Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, March 10, 2024

Art Against Imprisonment Presents

A Benefit for a New Oakland Mural

Sumud: Resistance Until Liberation


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


Caroline Davis on Saxophone

Satya Chima, CCWP

Opium Sabbah, Oakland Jericho Movement


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

Eastside Cultural Center

2277 International Blvd., Oakland


For more information contact:




Thursday, March 14, 2024 at 5:30 P.M.

Jack Adams Hall

San Francisco State University



March and Rally, Saturday, March 2, 2024, San Francisco

See Gaza Strip Access Restrictions.pdf since 2007 at:


Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:
As of March 10, 2024the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 31,045,* 72,645 wounded, and more than 423 Palestinians have been killed and 4,600 wounded by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.

Israel lowers its estimated October 7 death toll from 1,400 to 1,147, 588 Israeli soldiers killed since ground invasion, 3,221 wounded**

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 40,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

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

Source: mondoweiss.net




*Major Announcement*

Claudia De la Cruz wins

Peace and Freedom Party primary in California!

We have an exciting announcement. The votes are still being counted in California, but the Claudia-Karina “Vote Socialist” campaign has achieved a clear and irreversible lead in the Peace and Freedom Party primary. Based on the current count, Claudia has 46% of the vote compared to 40% for Cornel West. A significant majority of PFP’s newly elected Central Committee, which will formally choose the nominee at its August convention, have also pledged their support to the Claudia-Karina campaign.


We are excited to campaign in California now and expect Claudia De la Cruz to be the candidate on the ballot of the Peace and Freedom Party in November.


We achieved another big accomplishment this week - we’re officially on the ballot in Hawai’i! This comes after also petitioning to successfully gain ballot access in Utah. We are already petitioning in many other states. Each of these achievements is powered by the tremendous effort of our volunteers and grassroots organizers across the country. When we’re organized, people power can move mountains!


We need your help to keep the momentum going. Building a campaign like this takes time, energy, and money. We know that our class enemies — the billionaires, bankers, and CEO’s — put huge sums toward loyal politicians and other henchmen who defend their interests. They will use all the money and power at their disposal to stop movements like ours. As an independent, socialist party, our campaign is relying on contributions from the working class and people like you.


We call on each and every one of our supporters to set up a monthly or one-time donation to support this campaign to help it keep growing and reaching more people. A new socialist movement, independent of the Democrats and Republicans, is being built but it will only happen when we all pitch in.


The Claudia-Karina campaign calls to end all U.S. aid to Israel. End this government’s endless wars. We want jobs for all, with union representation and wages that let us live with dignity. Housing, healthcare, and education for all - without the lifelong debt. End the ruthless attacks on women, Black people, immigrants, and LGBTQ people. These are just some of the demands that are resonating across the country. Help us take the next step: 


Volunteer: https://votesocialist2024.com/volunteer


Donate: https://votesocialist2024.com/donate


See you in the streets,


Claudia & Karina


Don't Forget! Join our telegram channel for regular updates: https://t.me/+KtYBAKgX51JhNjMx



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 

Sign the petition:




Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!


Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733

Join the Fight for Mumia's Life

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

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

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

Send to:

 Mumia Medical and Legal Fund c/o Prison Radio

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

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



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: 


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



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) Several nations say they will participate in a sea route for aid to Gaza.

By Monika Pronczuk and Aaron Boxerman, Mar. 8, 2024


Officials walking on a pier with an E.U. flag in the background.

The president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus at the port of Larnaca on Friday. Credit...Andreas Loucaides/Cypriot government's Press and Information Office, via Agence France-Presse

Britain, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates will join the United States in opening a maritime route for humanitarian relief to Gaza, officials said on Friday, adding momentum to a complex and untested effort to bring urgently needed aid to the territory by sea.


Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the E.U. executive body, and David Cameron, Britain’s foreign secretary, announced their participation hours after President Biden outlined a U.S. plan to build a temporary floating pier off Gaza’s Mediterranean coast to support the shipment of food, water, medicine and other necessities to desperate Palestinian civilians.


Ms. von der Leyen said that the first ship carrying aid could depart the E.U. nation of Cyprus for Gaza as soon as Friday, with more to follow on Sunday. But it was not immediately clear how or where the vessels would unload their cargo or how it would be distributed amid Israeli bombardment and attacks by hungry Palestinians on aid trucks.


Gaza does not have a functioning port, its coastal waters are too shallow for most vessels and U.S. officials have said it could take 30 to 60 days to set up the floating pier.


At a news conference in Cyprus, Ms. von der Leyen offered few details. Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Friday that it supported a maritime corridor as long as goods are checked “in accordance with Israeli standards” before leaving Cyprus.


Despite the many questions, U.S. and European officials emphasized the urgent need to open new routes for aid into Gaza, where relief agencies say that 2.2 million Palestinians are facing extreme hunger amid Israeli airstrikes and ground attacks against Hamas. In a joint statement, Britain, the E.U. and the United Arab Emirates said the maritime corridor must “be part of a sustained effort to increase the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial commodities into Gaza through all possible routes.”


For months, the United States and others have warned that Israel was not allowing sufficient aid by land into Gaza. Those concerns have multiplied in recent days, as Palestinian health officials reported that some Gazan children had died of malnutrition and the United Nations warned that more than 570,000 people are facing “catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation.”


Aid officials say that sea shipments — and a limited number of airdrops conducted by the United States and other nations — cannot make up for the lack of supply routes by land. Only about 100 relief trucks entered Gaza each day in February, on average, through the two open land routes, a fraction of what was going in before the war began in October. Israel has insisted on inspecting shipments into Gaza, arguing that they could be diverted by Hamas, but says it does not restrict how much aid gets in.


“We know the difficulties faced at the land borders in Gaza,” Ms. von der Leyen told reporters.


Mr. Cameron, in announcing that Britain would join the maritime effort, said in a social media post: “We continue to urge Israel to allow more trucks into Gaza as the fastest way to get aid to those who need it.”


Israeli officials have not said whether they would open more land routes into Gaza, as many aid agencies have called for, particularly into northern Gaza where relief deliveries have all but stopped because of insecurity.


Plans for the sea route began taking shape months ago. In November, President Nikos Christodoulides of Cyprus, announced an initiative to collect shipments in his country, inspect them at the port of Larnaca and sail them through a secure sea corridor to Gaza, about 240 miles away.


A spokesman for the Cyprus government, Konstantinos Letymbiotis, said that if initial shipments this weekend are successful, more deliveries would follow. He said it would take about 15 hours to make the journey, although he declined to say where the shipment would be delivered in Gaza, citing security concerns.


“As a European Union member at the heart of the region, Cyprus bears a moral duty to do its utmost to assist in alleviating the humanitarian crisis,” Mr. Christodoulides said on Friday.


Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting.



2) ‘People Are Hoping That Israel Nukes Us So We Get Rid of This Pain’

By Nicholas Kristof, March 9, 2024


A photograph of three children crying in Gaza.

Children mourn victims of an attack in Rafah this month. Credit...Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images

When President Biden weighs American policy toward Gaza, may he think of a gentle scholar named Mohammed Alshannat.


Alshannat is a Palestinian in Gaza who at the start of the war was working remotely on his Ph.D. dissertation in linguistics for Rhodes University in South Africa. He is the opposite of Hamas, for in his writing he has criticized suicide bombings and rocket firings. He admires European democracy and argues that Arabs and Jews can live in harmony.


I have been texting him during the war, but his main outside contact has been Lindsay Houghton, a fellow doctoral student at Rhodes. With Alshannat’s permission, I am quoting from his texts to Houghton. I cannot independently verify what he writes, but it meshes with what aid workers describe. I have trimmed for length, but he wrote in English and these are his words:


Oct. 11: The situation in Gaza is very grave. Forgive me as I couldn’t reply any sooner. I was running for my life. Pray for us please!


Oct. 25: My children are very, very sick. They are sick, hungry, thirsty and scared. My kidney stone medicine has run out and I have been drinking salty water. Please pray for my children.


Oct. 26: Last night, there was heavy bombing in our area. We run for our lives and I lost two of my children in the dark. Me and my wife stayed all night searching for them amidst hundreds of airstrikes. We miraculously survived an airstrike and found them fainted in the morning. Please pray for us.


Nov. 4: Please forgive me for not being able to reply to your messages as we are constantly running from one place to another. Internet connection is not stable and one has to wait three days just to charge your mobile. My children can’t move around much as we only eat half a meal a day and I can’t carry them anymore. We defecate in the open and my children defecate on themselves and there is no water to clean them.


Nov. 14: We are eating tree leaves.


Nov. 30: We were completely cut off from the world in the last 15 days. My sister needs an urgent surgery. She is dying slowly before our eyes and we can do nothing about it. Her name is Fatemah and she is a mother of four. Pray for her and us.


Dec. 1 [after a weeklong pause in fighting]: I have managed to get some flour, gas and olive oil. This will sustain us for the following two weeks. We have clean water now. We got sleep during the past seven days. Pray for us please! The war has restarted at 7 a.m. today.


Dec. 4: Fatemah hasn’t yet had her urgent surgery. The world has abandoned us. Pray for us please!


