Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 8, 2024


Gaza Strip Access Restrictions.pdf since 2007


Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of February 8, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 30,000,* (40 percent are children)63,740 wounded, and more than 492 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health and other sources including the New YorkTimes. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 35,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.





Free Speech Teach-In: Drop the Charges Against the Uhuru 3! Free Leonard Peltier!

Fight for Free Speech: Anti-Colonial Teach-In

Saturday, February 17th, 2024, 2 to 4pm

Tamarack, 1501 Harrison Street, Oakland, 94612

Uhuru Solidarity Movement

(510) 603-6150, oakland@uhurusolidarity.org


“Fight for Free Speech,” teach-in features Mwezi Odom, chair of the Hands-Off Uhuru Fight-Back Coalition, Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee and Dawn Lawson of the Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Defense Committee.

·      Hess is one of the “Uhuru 3” facing 10 years in prison under a bogus DOJ indictment attacking her free speech rights to support black liberation.

·      Lawson will speak on the campaign to free Leonard Peltier, an Indigenous leader unjustly imprisoned for 46 years.

·      Odom leads the Hands Off Uhuru Fight-back Coalition to fight the US government’s attempt to silence the anti-colonial freedom struggles. 


“No More Genocide in Our Name” Uhuru Solidarity National Conference

March 9-10, 2024,  9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Akwaaba Hall, 4101 W. Florissant Ave., St. Louis, MO. 63115 and online



White people: go beyond protest and build the movement of anti-colonial solidarity with the African Revolution, under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party.  

Oppose U.S.-backed genocidal wars in Occupied Palestine, Africa, Haiti, Latin America and within the colonial borders of the U.S. 

Take action to demand the U.S. government drop the bogus charges against the Uhuru 3 - Uhuru Movement founder/leader Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Uhuru Solidarity leaders Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel - who face 15 years in prison for fighting for reparations to African people. 

Defend anti-colonial free speech!  



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



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) What are U.S. troops doing in the Middle East?

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg and Alan Yuhas, Feb. 3, 2024


A tank bearing a U.S. flag driving over train tracks in a vast expanse of desert.

U.S. forces during an exercise in northeastern Syria in 2021. Credit...Baderkhan Ahmad/Associated Press

When a drone attack killed three U.S. soldiers at a base in Jordan on Jan. 28, many Americans were left wondering why, years after the U.S. ended its combat mission in Iraq, are the country’s soldiers still in the region?


Where are U.S. forces in the region?


Roughly 40,000 American troops are stationed across the Middle East, mostly in countries with close ties to the United States. There are far fewer in the region now compared with when the United States was trying to oust the Islamic State from Iraq, or during the preceding years of war.


There were more than 160,000 American troops in Iraq alone in 2007, during the war that followed the U.S. invasion. Now there are only about 2,500 U.S. troops there, stationed at installations like Al Asad Air Base in Iraq’s western desert, to support Iraq’s military.


There are currently about 900 U.S. troops stationed in Syria, where they support Kurdish forces and work to enforce U.S. sanctions against Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based group backed by Iran.


Some of those troops are deployed at the Tanf garrison in southeastern Syria, which is served by a border outpost in Jordan, Tower 22. About 350 Army and Air Force personnel are stationed at Tower 22, the site where the three American soldiers were killed in the drone strike.


Most of the U.S. military presence in the Middle East is in countries with longstanding relationships with Washington. At an air base in Azraq, Jordan, the United States has about 2,000 troops, as well as Special Operations forces and military trainers. There are about 13,500 U.S. forces based in Kuwait, and thousands more in countries including Bahrain, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Qatar, which helped build an air base used by U.S. Central Command.


Why are so many troops there?


Before the war in Gaza began, the U.S. military presence in the Middle East had been shrinking. In the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Biden administration had turned to focus elsewhere, like supporting Ukraine against Russia and potential threats from China.


But American troops have remained in the region in part, U.S. officials say, to project U.S. power — such as deterring Iran from direct war with an American ally, Israel — and to prevent a resurgence of groups like the Islamic State, which emerged from the insurgency and civil war of post-invasion Iraq.


By 2015, the Islamic State controlled several cities in Iraq and Syria, including Mosul and Raqqa, as well as a large chunk of territory along the border between the two countries. A military coalition led by the United States, including forces in Syria and Iraq, defeated it. But although the U.S. military declared its combat mission over in 2021, troops remained to help Iraq battle the group’s remnants, and experts warn that regional instability could provide an opportunity for it to grow again.


Are U.S. forces in the region in danger?


Since the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, there have been more than 160 attacks by militias backed by Iran against U.S. forces in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, according to the Pentagon.


The attack on the Tower 22 outpost was the first one known to be lethal, but dozens of service members have been injured. Those include 34 who were wounded at the Jordan base when the drone crashed into the base’s living quarters, and 19 U.S. soldiers who suffered traumatic brain injuries in October attacks in Iraq on Al Asad Air Base and Al Tanf.


President Biden has retaliated with attacks on Iran-aligned militants, hitting groups in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. But top American and Iranian officials have also sought to avoid triggering a direct war, even as they have blamed the other side for stoking regional conflict.


“While we are not seeking war, we are also neither afraid nor running away from war,” Gen. Hossein Salami, the commander in chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, said on Wednesday.



2) What Can We Possibly Say to the Children of Gaza?

By Nicholas Kristof, Feb. 3, 2024


A photograph of a young Palestinian girl holding a makeshift white flag among a group of people.

Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

There’s a whip-smart 10-year-old girl in Gaza who speaks good English, displays a radiant smile and seemed to have a bright future. The daughter of an X-ray technician, she had been accepted to an international exchange program and was supposed to be leaving soon.


Instead, she’s lying in a hospital bed with a badly infected wound in her thigh from a bomb blast. A photo shows a football-size open wound, with a chunk of her femur missing.


“She was supposed to be in Japan,” said Dr. Samer Attar, an orthopedic surgeon who cared for the girl and told me about her. “Now she’s lying in bed deciding whether to have her leg removed.” I’ve known Dr. Attar for a decade, ever since he volunteered to work in secret hospitals in Aleppo, Syria, to save victims of Russian bombings. A professor at Northwestern University School of Medicine, he has worked in war zones and crisis areas around the world, including Ukraine and Iraq — and recently, at hospitals in Gaza, through the medical volunteer organizations Rahma Worldwide and IDEALS.


Dr. Attar said the girl needed an amputation at the hip to save her life. Her dad, struggling to come to terms with how his and his daughter’s lives have collapsed, is resisting for now.


Over the years, I’ve covered many bloody wars and written scathingly about how governments in Russia, Sudan and Syria recklessly bombed civilians. This time, it’s different: My government is on the side engaged in what President Biden has referred to as “indiscriminate bombing.” This is not the same as deliberately targeting civilians, as those other countries did — but this time, as a taxpayer, I’m helping to pay for the bombs.


Gaza is also different from Syria and Ukraine, of course, in that Israel did not start this war. Instead, Israel was brutally attacked by Hamas in a rampage of murder, torture and rape. Any government would have struck back, and Hamas maximized the suffering of civilians by using them as human shields.


Yet military response is not a binary choice; it exists on a continuum. Israel, traumatized by the attack it suffered, elected to retaliate with 2,000-pound bombs, destroy entire neighborhoods and allow only a trickle of aid into the territory, which is now teetering on the brink of famine. The upshot is that this does not feel like a war on Hamas but rather a war on Gazans.


In November, I wrote about Mohammed Alshannat, a doctoral student in Gaza who was desperately trying to keep his children alive. I offer a sad update: One of his sons has been gravely injured.


“He is 13 years old and was injured while we were running for our lives,” Alshannat wrote in a WhatsApp message. “I had to carry him bleeding under heavy artillery shelling for two hours. I found a doctor who was sheltering in a school, and he took a risk and saved my son’s life.”


“He went through a complicated surgery later and still unable to walk. He is very sick and suffers from malnutrition,” Alshannat wrote.


How can Alshannat’s American friends face him and his son after the war?


