US Refuses to Assure UK Judges That Assange Won’t Be Executed If He’s Extradited

UK law prohibits extradition to a country that may impose capital punishment.

By Marjorie Cohn , TRUTHOUT, February 27, 2024

"The U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty would allow the U.S. to amend or add charges which could expose Assange to the death penalty, a punishment prohibited in the U.K. In response to questioning by one of the judges, the prosecutor admitted that the U.S. had not provided assurances that Assange would not be subject to the death penalty if extradited."


Stella Assange (center-left) attends the rally for Julian Assange on February 21, 2024, in London, England. DAVE BENETT / DAVE BENETT / GETTY IMAGES

On February 20 and 21, as nearly 1,000 supporters of Julian Assange gathered outside the London courthouse, a two-judge panel of the High Court of Justice presided over a “permission hearing.” Assange’s lawyers asked the judges to allow them to appeal the home secretary’s extradition order and raise issues that the district court judge had rejected without full consideration.


The High Court panel, Dame Victoria Sharp and Justice Jeremy Johnson, were concerned that the U.S. government could execute Assange if he is extradited to the United States, a penalty outlawed in the U.K. Although Assange faces 175 years in prison for the charges alleged in the indictment, there is nothing to prevent the U.S. from adding additional offenses which would carry the death penalty.


The Trump Administration Indicted Assange for Exposing U.S. War Crimes


Assange is charged with 17 counts of alleged violations of the Espionage Act, based on obtaining, receiving, possessing and publishing national defense information. He is accused of “recruit[ing] sources” and “soliciting” confidential documents just by maintaining the WikiLeaks website that stated it accepted such materials. Assange is also charged with one count of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion” with intent to “facilitate [whistleblower Chelsea] Manning’s acquisition and transmission of classified information related to the national defence of the United States.”


The basis for the indictment, Assange’s lawyers told the panel, is WikiLeaks’s “exposure of criminality on the part of the U.S. government on an unprecedented scale.” Assange is charged for revealing war crimes committed by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. The indictment has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton and the 2016 election or Swedish allegations of sexual misconduct, which have been dropped.


WikiLeaks revealed the “Iraq War Logs” — 400,000 field reports including 15,000 unreported deaths of Iraqi civilians, as well the as systematic rape, torture and murder after U.S. forces handed over detainees to a notorious Iraqi torture squad. The revelations also included the “Afghan War Diary” — 90,000 reports of more civilian casualties by coalition forces than the U.S. military had reported.


In addition, WikiLeaks revealed the “Guantánamo Files,” 779 secret reports with evidence that 150 innocent people had been held at Guantánamo Bay for years, and 800 men and boys had been tortured and abused, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


WikiLeaks also revealed the notorious 2007 “Collateral Murder Video,” in which a U.S. Army Apache attack helicopter targeted and killed 11 unarmed civilians in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists and a man who came to rescue the wounded. Two children were injured. The video contains evidence of war crimes prohibited by the Geneva Conventions.


And WikiLeaks exposed “Cablegate” — 251,000 confidential U.S. State Department cables that “disclosed corruption, diplomatic scandals and spy affairs on an international scale.” According to The New York Times, they told “the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money.”


“These were the most important revelations of criminal U.S. state behavior in history,” Assange attorney Mark Summers argued to the High Court panel.


Assange’s Appellate Issues

Assange is asking the U.K. High Court to review issues of treaty obligations, human rights violations and political persecution.


The U.S.-U.K. Extradition Treaty would allow the U.S. to amend or add charges which could expose Assange to the death penalty, a punishment prohibited in the U.K. In response to questioning by one of the judges, the prosecutor admitted that the U.S. had not provided assurances that Assange would not be subject to the death penalty if extradited.


Article 4(1) of the extradition treaty does not allow extradition for political offenses. Espionage is the “quintessential” political offense, Assange attorney Edward Fitzgerald told the panel. “The gravamen (and defining legal characteristic) of each of the charges is thus an alleged intention to obtain or disclose US state secrets in a manner that was damaging to the security of the US state,” which makes them political offenses, Assange’s lawyers wrote. The defense claimed it was an abuse of process for the United States to pursue extradition of Assange for a political offense.


The U.S. argued that the U.K. Extradition Act does not contain an explicit exception for political offenses. But the defense said that the political offense exclusion is an “age-old” prohibition found in “virtually every” U.K. extradition treaty. It is included in U.K. treaties with “156 out of 158” countries. Fitzgerald said you can’t infer a deliberate intention to forbid extradition for political offenses from the absence of explicit language in the Extradition Act. Since the exception is not specifically included in the act, U.K. District Judge Vanessa Baraitser didn’t fully consider the issue in her ruling after Assange’s extradition hearing.


Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) says, “No one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed.” Assange could not have been reasonably expected to know that he could be prosecuted for publishing in the public interest, because no publisher had ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing in the public interest before.


Article 10 of the ECHR protects freedom of expression, which includes the right “to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.” The information that WikiLeaks revealed was true and Manning was acting in good faith and in the public interest when she provided it to WikiLeaks. Extradition would constitute a “flagrant denial” of Assange’s right to freedom of expression, particularly because he might be denied the protection of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, Assange’s lawyers argued to the panel.


Article 6 of the ECHR guarantees the right to a fair trial — It will be very difficult for Assange to get a fair trial if he is extradited to the United States. Assistant District Attorney Gordon Kromberg and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that as a non-U.S. citizen, Assange has no First Amendment rights. The First Amendment allows journalists to publish material that was illegally obtained by a third person if it is a matter of public interest. Justice Johnson was concerned that the U.S. had given no assurances that foreign nationals have First Amendment protection and asked both sides to provide clarity on this issue. Additionally, if extradited, Assange would be prosecuted in a federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the jury pool will be drawn from people associated with the U.S. government national security agencies and contractors.