Jan. 27: My son was seriously injured on Dec. 22. A large shrapnel entered his right flank. He is 13 years old and was injured while we were running for our lives. Hospitals are out of service and 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. I am scared and bone tired. It took me 36 days just to get this internet connection to send a WhatsApp message. Please pray for us!!


Feb. 6: My sister Fatemah hasn’t yet done her surgery and is still waiting in the hospital in the south. Her children are with us in the north and keep asking for their mother. Fatemah wants to go back to the north but Israel does not allow those in the south to go back to the north. She does not want to die alone in the hospital. She wants to die surrounded by her children and family. There is no one to help us to take her to the north to die and be buried here.


I am still in the north with my family. We are in a great famine. My injured son’s health is deteriorating because of the famine. There is no milk, meat, vegetables, fruit or anything to feed him. He lost most of his weight. Medicine and other stuff completely disappeared from the markets. My mother’s diabetes medicine has run out and she is very, very sick. My children are crying from hunger all the time. People are hoping that Israel nukes us so we get rid of this pain.


Feb. 11: Rice, on which we have been living off in the last four months, has completely disappeared from the markets. Me and my wife have decided to eat a meal every two days just to keep our kids alive as long as we can. What is left for us is hay. We have started grinding it, bake it and eat it. Because we have started eating the hay bread, we now defecate blood mixed with hay.


I lost my house, my car and my olive farm. Yesterday my cousin lost her 2-month-old baby because there is no milk to breastfeed him, because there is nothing for her to eat. He was her only and she is 45 years old. She also lost her house and her husband in December. She is a brilliant brain surgeon. She is refusing food and has not spoken a word since.


Feb. 29: When the Israeli army invades an area, we run to safer places. When they withdraw, some of the Israeli soldiers’ leftovers like tuna cans, bread, etc. remain. My cousin, Esa, thought that they have withdrawn and quickly rushed in the hope that he finds leftovers to eat.


After the Israeli army finally withdrew, we found him dead, rotten and half eaten by wild dogs. He seemed to be carrying some tuna cans. We couldn’t bury him as his body was so decomposed. We covered him with sand and left him.


His name is Esa Alshannat. He was 20 years old. He was a sophomore student in the department of computer science at Gaza university. He was a brilliant pianist who wanted to pursue a music degree in Italy. I still remember my last meeting with him. He had big dreams and was full of hope, peace and love. He was very hungry and very skinny. We were telling each other that despite what is being inflicted on us, we have nothing against the Israelis but love.




That was the last message from Alshannat.


Roughly 1 percent of Gaza’s people today are Hamas fighters. To understand what the other 99 percent are enduring, as the United States supplies weapons for this war and vetoes cease-fire resolutions at the United Nations, think of Alshannat and multiply him by two million.



3) Providing Both Bombs and Food, Biden Puts Himself in the Middle of Gaza’s War

The president’s decision to send aid by air and sea represents a shift prompted by the growing humanitarian crisis. But it raised uncomfortable questions about America’s role.

By Peter Baker and Michael Crowley, Mar. 8, 2024

“‘It doesn’t make any sense,’ said Yousef Munayyer, the head of the Palestine-Israel program at the Arab Center in Washington. ‘It’s akin to showing up at a five-alarm fire with a cup of water while giving fuel to the arsonist. The administration is trying to deal with a political problem, which is the optics of supporting this horrific war with these cosmetic measures that are aimed at defusing some voter anger.’”


From the skies over Gaza these days fall American bombs and American food pallets, delivering death and life at the same time and illustrating President Biden’s elusive effort to find balance in an unbalanced Middle East war.


The president’s decision to authorize airdrops and the construction of a temporary port to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza has highlighted the tensions in his policy as he continues to support the provision of U.S. weaponry for Israel’s military operation against Hamas without condition.


The United States finds itself on both sides of the war in a way, arming the Israelis while trying to care for those hurt as a result. Mr. Biden has grown increasingly frustrated as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel defies the president’s pleas to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and went further in expressing that exasperation during and after his State of the Union address this past week. But Mr. Biden remains opposed to cutting off munitions or leveraging them to influence the fighting.


“You can’t have a policy of giving aid and giving Israel the weapons to bomb the food trucks at the same time,” Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, said in an interview the day after the speech. “There is inherent contradiction in that. And I think the administration needs to match the genuine empathy and moral concern that came out last night for Palestinian civilian lives with real accountability for Netanyahu and the extreme right-wing government there.”


The newly initiated American-led air-and-sea humanitarian campaign follows the failure to get enough supplies into Gaza by land and represents a sharp turnaround by the administration. Until now, American officials had eschewed such methods as impractical, concluding that they would not provide supplies on the same scale as a functional land route and would be complicated in many ways.


Airdrops are actually dangerous, as was made clear on Friday when at least five Palestinians were killed by falling aid packages, and they can create chaotic, hazardous situations without a stable distribution system on the ground. The construction of a temporary floating pier will take 30 to 60 days, if not longer, according to officials, and could entail risk for those involved, although Mr. Biden has stipulated that it be constructed offshore with no Americans on the ground.


But the administration reversed course after more than 100 people were killed and hundreds more injured last month when a crowd gathered around a convoy of aid trucks and the Israeli military opened fire. A senior American official who insisted on anonymity to discuss internal deliberations called the disaster a tipping point for the administration’s thinking.


The official said aerial video of the episode made clear the desperation of Gazan civilians. Although Israeli officials had hoped the release of the video might exonerate their troops by showing an out-of-control mob, the official said that instead it revealed conditions dire enough to make people rush a convoy at 4:30 a.m.


Critics said the supplies now floating down by parachute hardly meet the needs and only highlight the moral conflict in Mr. Biden’s approach to the war, which started when a Hamas terrorist attack killed about 1,200 people in Israel on Oct. 7 and prompted an Israeli response that has killed more than 30,000 people in Gaza.


“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Yousef Munayyer, the head of the Palestine-Israel program at the Arab Center in Washington. “It’s akin to showing up at a five-alarm fire with a cup of water while giving fuel to the arsonist. The administration is trying to deal with a political problem, which is the optics of supporting this horrific war with these cosmetic measures that are aimed at defusing some voter anger.”


Israelis and their supporters reject that logic. “Why are they at cross purposes?” said Eyal Hulata, who served as national security adviser to former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett. “The message is — and I strongly support Biden for doing so — that he supports the elimination of Hamas, which is the source and cause of all those atrocities, while at the same time putting a lot of emphasis on assisting the civilian population of Gaza.”


“People who say that” there is a contradiction “actually don’t differentiate between Gazans and Hamas,” he added. “We do differentiate between Gazans and Hamas.”


White House officials have declined to be drawn into a public discussion of the thorny questions raised by dropping aid to the same people trying to escape American-provided arms.


“We have been very, very clear about our concerns over the humanitarian situation there and how unacceptable it is that so many people are in such dire need,” John F. Kirby, a national security communications adviser to the president, told reporters from The New York Times this past week.


Mr. Biden has strongly supported Israel’s right to defend itself and retaliate for the terrorist attack. He has been criticized by some in his own party for not expressing commensurate empathy for Palestinian civilians, many of them destitute and displaced amid the destruction of their coastal enclave.


During his State of the Union address on Thursday, though, he went further than before in lamenting the suffering. The president did not change policy, but his tone and emphasis represented an evolution of his public messaging.


“This war has taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined,” Mr. Biden told a national audience. “More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of whom are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands of innocents, women and children. Girls and boys also orphaned. Nearly two million more Palestinians under bombardment or displacement. Homes destroyed, neighborhoods in rubble, cities in ruin. Families without food, water, medicine. It’s heartbreaking.”


The president went even further in a post-speech conversation on the House floor with Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat who pressed him to “keep pushing Netanyahu,” known by the nickname Bibi.


“I told him, Bibi — and don’t repeat this — but, ‘You and I are going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting,’” Mr. Biden explained to the senator in a comment caught on a microphone.


After an aide whispered in his ear, Mr. Biden acknowledged that he had been overheard — but seemed perfectly content to have his irritation known. “I’m on a hot mic here,” Mr. Biden told Mr. Bennet. “Good. That’s good.”


The change in tone did not go unnoticed. “There was a recognition among progressives that this represents a shift in language by the president and that language matters,” said Mr. Khanna, who exchanged texts during the speech with Arab Americans in Michigan, where anger at the president has been particularly heated. “He’s becoming more public with it.”


The friction has grown especially over humanitarian assistance. United Nations officials have warned that more than 570,000 Gazans face “catastrophic levels of deprivation and starvation” and that “if nothing changes, a famine is imminent in northern Gaza.” Before the war started, Gaza relied on 500 truckloads of aid a day, but the World Food Program said it is now down to 150 and needs to double that to meet some of the strip’s basic needs.


The senior American official said that Israel’s strategy during the conflict has been to allow just enough aid in to prevent starvation and nothing more. But in recent weeks, several factors have threatened to push conditions below that threshold, including Israeli protesters who have blocked aid convoys from leaving Israel on the grounds that the aid benefits Hamas and slows the release of the Israeli hostages being held. A state of virtual anarchy within Gaza has also made efficient distribution nearly impossible. One result is that malnourished babies have begun showing up at Gaza’s few functioning hospitals.