Many Americans are conflicted about the war. They may keep quiet rather than enter a debate that is bitter and polarizing and may cost friendships, or they may avert their eyes. But the great Elie Wiesel described indifference as “the most insidious danger of all” and observed, “Human suffering anywhere concerns men and women everywhere.”


The suffering of children — and half of Gazans are children — should particularly concern us. UNICEF estimates that in the chaos of war and displacement, at least 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their parents.


Two teenage brothers with mangled bodies haunt Dr. Attar. One boy had his leg amputated at the hip; he died on the operating table as the anesthesiologist wept. The other, who had lost much of the skin on his body, survived overnight but died in the morning.


The hospitals were short of nearly everything, Dr. Attar said, and patients spent weeks on the floor waiting in great pain for care. A woman’s screaming lingers in his ears: She was pleading for help for her husband, whose wounds had been untreated for a week in the chaos of the hospital, and maggots were crawling in the flesh.


Some will blame all this on Hamas: If it had not attacked Israeli civilians, there would be no Israeli bombing. That’s true, but to me it seems an evasion of moral responsibility. Israel and America have agency, and the atrocities suffered by Israeli civilians do not justify the leveling of Palestinian neighborhoods.


President Biden should search his soul: He excoriates Russia for bombing civilians and undermining the rules-based international order, even as we supply bombs that can wipe out neighborhoods in Gaza, even as we give diplomatic cover to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while Gazans face looming starvation.


Biden has suspended funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, which is responsible for delivering assistance to Gazans — without outlining any viable alternative plan to distribute aid. He is right to be outraged that a dozen UNRWA staff members (out of 13,000 employees) allegedly participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, and it’s good that the U.N. promptly fired those workers.


Still, if UNRWA is unable to function because of the suspended funding, Gazan children will die.


It would be unconscionable if Hamas terrorists sheltered in the ranks of a U.N. agency. And it would be unconscionable if children end up starving as a result of our actions — even as we tell ourselves we’re taking the moral high ground.


Decisions about waging war are wrenching because, invariably, innocent civilians suffer. This requires a calculus of strategic gain versus human cost. People will weigh the trade-offs differently, but let’s resist the tendency to otherize those of different races, faiths and ethnicities. When we are caught in a conflict, we tend to dehumanize the other side; we can fight that impulse by asserting our shared humanity and recognizing that all lives have equal value.


One life, as precious as that of any American or Israeli child, belongs to a bright 10-year-old girl in Gaza who should be excitedly planning a trip to Japan. Instead, she smiles bravely through excruciating pain and must endure an amputation if her life is to be saved — and we Americans should face our complicity in her tragedy and all Gaza’s.

My NYT Comments:

We, as an American citizens and taxpayers, should not accept complicity in the U.S./Israeli war on Gaza since we had no choice in the matter whatsoever.  We don't get to vote on whether or not to go to war or ti give aid to Israel. The vast majority of the American people are opposed to what's happening in Gaza right before our eyes. Our only option is to continue to protest our government's role in supporting the apartheid state of Israel and Israel's brutal assault and occupation of the Palestinian people since 1948. —Bonnie Weinstein



3) Northern Ireland Has a Sinn Fein Leader. It’s a Landmark Moment.

The idea of a first minister who supports closer ties to the Republic of Ireland — let alone one from Sinn Fein, a party with historic ties to the Irish Republican Army — was once unthinkable. On Saturday, it became reality.

By Megan Specia, Feb. 3, 2024

Reporting from Belfast, Northern Ireland


Michelle O’Neill walks down a marble staircase inside the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Fein at the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast on Saturday. Credit...Peter Morrison/Associated Press

As Michelle O’Neill walked down the marble staircase in Northern Ireland’s Parliament building on Saturday, she appeared confident and calm. She smiled briefly as applause erupted from supporters, but her otherwise serious gaze conveyed the gravity of the moment.


The political party she represents, Sinn Fein, was shaped by the decades-long, bloody struggle of Irish nationalists in the territory who dreamed of reuniting with the Republic of Ireland and undoing the 1921 partition that has kept Northern Ireland under British rule.


Now, for the first time, a Sinn Fein politician holds Northern Ireland’s top political office, a landmark moment for the party and for the broader region as a power-sharing government is restored. The first minister role had previously always been held by a unionist politician committed to remaining part of the United Kingdom.


“As first minister, I am wholeheartedly committed to continuing the work of reconciliation between all our people,” Ms. O’Neill said, noting that her parents and grandparents would never have imagined that such a day would come. “I would never ask anyone to move on, but what I can ask is for us to move forward.”


The idea of a nationalist first minister in Northern Ireland, let alone one from Sinn Fein, a party with historic ties to the Irish Republican Army, was indeed once unthinkable.


But the story of Sinn Fein’s transformation — from a fringe party that was once the I.R.A.’s political wing, to a political force that won the most seats in Northern Ireland’s 2022 elections — is also the story of a changing political landscape and the results of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which ended the decades-long sectarian conflict known as the Troubles.


“It’s certainly symbolically very significant,” said Katy Hayward, a professor of political sociology at Queen’s University, Belfast. “It tells us just quite how far Northern Ireland has come, and in many ways the success of the Good Friday agreement and use of democratic and peaceful means of achieving cooperation.”


It is not yet clear what a Sinn Fein first minister will mean for the hopes of those who want to reunite the island after a century of separation. Although Mary Lou McDonald, the president of Sinn Fein, who leads the opposition in the Republic of Ireland’s Parliament, said this past week that the prospect of a united Ireland was now in “touching distance,” experts believe it remains far off.


For now, the territory’s two main political powers — unionists and nationalists — are locked together in the power-sharing arrangement that was laid out in the Good Friday Agreement.


That arrangement had collapsed over the question of how the political powers of Northern Ireland see themselves after Brexit.


Northern Ireland’s leading unionist party, the Democratic Unionists, quit the government in 2022, in the wake of Britain’s exit from the European Union, which had placed a trading border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Wanting to safeguard ties to Britain, the D.U.P. feared that the sea border was the first step to tearing them apart.


Its boycott of the assembly ended this past week after the British government agreed to reduce customs checks, strengthen Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom and hand over 3.3 billion pounds, about $4 billion, in financial sweeteners.


Because it had the most unionist seats in the 2022 elections, the D.U.P. had the right to nominate the deputy first minister on Saturday — Emma Little-Pengelly, who will work alongside Ms. O’Neill.


“The past with all of its horrors can never be forgotten,” Ms. Little-Pengelly said as she described being a child during the Troubles and seeing the devastation of an I.R.A. bomb outside her house when she was 11. But she added, “While we are shaped by the past, we are not defined by it.”


The first and deputy first minister roles are officially equal, with neither able to act alone, to prevent either community from dominating the other. As the top executives in the devolved government, they make decisions on health care, social services, education and other issues for the region.


“People like to say here, one can’t order paper clips without the approval of the other,” Ms. Hayward said. But the titles, and the fact that the first minister’s role reflects the largest number of seats, creates a “first among equals” notion.


And Ms. O’Neill’s appointment has inevitably brought to the fore conversations about the prospect of Northern Ireland one day reuniting with the Republic of Ireland.


Experts said that while an ascendant Sinn Fein could provide further momentum to that cause, the party’s rise was more a reflection of the fractures that appeared among unionist parties after Britain left the European Union, rather than a widespread surge in Irish nationalism. Current polling suggests that the majority of the population across the island does not support unification.


“They’ve made the prospect look realistic, and Brexit helped, because support has increased somewhat,” said Jonathan Tonge, a professor of politics at the University of Liverpool who specializes in Northern Ireland, and who has extensively analyzed polling on the issue.


“It’s still got a distance to run,” he said, adding that with an election looming in the Republic of Ireland in 2025, and the potential for a Sinn Fein government there, “it’s huge in those terms.”


He noted that a quarter of a century ago, few would have envisaged a Sinn Fein first minister.


Part of that success is down to Ms. O’Neill and Ms. McDonald, who have helped change perceptions of the party.