Articles 2 and 3 of the ECHR protect the right to life and the right to be free from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, respectively. The CIA planned to kidnap and assassinate Assange, which is an indication he will likely be subject to inhuman and degrading treatment if extradited to the U.S. “If these state agencies were prepared to go to these lengths whilst he was under the protection of an embassy and located in the UK, there must be a real risk of similar extra-judicial measures or reprisals if he is extradited to the US,” Assange’s lawyers wrote.


Article 4(3) of the extradition treaty forbids extradition if the request is politically motivated and not made in good faith. Assange’s lawyers wrote that “this prosecution is motivated by matters other than the proper and usual pursuit of criminal justice. It is motivated instead by a concerted intent to destroy or inhibit the publishers of evidence of state criminal ability, and thereby put a stop to the process of investigating, prosecuting and preventing such international crimes in the future.” One panel judge asked the defense where they could find more information on this point.


Summers argued to the panel that although the WikiLeaks revelations at issue in the indictment occurred in 2010-2011, Assange wasn’t indicted until 2018-2019. That was because WikiLeaks revealed CIA spying tools in 2017, known as “Vault 7,” which enabled the CIA to tap into people’s cell phones and smart TVs, turning them into listening devices. Those revelations infuriated Donald Trump’s CIA Director Pompeo, who denounced WikiLeaks as a “hostile, non-state intelligence service,” a designation that would allow the CIA to act without the knowledge of Congress. U.S. officials drew up plans to kidnap and/or kill Assange. The Justice Department expedited the indictment of Assange to facilitate prosecution once he was sent by extraordinary rendition to the U.S. “This prosecution only emerged because of that rendition plan,” Summers said.


In addition, extradition based on political opinion is forbidden. Under the 1985 Supplementary Treaty, the judicial branch has the authority to consider whether an extradition request is motivated by a desire to punish the person for his or her political opinion. “Exposing state criminality is a political act/opinion,” Assange’s legal team wrote in its Renewal Skeleton. “It is acknowledged by courts globally that prosecution for exposing/challenging state-level pervasive criminality amounts to persecution for reasons of ‘political opinion’.” Publicly calling out a state for human rights abuses, can also constitute “an act of political dissent”/“a political opinion.”


As his defense team wrote in its Closing Submissions, Assange’s political opinions that led to his indictment included his “exposure of crimes against humanity and accountability for such crimes,” as well as his belief in “political transparency as a means” to accomplish “democratic accountability” and his antiwar, anti-imperialist beliefs. Indicting Assange after WikiLeaks’ exposé of Vault 7 in 2017, six years after WikiLeaks’ 2010-2011 revelations of war crimes, is further evidence that Assange was charged for his political opinions.


“The Most Important Revelation Since Abu Ghraib”

The Collateral Murder video is “the most important revelation since Abu Ghraib,” Summers told the panel. “The cables Assange published disclosed extrajudicial assassinations, rendition, torture, dark prisons and drone killings.” Summers said the Guantánamo Files revealed a “colossal criminal act.” The defense pointed out that WikiLeaks’s revelations actually saved lives. After WikiLeaks published evidence of Iraqi torture centers established by the U.S., the Iraqi government refused President Barack Obama’s request to grant immunity to U.S. troops who committed criminal and civil offenses there. As a result, Obama had to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq.


The Obama administration, which prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all prior U.S. administrations combined, considered prosecuting Assange, but feared it would violate the First Amendment. The administration was unable to distinguish what WikiLeaks did from what The New York Times and The Guardian did since they also published documents that Chelsea Manning had leaked.


But the Trump administration did indict Julian Assange. The U.K. arrested Assange and has held him in Belmarsh Prison for nearly five years pending a decision on whether he should be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial.


In January 2021, following a three-week hearing, Baraitser denied extradition after finding that Assange’s mental health was so frail there was a “substantial risk” of suicide if he was extradited to the U.S. because of the harsh conditions of confinement in which he would be held. But she rejected all other legal objections to extradition that Assange had raised.


U.S. “Assurances” That Assange Will Be Treated Humanely

After Baraitser had already ruled, the U.S. came forward with diplomatic “assurances” that Assange would be treated humanely if extradited to the United States. The Biden administration assured the court that Assange: (1) would not be subject to onerous Special Administrative Measures (SAMs) that would keep him in extreme isolation and monitor his confidential communications with his attorneys; (2) would not be housed at the notorious ADX Florence maximum security prison in Colorado; (3) would receive psychological and clinical treatment in custody; and (4) could serve any custodial sentence in Australia.


But the U.S. said the assurances wouldn’t apply if Assange committed a “future act” that “met the test” for the SAMs. That unspecified contingency would be based on a subjective determination of prison authorities with no judicial review.


Although the United States has reneged on nearly identical assurances in the past, the High Court accepted them at face value, saying it was satisfied that the U.S. was acting in good faith, and in December 2021, the High Court reversed Baraitser’s denial of extradition.


However, in a 2023 decision, the U.K. Supreme Court unanimously held that the court has an independent duty to determine the validity of assurances, writing, “The government’s assessment of whether there is such a risk is an important element of that evidence, but the court is bound to consider the question in the light of the evidence as a whole and to reach its own conclusion.”


In June 2023, a single High Court judge, Jonathan Swift, refused Assange permission to appeal in a cursory three-page ruling. The hearing on February 20 and 21 was an effort by Assange’s legal team to reverse that decision so that the High Court will entertain his appeal.


Assange Redacted Names of Informants to Protect Them

At the February 21 hearing, prosecutor Clare Dobbin told the panel that documents in which names hadn’t been redacted were published, putting the individuals and the U.S. at grave risk. One of the judges asked Dobbin if it wasn’t true that this information was published by others first, to which Dobbin replied that Assange was responsible for putting the information in the hands of others in the first place.