The official said that, while airdropped packets of meals would most likely make only a marginal difference, Mr. Biden’s plan for a floating pier could have a substantial effect on conditions within Gaza — eventually.


So in recent days U.S. officials, including Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, have adamantly insisted that Israel facilitate more aid into the territory without further delay.


The official added that Israeli leaders may have anticipated that a deal would be reached by Ramadan, which is expected to start on Sunday, to release some hostages and pause their military campaign. That would have allowed a major influx of aid by trucks and spared Mr. Netanyahu from making hard political concessions in a domestic environment where many Israelis oppose sending more sustenance to the place from which the Oct. 7 attack originated.


But David Miliband, the president of the International Rescue Committee, said on Friday that airdrops and a pier were “last resorts” that were “expensive and risky” without solving the underlying problem.


“All of these should not divert attention from the material evidence that only a cease-fire will provide the civilian protection, aid flows, repair of infrastructure and public health measures that are so needed,” he said. “Fourth- and fifth-best solutions should not be normalized as effective alternatives to better solutions.”



4) There are enormous logistical hurdles to deliver much-needed aid to Gaza by sea.

By Aaron Boxerman, Mar. 9, 2024


A boy in bright orange and blue jacket stands out amid a sea of gray rubble between damaged buildings. Sunlight can be seen toward the end of the street.

A Palestinian boy stands among rubble of a destroyed house in southern Gaza on Friday. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

An international plan to bring desperately needed food, water and medicine to Gazans by boat will face enormous logistical challenges, diplomats and aid officials say, making the proposition both expensive and likely to take some time.


Aid officials have criticized the plans, saying delivering aid by truck is by far the most efficient way to help Gazans. They have called for Israel to open new crossing points in northern Gaza and to ease its entry restrictions. U.S. officials have conceded it will take weeks to establish a maritime corridor, but say it will eventually enable them to significantly increase the amount of aid.


Kerem Shalom is one of two border crossings through which aid has been allowed to enter Gaza; most of it transits through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. The U.N. has said it can be very challenging for aid to go north beyond Rafah.


Gaza does not have a functioning port, and its coastal waters are too shallow for most vessels — particularly the large barges that would be necessary to ferry the cargo necessary for hundreds of thousands of hungry Palestinians.


Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the E.U. executive body, said Friday that officials expected to test the process in the coming days during what she described as a pilot project. But it was not immediately clear how or where any vessels would unload their cargo or how it would be distributed amid Israeli bombardment and attacks on aid trucks as hunger grows in the enclave.


On Thursday night, President Biden announced a U.S.-led initiative to establish a temporary floating pier off Gaza’s coastline to enable the transit of goods. U.S. officials hope to ultimately use the pier to enable the delivery of two million meals a day for Gaza’s 2.3 million people, Here are some of the hurdles ahead.


Cost: Building the floating pier will be pricey and time-consuming. U.S. officials say the project could take up to 60 days to complete, and Gazans need more aid now. United Nations officials warn that famine is imminent in the enclave.


Two Western diplomats briefed on the project said they were told the full cost could be tens of millions of dollars over six months, although it was unclear whether that was just the port itself or included the cost of the intended supply shipments as well. Several countries, including Britain and the United Arab Emirates, have announced they will back the project, although they have not said how much they will chip in.


Some have called for Israel to fully open the Israeli port of Ashdod just north of Gaza to allow international aid to flow into the enclave. The harbor is already largely equipped to scan and process aid deliveries. After U.S. pressure, Israel began allowing some shipments of flour and other goods to enter there in January.


Security and distribution: It is also unclear who will manage and secure the temporary port area and the convoys of trucks that would be needed to distribute the aid.


In response to a question on who would secure the port, President Biden told reporters Friday that “the Israelis” would provide security. He did not elaborate further, and there was no immediate comment by Israeli officials.


Israel’s ground invasion successfully toppled Hamas’s government in northern Gaza and nothing has filled the vacuum. The result has been widespread lawlessness. Some of the few trucks ferrying food and medicine to northern Gaza have been attacked by both ordinary Palestinians and well-organized gangs, according to aid officials.


The desperation was made apparent last month when, according to Gazan health officials more than 100 Palestinians were killed after thousands of people massed around an Israeli-organized aid convoy. Witnesses described extensive shooting by Israeli forces, and doctors at Gaza hospitals said most casualties were from gunfire.


The Israeli military acknowledged firing at members of the crowd who approached them “in a threatening manner,” but said most of the victims were trampled in a crush of people trying to seize the cargo.


The remaining employees of Hamas’s civilian police could step in for security, U.N. officials have said, but their involvement would likely be unacceptable to Israel and the United States because of their connection to the militant group. In a briefing with reporters last month, Jaime McGoldrick, a senior U.N. relief official, said the organization was seeking to work with what remains of the police on crowd control. But they were hesitant to escort the convoys north, fearing Israeli airstrikes, he said.


The Israeli military could deploy to patrol the convoys, but their presence would pose a challenge for the United Nations, which takes pains to avoid being seen as too close to any side. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, for example, “does not provide any assistance anywhere with the presence of the Israeli Army nor does it ask it to provide security for its convoys,” said Juliette Touma, the agency’s director of communications.


One proposal on the table would be for private Palestinian contractors to handle the distribution while coordinating with the United Nations, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation.



5) Sweden and Canada say they are resuming funding for the U.N. agency that supports Palestinians.

By Victoria Kim, Mar. 9, 2024


People gather around a pile of white sacks with blue writing on them. At the front, a woman in a light colored hijab with a darker pattern on it is seen. Toward the back, a man’s blue checked shirt stands out.

Humanitarian aid at an UNRWA distribution center in Rafah, in southern Gaza, this month. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Canada and Sweden are resuming funding for the main United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees in Gaza, citing the spiraling humanitarian catastrophe there and saying that the agency had taken steps to improve accountability amid accusations that some of its employees had links to Hamas.


The countries were among more than a dozen that suspended payments to the aid organization, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, known as UNRWA, after accusations in January by Israel that a dozen of its 13,000 employees in Gaza had been involved in the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attacks on Israel or their aftermath.


UNRWA has argued that Israel has targeted it with a “deliberate and concerted campaign” to undermine its operations when its services are most needed. Warnings of widespread hunger bordering on famine have become more urgent, and signs of desperation are growing as people resort to consuming animal feed or ambushing aid trucks.


In a government statement on Saturday, Sweden said that it would disburse a conditional first payment of some $20 million. It said that UNRWA had agreed to allow independent audits and to strengthen internal oversight.


“In this urgent situation, when the need is so great among the civilian population, it is first and foremost important to save lives,” the statement said.


Canadian officials said on Friday that they had received an interim report from the internal United Nations office investigating the claims, and that the agency had taken immediate steps to improve accountability. The United Nations has also commissioned an external review.


The European Union, one of the largest donors to UNRWA, announced last week that it was substantially increasing funds to the agency, saying that Palestinians were facing terrible conditions and should not be made to pay for Hamas’s crimes. The first tranche of 50 million euros, about $54 million, was scheduled to be disbursed this week.


The United States has said it would wait for the results of U.N. investigations before deciding whether to resume donations. The United States is the agency’s single largest donor, having pledged $344 million in 2022.


Canadian officials said that UNRWA plays a “vital role” in providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza’s 2.2 million civilians, and that other organizations depended on the longstanding agency’s expertise and infrastructure.


The international community has faced increasing pressure to act to alleviate the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Officials with UNRWA have said that without a reversal of donor countries’ suspensions, which cost it about $450 million in funding, the organization would soon run out of reserves.


The United States and other countries announced plans this week to try to get aid into northern Gaza by sea through the Mediterranean coast. In recent weeks, nations have been sending in aid via airdrops attached to parachutes.


Israel has claimed that at least 10 percent of UNRWA’s staff in Gaza is affiliated with Palestinian armed groups and that what it says are employees’ links to Hamas fundamentally compromise the agency. In a proposal for Gaza’s postwar governance last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel included a call for UNRWA to be closed and replaced “with responsible international aid agencies.”


Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s chief, said this week that he had not received any additional information to back up Israel’s accusations after they were initially presented to him in January, but that the agency had immediately terminated the contracts of staff members accused of involvement with the Oct. 7 attacks because of the gravity of the allegation.



6) The U.S. plan to build an aid port could deliver two million meals to Gaza a day, the Pentagon says.

By Helene Cooper reporting from Washington, Mar. 9, 2024


A crowd carrying sacks of humanitarian aid on carts and on people’s shoulders.

Distribution of humanitarian aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, in Rafah, Gaza, earlier this week. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Biden administration’s floating pier and causeway for humanitarian aid could, when completed, help deliver as many as two million meals a day for residents of Gaza, but the project will take at least a month and maybe two to complete, the Pentagon said on Friday.


The details for the pier and causeway plan, President Biden’s latest idea to get around Israel’s blocking of aid deliveries via all but two land crossings, were outlined by the Pentagon press secretary, Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, in a news conference on Friday.


Aid organizations have welcomed the plan, which was announced on Thursday, days after the U.S. military began airdropping supplies into Gaza. But aid workers say that the maritime project is not ambitious enough to alleviate the humanitarian disaster unfolding as Israel continues to bombard the Gaza Strip.