“These two women don’t have the baggage of the membership or close association with the I.R.A.,” said Robert Savage, a professor at Boston College who is an expert in Irish history. “They are younger, articulate, popular and astute at addressing the concerns, particularly of younger people.”


Ms. O’Neill, 47, was born in Cork, a county on Ireland’s southern coast, into a prominent republican family from Northern Ireland. Her father, who served time in prison for being an I.R.A. member, later became a Sinn Fein politician. But she has already made an effort to frame herself as a first minister for all. She attended both Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral and the coronation of King Charles III last year.


Many unionists associate Sinn Fein with its I.R.A. history, as do some nationalists and those who do not identify with either group. But increasingly, particularly among a younger cohort, the party has proved appealing.


In the Republic of Ireland, the party won the popular vote in 2020, partly by focusing attention on social issues like housing and positioning itself as an alternative to the status quo. But its popularity did not extend to older voters who remember the violence of the Troubles.


In some ways, the growth of nationalist political representation is unsurprising. Demographics have shifted significantly in Northern Ireland, with the Protestant majority’s slow erosion there first attributed to the Catholic Church’s opposition to birth control and then to economic factors like the decline in industrial jobs, which were held predominantly by Protestants.


Catholics outnumbered Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time in 2022, according to census figures. And Northern Ireland is not the binary society it once was. Decades of peace drew newcomers in, and like much of the world, the island has grown increasingly secular. The labels of Catholic and Protestant have been left as a clumsy shorthand for the cultural and political divide.


A large percentage of the population identifies as neither religion. And when it comes to political attitudes, the largest single group — 38 percent — regards itself as neither nationalist nor unionist, according to the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey.


Since Brexit, there has been a fall in support for Northern Ireland’s remaining in the United Kingdom and a rise in support for Irish unification. Many voters saw the break from Europe as economically damaging and threatening to cross-border relations, as the island had enjoyed decades where E.U. membership helped shore up peace.


For now, the restored government in Belfast has more urgent issues to address. Last month, tens of thousands of public sector workers walked out in protest over pay, in Northern Ireland’s largest strike in recent memory. The health care sector is in crisis, and the rising cost of living has been felt more acutely there than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.


“Look at what happened when people did get around a table and work to create peace here, and the Good Friday agreement came from that,” said Paul Doherty, a city councilor who represents West Belfast, one of Northern Ireland’s most deprived communities. “I think we need to rekindle that spirit we had back in the ’90s.”



4) The Houthis vow to respond to an earlier wave of American and British airstrikes in northern Yemen.

By Vivek Shankar, Feb. 4, 2024


Silhouettes of people around a large weapon in the back of a pickup truck.

A statement from the Houthis early Sunday said that there had been 48 strikes and that targets in more than five regions were hit. Credit...Khaled Abdullah/Reuters

The United States said on Sunday that it had targeted Iranian-backed armed groups in the Middle East for a third straight day, destroying an anti-ship cruise missile belonging to the Houthi militia in Yemen, which had vowed to respond to earlier strikes by the U.S. and its allies.


The strike came a day after the United States, Britain and a handful of allies said they had hit 36 Houthi targets in 13 locations in northern Yemen in the latest salvo aimed at deterring the group from attacking ships in the Red Sea. A Houthi military spokesman, Yahya Sarea, said on Sunday that targets in at least six regions of Yemen were hit, though his statement did not say how much damage the strikes had caused. He said the attacks would not go unpunished.


Soon after the statement was posted, the U.S. military announced its latest strike, saying it had destroyed a Houthi anti-ship cruise missile that had posed “an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.”


The Houthis, a militia that controls large swaths of Yemen, have launched dozens of attacks on ships traversing the Red Sea in recent months, in what the group has described as acts of solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli bombardment in Gaza. Their attacks have roiled the commercial shipping industry, forcing many vessels to take long detours around the southern tip of Africa.


The escalating confrontation between the United States and the Houthis has raised fears that the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza could spread to other parts of the Middle East. On Friday, the United States carried out a separate series of military strikes against Iranian forces and the militias they support at seven sites in Syria and Iraq. Those were in retaliation for a drone attack on a remote outpost in Jordan last Sunday that killed three American soldiers.


But the United States refrained from attacking Iran itself, a move analysts have said was designed to avoid stoking a broader war. And Iran also has signaled it wants to de-escalate and lower the temperature in the region.


A spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry, Nasser Kanaani, condemned the American and British strikes in Yemen as “military adventurism,” saying in a statement on Sunday that they were “stoking chaos, disorder, insecurity and instability” in the region.


Hamas and the Houthis are both backed by Iran, as is the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which has traded fire with Israel across the country’s northern border since the war in Gaza began in October.


Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military’s chief spokesman, said at a news briefing on Saturday that three divisions had been stationed at Israel’s northern border, and that the military had launched over 3,400 strikes on Hezbollah positions inside Lebanon since the war with Hamas began.


Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.



5) Biden has ordered further retaliation to killings of U.S. soldiers, officials say.

By Michael D. Shear reporting from Washington, Feb. 4, 2024


Mr. Kirby in a suit at a White House podium.

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, at the White House last month. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

Top U.S. national security officials said Sunday that President Biden had ordered further retaliation to the killings of three service members by Iran-backed militias, but declined to say when or how it would be carried out.


The officials’ comments followed dozens of military strikes on Friday by U.S. forces on targets in Iraq and Syria. Officials said they were still assessing the effects of those strikes, but they believed they had degraded the ability of the militias to attack U.S. forces.


“The president was clear when he ordered them and when he conducted them that that was the beginning of our response and there will be more steps to come,” Jake Sullivan, the president’s national security adviser, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”


Mr. Sullivan said he did not want to “telegraph our punches” by revealing details of future action. And, he added, the president was attempting to calibrate his responses to avoid a sharp escalation of the fighting in the Middle East.


John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, rejected criticism from Republican lawmakers who have accused the administration of waiting too long — nearly a week — after the three service members were killed by a drone attack at a base in Jordan, near the border with Syria.


“You want to do this in a deliberate way,” Mr. Kirby said on “Fox News Sunday.” “You want to carefully select your targets. You want to make sure that all the parameters are in place to have good effects, including factoring in the weather. I mean, these attacks were using manned aircraft. You want to make sure your pilots can get in and get out safely.”


Mr. Kirby also rejected calls from some lawmakers in both parties for the president to request specific authorization from Congress — which has the constitutional power to declare war — before continuing with military actions in the Middle East.


Mr. Kirby cited the president’s role as detailed in the Constitution.


“The president is acting consistent with his Article Two responsibilities as commander in chief,” he said. “These are self-defense actions that we’re taking to prevent and to take away capability from these groups from targeting our troops and our facilities.”



6) Here’s how the latest U.S.-led strikes have unfolded.

By Shashank Bengali, Feb. 4, 2024


A brightly lit warplane under a canopy at night.

In a photo provided by Britain’s Ministry of Defense, a fighter plane is prepped at a base in Cyprus on Saturday before strikes against Houthi military targets in Yemen. Credit...British Ministry of Defense

The United States has led a major wave of retaliatory strikes in the Middle East, hitting scores of targets belonging to Iranian-backed armed groups since Friday. The strikes are a sharp escalation of hostilities in the region, one that President Biden had sought to avoid since the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza began in October.


Here is how the latest strikes have unfolded.


Jan. 28: Three U.S. service members were killed and dozens of others were injured in a drone attack on their remote military outpost in Jordan, the Pentagon said. They were the first known American military fatalities from hostile fire in the Middle East since October, when regional tensions rose with the start of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.


The Biden administration said the drone had been launched by an Iran-backed militia from Iraq, and Mr. Biden pledged to respond. The U.S. has blamed Iranian-backed armed groups for launching more than 150 attacks since October on U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East.


Jan. 30: Mr. Biden said he had decided on a response to the attack in Jordan, but did not say what it would be. Some Republican lawmakers called for a direct strike against Iran, but Mr. Biden’s advisers said he was determined to avoid a wider regional conflict.