Several witnesses testified at the 2020 extradition hearing that Assange took great care to ensure that the names were redacted. Other outlets published the unredacted cables before WikiLeaks with no adverse consequences. John Young, from cryptome.org, testified at the extradition hearing and wrote in a Justice Department submission form, “Cryptome published the decrypted unredacted State Department Cables on September 1, 2011 prior to publication of the cables by WikiLeaks.” Digital experts testified that the publication of a password by Guardian journalists Luke Harding and David Leigh ultimately led to the unredacted publication.


Moreover, Brig. Gen. Robert Carr testified at Manning’s court martial that no one was harmed by the WikiLeaks releases. Summers told the panel that Baraitser never balanced the public interest in the disclosures against the fact that no harm came from them.


Conviction of Assange Would Chill Investigate Journalists From Exposing Government Secrets

In November 2022, The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, DER SPIEGEL and El País signed a joint open letter calling on the Biden administration to drop the Espionage Act charges against Assange. They wrote, “Publishing is not a crime,” noting that Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act for revealing government secrets.


The indictment would punish conduct that national security journalists routinely engage in, including cultivating and communicating confidentially with sources and soliciting information from them, shielding their identities from disclosure, and publishing classified information. If Assange is prosecuted and convicted, it will discourage journalists both in the U.S. and abroad from publishing evidence of government wrongdoing.


No publisher has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for disclosing government secrets. The U.S. government has never prosecuted a publisher for publishing classified information, which constitutes an essential tool of investigative journalism.


But rather than dropping Trump’s prosecution of Assange consistent with the position of the Obama-Biden administration, Joe Biden has zealously pursued extradition and prosecution.


Pending House Resolution Would Call for Dismissal of All Charges Against Assange

On December 13, 2023, House Resolution 934 was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Arizona), with cosponsors from both political parties. It would express “the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.” The resolution states that the WikiLeaks disclosures “promoted public transparency through the exposure of the hiring of child prostitutes by Defence Department contractors, friendly fire incidents, human rights abuses, civilian killings, and United States use of psychological warfare.”


Assange was charged with one count of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, HR 934 notes, “despite the fact that said intelligence analyst already had access to the mentioned computer, that the purported breaching of the Defense Department computers was impossible, and that there was no proof Mr. Assange had any contact with said intelligence analyst.” The conviction of Assange under the Espionage Act, the resolution continues, “would set a precedent allowing the United States to prosecute and imprison journalists for First Amendment protected activities, including the obtainment and publication of information, something that occurs on a regular basis.”


On February 14, I joined nearly 40 law professors in sending a letter to the Department of Justice, stating that the Espionage Act charges against Assange “pose an existential threat to the First Amendment.” We expressed alarm that the constitutional implications of prosecuting Assange “could extend beyond the Espionage Act and beyond national security journalism [to] enable prosecution of routine newsgathering under any number of ambiguous laws and untested legal theories.”


At the conclusion of the two-day hearing, the High Court panel set a due date of March 4 for further written submissions from the parties. If the court agrees to review at least one of Assange’s appellate issues, there will be a full hearing. Meanwhile, Assange, who is in poor physical and emotional health, remains in prison.


If the High Court denies his right to appeal, Assange can ask the European Court of Human Rights to hear his case. If that court finds “exceptional circumstances” and an “imminent risk of irreparable harm,” it can order provisional measures, including a stay of execution while the case is pending in the European court. But there is a danger that the U.K. could immediately extradite Assange to the United States before the European Court of Human Rights has a chance to consider Assange’s petition.



4) What Does the Uncommitted Vote in Michigan Mean for 2024?

The share of Arab American and Muslim voters is small but could be decisive in a close race.

By Nate Cohn, Feb. 28, 2024


Voting “uncommitted” became a protest movement against Biden policies on the war in Gaza. Credit...Rebecca Cook/Reuters

In Tuesday night’s results in Michigan, around one in eight Democrats voted “uncommitted” in the Democratic primary — a protest of the Biden administration’s policies toward Israel and the war in Gaza.


In some predominantly Arab American precincts in Dearborn, around three in four Democrats cast a protest vote for uncommitted.


Having one in eight Democrats vote uncommitted in an uncontested primary is not wholly unusual. As recently as the last time a Democratic president sought re-election, in 2012, 11 percent of Michigan Democratic caucusgoers voted for “uncommitted” instead of for Barack Obama.


Having three in four Democratic primary voters in Arab American communities do it, on the other hand, is an eye-popping figure. It goes well beyond the norm, and it’s a powerful indication that the war in Gaza poses serious political risks to President Biden.


What does it mean for the general election? That’s not an easy question to answer, but here are four things to consider.


1. A protest vote is hard to interpret


A vote for “uncommitted” was a serious form of protest against Mr. Biden, but it’s just not the same as voting for Donald J. Trump in the general election. That simple fact limits how much we can read into the results for November, especially as there was no exit poll to offer insight into the attitudes of protest voters.


At the same time, it’s also possible that Mr. Biden’s problems go well beyond those who voted uncommitted in a primary. The typical Democratic primary voter is disproportionately old, white and loyal to Democrats. Mr. Biden might be faring even worse among the kinds of Democratic-leaning voters who stayed home.


2. Protest votes have a history


Even though it may be hard to interpret a protest vote in a primary, the risk of defection from this group of voters should be taken seriously. This issue is very personal for them. There are also signs of defection in the polling, including in the last Times/Siena poll in Michigan. And their arguments for defection — complicity in genocide — are plainly enough to switch a vote if taken at face value.


There’s another reason it should be taken seriously: history. Major foreign policy conflicts have often reshaped the electoral map, especially among immigrant communities whose identity have remained tied to their home countries.


The Cold War. Even today, Cuban Americans tend to vote Republican, as many fled the Communist Castro regime and supported the fervently anti-Communist Republican Party. There’s a plausible case that the Elian González controversy in Florida was sufficient to decide the 2000 election.