General Ryder said that one of the main military units involved in the construction of the floating pier for Gaza would be the Army’s 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), out of Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., near Norfolk. Some 1,000 American service members, he said, will work to complete the pier and causeway.


The floating pier, General Ryder said, would be built and assembled alongside an Army ship off the Gaza coast. Army ships are large, lumbering vessels, so they will need armed escorts, particularly as they get within range of Gaza’s coast, Defense Department officials said, and officials are working through how to ensure their protection as the pier is built.


Describing the project, a U.S. Army official said that, typically, a large vessel would sit off shore of the desired location, and a “Roll-on-Roll-off Discharge Facility” — a big floating dock — would be constructed next to the ship to serve as a holding area. When any cargo or equipment is driven or placed onto the floating dock, it can then be loaded onto smaller Navy boats and moved toward a temporary causeway anchored onshore.


On Thursday, Sigrid Kaag, the U.N. humanitarian and reconstruction coordinator for Gaza, welcomed the Biden announcement.


But speaking with reporters after briefing the U.N. Security Council, she added, “At the same time I cannot but repeat: Air and sea is not a substitute for land and nobody says otherwise.”


Since Israel began its bombardment and invasion of Gaza, in response to the Hamas-led attack of Oct. 7, only two land crossings into the territory have opened: One at Rafah, a Gazan city on the southern border with Egypt, and one at Kerem Shalom, on the border with Israel.


Aid workers have described bottlenecks for aid at border crossings because of lengthy inspections of trucks, limited crossing hours and protests by Israelis, and they have also highlighted the difficulty of distributing aid inside Gaza. Israeli officials have denied they are hampering the flow of aid, saying the United Nations and aid groups are responsible for any backlogs.


On Friday, General Ryder said that U.S. officials were “working with ally and partner nations,” as well as the United Nations and aid groups, to coordinate security and distribution of aid from the floating pier and causeway. He emphasized that “there will be no U.S. forces on the ground in Gaza.”


He also acknowledged that neither the airdrops nor the floating pier were as effective as sending aid by land would be.


“We want to see the amount of aid going via land increase significantly,” General Ryder said. “We understand that is the most viable way to get aid in.”


But, he added, “We’re not going to wait around.”



7) The U.N. human rights chief warns that Israeli settlements could amount to war crimes.

By Nick Cumming-Bruce reporting from Geneva, Mar. 9, 2024


An Israeli settlement built in a Palestinian town in the occupied West Bank. Credit...Hazem Bader/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United Nations human rights chief on Friday condemned Israeli plans to build more than 3,000 new settler homes in the occupied West Bank, warning that settlement expansion amounts to a war crime.


The Israeli government has shrugged off criticism from the United States and others to move ahead with its building plans, which come as tensions have soared in the West Bank since the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on Israel prompted all-out war in Gaza.


“The West Bank is already in crisis,” the U.N.’s rights chief, Volker Türk, said, “yet, settler violence and settlement-related violations have reached shocking new levels, and risk eliminating any practical possibility of establishing a viable Palestinian state.”


Roughly 500,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank, where the Israeli military rules over roughly 2.7 million Palestinians. Much of the Israeli right believes Israel should control the West Bank in perpetuity, while Palestinians see the area as integral to their aspirations for an independent state.


Mr. Türk’s comments accompanied a report released by his office that said the expansion of settlements and a dramatic rise in associated violence and discrimination against Palestinians, particularly since Oct. 7, “have taken the West Bank to the brink of catastrophe.”


Settler violence had already reached record levels in 2023, with 835 incidents recorded before the Oct. 7 attack. Since then, settler violence has skyrocketed, the U.N. said, with another 603 settler attacks reported.


The U.N. reported nine Palestinians killed by settlers using firearms and 396 killed by Israeli security forces, with two other Palestinian deaths that could not be attributed.


More than 1,200 Palestinian herders had been forced from their homes as a direct result of settler violence and close to 600 Palestinians, the U.N. reported.


Israel’s latest plan to build 3,476 new settler homes follows construction of 23,000 new homes in the 12 months that ended in October, the U.N. human rights office reported, representing the fastest rate of expansion since monitoring started in 2017.


The expansion represents a transfer of Israel’s population to occupied territory, which is prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime, the U.N. said.


The policies of Israel’s current government appear aligned to an unprecedented extent with the goals of its settler movement to expand long-term control over the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and to steadily integrate this occupied territory into Israel, the U.N. said.


It cited the appointment of Bezalel Smotrich, the Israeli finance minister and a settler, as an “additional minister” in the defense ministry with widespread powers over the West Bank, including over the designation of land, planning and property demolitions. Israel had recorded 468,000 Jewish Israelis in the West Bank at the end of 2022, the report noted and, in May 2023, Mr. Smotrich presented a two-year plan to attract another half-million Israelis to move there.



8) The 10-Year-Old Boy Who Has Become the Face of Starvation in Gaza

The harrowing image of a skeletal Yazan Kafarneh circulated widely on social media and has served as a graphic warning about the enclave’s dire food situation.

By Bilal Shbair, Vivian Yee and Aaron Boxerman, March 9, 2024


A painfully thin boy in a yellow hoodie lies under a blanket on a hospital bed with tubes issuing from his nose and hand. His eyes and mouth are open.

Yazan Kafarneh on his hospital bed in Rafah, southern Gaza, on Sunday. By Monday, he was dead. Credit...Hatem Ali/Associated Press

It is all too easy to trace the skull beneath the Gazan boy’s face, the pallid skin stretching tight over every curve of bone and sagging with every hollow. His chin juts with a disturbing sharpness. His flesh has shrunk and shriveled, life reduced to little more than a thin mask over an imminent death.


In one of a series of news photographs of the boy, Yazan Kafarneh, taken with his family’s permission as he struggled for his life, his long-lashed eyes stare out, unfocused. In that widely shared picture online, his right hand, bandaged over an intravenous line, contracts in on itself at an awkward angle, a visible marker of his cerebral palsy.


He was 10, but in photographs from his last days at a clinic in southern Gaza, he looks both small for his age and at the same time ancient. By Monday, Yazan was dead.


The pictures of Yazan circulating on social media have quickly made him the face of starvation in Gaza.


Aid groups have warned that deaths from malnutrition-related causes have only just begun for Gaza’s more than two million people. Five months into Israel’s campaign against Hamas and its siege of Gaza, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are close to starvation, United Nations officials say. Almost no aid has reached northern Gaza for weeks, after major U.N. agencies mostly suspended their operations, citing mass looting of their cargoes by desperate Gazans, Israeli restrictions on convoys and the poor condition of roads damaged during the war.


At least 20 Palestinian children have died from malnutrition and dehydration, according to Gazan health officials. Like Yazan, who required medicines that were in acutely short supply in Gaza, many of those who died also suffered from health conditions that further placed their lives at risk, health officials said.


“It’s often that a child is extremely malnourished, and then they get sick and that virus is ultimately what causes that death,” said Heather Stobaugh, a malnutrition expert at Action Against Hunger, an aid group. “But they would not have died if they were not malnourished.”


Gaza health officials said that two of the children who died from malnutrition were less than 2 days old. While cautioning that it was difficult to say what had happened without more information, Dr. Stobaugh said that malnutrition in pregnant mothers and the lack of formula could easily have led to the deaths of infants, who are the most vulnerable to extreme malnutrition.


That dovetailed with an account given by an aid group, ActionAid, which said that a doctor at Al-Awda maternity hospital in northern Gaza had told the group that malnourished mothers were giving birth to stillborn children.


Yazan’s parents had struggled for months to care for their son, whose condition, experts say, would have meant he had trouble swallowing and needed a soft, high-nutrition diet. After the Israeli bombardment on Gaza following the Oct. 7 Hamas-led assault on Israel, his parents fled their home, taking Yazan and their three other sons to somewhere they hoped would be safer.


Then they fled again, and again, and again, his father said, searching for somewhere better for Yazan, whose condition meant that he could not tolerate the chaotic, unsanitary shelters. Every move was complicated by the fact that Yazan could not walk.


His parents could do little but watch as his health steadily deteriorated.


“Day after day, I saw my son getting weaker,” said his father, Shareef Kafarneh, a 31-year-old taxi driver from Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza.


Eventually, they ended up in Al-Awda, in the southern city of Rafah, where Yazan died on Monday morning. He had suffered from both malnutrition and a respiratory infection, according to Dr. Jabr al-Shaer, a pediatrician who treated him. Dr. al-Shaer blamed the lack of food for weakening Yazan’s already frail immune system.


Obtaining enough to eat had already been a struggle for many in the blockaded Gaza Strip before the war. An estimated 1.2 million Gazans had required food assistance, according to the United Nations, and around 0.8 percent of children under the age of 5 in Gaza had been acutely malnourished, the World Health Organization said.


Five months into the war, that appears to have spiked: About 15 percent of Gazan children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, as well as roughly 5 percent in the south, the World Health Organization said in February. With half of all Gazan infants fed by formula, Dr. Stobaugh said, the lack of clean water in Gaza to make the formula is compounding the crisis.


Adele Khodr, the Middle East director at UNICEF, the United Nations children’s agency, said this week, “These tragic and horrific deaths are man-made, predictable and entirely preventable.”


The situation has left parents frantic.