Friday: The United States carried out airstrikes on more than 85 targets in Syria and Iraq, aiming at Iranian-backed forces including the group it said was responsible for the Jordan strike. The Pentagon said the strikes targeted command and control operations, intelligence centers, weapons facilities and bunkers used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Quds Force and affiliated militia groups.


Afterward, U.S. officials said that Mr. Biden had not seriously considered striking inside Iran, and that by targeting facilities used by the powerful Quds Force, while not trying to take out its leadership, the United States sought to signal that it did not want all-out war.


Saturday: American and British warplanes, with support from six allies, launched strikes at dozens of sites in Yemen controlled by Houthi militants. A joint statement from the allies said that the targets included weapons storage facilities, missile launchers, air defense systems and radars, and that the strikes were intended to deter the Houthis’ attacks on Red Sea shipping.


Sunday: Shortly after the Houthis said they would respond to the U.S. and British strikes, American forces said they had carried out another attack on the group, destroying a cruise missile that had posed “an imminent threat to U.S. Navy ships and merchant vessels in the region.”



7) At least 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families, UNICEF says.

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


A girl wearing a pink shirt in a bed with her eyes closed. An IV is attached to her right wrist.

Melisya Joudeh, 16 months old, was treated at a hospital in Gaza after she was orphaned in October in what relatives said was an Israeli airstrike. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

At least 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families, according to estimates by UNICEF, the U.N. children’s fund.


UNICEF has described Gaza as the “most dangerous place in the world to be a child,” saying that Israel’s war against Hamas has turned the enclave into “a graveyard for thousands of children.” Amid a deepening humanitarian crisis and warnings about the imminent risk of famine, UNICEF has said that many children are malnourished and sick.


A spokesman for the agency, Jonathan Crickx, said on Friday that the number of unaccompanied children — “each one a heartbreaking story of loss and grief” — was an estimate, since the current security and humanitarian conditions made it nearly impossible to fully verify.


“Behind each of these statistics is a child who is coming to terms with this horrible new reality,” he added in a statement following a trip to Gaza.


In a conflict, members of an extended family often take in children who have been separated from their parents, including those who have been orphaned, he noted. But shortages of food, water and shelter in Gaza have made it so that the extended families of unaccompanied children are often “struggling to cater for their own children” and unable to care for another, he added.


Children account for about 40 percent of the 27,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gazan authorities and international organizations.


Given the scale of Israeli bombardment in Gaza, some parents have spread their children out, splitting them up and sending them to relatives in different parts of the Gaza Strip to try to increase their odds of survival. Others have taken to scrawling names directly onto their children’s skin, in case they are lost, orphaned or killed and need to be identified.


Gaza’s hospitals have treated so many wounded children arriving alone for treatment after Israeli airstrikes that medical workers earlier in the war coined a new abbreviation, W.C.N.S.F.: “Wounded Child, No Surviving Family.”


Mr. Crickx said the war had also severely affected the mental health of children in Gaza. Before Oct. 7, UNICEF estimated that more than 500,000 children there needed help with their mental and emotional well-being. Now, Mr. Cricksx said, nearly all of the estimated 1.2 million children in Gaza need it.


Children were showing symptoms of “extremely high levels of persistent anxiety,” he said, adding that many can’t sleep and “have emotional outbursts or panic every time they hear the bombings.”



8) House G.O.P. plans a vote on aid for Israel as the Senate tries to close a broader deal.

By Karoun Demirjian Reporting from Washington, Feb. 4, 2024


Speaker Mike Johnson in a blue suit with a red tie.

Speaker Mike Johnson has said that the Senate package would be dead on arrival in the House. Credit...Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Speaker Mike Johnson pledged Saturday that the House would hold a vote next week on legislation to speed $17.6 billion in security assistance to Israel with no strings attached, a move likely to complicate Senate leaders’ efforts to rally support for a broader package with border security measures and aid to Ukraine.


Mr. Johnson’s announcement to members of his conference came as senators were scrambling to finalize and vote on a bipartisan national security bill that has taken months to negotiate. The move could further erode G.O.P. support for the emerging compromise, which was already flagging under criticism from party leaders like Mr. Johnson and former President Donald J. Trump.


Mr. Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, has said that the Senate package would be dead on arrival in the House, arguing that its border security measures are not stringent enough to clamp down on a recent surge of immigration. He said the House would instead focus its efforts on the impeachment of Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary — a vote on which is now expected to take place next week.


In a letter to his members Saturday, he said the House would also prioritize its own approach to helping Israel’s war effort against Hamas, regardless of what — if any — related legislation the Senate might produce.


“Their leadership is aware that by failing to include the House in their negotiations, they have eliminated the ability for swift consideration of any legislation,” Mr. Johnson wrote, adding that “the House will have to work its will on these issues and our priorities will need to be addressed.”


Senate negotiators have been working on a sweeping national security funding bill to address Republican demands that any legislation sending military aid to Ukraine also significantly improve security at the southern border with Mexico. The emerging legislation, which includes measures making it more difficult to claim asylum and increasing both detentions and deportations, would also send more military aid to Ukraine and Israel, dedicate humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Gaza and fund efforts to counter Chinese threats to the Indo-Pacific region.


Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, announced this week that the Senate would vote no later than Wednesday on whether to take up the bill, the text of which negotiators are expected to publicize no later than Sunday.


But the measure is already facing stiff headwinds from Senate Republicans who think the border enforcement provisions ought to be tougher, as well as those loath to take a politically challenging vote for a bill that is all but assured to die at the G.O.P.-led House’s door.


Several Republicans in the Senate and the House have clamored for a split approach that would address Israel’s war effort separately from Ukraine and the border. Late last year, the Democratic-led Senate rejected a G.O.P. attempt to force a vote on an earlier Israel aid bill that was backed by the House. Democrats objected to the way that the House G.O.P. bill sought to pay for the funds, by making cuts to the Internal Revenue Service.


In his letter Saturday, Mr. Johnson acknowledged that history.


“Democrats made clear that their primary objection to the original House bill was with its offsets,” he wrote, adding that with the new Israel package, “the Senate will no longer have excuses, however misguided, against swift passage of this critical support for our ally.”


The new bill, which was unveiled by House appropriators, is larger than the House’s previous Israel measure, which totaled $14.3 billion. President Biden had sought that amount for Israel as part of a larger request he made in October for supplemental funds to address various global crises, including Ukraine.


But it does not include any funding for humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians in Gaza, which many Democrats have insisted must accompany any military aid for Israel. Several left-wing Democrats are also pressing for conditions to be attached to whatever military assistance Congress approves for Israel, to guarantee U.S.-supplied weapons are used in keeping with international law and that aid shipments to Palestinian civilians are not hindered.


The $17.6 billion House measure would direct $4 billion to replenishing Israel’s missile defense systems known as Iron Dome and David’s Sling, as well as $1.2 billion to counter short-range rocket and mortar attacks. An additional $8.9 billion would go toward supplying Israel with weapons and related services, helping it produce its own and replenishing defense stock the United States has already provided; while $3.5 billion would go toward supporting U.S. military operations, embassy security and efforts to evacuate American citizens in the region.



9) Portraits of Gazans

By Declan Walsh and Samar Abu EloufPhotographs by Samar Abu Elouf, Feb. 4, 2024

Samar Abu Elouf, a photojournalist, spent weeks documenting five Palestinians in Gaza whose lives had been shattered by the war. Declan Walsh is an international correspondent for The New York Times.


A father sitting inside a vehicle with a pained expression on his face holds the body of his dead child wrapped in a shroud as members of the media take photographs.

The photojournalist Mohammed al-Aloul holding the body of one of his children killed in the war.

A toddler, a teenager, a mother, a photojournalist.


Their lives were ripped apart in one of the deadliest and most destructive wars of the 21st century.


Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, now in its fourth month, is often conveyed in stark numbers and historical comparisons: Some 27,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza health ministry. Nearly two million are displaced and more than 60 percent of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed in a territory smaller than Manhattan.