A similar anti-Communist story helps explain why Vietnamese Americans typically vote Republican, even as other Asian Americans tend to vote Democratic.


World War II. The outbreak of war in Europe turned the American electoral map into an Axis vs. Allies game board. German, Italian and Irish Americans swung Republican in the 1940 election to oppose the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration’s hostility to the Axis powers and support for Britain. There were German Catholic counties in the Midwest that routinely voted Democratic up until the war, and essentially never did so again.


Roosevelt, meanwhile, won overwhelming support from Jewish and Polish voters. And he surged nearly 30 points to almost win Maine, one of the two states he lost in 1936 and home to many voters of English and French Canadian ancestry.


The Arab-Israeli War. In 1948, a sizable share of Jewish voters defected to the third-party candidate Henry Wallace over President Truman’s tepid support for the newly created state of Israel. Many Jewish neighborhoods in New York City gave Mr. Wallace more than 20 percent of the vote. It was enough to cost Mr. Truman the state of New York.


The War on Terror. Arab and Muslim Americans swung toward Democrats in the wake of 9/11, the war on terror and the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq. That was even true in Michigan, where Dearborn voted for George W. Bush in 2000 before voting for John Kerry by a 19-point margin in 2004. Sound familiar?


The relatively recent history of Arab American and Muslim voters being more favorable toward Republican candidates makes it even easier to envision a shift back to Republicans today. This isn’t a liberal voting group.


3. The effect is small


With that history, one could imagine Arab American and Muslim voters lurching decidedly toward Mr. Trump. That would obviously be bad news for Mr. Biden, but there’s one consolation for Democrats: These voters are a small share of the electorate, and it’s hard to see even a huge swing being decisive.


Imagine, for a moment, that in the last election Mr. Biden had lost every single voter in Dearborn, Hamtramck and Dearborn Heights — the three Michigan townships where Arab Americans make up at least 30 percent of the population. He still would have won Michigan — and still would have won it by more than he did Wisconsin, Arizona or Georgia.


For that same reason, Mr. Biden’s deficit in the polling of Michigan can’t mostly be attributed to his weakness among Arab American and Muslim voters. Overall, Arab Americans make up 2 percent of the state’s population and probably an even smaller share of the electorate. There are non-Arab Muslim voters, of course, adding another percentage point or more. In the end, 3 percent of the electorate can only do so much.


4. Still, anything could be decisive


Because the country is so narrowly divided, every vote counts, and right now Mr. Biden appears to need every vote he can get. If Arab American and Muslim voters swing by 30 points toward Mr. Trump, as suggested by our Times/Siena poll in Michigan, that could cost Mr. Biden a percentage point in a critical battleground state where he’s already trailing in the polls. If the race were close enough, it’s possible these voters could decide the 2024 election.



5) Hamas insists it is being flexible in talks, but is prepared to continue the war.

By Hwaida Saad and Shashank Bengali, Feb. 28, 2024


A man in a suit jacket speaks on a TV screen as people watch in a darkened room.

Gathering in Beirut to watch a video message from Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, on Wednesday. Credit...Mohamed Azakir/Reuters

Parties haggling over a possible cease-fire in Gaza offered mixed signals on Wednesday, with Hamas’s political leader saying that the group was ready to keep fighting Israel while the president of Egypt said that a truce could be reached “in the next few days.”


The Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said in a televised speech that the group was open to the mediated talks with Israel, but that “any flexibility we show in the negotiation process is a commitment to protecting the blood of our people, matched by a readiness to defend them.”


President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, which is brokering the talks along with Qatar and the United States, offered a rosier view, saying that, “God willing, in the next few days, we will reach a cease-fire agreement” to bring “real relief” to the people of Gaza. The prediction matched that of President Biden, who said that a deal could come as soon as next week.


In public, however, Hamas and Israel are sticking with their longstanding positions and not signaling any breakthrough. The two sides have not met face to face, instead negotiating through mediators in Doha, Cairo and Paris. Hamas leaders continue to demand that Israel agree to a permanent cease-fire and withdraw all its troops from Gaza, while Israel has insisted that it will continue fighting until Hamas is eliminated, suggesting it is not prepared to agree to a long-term truce.


Qatar’s foreign ministry said this week that talks were continuing and it was too early to speculate about a resolution. Mr. Haniyeh did not comment on specific terms of a cease-fire deal that could be under discussion, and it was not clear whether his remarks reflected real reservations or were a negotiating tactic.


The start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, around March 10, has emerged as a target for mediators to hammer out a truce in the war, which started with an Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel that authorities there say killed at least 1,200 people.


Mr. Haniyeh appeared to raise the stakes for reaching a deal in the coming days, calling on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank to defy Israeli restrictions and march to the Aqsa mosque to pray at the start of Ramadan. That creates the prospect of clashes if Palestinians attempt to approach the mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam and a longtime flashpoint in relations with Israel.


Israel has restricted access to the Aqsa mosque for West Bank Palestinians, and it has severely limited movement within the West Bank since the start of the war in Gaza. Israeli officials are debating whether to place further restrictions on access to the mosque for some members of the country’s Arab minority, a move that could spark further unrest.


With the war’s death toll in Gaza nearing 30,000, according to health officials in the territory, pressure is building on Israel and the Biden administration, its chief ally, to secure a cease-fire. Israel has offered at least one significant concession, telling Qatari, Egyptian and U.S. mediators in Paris last week that it was ready to release 15 Palestinians jailed on serious terrorism charges in exchange for five female Israeli soldiers being held in Gaza, according to officials.


But a Hamas spokesman, Basem Naim, told The New York Times on Tuesday that the group had yet to formally receive “any new proposals” since the Paris meeting. Mr. Haniyeh met on Monday with the emir of Qatar and accused Israel of dragging its feet in the talks, according to a Hamas statement.


