Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, May 29, 2024


Worldwide Prayer/Good Energy Day for Leonard Peltier


Sunday, June 9, 2024, the day before Leonard's parole hearing, we ask people everywhere to do prayers, good energy, reiki, healing, gatherings, vigils, poems, songs – to help Leonard feel good, get the care he needs, and get out of prison.  


Please invite your networks, faith communities, families, comrades, children, and elders to participate on June 9th!  

Consider praying and supporting Leonard now, too. 


Leonard Peltier (Chippewa and Dakota/Lakota) is an Indigenous Political Prisoner of War. Targeted for his work in the American Indian Movement, he has been in prison for 48+years. His 80th birthday is Sept 12, 2024. Leonard has many serious and painful ailments which are not being treated in federal prison.  


“I would like to go home to spend what years I have left with my great-grandkids and my people.” Leonard Peltier


More info: freeleonardpeltiernow.org and 707-442-7465




Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org



9:00 A.M. 

Location: MECA office, 1101 8th St, Berkeley, CA 94710

Join us Sunday, July 21 for our Third Annual Ride for Palestine, a day of solidarity along the 14-mile scenic San Francisco Bay. The ride is designed to be enjoyable for cyclists of all skill levels and the post-Ride event, Gather for Gaza will include delicious Palestinian food, music, dancing, and more.


All funds raised this year will support MECA’s emergency work in Gaza–where the situation is dire and your support is more important than ever. Thanks to the efforts of our community, MECA’s 2022 and 2023 Rides for Palestine were a huge success, together raising more than $125,000 in support of our ongoing work in Palestine.


Help us reach our 2024 Ride for Palestine goal of $150,000 by registering today:



With your support, we can deliver food and other necessities and send a powerful message of solidarity to Gaza.


Ride for Palestinian children. Ride for solidarity. Ride for Gaza.


If you're not in the Bay Area or are not available July 21 but would like to participate you can register at a discounted rate as a Virtual Participant and ride, walk, swim, or even bake cookies for Palestine–you can decide what your fundraising activity looks like. Check out our Ride from Anywhere page to learn more.


Ride from anywhere:



Get involved in this year’s event at RideforPalestine.com and feel free to reach out to the MECA team by emailing us at info@rideforpalestine.com. 


#GatherforGaza #RideforPalestine #MECAforPeace



Greetings to U.S. students from Gaza: "Thank you students in Solidarity with Gaza, your message has reached.” May 1, 2024 (Screenshot)

‘Operation al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 234:


The total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 35,984, with 80,643 wounded.*  

More than 520 Palestinians have been killed and 4,600 wounded by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**  

—Israel lowers its estimated October 7 death toll from 1,400 to 1,139—636 Israeli soldiers killed since ground invasion, 3,568 wounded***

Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel on May 26,2024. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

** The death toll in West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to PA’s Ministry of Health on May 26, 2024—this is the latest figure.

*** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” The number of Israeli soldiers wounded, according to Israeli media reports, exceeds 6,800 as of April 1.

Source: mondoweiss.net




Boris Kagarlitsky is in Prison!

On February 13, the court overturned the previous decision on release and sent Boris Kagarlitsky to prison for five years.

Petition in Support of Boris Kagarlitsky

We, the undersigned, were deeply shocked to learn that on February 13 the leading Russian socialist intellectual and antiwar activist Dr. Boris Kagarlitsky (65) was sentenced to five years in prison.

Dr. Kagarlitsky was arrested on the absurd charge of 'justifying terrorism' in July last year. After a global campaign reflecting his worldwide reputation as a writer and critic of capitalism and imperialism, his trial ended on December 12 with a guilty verdict and a fine of 609,000 roubles.

The prosecution then appealed against the fine as 'unjust due to its excessive leniency' and claimed falsely that Dr. Kagarlitsky was unable to pay the fine and had failed to cooperate with the court. In fact, he had paid the fine in full and provided the court with everything it requested.

On February 13 a military court of appeal sent him to prison for five years and banned him from running a website for two years after his release.