Yet the lives behind those statistics are often hidden from view. Internet and cellphone services are frequently cut; international reporters cannot enter Gaza except on escorted trips with the Israeli military; and dozens of Palestinian journalists have been killed in a military campaign prompted by the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7.


Samar Abu Elouf, a photojournalist for The New York Times, spent weeks following a handful of Palestinians who seemed to have lost everything: a boy with charred limbs, a journalist who lost four of his children in an Israeli strike, an orphaned toddler who may never walk again.


Then The Times evacuated Ms. Abu Elouf and her family in December as the Israeli ground offensive extended across southern Gaza.


Since then, Gaza has spiraled toward famine. Some residents say they are eating grass and animal feed to survive. Giant bombs fall near the last functioning hospitals. Torrential rains pound disease-ridden tent camps. Exhausted medics make harrowing choices.


Through it all, Ms. Abu Elouf has tried to stay in touch with the people she photographed, but some can no longer be reached.


Their stories, like that of Gaza itself, are still playing out.


At first, rescuers thought Melisya Joudeh was dead.


They pulled her inert body from the rubble of her family home, 10 hours after the building was crushed by a devastating strike on Oct. 22. At the hospital, she was put it in a tent filled with corpses.


But an hour later, 16-month-old Melisya began to whimper and splutter. A clamor erupted and she was rushed into the hospital for emergency treatment, said Yasmine Joudeh, an exhausted aunt who was keeping a bedside vigil for the girl days later as she dozed in a pink bunny shirt.


She was one of just three survivors from what relatives and local journalists said was an Israeli airstrike.


Her mother, expecting twins, had gone into labor hours before the strike on their house and was pulled dead from the ruins still clutching her belly, Yasmine said. Melisya’s father and brother were also killed, as were her grandparents, five uncles, two aunts, their spouses and dozens of cousins, she said, in all about 60 people from the Jarousha and Joudeh families who had lived in that housing compound for decades.


Children account for about 40 percent of those killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Gaza authorities and international organizations. Melisya cheated death but instead joined the 19,000 children that the war has left with no parents or with no adults to look after them, according to UNICEF.


And she will be scarred for life. Weeks earlier, Melisya had taken her first steps, her aunt said. They were probably her last.


Bomb fragments severed her spinal cord and paralyzed her from the waist down, doctors said. But a few weeks after she was wounded, Melisya was discharged. Doctors said they lacked medicine to treat her and needed her bed for newer casualties.


Yasmine took Melisya home. She considered the orphan a blessing from God, but caring for her was still difficult.


Melisya screamed when her wounds were being washed. And at night, she woke from her sleep crying out “Mama!” or “Baba!”


Oct. 7 began as a day of joy for Safaa Zyadah.


Just hours before midnight on the 6th, she had given birth to her fifth child — a girl she named Batool — at a hospital in Gaza City.


But as she cradled her newborn, the noises of war crashed into her ward.


Ms. Zyadah, 32, who had lived through several wars in Gaza, hoped this one might end quickly. But as she returned home later that day, it became clear this time was different.


The walls of her home trembled as Israeli warplanes roared overhead, dropping bombs in retaliation for the Hamas-led attack which Israel says killed about 1,200 people on Oct. 7. Ms. Zyadah and her husband gathered their five children, the eldest age 13, and began to run.


In the early weeks of the war, they changed houses several times, sheltering with relatives until fighting or Israeli warnings forced them to move on. As the family scurried through the streets, she said, they saw fighter jets firing on targets and spotted corpses strewed on the roadside.


They finally halted at a makeshift U.N.-run camp in the city of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza. It was crowded and dirty, but supposedly safe. Cramped into a tiny tent, her family began to organize their lives as best they could. A few days later, she cradled Batool as she spoke to The Times, grateful they had survived.


“We are tired of running,” she said. But their respite was short-lived.


In early December, Israeli troops entered Khan Younis, hoping to flush out the Hamas fighters they said were hiding among civilians. Fighting raged around the perimeter of the U.N. camp, which housed 43,000 people, sometimes piercing it.


On Jan. 24, several shells hit a U.N. shelter in the camp that housed about 800 people, killing 13, the United Nations said. The White House said it was “gravely concerned” by the episode.


It was unclear whether Ms. Zyadah and her family were affected. They could not be reached by phone recently.


Confronting the pain of others is central to the career of Mohammed al-Aloul, 36, a photojournalist who for years has framed Gaza’s strife in his viewfinder.


But on Nov. 5, the pain came for him.


It was etched on Mr. al-Aloul’s face as he clutched the swaddled remains of his son, killed in what Gaza authorities said was an Israeli airstrike. And that pain roared through him again that same day when he stood over the bodies of three of his other children who, it turned out, had died in the same attack.


Falling to his knees, he wept.


“God help me endure this pain,” he said.


After Oct. 7, he hardly saw his own family, dashing from the scene of one bombing to another, shooting video for the Turkish state-run media agency, Anadolu. But he missed his five children badly, he said.


Before the war, they would join him after work to watch soccer games on television at home, cheering and screaming “gooaal!” along with the commentators. Once fighting started, he wore his son Ahmed’s baseball cap to work.


“It carried his smell,” he said.


On Nov. 4, after spending a rare night at home, Mr. al-Aloul said his 6-year-old son, Kenan, had begged him not to go. But he left, and as he was documenting displaced families the following day, a friend called.


There had been a strike near his home in central Gaza. What followed was a frantic blur, Mr. al-Aloul said.


He scrolled through social media and called friends as fragments of news came through.


Finally, at the hospital, he learned that Kenan and three of his other children — Ahmad, 13, Rahaf, 11, and Qais, 4 — were dead, as were four of his brothers and some of their children and neighbors. His wife was seriously wounded.


The sole survivor among his children was his youngest son, 1-year-old Adam, whose face was lashed by shrapnel.


“He’s all I have left,” Mr. al-Aloul said days later, clutching the child to his chest.


Now, Mr. al-Aloul’s family is in Turkey, where his wife is undergoing treatment for her extensive wounds.


Wisal Abu Odeh, 34, fainted after standing in line for an hour to use a bathroom. Life was hard for everyone in the dirty, cramped camp for displaced people in Khan Younis. But she was five months pregnant.


“Sometimes,” she said in November, “I think it would have been better to die in my house.”


Before the war, Ms. Abu Odeh was thinking about decorating a Spiderman-themed nursery for the baby boy she was expecting. After the fighting began, she worried about making it through her pregnancy alive.


Conditions are dire at the U.N. camps that house most of Gaza’s displaced people. Diarrhea, respiratory infections and hygiene-related conditions like lice are soaring, the United Nations says. Thousands of people often share a single shower or toilet.


Amid all of that chaos live about 50,000 pregnant women, and about 180 give birth each day, the U.N. estimates. Basic care is unavailable. Cesarean sections are sometimes performed without anaesthetic. Many women give birth in tents or toilets, according to Doctors Without Borders.


Ms. Abu Odeh said she was sleeping in a space with 14 other girls and women. Stricken by hunger and fear, they sometimes felt tensions explode. She had seen women punching or pulling hair in disputes over food or water — or jumping the line to go to the bathroom.


Lately, the fighting reached her camp and she could not be reached by phone.


A Child Burn Victim


Mohamed Abu Rteinah, 12, doesn’t remember much of what happened when a blast crushed his home on Oct. 24. One minute, he was having tea for breakfast as his grandmother read the Quran. The next minute, he was running and screaming, his limbs seemingly on fire, he said.


His mother, Ula Faraj, 33, said she recoiled in horror when she first saw the burns that cover about 30 percent of his legs. His 8-year-old sister, Batool, had similar injuries.


It was unclear who fired the munition that struck their home in the southern city of Rafah, although Gaza authorities and The Associated Press reported Israeli airstrikes in the area at the time. Many of the tens of thousands of bombs dropped by Israel since Oct. 7 were supplied by the United States, including 2,000-pound “bunker busters” that have killed hundreds in densely populated areas.