Israeli officials have said the goal is to reach a deal before the start of Ramadan. An Israeli delegation — including professionals from Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency, and its military — traveled to Qatar this week for more discussions, including over such details as the identities of the hostages and prisoners to be exchanged, according to an Israeli official.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad, Nada Rashwan and Adam Sella contributed reporting.



6) A U.N. aid official warns that Gaza is close to famine.

By Vivian Yee reporting from Cairo, Feb. 28, 2024


Little aid has been able to reach northern Gaza due to security risks and Israeli restrictions. Credit...-/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images (Screenshot)

At least a quarter of Gaza’s population is “one step away from famine,” a U.N. humanitarian aid official has warned, as aid groups say that people are so hungry they are resorting to eating leaves, donkey feed and food scraps.


One in six children under 2 years old in northern Gaza, where the United Nations says it has not been able to deliver any aid since early this month because of security risks and Israeli restrictions, is suffering from acute malnutrition, the official, Ramesh Rajasingham, told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday.


His remarks came the same day as the Gaza health ministry said that two infants at Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza had died from what it described as dehydration and malnutrition. The ministry did not provide further details.


The fighting, damage from the war and Israeli restrictions on essential goods entering Gaza have decimated the territory’s ability to feed itself through farming, livestock and fishing, Mr. Rajasingham said.


Farmers have had to abandon their crops to flee the fighting or because there is not enough water to sustain them; livestock have been killed in the fighting or perished from lack of food and water; fishing, once an important source of food and income for Gazans, is now impossible, he said.


His remarks echoed a new World Bank report that found that Gaza’s total economic output had shriveled by more than 80 percent in the last quarter of 2023, calling it “one of the largest economic shocks ever recorded in recent history.”


Between 80 to 96 percent of Gaza’s agricultural infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, the World Bank report said. About 80 percent of the population has lost its jobs, the report said, adding that “every resident of Gaza will live in poverty” in the short term.


That is leaving Gazans largely reliant on aid — which is extremely hard to come by.


U.N. and aid group officials say aid is generally able to reach Rafah, in the southernmost part of Gaza, but little of it has trickled up to northern Gaza, which the fighting and Israeli military restrictions have largely cut off from the rest of the territory since early in the war. One of the two crossings where aid trucks enter Gaza has been closed repeatedly in recent weeks.


The Israeli agency that oversees the Palestinian territories has previously denied that it is blocking aid to Gaza, and Israeli officials have accused Hamas of seizing some supplies.


Aid groups were “facing overwhelming obstacles just to get a bare minimum of supplies into Gaza,” Mr. Rajasingham said. “If nothing is done, we fear widespread famine in Gaza is almost inevitable.”


The U.N. says a famine can be designated if 20 percent of households in an area face an extreme lack of food, if 30 percent of children there are suffering from acute malnutrition and if two adults or four children out of every 10,000 are dying every day from starvation or malnutrition and disease.


A breakdown in law and order has also made distribution difficult, with desperate Gazans seizing food from the trucks and occasionally attacking the drivers. Damaged roads and unexploded ordnance have cut off supply routes. Aid workers have been killed.


Earlier this month, the World Food Program announced it was suspending deliveries of food aid to the north after its trucks came under fire there and were attacked by desperate Gazans.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.



7) ‘The bag of flour or your life’: Gazans are in a desperate search for food.

By Vivian Yee, Ameera Harouda and Emma Bubola, Feb. 28, 2024


Several men on a beach with bags of flour on their shoulders, walking away from a truck.

Palestinians carrying bags of flour from an aid truck in Gaza City this month. Credit...Kosay Al Nemer/Reuters

Nutrition bars selling for six times the usual price. Four in five workers unemployed and lacking any income. Food shortages so dire that people are turning to leaves and bird food for sustenance.


Gazans and international relief groups are describing increasingly desperate conditions in the territory, particularly in northern and central areas where the United Nations and relief agencies are struggling to deliver even small amounts of supplies amid Israel’s military offensive.


“Our lives have become very miserable,” said Aseel al-Louh, 23, a university student in Deir al Balah in central Gaza, who said she had lost 11 kilograms, or 24 pounds, since the war began. Her little sisters and brothers were also losing weight, she said in a Facebook message: “Everyone here” was.


She is eating one meal a day, usually some bread, hummus or canned beans, she said. Aid was scarce, she added, with World Food Program nutrition bars selling on the black market for six times the prewar price of similar products.


Aseel Ayman, who has been sheltering in northern Gaza, described people’s desperation in a voice note on Tuesday, saying that she had shaken her family awake the night before and rushed to a nearby traffic circle after hearing people shouting that aid was arriving there.


A crowd of about 500 people gathered in anticipation from all around northern Gaza, she said. Her family waited there for two hours, while others slept at the traffic circle in hopes of receiving aid, she said. But it never came.


She had heard that some aid did make it to another part of northern Gaza, near the coastal highway known as Al-Rasheed Street, but she said the presence of Israeli troops made it too dangerous to go there.


“There was intense fear of going to Al-Rasheed Street to get the flour, because it’s either the bag of flour or your life,” Ms. Ayman said.


She said her family’s meals often consisted only of a leafy green called khubeiza. Though a few other products were available in the market, including canned mushrooms, rice and animal feed, they were unaffordably expensive.


Elsewhere in northern Gaza, the Save the Children aid group said last week that people had reported eating bird and animal food and tree leaves.


“The level of hunger we’ve reached is unbearable,” Ms. Ayman said.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.



8) Raised in the West Bank, Shot in Vermont

Three months after an attack, its victims grapple with what it means to be Palestinian in America.

By Rozina Ali, Feb. 28, 2024


Awartani, Abdalhamid and Aliahmad standing together wearing kaffiyehs.