The reversal of the original court decision is a deliberate insult to the many thousands of activists, academics, and artists around the world who respect Dr. Kagarlitsky and took part in the global campaign for his release. The section of Russian law used against Dr. Kagarlitsky effectively prohibits free expression. The decision to replace the fine with imprisonment was made under a completely trumped-up pretext. Undoubtedly, the court's action represents an attempt to silence criticism in the Russian Federation of the government's war in Ukraine, which is turning the country into a prison.

The sham trial of Dr. Kagarlitsky is the latest in a wave of brutal repression against the left-wing movements in Russia. Organizations that have consistently criticized imperialism, Western and otherwise, are now under direct attack, many of them banned. Dozens of activists are already serving long terms simply because they disagree with the policies of the Russian government and have the courage to speak up. Many of them are tortured and subjected to life-threatening conditions in Russian penal colonies, deprived of basic medical care. Left-wing politicians are forced to flee Russia, facing criminal charges. International trade unions such as IndustriALL and the International Transport Federation are banned and any contact with them will result in long prison sentences.

There is a clear reason for this crackdown on the Russian left. The heavy toll of the war gives rise to growing discontent among the mass of working people. The poor pay for this massacre with their lives and wellbeing, and opposition to war is consistently highest among the poorest. The left has the message and resolve to expose the connection between imperialist war and human suffering.

Dr. Kagarlitsky has responded to the court's outrageous decision with calm and dignity: “We just need to live a little longer and survive this dark period for our country,” he said. Russia is nearing a period of radical change and upheaval, and freedom for Dr. Kagarlitsky and other activists is a condition for these changes to take a progressive course.

We demand that Boris Kagarlitsky and all other antiwar prisoners be released immediately and unconditionally.

We also call on the authorities of the Russian Federation to reverse their growing repression of dissent and respect their citizens' freedom of speech and right to protest.

Sign to Demand the Release of Boris Kagarlitsky


The petition is also available on Change.org



*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




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 “Why?” (Henry CrowDog)

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



Daniel Hale UPDATE:  


In February Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale was transferred from the oppressive maximum-security prison in Marion, Illinois to house confinement.  We celebrate his release from Marion.  He is laying low right now, recovering from nearly 3 years in prison.  Thank goodness he is now being held under much more humane conditions and expected to complete his sentence in July of this year.     www.StandWithDaniel Hale.org


More Info about Daniel:


“Drone Whistleblower Subjected To Harsh Confinement Finally Released From Prison” 



“I was punished under the Espionage Act. Why wasn’t Joe Biden?”  by Daniel Hale




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) Newborn babies, doctors and patients are trapped at a hospital in northern Gaza.

By Anushka Patil, May 22, 2024


A hospital room with damage to its ceiling, walls and equipment carts.

Damaged medical supplies in Al Awda Hospital, in March, in a video still from the World Health Organization. Credit...World Health Organization, via Reuters

Surrounded by the sound of bombs, with terrified patients huddled far from windows, fuel running low and clean water gone, the acting director of Al Awda Hospital, one of the last hospitals in northern Gaza, said he was grappling with a grim sense of déjà vu.


“Nobody can move, nobody can be close to the windows,” said Dr. Mohammad Salha, the acting director. During an 18-day siege at Al Awda in December, three medical workers were shot and killed through the windows.


Since Sunday, about 150 people — including doctors, injured patients and infants, two of them born just days ago — have been trapped inside Al Awda, Dr. Salha said, amid a renewed Israeli offensive in the north.


The hospital was effectively besieged by Israeli forces, Dr. Salha said in a phone interview and voice messages. People inside the hospital are unable to leave, outside help cannot reach them and ambulances cannot respond to calls to bring in the injured.


Doctors Without Borders, which has staff members in the area, reported that the hospital was surrounded by tanks on Monday. An emergency medical team deployed at the hospital by the World Health Organization was forced to relocate on May 13 because of “intensified hostilities,” the head of the organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on social media on Tuesday, in an appeal for the protection of the remaining patients and staff.


The Israeli military declined to comment on its military operations around Al Awda.


The dire conditions at the hospital are part of a pattern that has played out repeatedly across the Gaza Strip over more than seven months of war. Israeli forces have surrounded and raided hospital after hospital, claiming they are being used by Hamas fighters. Israeli soldiers have returned to raid some hospitals a second time in response to what the military said was a resurgent Hamas presence.