Human rights groups say those weapons could implicate American officials in war crimes. Israel says it respects the laws of war and takes precautions to limit civilian casualties in its war against Hamas. President Biden, who once warned Israel it was losing support for its “indiscriminate bombing,” says he is urging Israeli forces to minimize those casualties.


Veteran doctors say the extent of pediatric burns in Gaza is distressing, especially when the territory’s collapsed health system can barely treat them. Only basic painkillers were available to treat Mohamed and Batool, their mother said at a hospital in Khan Younis. Gauze, ointment and clean water were in short supply.


She could barely watch, she said, as her children wept when doctors tried to clean their wounds.


Weeks later, the family managed to leave Gaza for emergency surgery in Cairo — and on Wednesday, they were evacuated to the United Arab Emirates with other wounded children from Gaza for further treatment.



10) After Police Kill Unarmed Black People, Sleep Worsens — but Only for Black People

Black people in the U.S. were far more likely to report harmfully low sleep in the months after a killing compared with white people surveyed during that time.

By Emily Baumgaertner, Feb. 5, 2024


People outside a community recreation center at dusk hold candles and are bundled up. There is light snow on the ground.

A candlelight vigil for Andre Maurice Hill, an unarmed Black man who was killed by the police while in his garage in Columbus, Ohio, in 2020. Credit...Stephen Zenner/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Black people in the United States are more likely than white people to report that they do not sleep much, research shows. On average, they live in louder neighborhoods, work longer hours and pick up more late-night shifts — concerning to public health experts, since sleep deprivation is linked to chronic health issues and early death.


But a group of public-health researchers from multiple universities and the National Institutes of Health wondered whether unequal exposure to police violence could also be contributing to racial sleep disparities, since those events are known to increase hypervigilance, worry and post-traumatic stress. They designed a pair of complex studies to measure how police killings of unarmed Black people affected sleep among Black and white people over time. The results were published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.


Black people were consistently more likely to report harmfully low levels of sleep after such a killing than they did before it occurred, the researchers found, regardless of whether the killing was a nearby event or a high-profile incident captured in media. The researchers did not find substantial impacts on sleep among white people in either case.


Dr. Atheendar Venkataramani, an associate professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, was a co-author of the studies. He said the findings reflected “the general human tendency to interpret events — and disparities in events — in ways that apply to you, and your future, and your family’s future.”


Dr. Venkataramani’s lab, the Opportunity for Health Lab, uses statistical data to investigate the relationship between economic opportunity and health outcomes. He said that standard health questionnaires and clinicians, including himself, tended to ask patients about behavioral risk factors but that “we don’t really collect data with these kinds of timely social exposures in mind.”


“We’re never really asking, ‘Hey, did you see something on the news that made you kind of rethink your position in society or how you feel about your future?’” he said.


“These things change people’s outlook about where they stand in society,” he explained, “and they can get under the skin to affect health. Sleep is one of those things that can move very exquisitely in the face of these types of events.”


The new studies on sleep involved federal data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the American Time Use Survey between 2013 and 2019. Researchers used those time-stamped surveys from about 190,000 from Black people and about 1,846,000 white people who had been called at random by phone and asked about, among other topics, how much sleep they got.


Then, using statistical data from the Mapping Police Violence database, the researchers identified whether a police killing of an unarmed Black person had occurred in a survey respondent’s state within the previous three months. If they found one, they compared the respondent’s sleep duration with that of people who had been called before the killing. They also compared the answers with those of people surveyed at a similar time, but outside the region.


Survey responses were sorted by whether the respondents’ total sleep duration fell below seven hours, which is considered “short sleep,” or six hours, considered “very short sleep,” since that threshold has been even more closely associated with poor health outcomes.


After controlling for an array of factors, such as seasonal temperatures and unemployment rates, they found that Black people were 2.7 percent more likely to experience less than seven hours of sleep in the first three months after an officer had been involved in killing an unarmed Black person in their state compared with before the killing, and 6.5 percent more likely to report less than six hours of sleep compared with before.


To address potential bias, the researchers looked at associations between sleep and other events, such as police killings of armed Black people or unarmed white people, but they found no significant links. They also applied regression models to samples of white respondents and found that associations between sleep and police killings were not statistically significant.


In order to account for the fact that police killings were likely to affect people across state lines, they designed a second study, this one looking at the influence of high-profile killings on a national level. The study compared changes in sleep patterns among Black survey respondents before and after the killings with changes among white respondents — essentially subtracting the differences seen in white respondents from the ones seen in Black ones.


Here, the magnitude of the findings was even larger. In the national-level analysis, researchers found that Black people were 4.6 percent more likely to report less than seven hours of sleep and 11.4 percent more likely to report less than six hours of sleep in the months after a killing compared with white people surveyed during that time.


Karen Lincoln, a researcher at the University of California, Irvine, who studies social determinants of health disparities and was not involved in the study, said she would have liked to see researchers include a more robust set of sleep metrics beyond duration, since other factors (such as how often it takes to fall asleep, or how often they wake up during the night) are often linked to stress.


Still, Dr. Lincoln called the study “interesting and provocative,” saying it was “a very important conversation to have around structural racism and how we measure it.”


Dr. Venkataramani said he hoped that researchers aiming to measure other timely social factors in health — for example, the effects of immigration policy or school shootings on communities — might find the rather intricate study design to be instructive.


“The goal of this, really, was to be a ‘methods’ paper,” he said. “You have to cut this many different ways, try many different things, not privilege any one approach over the other” when assigning various exposures, he said. Then, he added, researchers can “show that regardless how you do it, you’re still seeing that same signal.”



11) A key point of contention is whether a cease-fire would be permanent.

By Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman, Feb. 7, 2024


Debris and damaged buildings along a wide road.

Salah Al-Din Road in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hamas’s response to a new cease-fire proposal has been met with optimism by mediators, but details emerging from its counterproposal on Wednesday, including a demand for a complete Israeli military withdrawal from Gaza, revealed many of the same sticking points that have hampered previous efforts to end the Israel-Hamas war.


Under the militant group’s proposal, both sides would observe a three-stage cease-fire over 135 days, each stage lasting 45 days, during which hostages and Palestinian prisoners in Israel would be released. It calls for the Israeli military to ultimately leave Gaza altogether — a demand Israeli officials so far have publicly rejected.


Neither Hamas nor Israel formally released details about the proposal, which it submitted to Egyptian and Qatari mediators on Tuesday night. A spokesman for Hamas declined to comment, and the Israeli prime minister’s office did not respond to requests for comment.


But the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar, considered close to Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, published a leaked version of Hamas’s counterproposal on Wednesday, offering the closest look yet at its terms for ending the fighting. A senior Hamas official and an Israeli official familiar with the talks, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the text in Al-Akhbar matched Hamas’s counteroffer.


Hamas’s willingness to negotiate under a broad framework hammered out by Qatar, Egypt, Israel and the United States at talks in Paris late last month has been widely seen as a positive step.


But a key point of contention between Israel and Hamas has been the truce’s duration: Hamas demands a permanent cease-fire, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed Israel will fight until “complete victory.”


During the second phase, talks aimed at achieving “complete calm” and the end of military operations by both sides must be completed, according to the counterproposal.


The Paris framework laid out plans that would begin with a six-week cease-fire, but the Hamas’s counteroffer fills it out with many more details not contained in the original Paris framework, including the number of days each phase of the deal would last


Under Hamas’s proposal, in the first stage, Israeli forces would retreat from Gaza’s residential areas. In the next phase, the Israeli military would leave Gaza.


During the first two phases, Hamas would release Israelis and foreign nationals held hostage in the Gaza Strip, while Israel would release some of the more than 8,000 Palestinians imprisoned in its jails. During the third phase, both Israel and Hamas would swap bodies held in their custody.


Roughly 100 living hostages remain in Gaza, the vast majority of them abducted in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, as do the bodies of more than 30 others, according to the Israeli prime minister’s office.