Awartani, Abdalhamid and Aliahmad in Burlington in November, one day before the shooting., Credit...From Elizabeth Price

Kinnan Abdalhamid lived in the United States until he was 2, when his mother, Tamara Tamimi, made her big move to the West Bank. That was where her parents were born, and for her, the idea of a Palestinian home had become a lodestar. In 1988, when she was 15 and protesters had taken to the streets to challenge Israeli occupation in what would become known as the first intifada, she told a local news reporter in Northern California, where she lived at the time, that if she were there, she, too, would be throwing stones at the tanks. “I would feel obligated,” she said. The news segment portrayed Tamara as being “caught between two worlds” — an American one, in which she rehearsed “Bye Bye Birdie” at school, and a Palestinian one, in which she spoke Arabic and struggled to reach relatives back home. She finally moved to the West Bank in 2005, as the region teetered on a precarious peace. She and her husband wanted to raise their child in a world where he could have a community that wasn’t possible in America.


In Ramallah, Kinnan met Hisham, a slight boy with light hair who was also born in the United States. Hisham’s mother, Elizabeth Price, first visited the West Bank from Boston in 1994 to research her undergraduate thesis in anthropology; she fell in love, first with Palestine and then with a Palestinian man named Ali Awartani. Soon, the two families were scheduling play dates and spending holidays together. The boys became inseparable.


When it came time to start school, they enrolled in Ramallah Friends School, a private Quaker institution in the north of a city that had become the de facto capital of the West Bank. The literacy rate in the Palestinian territories is among the highest in the world — more than 97 percent — but even in this milieu, Ramallah Friends shined. Founded in 1869 for girls in nearby villages, it had withstood multiple cycles of conflict, periodically serving as a hospital and a refugee center, to become the only international baccalaureate program in the West Bank. Beyond practicing the Quaker tradition of silent reflection, the school was largely nondenominational. It was not uncommon for graduates to attend college abroad and then perhaps work to improve the deteriorating political situation at home: The open landscape outside Ramallah was shrinking as an Israeli settlement visible from campus expanded.


It was at school, one day in the third grade, that Hisham and Kinnan met a shy kid on the playground, Tahseen Aliahmad. Tahseen’s mother was from Gaza, and his father was from the West Bank, where he was born as well. He had never traveled to the United States, as Hisham and Kinnan did. But none of this mattered to the boys. “We just kind of picked each other,” Tahseen recalled.


The three friends approached the world’s perplexities with an intellectual eye. They dedicated themselves to watching YouTube videos on challenging scientific and psychological concepts. As grade school turned to middle school, they would pile into Hisham’s room and talk about ideas and history and soccer. They joined Model United Nations and, dressed in suits and ties, debated intractable international conflicts. Long evening hours were spent in one of Ramallah’s many cafes playing chess or cards.


Living in Ramallah, all three friends had West Bank IDs, which in most cases made it near impossible to travel in Israel. But Kinnan and Hisham were also sons of American citizens. This conferred a particular freedom that Tahseen didn’t have: Once or twice a year, their mothers could drive them into the rolling hills west of Ramallah, through the cookie-cutter streets of Tel Aviv and then finally to the azure Mediterranean Sea. As the two friends grew older, though, this freedom started to feel uncomfortable. They didn’t like that Tahseen couldn’t take such trips, and visiting Tel Aviv was alienating; no one there seemed to care what was happening just miles away. This privilege came to an end anyway when Hisham and Kinnan turned 16, the cutoff age by Israeli law.


The friends largely avoided run-ins with Israeli forces or the settlers surrounding Ramallah. Still, they were growing up in the shadow of the second intifada. Security was tight. Long gun barrels followed them at military checkpoints, prickling them with fear. As a child, Hisham heard about a friend of his cousin’s who was killed by Israeli soldiers. A friend’s father was arrested and disappeared into the prison system for a year and a half. No one knew precisely why. Once, when Hisham was hiking, a group of soldiers demanded to see his identity card. They let him go, but he was rattled.


The occupation affected Tahseen intimately: He couldn’t visit his relatives in Gaza, including his grandmother, because Israel restricted movement between the two strips of Palestinian territory. One of his earliest memories was of being rushed away by his dad from a tear-gas canister that landed near him. When he was 11, soldiers barged into the living room of his house without warning, pointed their guns at the family and shouted out a name — Tahseen’s neighbor. They had the wrong house. Years later, it happened again.


But Tahseen saw all this as a temporary part of his life. His plan was to leave Ramallah, study abroad and make money. Palestine is going to stay occupied, he thought. But he would be fine.


Kinnan and Hisham appeared to be more troubled. Early one afternoon in May 2021, when Hisham was 18, he ventured to El Bireh, an adjoining city where people were protesting. Demonstrations had erupted across the West Bank in response to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and efforts to expel Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem. The teachers at Ramallah Friends regularly discussed the occupation — a subject that could hardly be avoided even in a class on poetry. Still, they discouraged students from attending demonstrations, where they could be killed. A classmate who attended one had been shot in the leg. But Hisham was tired of feeling humiliated and oppressed. I don’t accept this, he thought. I’m not going to take this lying down.


When he reached the protest site, in a patchy grass field near a military checkpoint, soldiers were launching tear-gas canisters toward the 50-odd demonstrators. A dumpster near Hisham was turned on its side. A burning tire cast a pall of smoke across the sky. Some of the Palestinians threw stones at the tanks, and Israeli soldiers fired back. Then Hisham felt a sharp pinch in his left leg. A rubber-coated bullet had cut through the flesh above his knee.


At school, Kinnan noticed Hisham limping and immediately asked, “Was it the knee?” They had all heard the stories about soldiers’ aiming for the kneecaps to permanently disable protesters. Hisham’s knee was unharmed, but he saw his wound as a mark of pride, something to brag about. Kinnan, for his part, didn’t partake in demonstrations, but he was still shaken by news of the killing of Palestinians. He wanted to become an E.M.T., to help treat children in refugee camps who were shot by Israeli soldiers.