Ali Qannan, 34, does not know what is wrong with his 13-month-old son, Ahmed, who is being treated at the European Hospital in southern Gaza. Neither, he said, do the doctors at the five hospitals he has taken Ahmed to since the baby developed a swollen belly, diarrhea and vomiting a month after the war began. Ahmed has gotten ever worse, with trouble breathing and worrisome blood tests, but, given the war, the doctors say they cannot run the proper diagnostic tests, Mr. Qannan said.


Every pediatrician has had a different suggestion for what to feed Ahmed, Mr. Qannan said — boiled potatoes, bread, special fortified formula used for treating severely malnourished children — but each was either impossible to find or seemed not to help. Mr. Qannan says he is sure that malnutrition has something to do with Ahmed’s problems.


“Look at him. He’s turned into a skeleton,” Mr. Qannan said of his son on Wednesday. “I need help from someone, anyone, to help me get out of Gaza as soon as possible.”


World leaders are increasingly warning about catastrophic hunger in Gaza, and even some of Israel’s closest allies are pressing Israel to do more. On Thursday, President Biden announced that the U.S. military would set up a floating pier to help move supplies into the enclave.


On Friday, the Israeli agency known as COGAT, which regulates aid to Palestinians, said, “Israel is also exerting a constant and significant effort to find solutions that will bring aid more smoothly into the Gaza Strip, and into its northern area in particular.”


Before war tore Gaza apart, Yazan Kafarneh was gradually seeing an improvement in his long struggle with cerebral palsy, his family said.


Physical therapists provided by nonprofits treated him at home, while medicines helped improve his condition, his father said. He might not have been able to walk, but he could swim. Mr. Kafarneh carefully planned out a high-nutrient diet for his son based around soft foods, including eggs for breakfast and the bananas Yazan loved.


But the medications disappeared as the war broke out, and as the family’s food supplies dwindled, Mr. Kafarneh said he had been unable to maintain Yazan’s special diet. He swapped out eggs in the morning for bread he made into mush using tea; he struggled to find bananas, so he tried giving Yazan other sweet foods, even though the price of sugar had soared. The already difficult challenge of feeding him properly turned nearly impossible.


On Feb. 25, his family brought Yazan to Al-Awda’s pediatric wing. He had pneumonia, which his weeks of hunger and already fragile condition had aggravated. Although the doctors and nurses gave him antibiotics for the infection, they could not find a reinforced nutrition drink that had been used to nourish him before the war, said Halima Tubasi, a nurse who cared for Yazan before he died.


Mr. Kafarneh said the cause of his son’s death was no mystery.


“The foods he used to have aren’t being eaten anymore,” he said. “The medicines and supplementary foods weren’t available at all.”



9) As Israel’s Ties to Arab Countries Fray, a Strained Lifeline Remains

The United Arab Emirates has maintained its links to Israel throughout the war in Gaza, but the relationship, built on a U.S.-brokered deal, is under pressure as anger against Israel grows.

By Vivian Nereim, March 10, 2024

Vivian Nereim reported this article from Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.


Two people are silhouetted amid a backdrop of blue sky. Aid parcels dot the sky.

Members of the Jordanian Armed Forces dropping aid parcels along the Gaza coast, in cooperation with Egypt, Qatar, France and the United Arab Emirates, on Feb. 27. Credit...Jehad Shelbak/Reuters

Only a few years ago, plenty of citizens of the United Arab Emirates were willing to speak warmly about their country’s budding ties with Israel.


Israel had just established relations with the Emirates through a U.S.-brokered deal. Business groups had sprung up to funnel cross-country investment. Two women, Emirati and Israeli, posed for a photograph holding hands atop a skyscraper in Dubai. American, Emirati and Israeli officials predicted that their deal, called the Abraham Accords, would spread peace across the Middle East.


But now, as Israel’s monthslong bombardment of Gaza fuels anger around the region, Emirati fans of the deal are increasingly hard to find.


An Emirati businessman who had once touted the economic ties said that he had left an Emirati-Israeli business council and that he had nothing else to say. Some Emiratis, although frustrated with the accords, said they were afraid to speak publicly, citing their authoritarian government’s history of arresting critics. One figure who did speak out, Dubai’s deputy police chief, declared online that Arabs had “truly wanted peace” and that Israel had “proved that its intentions are evil.”


Neither the Emirates nor Israel is likely to walk away from the deal, analysts say: It remains a diplomatic lifeline for Israel while its ties to other Arab countries fray, and it has brought the Emirates billions in trade and positive public relations in Western nations. But the current trajectory of the war does not bode well for the accords or the security of the Middle East, said Mohammed Baharoon, the head of B’huth, a Dubai research center.


“This is a partnership,” he said, “and if one partner is not paying their dues, then it’s not a partnership anymore.”


Anger toward Israel and its main ally, the United States, has risen sharply in the Arab world over Israel’s bombardment and invasion of Gaza, which has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians, Gazan health officials say, and left two million others facing mass displacement, the risk of starvation and a collapsing medical system.


For the handful of Arab leaders who maintain ties with Israel, the war has pushed them to reconsider that relationship. Jordan recalled its ambassador in November. Egyptian officials have warned that any action that sends Gazans spilling into Egypt could potentially jeopardize a decades-old treaty. And Israel’s ambassadors to Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt have largely remained in Israel since the war began on Oct. 7, after the Hamas-led attack that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people.


The diplomatic chill has left Israel’s Embassy and Consulate in the Emirates as its only fully functioning diplomatic mission in the Arab world. Several government-owned airlines also suspended flights, leaving the Emirates as the only country in the Middle East where people can fly directly to Israel.


Despite the pressure, Emirati officials say they have no intention of cutting ties.


In a written statement to The New York Times, the Emirati government highlighted how Emirati officials had used their relationship with Israel to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid for Gazans, as well as the medical treatment of injured Gazans taken to the Emirates.


“The U.A.E. believes that diplomatic and political communications are important in difficult times such as those we are witnessing,” the government said.


In late February, Israel’s economy minister, Nir Barkat, became the first Israeli minister to visit the Emirates since Oct. 7, attending a gathering of the World Trade Organization. In an interview, he said he was “very optimistic” after meeting with Emirati officials.


“There’s a bit of sensitivity while the war is still happening,” he said, but the two countries “have aligned interests, and the Abraham Accords are extremely strategic for all of us.”


Still, even if the existence of the accords is not at stake, what the relationship will look like is far from certain, many Israelis and Emiratis said.


“The romantic phase of the Abraham Accords kind of faded away,” said Noa Gastfreund, an Israeli co-founder of the Tech Zone, a group that connects Emirati and Israeli tech entrepreneurs and investors. Now, she said, “we got into the realistic phase of understanding that it won’t be easy.”


The accords, announced in 2020, were particularly coveted by Israel as a major step toward greater integration into the Middle East, where Arab countries had long isolated Israel over its treatment of Palestinians and control over Gaza and the West Bank.


While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Donald J. Trump hailed the deal as a milestone, the Emirati president, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, tempered his celebration. He emphasized that Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump had reached an agreement “to stop further Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories.”


Over the next few years, hundreds of thousands of Israeli tourists poured into the Emirates, and in 2022, the country reported $2.5 billion in trade with Israel. A handful of Israeli restaurants opened in Dubai; one called itself Cafe Bibi, after Mr. Netanyahu’s nickname.


But cracks soon emerged among disappointed Emiratis, watching as Jewish settlements expanded in the West Bank and Israel formed the most right-wing government in its history.


Multiple plans by Mr. Netanyahu to visit the Emirates never materialized. The accords did not expand to include countries like Oman or Qatar. And while Saudi officials have pursued talks with American officials to potentially recognize Israel, they are uninterested in joining the accords — and are demanding heavy concessions.


At a conference in September, Anwar Gargash, a senior Emirati official, said that the Israeli relationship was “going through a difficult time.”


Tensions have only worsened since the war began. Dhahi Khalfan, Dubai’s deputy police chief, has posted scathing denunciations of Israel on social media, saying that Israeli leaders “don’t deserve respect.”


“I hope for all Arab leaders to reconsider the issue of dealing with Israel,” he wrote in January — an unusually frank plea in the Emirates, where most citizens say little about politics, out of both deference and fear.


Several Emiratis declined to be interviewed about the war in Gaza or Emirati ties with Israel. One Emirati in his 20s agreed to speak on the condition that he be identified only by a middle name, Salem.


He described a growing sense of cognitive dissonance as he enjoyed a comfortable life, amid gleaming skyscrapers and specialty coffee shops, while images of death and destruction streamed out of Gaza. The relationship with Israel was demoralizing, he said, particularly because he and many Emiratis had been raised to view Palestinians as brothers whom they must protect.


He now believes the Abraham Accords were an attempt to curry favor with the Emirates’ Western allies, he said. It made him feel like his country’s values were up for sale, he said.


Emirati views toward the accords had already grown darker before the war, according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a generally pro-Israel research organization. By November 2022, 71 percent of those surveyed in the Emirates said that the accords were having a “negative” effect on their region.


So far, Emirati officials have responded to the war by focusing on aid to Gaza, directing increasingly harsh rhetoric toward Israel, and calling for a cease-fire and the creation of a Palestinian state.