As part of the first phase, Hamas is demanding the release of all the Palestinian women, children, older adults and sick Palestinians held in Israeli prisons. In exchange, Hamas would release all of the hostages in those same categories still held in Gaza, except for female soldiers.


Another 1,500 Palestinian prisoners would also be released during the first phase, including 500 serving long sentences for their involvement in deadly attacks against Israelis. Hamas would choose the names of the 500 prisoners serving long sentences, the document says.


Last week, Mr. Netanyahu vowed that Israel would not release thousands of Palestinian prisoners or withdraw Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip under the terms of a cease-fire agreement. “We will not compromise on anything less than total victory,” Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.


Michael Milshtein, a former senior Israeli military intelligence officer, said the proposed deal would effectively end the war with Hamas while leaving the Palestinian armed group in power in Gaza. But given the deadlock in which Israel has found itself in Gaza, that might be the best possible scenario for the country, he said.


“Under its current policy, Israel is not succeeding at either bringing home the hostages nor toppling Hamas. Since we’ve reached this junction, it may be better to take the deal rather than end up with nothing,” said Mr. Milshtein.


Palestinians would also be allowed to return to their homes across the Gaza Strip during the first stage of the cease-fire, under the Hamas counterproposal, which would also mandate a significant increase in humanitarian aid entering the coastal enclave. It calls for a minimum of 500 trucks of aid, fuel, and other goods to enter Gaza daily.


Mr. Netanyahu has said Israel won’t allow displaced Palestinians to return to their homes in northern Gaza as long as fighting there continues.


Analysts close to Hamas contended that the group would not be able to offer concessions on the thorniest issues in the negotiations.


“Keeping one occupation soldier in Gaza would be a defeat and a catastrophe,” said Salah al-Din al-Awawdeh, a Palestinian analyst close to Hamas who was released from an Israel prison in 2011. “No one will accept that.”


Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, said in a televised interview on Tuesday night that the group’s leadership would support a phased cease-fire and gradual Israeli withdrawal as long as the process ultimately led to a final truce.


“Israel wants to get all the hostages and then have the absolute freedom to return to war and killing and assassinations,” Mr. Hamad told al-Mayadeen, the Lebanese broadcaster. “But at the end, we need a text that clearly guarantees a comprehensive cease-fire and the withdrawal of occupation forces.”



12) Senate Democrats seek to salvage an aid bill for Israel and Ukraine.

By Annie Karni reporting from the Capitol, Feb. 7, 2024


Antony J. Blinken in a suit, descending from an airplane.

Antony J. Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, arriving in Israel on Tuesday. Credit...Pool photo by Mark Schiefelbein

Senate Democrats are planning a last-ditch effort on Wednesday to salvage an aid bill for Israel and Ukraine, with Republicans expected to kill a version of the package that includes stringent border security measures that they had demanded be included.


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the majority leader, said that after a critical test vote set for early Wednesday afternoon, in which Republicans are expected to block the border and Ukraine package, he plans to quickly force a vote to bring up a stand-alone bill that would send tens of billions of dollars in funding to Israel and Kyiv.


“We’re going to give them both options,” Mr. Schumer told reporters at the Capitol Wednesday morning. “We’ll take either one; we just hope they can come to ‘yes’ on something.” He expressed confidence that the clean foreign aid bill, stripped of the border provisions, would have enough support to advance.


The foreign aid bill includes $60.1 billion in military assistance for Ukraine, $14.1 billion in security assistance for Israel and $10 billion in humanitarian aid for civilians in global crises, including Palestinians and Ukrainians.


Mr. Schumer’s tactic could work if the stripped-down national security spending package musters 60 votes, a number that requires the support of at least 10 Republicans and which members of both parties privately said was achievable. That would clear away a major hurdle to the bill, putting it on a path to passing the Senate. But it would still face stiff headwinds in the House, where some right-wing lawmakers are vehemently opposed to sending more assistance to Ukraine.


In the House, where Republicans failed on Tuesday night to push through a $17.6 billion bill to send military assistance only to Israel, Speaker Mike Johnson would not say whether he would take up the package if it passed the Senate.


“We’ll see what the Senate does; we’re allowing the process to play out,” Mr. Johnson told reporters on Wednesday morning.



13) Confronted With Child Labor in the U.S., Companies Move to Crack Down

McDonald’s, Costco and other major brands say they are stepping up efforts to keep minors from the grueling, often dangerous work that goes into their products.

By Hannah Dreier, Feb. 7, 2024

“'They should also be looking at what they’re paying people,' said Verité’s chief executive, Shawn MacDonald, 'and why they’re having trouble finding people beyond children who are willing to take this work.'”


Exterior of a Costco store, lit up against a darkened sky, with shopping carts in the parking lot and people walking in and out of the glass doors.

Costco is changing how it checks suppliers for labor violations, including adding more audits of night shifts. Credit...Brittany Greeson for The New York Times

Many major U.S. companies — including some of the country’s biggest consumer brands — say they are taking steps to eliminate child labor in their domestic supply chains amid revelations that children are working throughout American manufacturing and food production.


As hundreds of thousands of migrant children have crossed the southern border without their parents since 2021, growing numbers have ended up in dangerous, illegal jobs in every state, including in factories, slaughterhouses and industrial dairy farms, The New York Times has reported in a series of articles.


Working to exhaustion, children have been crushed by construction equipment, gotten yanked into industrial machinery and fallen to their deaths from rooftops.


Now, McDonald’s says it is requiring private inspectors to review overnight shifts at slaughterhouses that provide some of its meat, where children as young as 13 were cleaning heavy machinery. Suppliers for Ford Motor Company must now scrutinize the faces of employees when they arrive for work. Costco is commissioning more audits with Spanish-speaking inspectors.


Corporations have relied on private auditors to check for safety and labor problems at their suppliers, but those inspectors repeatedly failed to spot ongoing child labor violations, The Times reported in December. Auditors left factories in the afternoon, even though children are most often hired to work at night. They examined paperwork to check ages, but children tend to submit fake documents. And they focused on workers hired directly by plants, although children are often brought in by outside staffing agencies or contractors.


Along with McDonald’s and Costco, Starbucks, Whole Foods and PepsiCo are revising the kinds of audits they require at their suppliers. The changes include enhancing reviews of night shifts and shifts run by outside contractors, such as cleaning companies, and moving away from announcing audits in advance.


“We have been actively evolving our focus on the risk of migrant child labor domestically,” Whole Foods said in a statement.


Spanish-speaking auditors said recruiters were courting them as firms raced to staff up.


“United States Department of Labor and New York Times investigations into child labor at US businesses have shown that the United States is not a low-risk country for human rights risk for brands and retailers,” read a recent job listing from the auditing firm Arche Advisors. “In the US we cannot complete all of the work requested.”


The firm’s chief executive, Greg Gardner, said in an interview that his company had seen an increase of almost 50 percent in its domestic audit business, including requests to look specifically for child labor. “We’re doing a kind of audit we were never doing before,” he said. “This is the biggest change I’ve seen in 29 years.”


After The Times found children working for a Ford supplier in Michigan, the automaker said it was increasing audits and requiring that thousands of manufacturers begin looking over workers more carefully, even after they are hired. Security guards will inspect workers before every shift to ensure that their faces match their identification cards. Bob Holycross, the company’s chief sustainability officer, said that while Ford had not itself found child labor, it had “strengthened our supplier code of conduct globally based on lessons learned.”


Suppliers are also adding safeguards.


The Northwest Dairy Association said it was hiring auditors to interview night-shift workers at some 300 dairy farms. Children were operating industrial milking machines on some of these farms in violation of labor laws, and were sometimes seriously injured, The Times found. A major producer, the association provides milk for brands including Nestlé, Costco’s Kirkland label and Safeway’s house brand Lucerne through its marketing arm, Darigold.


Smithfield Foods, the country’s largest pork producer, said it would bring in auditors annually to check the night shifts at 41 slaughterhouses and processing plants. The company has also posted signs in Spanish and other languages around its plants emphasizing age requirements.