In December, Israeli forces surrounded Al Awda Hospital for nearly two weeks, then sent troops inside, killing several people and detaining others for interrogation, according to Doctors Without Borders, whose staff members were among those detained.


The hospital’s director, Dr. Ahmed Muhanna, was one of those taken into Israeli custody and his whereabouts remain unknown, according to ActionAid, a nongovernmental organization that supports the hospital. Dr. Salha has since been leading the hospital staff in his place.


The former head of orthopedics at Al-Shifa Hospital, Dr. Adnan Ahmad Albursh, was also detained in December at Al Awda, where he had been working. He died in Israeli custody, Palestinian officials and rights groups said earlier this month.


With no one able to enter or exit Al Awda, the doctors and patients have gathered in interior rooms and corridors in an effort to protect themselves from gunfire and shelling that is hitting the exterior walls, Dr. Salha said.


He said four infants were among those trapped at the hospital — two were delivered by C-section on May 18, and two others are the children of nurses at the hospital.


On Monday, there were roughly three days of fuel left and no clean water, Dr. Salha said. The people trapped inside are “very afraid,” he said.


The only other major hospital that was still partially functioning in the north, Kamal Adwan, was struck several times on Tuesday, according to witnesses, Gaza health officials and the W.H.O. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the strikes.


Like Al Awda, Kamal Adwan was raided by Israeli forces in December, and it has since become a critical facility for treating malnourished children in the north.


Footage from Reuters showed people evacuating the area around the hospital on Tuesday, some wearing white medical coats and others being wheeled out on gurneys. The hospital director, Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya, told the news agency that after the entrance to the emergency department was bombed, missiles kept coming, preventing medics from reaching the victims.


“The situation is catastrophic,” he said.


Ameera Harouda contributed reporting.



2) Israeli Forces Push Deeper Into Rafah

By Matthew Mpoke Bigg, May 23, 2024


A small fire and pedestrians on a debris-strewn street.

On the streets of Rafah on Monday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Israel’s military said on Thursday that it was fighting in neighborhoods near the heart of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, apparently expanding its campaign against Hamas in a week when Israel has faced mounting diplomatic and legal pressure over its  war effort.


The fighting came as the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the top court of the United Nations, said it would respond on Friday to a South African petition for the court to order an immediate halt to the ground assault in Rafah. The court has no means of enforcing its orders, but a call for Israel to rein in its offensive would be the latest setback to the country on the international stage.


The Israeli military said Thursday that it was operating in the Brazil and Shaboura areas of Rafah, which are roughly halfway between Israel’s southwestern border and the Mediterranean coast. When Israel’s push into Rafah began on May 6, the military said it was carrying out a limited operation against Hamas battalions in the city, which lies along Gaza’s border with Egypt.


Israeli troops were “continuing operational activity in specific areas of Rafah,” the military said in a statement, adding that it was “making every effort to prevent harm to civilians” and moving in “after the civilian population in the area was evacuated.”


Around 815,000 people have already left Rafah as a result of the fighting and Israeli warnings to flee, the United Nations said this week, amounting to well over half the number of Palestinians who had crowded into the city in recent months to escape fighting elsewhere in Gaza.


Israeli forces had dismantled several tunnels and killed fighters in “close-quarters encounters,” the military said. It was not possible to independently verify Israel’s account of the fighting. Hamas did not immediately comment on the fighting on Thursday.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has said that an assault on Rafah was essential to defeating remaining Hamas battalions and dismantling the group’s infrastructure in Gaza, including tunnels beneath the city. Israel also wants to destroy tunnels running from Gaza into Egypt beneath a buffer strip on the southern edge of the territory. Israeli forces are advancing along the buffer strip, known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor, according to the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. The Israeli military said it would not comment on the location of its forces.


President Biden has warned Mr. Netanyahu against launching a large military operation in Rafah without a plan for its civilian population, including the more than one million people who moved there to escape bombardment and fighting elsewhere.


Most of the Palestinians who have fled Rafah in recent weeks have moved to a zone that includes the cities of Khan Younis and Deir al Balah and the coastal village of Al-Mawasi. The Israeli authorities said they had set up and equipped humanitarian zones for displaced people.


Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the main U.N. agency that aids Palestinians, UNRWA, said this week that the areas newly displaced people were arriving in were desperately overcrowded and lack the “minimal conditions to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe and dignified manner.”


Gaza’s Ministry of Health said that more than 100 people had been killed in Gaza between Monday and Wednesday, and that hundreds of others had been wounded. It was not possible to corroborate the figures independently.


The Israeli military also said it was operating in central Gaza and in Jabaliya in northern Gaza. Israel withdrew its forces from much of the territory earlier in the year but has returned to parts of northern and central Gaza to fight what it says are attempts by Hamas to reconstitute its forces there.


International attention has focused this week on announcements by Norway, Spain and Ireland that they would recognize an independent Palestinian state, and on a decision by the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on Monday to seek arrest warrants for leaders of both Israel and Hamas for war crimes.


Israel has denounced those moves and said it would press on with its campaign to eliminate Hamas.


But some military analysts have raised questions about whether Israel’s military operation in Rafah can deal a decisive blow to Hamas, saying that many of the group’s fighters, wary of engaging in a direct confrontation with a superior military force, had likely moved out of the city before the long-anticipated incursion began.



3) The protest at U.C.L.A. culminated in a violent attack by counterprotesters. Here’s what happened.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, May 23, 2024


Pro-Palestinian demonstrators and counterprotesters clashed on the campus of University of California, Los Angeles, on April 25. Credit...Mark Abramson for The New York Times

The protest at the University of California, Los Angeles, against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza was among the most high-profile demonstrations in recent weeks, resulting in the police making more arrests than on any other campus since mid-April.


After students set up an encampment on April 25, the campus saw several tense moments that culminated in an attack on the demonstrators and more than 200 arrests of protesters who refused to leave.


As the encampment grew, pro-Israel groups gathered to counter the pro-Palestinian message, and the two sides had several heated exchanges.


There were videos showing a pro-Israel, Jewish student being blocked by protesters from entering an area around the encampment, as well as one of a pro-Israel woman who said she lost consciousness after being shoved to the ground. (It was not clear from videos of that encounter how she fell.)


The university declared the encampment illegal on April 30, and hours later, a group of people attacked the pro-Palestinian protesters. Some people in the counterprotest wore clothing with pro-Israel slogans and played the Israeli national anthem. They tore away metal barricades, shot fireworks into the encampment, and punched, kicked and hit people with makeshift weapons.


The police did not intervene in the melee for several hours. Eventually, officers with the Los Angeles Police Department and the California Highway Patrol got in between the two groups. The slow response is now the subject of an inquiry by a police consulting group hired by U.C.L.A.


The next night, the university called in the police to arrest protesters. None of the counterprotesters who attacked the encampment have been arrested, but the university is investigating the attack.


On May 5, the university chancellor, Gene Block, announced that he was creating a new Office of Campus Safety and naming a former Sacramento police chief to lead it. The university also temporarily reassigned its campus police chief this week.


Dr. Block has faced criticism that he allowed the encampment to flourish for too long and did not respond forcefully enough to allegations of antisemitism. Some have also said that the university did not effectively protect students from the counterprotesters’ attack and should not have sent the police to make arrests.


Dr. Block was the subject of two resolutions by the university’s academic senate that sought to rebuke him largely over his handling of the attack. The group voted against both resolutions on Friday.



4) Top U.N. Court Orders Israel to End Rafah Operation

By Gaya Gupta, May 24, 2024


A house hit overnight by an Israeli bombardment in Rafah on Monday. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The International Court of Justice on Friday ruled that Israel must immediately halt its ground assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, dealing another blow to the country as it faces increasing international isolation.


The court has no means of enforcing its orders, and hard-line politicians in Israel immediately vowed that Israel would not comply. But the ruling puts more pressure on the Netanyahu government over the conduct of the war. Gazan authorities say at least 35,000 people have been killed, without distinguishing between combatants and civilians, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to flee repeatedly to avoid the Israeli bombardment, which has devastated most of the enclave.


“The court considers that in conformity with obligations under the Genocide Convention, Israel must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governorate which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” the court’s president, Nawaf Salam, said in reading the ruling.


The ruling was the latest in a series of rebukes of Israel over the conduct of its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.