The strongest remarks from an Emirati official to date came from Lana Nusseibeh, the country’s U.N. representative, in recent testimony to the International Court of Justice. She denounced “Israel’s indiscriminate attacks on the Gaza Strip,” argued that Israel’s occupation of the West Bank was illegal and demanded consequences.


She also said, at a conference in Dubai last month, that the Emirati government was not willing to fund the reconstruction of Gaza without an “irreversible” pathway to a Palestinian state.


In an interview, Mohammed Dahlan, an influential Palestinian exile and a close adviser to the Emirati president, suggested that Arab rulers had soured on Mr. Netanyahu.


Before the war, Mr. Netanyahu and Biden administration officials had set their eyes on a larger prize than relations with the Emirates: an Israeli deal with Saudi Arabia.


That prospect now looks increasingly out of reach, scholars say.


“Israel has become a moral burden for anyone engaging with it,” a Saudi academic, Hesham Alghannam, wrote in a Saudi magazine last month. “Arabs are nearing the conclusion that while peace with Israel may still be conceivable, it is no longer desirable.”


During Mr. Barkat’s visit, an image circulated on social media of the Israeli minister and Saudi Arabia’s commerce minister exchanging business cards at an event. The Saudi government swiftly denied the meeting had been intentional.


“An unknown individual approached the minister to offer greetings and later identified himself as the minister of economy in the Israeli occupation government,” the government said in a statement.


Asked about the Saudi reaction, Mr. Barkat said, “we love to create collaboration with all peace-seeking countries in the region.”


Patrick Kingsley, Adam Rasgon and Omnia Al Desoukie contributed reporting.



10) Biden says Netanyahu is ‘hurting Israel more than helping Israel.’

By Vivek Shankar, Mar. 10, 2024


President Biden, in a blue shirt and a dark suit jacket, standing at a lectern. There is an American flag in the background.

President Biden has remained steadfast in his support of Israel, but has criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. Credit...Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

President Biden rebuked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Saturday over the rising civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip, even as he reaffirmed American support for a longtime ally.


“He has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas, but he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. Netanyahu in an interview with MSNBC.


“In my view, he’s hurting Israel more than helping Israel,” Mr. Biden said, appearing to refer to Mr. Netanyahu’s military strategy. “It’s contrary to what Israel stands for, and I think it’s a big mistake. So I want to see a cease-fire.”


Asked by the interviewer, Jonathan Capehart, if he had a “red line” that Mr. Netanyahu should not cross, like a ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, Mr. Biden offered a muddled response but said that “the defense of Israel is still critical.”


“He cannot have 30,000 more Palestinians dead as a consequence” of his pursuit of Hamas, the president said, referring to Mr. Netanyahu.


“There’s other ways to deal, to get to, to deal with the trauma caused by Hamas,” he added.


Mr. Biden did not offer details. The Gazan health ministry has said that more than 31,000 people have been killed in the enclave since Israel began the war in response to the Oct. 7 attacks launched by Hamas.


But the president’s comments once again highlighted the delicate position the United States has found itself in: arming Israel while at the same time providing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Mr. Biden has been more forceful in recent days about the plight of civilians in Gaza, urging Mr. Netanyahu not to go ahead with his stated plans to launch a major ground offensive in Rafah without a plan to protect those sheltering there. More than a million Gazans have sought refuge in the city, many of whom were displaced by Israeli military orders to move into so-called safe zones.


When asked about Mr. Biden’s remarks, Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, declined to say what they suggested about the relationship between the United States and Israel.


“I am trying to separate between rhetoric and essence: The goals of the war and the state of Israel are simple — they are to release all of the hostages and to dismantle Hamas’s military and leadership force,” he told Kan, Israel’s public radio network. “The United States supports these goals as Biden had stressed yesterday.’‘


He added that Israel had said there would be a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah before any ground invasion, and he reiterated that his country’s military did not “deliberately harm civilians.”


The push toward Rafah has drawn warnings from the United States and other allies about the potential humanitarian cost. The United Nations has said that a ground invasion of Rafah could have “huge implications for all of Gaza, including the hundreds of thousands at grave risk of starvation and famine in the north.”


Under Mr. Biden’s direction, U.S. military cargo planes have in recent days dropped food, water and other aid into Gaza a handful of times. The latest airdrop came on Sunday, when the U.S. military said it dropped meals along with rice, flour and other goods into northern Gaza.


In addition, the Biden administration has announced plans to build a floating pier off the coast of Gaza to deliver more supplies to the enclave.


But American officials have acknowledged that dropping aid by air and building a pier will not be as effective as delivering supplies by land, an option that Israel has largely blocked.


In the MSNBC interview, Mr. Biden said that he remained hopeful that the United States could help broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, with the holy month of Ramadan approaching this week.


“I think it’s always possible,” Mr. Biden said.


Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.



11) Thousands of pregnant women in Gaza suffer from malnutrition, health authorities say.

By Hiba Yazbek and Ameera Harouda reporting from Jerusalem and Doha, Qatar, March 10, 2024


Three women in a warehouse with partitions for temporary shelters.

A pregnant Palestinian woman, center, displaced from northern Gaza, in a warehouse where she was taking shelter in Rafah, southern Gaza, last month. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

When Wafaa al-Kurd was nearly due to give birth, she said, she weighed less than she did before becoming pregnant and was surviving on rice and artificial juice.


She gave birth to a girl weighing nearly six pounds, named Tayma, just over two weeks ago, she said. Since then, her husband has spent his days scouring markets in northern Gaza, where the family lives, trying to find enough food for his wife to breastfeed and keep Tayma alive.


Nearly 60,000 pregnant women in Gaza are suffering from malnutrition, dehydration and lack of proper health care, according to the Gaza health ministry. In a statement on Friday, the ministry said that about 5,000 women in Gaza were giving birth every month in “harsh, unsafe and unhealthy conditions as a result of bombardment and displacement.”


The ministry added that about 9,000 women, including thousands of mothers and pregnant women, had been killed since Israel’s bombardment and invasion began in early October.


The United Nations and aid agencies have warned that famine is looming in the besieged enclave, where health officials reported that at least 25 people, most of them children, died from malnutrition and dehydration in recent days.


Dr. Deborah Harrington, an obstetrician working at Al Aqsa Hospital in central Gaza, said the expectant and new mothers she treated had not received nearly enough pre- and postnatal care, risking both their lives and their babies’.


Some of the new mothers she spoke to said they were forced to give birth in the street, in their shelters or in their cars, because they could not safely reach a hospital in time, Dr. Harrington said.


“Many of them are delivering unsafely, without birth attendants in a hygienic setting, with no lifesaving resources available,” she said.


The Global Nutrition Cluster, a group of aid agencies working in Gaza, found in a report last month that more than 90 percent of children under 2 and pregnant and breastfeeding women, in both northern Gaza and the southern city of Rafah, faced severe food poverty.


Ms. al-Kurd said her biggest pregnancy craving was for tomatoes, which were very scarce in northern Gaza. On her birthday, in November, her husband, Saleh, was determined to find her some.


Hours later, when he finally came home — holding a bag of extremely expensive tomatoes that he bought at the only shop that sold them — his wife was “happier than she was when I bought her a gold ring for her birthday last year,” he said in a phone call on Friday.


Like Ms. Al-Kurd, Aya Saada, who is seven months pregnant with her second child, said that she had not been able to find fruits or vegetables to eat in recent months. She added that she did not always have filtered water to drink. “I’m always getting dizzy and nauseous and I’m constantly tired,” said Ms. Saada, 23, who is sheltering at a hospital in northern Gaza.


“You’re supposed to gain weight during your pregnancy,” Ms. Saada said in a voice message on Friday. “But instead, I’m losing weight.” she added.


Vulnerable mothers give birth to vulnerable babies, Dr. Harrington said, and pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers face particularly high risks of malnourishment.


“If you are malnourished, you’re more likely to be anemic,” she said. “You will miss all the kinds of micronutrients that you need to grow a baby safely.”


Pregnant women who have been injured in the bombardment or who have contracted infectious diseases — which are spreading rapidly throughout Gaza — also face much higher risks of miscarriage and stillbirth, Dr. Harrington added.


“When mothers are ill, then their babies can be ill, too, and that increases stillbirth rates,” she said. “Because women are not having prenatal care, you can’t pick up problems.”


Ms. Saada said that her biggest fear — calling it the only thing on her mind — was that her baby would be born with health issues because she lacked nutritious food and clean water during pregnancy. “It’s not possible to prepare for the arrival of my baby,” she said. “We are now just looking for food to eat.”


“The food I’m eating now is not healthy,” said Kholoud Saada, 34, who is nine months pregnant and sheltering, with her four children, in a tent at a school in northern Gaza, and who is not related to Aya Saada. “There is no healthy food in the markets now, no chicken or fish,” she said. “There is no food fit for a pregnant woman,” she added in a voice message on Friday.


Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting from Haifa, Israel, and Gaya Gupta from New York.



12) A U.S. military ship has set sail to help build a pier off Gaza for aid.

By Cassandra Vinograd, March 10, 2024


Crowds of people on the shore in front of brown hills with buildings atop them.