A few weeks after the demonstration, the three boys graduated from Ramallah Friends School together. Hisham had been accepted to Brown University. Kinnan, too, would be going to the United States, to Haverford College near Philadelphia. Tahseen was accepted at Concordia University in Canada, but as he made preparations, word came that the Canadian government had rejected his visa: His family didn’t have enough money in their bank account.


From afar, Tahseen watched his friends thrive in their new lives as he struggled with his own. He completed some coding and visual-art projects at home and tried to smile through his friends’ visit during the winter break. The unexpected change in life plans humbled him. He sent another round of applications and was accepted at Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn.; this time, the United States granted him a visa.


At Trinity, Tahseen listened as his classmates shared their experiences interacting with the police and debated whether Black Americans could ever be treated as full citizens. Around Hartford, he saw people living on the streets and heard the pop pop of gunfire. It was his first time in America, but it felt familiar. He was noticing “systematic discrimination in a new context,” he said, and how half the country could be completely blind to it.


Then, last October, as he started his second year, Hamas gunmen breached a fence and attacked towns across southern Israel, killing civilians and capturing hostages. And then Israel began pounding Gaza.


For the first time, Tahseen felt a responsibility toward Palestine.


Tahseen immediately joined a small group in Hartford to protest Israeli bombardment. At Brown, Hisham spoke at a vigil hosted by the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter to remember the Gazans killed. As weeks went on and bombardment continued, Kinnan joined calls to demand a cease-fire. He wasn’t “caught between two worlds” as Tamara had been, but trying to survive a single one, in which one home, the United States, was helping to bomb another home, the Palestinian territories. Like many others, the three friends donned kaffiyehs, checkered scarves that long ago became a symbol of Palestinian solidarity.


As Israel’s assault on Gaza continued, so did protests; as the outpouring of Palestinian support grew, so did accusations that such support was contributing to rising antisemitism; as kaffiyehs became ubiquitous, so did claims that the scarves were threatening. A woman in Brooklyn threw hot coffee at a father wearing a kaffiyeh at a playground. At Harvard, a professor’s wife followed a graduate student down a suburban street and accused her of “making families feel unsafe with your terrorist scarf.”


Threats and attacks against Arabs and Muslims were climbing nationwide. A week into the conflict, an Illinois landlord was charged with stabbing a 6-year-old Palestinian boy to death. (He has pleaded not guilty.) In Denver, someone shot at the home of a Palestinian family, and in Manhattan, a former State Department official harassed a halal cart vendor. “If we killed 4,000 Palestinian kids, you know what?” he said. “It wasn’t enough.”


Still, deadly violence in the United States seemed rare compared with that in the West Bank, where Israeli forces were detaining Palestinians en masse. Even before the Oct. 7 attacks, 2023 was a particularly deadly year; now deaths shot up. By the end of the year, Israeli forces and settlers would kill 507 civilians there, including 124 children — the highest death toll since the United Nations began recording such statistics in 2005. The friends were planning to meet in Burlington, Vt., and stay with Hisham’s grandmother for Thanksgiving. Some of the parents encouraged them to stay in the United States for the winter holidays, too. They thought their children would be safer there.


In Burlington, the three friends were together for the first time since the conflict began. They flitted away the break with video games and conversations late into the night — a respite from the world.


On the Saturday after Thanksgiving, they left Hisham’s grandmother’s house on North Prospect Street for an evening stroll. It was just before 6:30. As they sauntered down the road, Hisham noticed a man’s silhouette against the darkened sky. He was standing on the porch of an apartment building, and his neck was craned away from them, as if searching. They had passed the building earlier, going the other direction. Perhaps he was waiting for them? Or maybe he had noticed the trio during one of their many walks around the neighborhood that weekend?


As the three young men approached, they recall, the man on the porch moved toward them, pulling a gun from his waistband, and started firing. Tahseen crumpled to the pavement first, then Hisham. The man fired two more shots as Kinnan bolted across the street and jumped a fence.


Terrified that his friends were dead, Kinnan limped toward a lit house. He had lost his phone in the scramble. “Please, come out!” he begged the family inside. “I need y’all to come out!” Faces stared back at him: this strange, frantic young man, shouting at them. They finally emerged, called 911 and sat Kinnan on a bench. A sharp pain in his backside announced that he, too, had been shot.


Some yards away, Hisham, who was lying on his stomach, fished out his phone and with desperate, bloody fingers pushed the emergency-call button. Tahseen’s lungs filled with blood, and his breath grew shallow. He had never been religious, but now, as he waited for help or death, he mumbled the shahada into the night air.


An ocean away, Elizabeth Price, Hisham’s mother, was woken up by a call from her brother in Burlington. He was at a hospital, he told her. Hisham and his friends had been shot. Elizabeth struggled to process what he was saying. Shock came first, then guilt: The children had been visiting her mother’s house. She immediately rang Tamara. “Shot where, shot how?” Tamara screamed into the phone. Her mind raced. “Is Kinnan OK? Is he dead? Is he dead?”


The families hurried to reach Vermont. Elizabeth, her husband and Tamara headed out first; Tahseen’s mother, who had to sort out visa logistics, would join them a week later. Although Ben Gurion Airport, near Tel Aviv, is an hour’s drive from Ramallah, Hisham’s father was not allowed to access it with his Palestinian ID. The parents followed the route that most Palestinians take: They drove through roads where settlers had been throwing stones at passing cars, crossed a bridge at the Jordanian border that Israel controlled and finally passed through multiple security checkpoints at the international airport near Amman. They could cross the border only in the narrow window Israel allowed, which happened to be long before their scheduled flight, so they waited 12 hours in Amman, in fear and disbelief.


At the I.C.U., the three friends compared their wounds. Kinnan was struck in the gluteal muscles, but the hospital staff allowed him to stay in the unit with his friends, who suffered more severe injuries. A bullet ripped into Tahseen’s chest above his right lung, and his fall cracked his ribs. Hisham could no longer feel his legs. “Hey, guys, did we just get shot?” Tahseen asked.