In the last week, the chief prosecutor for a separate court, the International Criminal Court, announced that he was seeking arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister on charges of crimes against humanity, alongside three leaders of Hamas; three European countries announced that they would recognize a Palestinian state; and Israel backed down on seizing equipment from The Associated Press after an international backlash.


A South African legal team had urged the I.C.J., the United Nations’ top court, last week to put further constraints on Israel’s incursion there, saying it was “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its people.”


Israel has said that its operation in Rafah, from which more than 800,000 people have fled since the incursion began two weeks ago, is a precise operation to target Hamas. The country’s military said on Thursday that it was fighting in neighborhoods near the heart of the city, where half of the territory’s population had been sheltering before the Israeli military ordered mass evacuations there.


Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, Gilad Noam, and other Israeli lawyers rejected the claims before the court last Friday, calling South Africa’s case an “inversion of reality.” He called Israel’s incursion into Rafah a “limited and localized” operation prefaced with evacuations. Another Israeli legal adviser, Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, said that hundreds of trucks carrying humanitarian supplies had entered Kerem Shalom last week.


Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, did not immediately comment on the decision. Mr. Netanyahu would shortly hold an emergency consultation with other top government officials to discuss how to move forward, his office said in a statement.


Some of his right-wing allies were quick both to denounce the move and that Israel would not comply. Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right Israeli national security minister, said Israel ought to fully discard the judges’ order. “There ought to be one response: the conquest of Rafah, the escalation of military pressure, and the utter shattering of Hamas until the achievement of total victory,” he said in a statement.


The South African team had also argued that Israel’s control over the two major border crossings in southern Gaza, at Rafah and Kerem Shalom, was preventing enough aid from getting in, plunging Gaza into “unprecedented levels of humanitarian need.” Few aid trucks are entering, according to U.N. data, but dozens of commercial trucks — which carry goods to sell rather than to distribute freely — have entered the enclave from the Kerem Shalom crossing.


The hearings are part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide, which it filed in December. In late January, the court ordered Israel to do more to prevent acts of genocide, but it stopped short of calling for a cease-fire. The main case, dealing with the accusation of genocide, is not expected to start until next year. Israel has denied claims that it is committing genocide.


In March, in its strongest language to that point, the court ordered Israel to stop obstructing humanitarian aid to Gaza as severe hunger there spreads, calling for Israel to increase the number of land crossings for supplies and provide its “full cooperation” with the United Nations.


Judge Salam said that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated since March, and was now “to be characterized as disastrous.”


The court emphasized the need for “the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance,” including maintaining open land crossings and in particular, the Rafah crossing, which Israel has seized for more than two weeks. It also requested Israel to submit a report to the court on all measures taken to address this point within one month.


Israel launched its military operation in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attacks that officials say killed 1,200 people and led to the abduction of about 250 others into Gaza.



5) As Rafah Offensive Grinds On, Hunger in Gaza Spirals

Aid officials and health experts expect famine this month unless Israel lifts barriers to aid, the fighting stops and vital services are restored.

By Vivian Yee, Bilal Shbair and Matthew Mpoke Bigg, May 24, 2024

“Israeli inspectors have filled an entire warehouse in Egypt with rejected items, according to aid officials and others, including two U.S. senators, who have seen the warehouse. Those include water purification tablets, solar panels, wheelchairs, oxygen machines and tent poles, they said, adding that food easily passed inspection.”


A man stirring a giant pot of stew as a group of adults and children watch.

Waiting for rations from an outdoor kitchen in Khan Younis this month. Hunger is now most acute in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For weeks, the Gaza Strip’s southernmost city, Rafah, was one of the few places where desperate Gazans could find some aid and food. Bakeries sold bread; fuel powered generators; markets were open, if expensive.


But since Israeli forces began an incursion in the city this month — effectively closing the two main crossings where aid enters — Rafah has become a place of fear and dwindling supplies. Bakeries have shuttered. So have malnutrition treatment centers. The price of the firewood that many people now use to cook has doubled. Tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers have grown so expensive that they are sold by the piece, not by the kilogram.


Families hide what canned goods they still have. They eye their emptying sacks of flour, calculating how long they will last.