The coastline at Deir al Balah in southern Gaza last month. Credit...Mohammed Saber/EPA, via Shutterstock

The U.S. military said on Sunday that a ship had set sail carrying equipment to build a floating pier on Gaza’s coast, part of a Biden administration effort to deliver aid to the enclave by sea and help ease its hunger crisis.


The administration’s plan for a pier and causeway, announced last week, could eventually help deliver as many as two million meals a day for residents of Gaza. But the Pentagon has said that the project will take weeks to complete, and humanitarian officials have criticized the plans, saying delivering aid by truck is far more efficient.


On Sunday, the U.S. military said that an Army ship, the General Frank S. Besson, had set sail from a base near Norfolk, Va., a day earlier.


“Besson, a logistics support vessel, is carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies,” it said in a post on social media.


The Pentagon has said that one of the main military units involved in the construction of the floating pier would be the Army’s Seventh Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), and that some 1,000 American service members would work to complete it.


The Israeli military will help coordinate the installation of the pier, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israeli military, said on Saturday. Shipments will be inspected by Israeli troops before they are handed off to aid groups that will distribute it, he said.


The U.S. project is the latest in a flurry of efforts to get more aid into the enclave — including by sea — amid warnings from the United Nations that a famine in Gaza is imminent.


Such plans will come with significant logistical challenges and a hefty price tag, diplomats and officials have said. Aid officials have said that trucks are the most efficient and cheapest way to deliver food and supplies to Gaza, urging Israel to open more border crossings and ease its entry restrictions.


Britain, the European Union and the United Arab Emirates said on Friday that they would join a separate maritime initiative to get aid into Gaza.


And on Saturday, World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization founded by the renowned Spanish chef José Andrés, said that its staff was loading a cargo ship in Cyprus with 200 tons of rice, flour and proteins. It added that the ship was expected to depart from Larnaca, Cyprus, as soon as possible and head off on an estimated 60-hour trip to the Gaza Strip.


The ship, called Open Arms, is owned by a Spanish aid group of the same name that is a partner in the initiative along with the United Arab Emirates. They are trying to deliver the first sea shipment of food and humanitarian supplies to Gaza.


Helene Cooper, Gaya Gupta and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.



13) Elon Musk Has a Giant Charity. Its Money Stays Close to Home.

After making billions in tax-deductible donations to his philanthropy, the owner of Tesla and SpaceX gave away far less than required in some years — and what he did give often supported his own interests.

By David A. Fahrenthold and Ryan Mac, March 10, 2024

Reporting from Boca Chica, Texas


A building sits behind a fence with a gate and a sign that says “Private Property.”

The current campus of the Ad Astra School, behind the security gates of a SpaceX-owned compound in Boca Chica, Texas. There is no sign of a school. Credit...Meridith Kohut for The New York Times

Before March 2021, Elon Musk’s charitable foundation had never announced any donations to Cameron County, an impoverished region at the southern tip of Texas that is home to his SpaceX launch site and local officials who help regulate it.


Then, at 8:05 one morning that month, a SpaceX rocket blew up, showering the area with a rain of twisted metal.


The Musk Foundation began giving at 9:27 a.m. local time.


“Am donating $20M to Cameron County schools & $10M to City of Brownsville for downtown revitalization,” Mr. Musk said on Twitter.


Mr. Musk, the world’s second-richest person according to Forbes, presides over SpaceX, Tesla and other companies that are pushing the boundaries of technology, while also controlling a social media platform, now known as X, through which he promotes his often-polarizing political and social views.


At the same time, he runs a charity with billions of dollars, the kind of resources that could make a global impact. But unlike Bill Gates, who has deployed his fortune in an effort to improve health care across Africa, or Walmart’s Walton family, which has spurred change in the American education system, Mr. Musk’s philanthropy has been haphazard and largely self-serving — making him eligible for enormous tax breaks and helping his businesses.


Since 2020, he has seeded his charity with tax-deductible donations of stock worth more than $7 billion at the time, making it one of the largest in the country.


The foundation that houses the money has failed in recent years to give away the bare minimum required by law to justify the tax break, exposing it to the risk of having to pay the government a substantial financial penalty.


Mr. Musk has not hired any staff for his foundation, tax filings show. Its billions are handled by a board that consists of himself and two volunteers, one of whom reports putting in so little time that it averages out to six minutes per week.


In 2022, the last year for which records are available, they gave away $160 million, which was $234 million less than the law required — the fourth-largest shortfall of any foundation in the country.


Mr. Musk is under no obligation to have a charity, and he has made clear that he believes his for-profit enterprises will change the world for the better far more than any philanthropic venture could. But once he set up a nonprofit and filled it with tax-deductible gifts, he was required by law to ensure that his foundation served the public, and that it did not operate for the “private benefit” of its leader.


A New York Times analysis found that, of the Musk Foundation’s giving in 2021 and 2022 — the latest years for which full data is available — about half of the donations had some link to Mr. Musk, one of his employees or one of his businesses.


Among the donations the Musk Foundation has made, there was $55 million to help a major SpaceX customer meet a charitable pledge. There were the millions that went to Cameron County, Texas, after the rocket blew up. And there were donations to two schools closely tied to his businesses: one walled off inside a SpaceX compound, the other located next to a new subdivision for Musk’s employees.


“The really striking thing about Musk is the disjuncture between his outsized public persona, and his very, very minimal philanthropic presence,” said Benjamin Soskis, who studies philanthropy at the Urban Institute. Where other billionaires have aimed for a broad impact on society, Mr. Soskis said Mr. Musk’s foundation lacks “any direction or any real focus, outside his business ventures.”


Mr. Musk did not respond to requests for comment.


A school for his children


Mr. Musk and his younger brother, Kimbal, started the Musk Foundation in 2001, a year before the sale of PayPal, the online payments company he co-founded, to eBay for $1.5 billion. He made more than $175 million in the sale, and would seed his namesake foundation with about $2 million worth of eBay shares.


The Musk Foundation’s website initially included slick animations, featuring pictures of satellite dishes and children in classrooms, while encouraging people to apply for grants. By 2005, however, it was wiped clean, replaced by plain black text stating that the foundation was interested in “science education, pediatric health and clean energy.”


It listed no contact information. It still does not.


By September 2014, Forbes estimated that Mr. Musk’s net worth was more than $10 billion, driven up by the value of his holdings of Tesla stock. But he gave little to his own charity. That year, tax filings show, his foundation had $40,121 in the bank.


That fit with Mr. Musk’s public stance on philanthropy. His for-profit companies, he said, were his way of changing the world.


“Tesla has done more to help the environment than all other companies combined,” he said last year at The New York Times’s DealBook conference. “As a leader of the company, I’ve done more for the environment than any single human on earth.”


Mr. Musk, instead, used his small foundation to help groups tied to him personally, including a food charity run by his brother and a “Temple of Whollyness” that was set on fire at the 2013 Burning Man festival, an annual event that he often attends.


He also founded his own nonprofit school called Ad Astra — Latin for “to the stars” — to explore new ways to teach math and science.


But that school, too, would serve a personal purpose for Mr. Musk. In its first year of operation out of his home in the Bel-Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, five of Ad Astra’s 14 students were his own children.


“Kindness and eagerness to learn (and parents that worked at SpaceX) were the only criteria for admission,” wrote Joshua Dahn, the initial head of the school.


Ad Astra later moved to SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters and grew to more than 50 students. About half were related to SpaceX employees, Mr. Dahn said in an email. Mr. Dahn’s contract even said that the intellectual property he developed at the school would be half owned by Mr. Musk personally, according to a copy obtained by The Times.


Two former SpaceX executives, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, recalled that Ad Astra was sometimes discussed as a perk for the children of executives, though it was understood to be near impossible for the offspring of rank-and-file employees to gain admission.


Mr. Musk made a $254 million gift of Tesla stock to his foundation in 2016, and its grants got bigger, but they still seemed to follow no coherent theme.


The Musk Foundation donated $10 million to OpenAI — the groundbreaking artificial intelligence developer, where he sat on the board of directors. (OpenAI was a nonprofit at the time of the gift, though it has now spun out several for-profit companies.) Mr. Musk said in a recent lawsuit against the organization and its founders that he personally gave an additional $34 million before stopping his gifts in 2020. Mr. Musk previously said he had given about $100 million to OpenAI.


But Mr. Musk’s giving often seemed guided by Twitter, where he made splashy promises in response to challenges from internet celebrities: He gave $1 million to plant trees after prompting from the YouTuber Mr. Beast and $1 million to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic after a push from Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports.


On July 5, 2018, he began interacting with Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, a youth activist in Flint, Mich., who asked him for bicycles for local kids and clean water for her city, which was experiencing a crisis with its water supply. Less than a week later, Mr. Musk tweeted “a commitment” that he would “fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels.”


“Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues,” he said in another tweet.


But Mr. Musk’s giving often seemed guided by Twitter, where he made splashy promises in response to challenges from internet celebrities: He gave $1 million to plant trees after prompting from the YouTuber Mr. Beast and $1 million to help small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic after a push from Dave Portnoy, the founder of Barstool Sports.


On July 5, 2018, he began interacting with Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, a youth activist in Flint, Mich., who asked him for bicycles for local kids and clean water for her city, which was experiencing a crisis with its water supply. Less than a week later, Mr. Musk tweeted “a commitment” that he would “fund fixing the water in any house in Flint that has water contamination above FDA levels.”