Groggy with shock and painkillers, they laughed and started to joke: “Brilliant, that this happened in Vermont.” “It was probably the only crime Burlington has seen all year.” They didn’t say much about the shooter. They could guess why they were targeted. For the past two months, they had seen Palestinians being killed in droves, with the support of the United States — and no one seemed to care. Someone doesn’t randomly decide to shoot someone, the friends agreed.


Within hours, the police came to talk to them. Hate crimes, which are predicated on the state of mind of the aggressor, are challenging to prove in court. This case was even more tricky: The shooter said nothing out loud before, during or after the shooting, and the man the police had charged in the attack, Jason Eaton, was a somewhat complicated character. He had returned to Vermont the previous summer, after some years in upstate New York. Things had taken a bad turn — a series of troubled relationships and jobs that didn’t work out. He spent Thanksgiving with his mother, who later told a reporter that he had had mental-health struggles but was “totally normal” that day. Eaton appeared to have engaged in political discussion online. According to a local Vermont paper, he had left comments on X about an op-ed piece about Gaza — “What if someone occupied your country? Wouldn’t you fight them?” — and described himself as a “radical citizen pa-trolling demockracy and crapitalism for oathcreepers.” Per a police affidavit, Eaton had a pistol, a rifle and two shotguns in his apartment, along with ammunition consistent with casings found at the crime scene. (Eaton has pleaded not guilty to three charges of attempted second-degree murder.)


As the police began to run down evidence of potential bias, the friends shared what they thought Eaton might have seen at the time: On the walk, they were speaking a mix of Arabic and English, and Hisham was wearing his kaffiyeh, as was Tahseen. They were the ones the assailant shot first.


The parents began arriving in Burlington that Wednesday. When Elizabeth first saw Hisham on a video call just hours after the shooting, he was shivering. A bullet was lodged in his spine, his body couldn’t maintain a consistent temperature and doctors were preparing for major organ failure. He was more stable now. Elizabeth stroked his hair while his father held his hand. Tamara touched Kinnan’s face, almost in disbelief. Tahseen’s mother, who hadn’t seen her son for more than a year, arrived a few days later and held him tightly. The boys were not in an Israeli prison, or dead in the West Bank, or under the rubble in Gaza. They were here, alive.


Immediately, support poured in from around the country. Photos of Kinnan, Hisham and Tahseen flashed on major networks. Officials condemned the attack, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont spoke with Kinnan privately over Zoom as the other two friends recovered. Kinnan returned to Haverford soon after the shooting and juggled classes with media requests and meetings with the college’s administration. He was doing a “monkey dance,” as he called it, trying to draw people’s attention to the fact that not just he but also Gazan children deserved to live.


Doctors were unable to remove the bullet from Hisham’s spine, and he is now paralyzed from the chest down. On Dec. 6, he was moved to a rehab facility in Boston. Hisham didn’t talk much about his paralysis. To family and friends, he seemed to accept the challenge as a part of life. Elizabeth was grateful that her son had always been even-tempered. He wanted to walk again, and she knew struggle would come.

Tahseen was discharged in early December, too. Doctors removed much of the bullet from his chest, but some shrapnel remains. His terrified mother called relatives back home, who reassured her that every other neighbor, cousin and son carried bullet fragments in their flesh.


Tahseen visited Hisham in Boston soon after leaving Burlington. He couldn’t imagine seeing his friend, his brother really, now in a wheelchair, and he braced himself for tears. Yet when he entered the room, there was the same Hisham, sitting as he always sat. Growing up, Hisham bore the brunt of the friends’ jokes, and now he offered himself to Tahseen on a platter. He was Joe Swanson, Hisham announced, referring to the musclebound character in a wheelchair from “Family Guy.”


As they recovered, the war raged on. A few days after the shooting, Hisham gave a rare public statement through the S.J.P. chapter at Brown: “Had I been shot in the West Bank, where I grew up, the medical services that saved my life here would likely have been withheld by the Israeli Army. The soldier who shot me would go home and never be convicted.” In January, a Palestinian American teenage boy from Louisiana was shot in the head and killed by Israelis in the West Bank, according to the Israeli police. No one has yet been charged.


Individually, the friends struggled with all kinds of guilt: Hisham invited his friends to Burlington for Thanksgiving. Tahseen suggested taking a walk that evening. Kinnan avoided getting injured as seriously as his friends. And then there was the guilt of being alive. Compared with Gazans, they are privileged: They are able to eat, drink water, hold their loved ones.

The friends tried to understand why they had received so much support. In America, their shooting had been perceived as an act of hate, but if it had happened in the West Bank or Gaza, they would be considered collateral damage or even legitimate targets — potential terrorists. Kinnan wondered: Who counted, who didn’t? Was it simply that he was educated? That he was American? But Palestinians overseas are also human, he said, “and they’re just as smart, and they have dreams, and the same hopes.”


Kinnan, Hisham and Tahseen reunited in Boston in the new year, the first time since Vermont. Soon, they would head back to their respective schools, Kinnan to stay on track for medical school and Tahseen to study mathematics. Hisham’s love for it had moved Tahseen to major in the same. Hisham had another passion, too. In Ramallah, he had spent hours walking through ancient ruins and wanted to do archaeological digs one day. That was still his hope; he just needed to rethink his approach.


The friends missed home. Not just Ramallah, which was rapidly changing under Israel’s latest incursion, but a particular time, the one they couldn’t return to. They missed the life before they came to the United States to study, before the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 and the relentless Israeli bombardment of Gaza, before a shooting in Burlington wrested from them their youth. For some brief hours, they could tease one another and laugh and go back to those days, Tahseen said, “when we didn’t care about anything else.” They could just be themselves.