Tyson Foods said it had added unannounced audits for sanitation shifts, and instructed security guards to watch for young faces. Still, some shareholders are pressing for more robust action.


Perdue Farms, where a 14-year-old’s arm was maimed while he was working for a cleaning company at a Virginia slaughterhouse, said it has added age verification audits for contractors. After The Times reported last year that children hired by an outside staffing agency were working on Cheerios and other household products at the contract manufacturer Hearthside Food Solutions, the company said it had begun requiring workers to prove their ages with government-issued photo identification.


Packers Sanitation Services, which last year paid a $1.5 million fine from the U.S. Department of Labor for sending children to clean slaughterhouses, has gone even further. It has told hiring managers to reject job applicants if they look too young to match the ages in their documents, even if they pass every other kind of screening.


Some companies are opting to hire night-shift workers directly, rather than using contractors, to avoid potential violations. These include the global meatpacker JBS, where middle schoolers brought in by Packers Sanitation suffered chemical burns. This work will now be done in-house, by unionized workers.


The Times’s December report focused on shortcomings in audits performed by UL Solutions, one of the country’s largest firms that checks workplaces for labor violations as part of a so-called social audit. The company is planning an initial public offering, with a targeted valuation of $5 billion. This year, UL has been exploring selling off its social auditing business before the public offering, according to three people familiar with the talks. UL Solutions declined to comment.


Auditors expect child labor to be a major focus of corporations this year. In January, Amazon convened companies including Target, Disney and PepsiCo to discuss ways to eliminate underage workers in American supply chains. Another summit, this one sponsored by Walmart and focusing on improving social audits, is planned for March.


The nonprofit groups Verité and AIM-Progress, which promote responsible labor practices, are retraining 600 American suppliers and staffing agencies. The initiative is funded by 12 corporations, including some companies that The Times found had benefited from migrant child labor: McDonald’s; General Mills; the snack food giant Mondelez, which owns Oreo and dozens of other products; Cheez-It’s owner, Kellanova; and Unilever, the company behind Ben & Jerry’s. The new guidance directs suppliers to ensure that any children found working are given social services, and not simply fired.


“They should also be looking at what they’re paying people,” said Verité’s chief executive, Shawn MacDonald, “and why they’re having trouble finding people beyond children who are willing to take this work.”



14) Airstrikes hit a crowded Gazan city where Israel says it plans an advance.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb/ 8, 2024


Three people hug each other in a crowded hospital area where covered bodies lie on the floor.

Palestinians mourning at a hospital in Rafah on Thursday after identifying relatives killed overnight. Credit...Mahmud Hams/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israeli forces bombarded the southern Gaza border city of Rafah with airstrikes, killing multiple civilians, Palestinian media reported on Thursday, the day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said the military was preparing to advance on an area crowded with people who have fled other parts of the Strip.


The strikes heightened fears among the more than a million Palestinians crowded into Rafah, which lies along a closed Egyptian border, as Israel’s army has repeatedly warned that it plans to push further south in its ground invasion in Gaza in what it says is an attempt to defeat Hamas.


“I am hearing people saying Israel is planning to storm Rafah,” said Fathi Abu Snema, a 45-year-old father of five who has been sheltering in a United Nations-run school there for nearly four months. He worried that a military advance would bring “total destruction.”


“There is no place for the people to run to. Everyone from all other parts of Gaza ended up in Rafah. I don’t know where to go if they come here,” he added, referring to Israeli forces.


Palestinian news media reported that two homes in Rafah were hit in deadly strikes overnight into Thursday. Gaza’s health ministry said that more than 100 people had been killed over the previous 24 hours. More than 27,000 people have been killed in Gaza during the four-month war, health authorities there say.


Many of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced multiple times in search of safety. In Rafah, many are sheltering in ramshackle tents that offer little protection from rain and cold. Airstrikes have continued to pound all parts of the Gaza Strip.


Mr. Netanyahu said late Wednesday that his government had directed the military to prepare to advance into Rafah and two nearby camps, which he called “Hamas’s last remaining strongholds.” Hamas led the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that Israeli authorities say killed some 1,200 people.


Aid groups and the United Nations have repeatedly warned that an advance on Rafah would be devastating to civilians. Describing “destruction and death” in Gaza unparalleled during his tenure, the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, told the General Assembly on Wednesday that he was “especially alarmed” by the reports that Israel had set Rafah as a military target.


A military offensive there “would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences,” he said.


The Norwegian Refugee Council, an aid agency, warned that a full-scale Israeli military assault on Rafah and the surrounding area would lead to more civilian deaths and risk halting the trickle of humanitarian aid that is coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt.


“An expansion of hostilities could turn Rafah into a zone of bloodshed and destruction that people won’t be able to escape,” Angelita Caredda, the aid group’s Middle East and North Africa regional director, said.  “Conditions in Rafah are already dire.”


Early Thursday, a local Gazan journalist posted video on social media of two young brothers from Rafah who had been brought to a hospital after a bombardment. They appeared to have light injuries and were covered in dust.


In the video, which The New York Times could not immediately verify, one brother says: “I woke up and found that there was fire in the house. I told Mama, ‘Pick me up, I’m hurt,’ and she said, ‘I can’t pick you up.’”


The other boy says: “Smoke was filling the entire home. No one could see anyone else, no one could breathe.”


Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting.



15) Israel is severely restricting aid deliveries in northern Gaza, the U.N. says.

By Anushka Patil, Feb. 8, 2024


People gathering at the window of a truck coming into Gaza.

Humanitarian aid trucks and ambulances entering northern Gaza through an Israeli checkpoint in November. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Israel has severely restricted humanitarian groups from delivering aid to northern Gaza, denying access to more than half of the planned aid missions to the region last month and delaying others to the point where missions had to be aborted, a United Nations official said on Wednesday.


Andrea De Domenico, the leader of the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, described layers of challenges in coordinating with Israeli officials that, he said, begin long before aid trucks set off toward the north. The region faced heavy bombardment and was entirely cut off for several weeks, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis.


In January, according to a report from the U.N. office, 34 of the 61 missions planned to areas north of Wadi Gaza — a strip of wetlands that curves across the Gaza Strip — were denied access by Israeli officials. During negotiations with Israeli authorities, Mr. De Domenico said in an interview, securing access to deliver fuel to hospitals was a “constant fight” and missions aimed to alleviate a dire lack of clean water and sanitation facilities were “rejected even before being considered.”


On other missions, Israeli authorities have “imposed reductions on the volume of assistance, such as the quantity of food,” according to the report.


The Israeli government agency that oversees policy and operations in the Palestinian territories, known as COGAT, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the problems described by the report or to questions about Israeli restrictions on the volume of food assistance. The agency has previously denied that it is blocking aid to Gaza, and Israeli officials have accused Hamas of seizing some supplies.


The U.N. aid office said that in nine aid missions planned for northern Gaza in January that Israeli officials had initially facilitated, convoys were impeded by Israeli checkpoints or by Israeli instructions to take roads that were impassable.


Mr. De Domenico said that Israeli authorities were making guarantees to humanitarian groups about the safety of coordinated aid missions, but then failing to uphold their pledges. He said aid convoys in Gaza have repeatedly come under fire, and protocols that were negotiated to ensure the security of humanitarian workers at checkpoints between central and northern Gaza had been violated by Israeli forces “countless” times.


Despite departing as early as dawn, some convoys have been unable to complete their delivery during daylight hours because of excessive delays at Israeli checkpoints, Mr. De Domenico said.


“They know that we do not want to have nighttime distributions,” Mr. De Domenico said. “You can’t move in a war zone after dark, when you cannot see where you are driving.”


Israeli officials facilitated 10 successful aid missions to the north — 16 percent of the planned total in January, according to the U.N. office — but even those faced challenges. Most barely reached a few miles past the checkpoints, let alone into the far north, before they were surrounded by large crowds of starving people, Mr. De Domenico said.


Palestinians in Gaza make up 80 percent of people facing famine or catastrophic hunger across the globe, according to U.N. experts.