“Will organize a weekend in Flint to add filters to those houses with issues,” he said in another tweet.


Flint asked for much more.


It sent Mr. Musk a four-page letter, asking him to fund new water infrastructure and wide-scale pipe replacements in homes. It also asked Mr. Musk to open a research office or manufacturing facility in the city.


Few of those wishes came true. Tesla sent a corporate development executive, who offered rides around the city hall parking lot in a company vehicle, and Mr. Musk briefly considered placing a self-driving artificial intelligence facility in the city, according to communications obtained by The Times. He also visited Flint and Ms. Copeny’s school.


But Tesla never opened an office there. And since mid-2019, the Musk Foundation has not listed any more gifts to Flint for home water filters or other causes.


Still, the mayor said she was grateful. “He didn’t have to do anything,” she said.


A big donation and a big tax break


At the end of 2021, Mr. Musk had a problem. He had exercised options from a stock bonus plan from Tesla that gave him about $25 billion worth of shares in the automaker. But that came with a price.


“I will pay over $11 billion in taxes this year,” he later posted.


Tax law gives executives sitting on huge stores of their companies’ stock a way to lower that bill: charity. Mr. Musk could donate shares of Tesla, whose stock price had boomed in recent years, to a nonprofit and take a tax deduction based on the value of the stock. It did not matter that he might have paid little to obtain the shares.


In October of that year, Mr. Musk had publicly flirted with the idea of a charitable mega-gift. On Twitter, he wrote that if the United Nations World Food Program could describe how it would spend the money, he would sell Tesla stock and give the program $6 billion.


The U.N. program replied with a plan, but Mr. Musk gave nothing. Instead, Mr. Musk gave to his own foundation: five million Tesla shares, worth $5.7 billion at the time.


The gift tripled the Musk Foundation’s assets and put it among the 20 largest foundations in the country. Tax experts said it could have saved Mr. Musk more than $2 billion off his tax bill.


More donations from Mr. Musk meant more responsibility for his foundation. Tax law requires all foundations to give away 5 percent of their assets every year, so the Musk Foundation was expected to dole out hundreds of millions of dollars each year.


The foundation did not add paid staff to meet that new benchmark. The only recorded change was a tiny one: Matilda Simon, one of Mr. Musk’s family-office employees, who also serves as one of the foundation’s three volunteer board members, increased her workload from 0 hours to 0.1 hours, or six minutes a week, according to tax filings.


The foundation’s two other volunteers — Mr. Musk and Jared Birchall, who as head of Mr. Musk’s family office helps manage his wealth — reported that they each worked an hour a week. Ms. Simon and Mr. Birchall did not respond to a request for comment.


In 2021, the Musk Foundation fell $41 million short of the minimum required donation, tax filings show. In 2022, it missed the 5 percent mark by even more: $193 million. That year, Musk’s foundation gave away only about 2.25 percent of its $7 billion in assets, far below the 5 percent minimum, tax filings show.


With shortfall piled on shortfall, the Musk Foundation was then left $234 million behind by the end of 2022, the fourth-largest gap of any foundation in the country, according to Cause IQ, a firm that analyzes charity data.


“It tells you it’s not yet ready for prime time,” said Brian Galle, a professor who studies nonprofit law at Georgetown University, referring to the minimal giveaways by the foundation. “It’s not yet a professional organization.”


The Musk Foundation has not released details of what it gave away in 2023, or whether it made up its shortfall from the year before. If it did not, it could owe a penalty tax equal to 30 percent of the remaining shortfall from 2022.


Some of the money that the Musk Foundation did give away during those years went to groups with no obvious connection to Mr. Musk’s businesses.


The foundation, for instance, gave $112 million to the XPRIZE Foundation, to honor researchers who remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and oceans. It gave $10 million to the University of Texas to study human population trends — a matter of concern to Mr. Musk, who has said he fears Earth’s population could collapse. That gift was first reported by Bloomberg.


But other grants landed close to Mr. Musk’s own interests.


The Musk Foundation, for instance, gave $5 million to a United Nations program that helps countries identify rural schools that need internet access. In at least two cases, those countries then became Mr. Musk’s customers, connecting their schools with his Starlink satellite service.


One of the biggest gifts helped one of SpaceX’s customers: Jared Isaacman, a Pennsylvania billionaire, who chartered a trip to orbit on a SpaceX rocket in 2021. Mr. Isaacman said the flight would raise $200 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital by raffling off one of the four seats on the flight. (Mr. Isaacman declined to say at the time how much he paid for the seats he reserved except that he planned to raise far more for charity than he spent.)


But when Mr. Isaacman touched down on Earth, the mission’s Twitter account said it was still short of his $200 million goal.


“Count me in for $50M,” Mr. Musk tweeted back. The Musk Foundation eventually paid $55 million, its largest donation that year.


A few months later, Mr. Isaacman announced he would pay SpaceX for three more spaceflights. He declined to answer questions about the flights or Mr. Musk’s donation.


Experts on nonprofit law said there appeared to be nothing illegal about that gift, because it did not involve the Musk Foundation paying Mr. Musk or his customer directly.


But Kathleen Enright, the president of the Council on Foundations, said she would have advised Mr. Musk to recuse himself from this decision — and let the other members of the foundation’s board decide whether to give. She said that would ensure that Mr. Musk was not letting the needs of his business control the actions of his foundation, which is supposed to be an independent entity with its own charitable goals.


“It’s not his checkbook,” Ms. Enright said. “It’s not a private, family-owned company. It’s a charitable organization.”


Money for Texas


Starting in late 2020, Mr. Musk began to shift his business operations from California to Texas, and his charities followed.


The Ad Astra School, which had educated some SpaceX employees’ children, moved to a location near the company’s launch site in South Texas. At first, it seemed to be open to the public, according to an archived version of its website from last year.


But that website disappeared. And the Ad Astra campus was placed behind the security gates of a SpaceX-owned compound. At the campus today, there is no sign of a school, only a security guard in a pickup truck and signs that say “Private Property. No Trespassing.”


Mr. Musk has also given $100 million from his foundation to a startup Texas charity called “The Foundation,” which says it wants to start schools and eventually a university.


The donation moved money out of the Musk Foundation, helping it get closer to reaching that 5 percent minimum donation. But it did not move the money out of Mr. Musk’s orbit: the new charity is run by Mr. Birchall, the head of his family office, and two leaders at Mr. Musk’s accounting firm.


Land records show that the new charity used a shell company to purchase a 40-acre plot of land near Bastrop, Texas. The land is two minutes from a 110-home subdivision that one of Mr. Musk’s companies, a tunneling startup called The Boring Company, is building for its own workers. Online job postings indicate they are planning to open a new Ad Astra School there this summer. The new charity’s leaders declined to answer questions from The Times.


In South Texas, Mr. Musk also used his foundation to rebuild SpaceX’s reputation after the 2021 rocket explosion.


A few days before the blast, Mr. Musk had gone to the office of the top elected official in Cameron County, Eddie Treviño Jr., a Democrat, to complain. Mr. Musk felt the county, home to SpaceX’s Boca Chica launch complex, was taking too long to approve permits and other requests.


Mr. Treviño recounted replying that SpaceX needed to do more to help the impoverished community. “I didn’t specifically say ‘Give us X,’” meaning a specific amount of money, Mr. Treviño said. “But I said, ‘Help me raise this community.’”


But after the explosion, the donations Mr. Treviño had requested began to flow.


But the money didn’t come from SpaceX. Instead, it came from the Musk Foundation.


The foundation paid local schools at least $18 million, which they used to buy everything from classroom laptops to pop-up planetariums to tools for teaching welding to adults. “Some of those adult learners are now working at SpaceX,” said Nereida “Nellie” Cantu, the top official in the Brownsville school district.


The foundation also paid to fix up Brownsville’s dusty downtown. The result was to provide more upscale restaurants — like Le Rêve, Brownsville’s first French bistro — at a time when Mr. Musk was trying to entice employees to move there.


Without any staff to handle the South Texas donations, Mr. Musk deputized Igor Kurganov — a friend and former professional poker player who was never listed as an employee of the foundation — as a liaison. Mr. Kurganov often drilled local officials on the smallest details, like the color of the lights on a Christmas display paid for by the foundation: “‘cool white’ strikes me as suboptimal.”


Mr. Kurganov, who left the Musk Foundation in 2022, did not respond to requests for comment. Brownsville’s mayor said that, so far, Mr. Musk’s foundation has only given about $4.5 million of the $10 million he promised in 2021 for downtown beautification.


But if Mr. Musk’s goal was to improve his company’s public image in Brownsville, the donations appear to have helped.


“He’s given to every organization that exists here in Brownsville, from our homeless shelters to the city of Brownsville to our school children — almost anything I can ever think of,” Jessica Tetreau, a member of the city commission, said in a video filmed outside Mr. Musk’s rocket launch headquarters.


A fresh mural in Brownsville’s downtown depicts the city’s old landmarks — the cathedral, the zoo, the Gulf of Mexico beach — alongside a new one: SpaceX’s rocket complex.


The name of the charity that helped pay for the mural is listed at the bottom left: The Musk Foundation.