“There’s always something missing in the tent,” said Ahmed Abu al-Kas, 51, who is sheltering in Rafah with his family. “If we have bread, we don’t have water. If we have firewood, we don’t have some basic vegetables.”


For months, international aid officials and health experts have warned that famine will come for Gaza unless Israel lifts barriers keeping most humanitarian aid out, the fighting stops and vital services such as health care and clean water, which must be in place to fend off malnutrition, are restored.


None of those conditions have been met.


If anything, circumstances have become worse in some places. Little fuel is entering to power the aid operations, hospitals or municipal services. Hundreds of thousands of people have fled Rafah for burned-out buildings and fields farther north, where they have little water or medical care. Buckets serve as latrines. Trash piles up, and families burn it to cook.


Though international aid agencies cannot officially declare whether Gaza meets the technical threshold for famine until more data is collected, the head of the U.N. World Food Program has already said famine has arrived. Even if the floodgates open to aid tomorrow, malnutrition experts say many more people will die — from starvation, or from diseases as simple as diarrhea because their bodies are so weak and medical care is so scant.


“We have never ever seen anything like this anywhere in the planet,” said Janti Soeripto, the president and chief executive of Save the Children U.S.


Usually, aid groups explain, humanitarian crises affect a portion of the population, not everyone. In Gaza, “it is really the entirety of the population” that is under threat, “not just a subset,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International.


Despite mounting pressure to withdraw, Israel says it must fight in Rafah to dismantle Hamas infrastructure, including tunnels that Israel says enable smuggling from Egypt to Gaza, and to defeat Hamas battalions there. Around 815,000 people have already fled Rafah, and more are likely to do so as Israel expands its campaign to the heart of the city.


‘It’s already very, very late’


Even before the Rafah operation, aid agencies said the amount of aid entering Gaza fell far short of what was needed. Before the war, around 500 aid trucks passed daily through Kerem Shalom and Rafah, the two main crossings into Gaza. But that figure has fallen by around 75 percent since Oct. 7 to around 119 trucks daily, according to United Nations data.


Aid officials and many donor governments, among them the United States, have blamed Israel for tightly restricting aid, including by blocking essential items and imposing a byzantine assortment of security restrictions at nearly every stage of the process. Delays have also come from Egypt, where most of the aid is collected before being sent on to Gaza.


The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor requested arrest warrants on Monday for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister, accusing them of using starvation as a weapon of war, among other allegations. He also requested warrants for top Hamas leaders, on charges of crimes against humanity. Neither set of warrants has been issued.


Israel says it is doing its part, arguing that it must thoroughly screen cargo for anything Hamas fighters could use. It says enough aid is entering Gaza and has blamed aid groups for not distributing it faster to civilians — a charge aid officials reject, saying Israeli forces have made it exceedingly difficult to do so.


Israel said on Tuesday that it had inspected and sent 450 trucks through Kerem Shalom on that day alone, faulting aid agencies for not delivering their contents. But aid officials said the pileup amounted to little more than political theater, since the fighting on the Gazan side made it impossible to collect the supplies.


In the meantime, people are dying.


And by the time famine is declared, “it’s already very, very late, and there’s already going to be widespread death,” said Kiersten Johnson, who directs the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a U.S. government program that tracks hunger in global crises.


“We should not wait for an official famine declaration” to flood Gaza with aid, she said.


Though some food has arrived through three northern crossings into Gaza, it has not filled the gap left by the two southern crossings, Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N.’s humanitarian coordination agency, said last week.


The U.N. World Food Program said that 59 aid trucks had been delivered to warehouses in Gaza as of Wednesday from a U.S.-built temporary pier, and that, to the program’s knowledge, all the contents arrived intact. However, Palestinians intercepted and emptied 11 other trucks that were traveling through the central region of Gaza, the agency said.


“If the crossings stay closed, goods will be scarce and prices will go up insanely,” said Nidal Kuhail, 30, a Gaza resident who has been sheltering in Rafah, noting that he no longer saw aid trucks rolling into the city. “The suffering will increase at every level and we won’t find anything to eat or drink.”


The World Health Organization said this month that 58 children with severe acute malnutrition had been admitted to special treatment centers in Gaza. But since the Rafah operation began, many such centers have closed, while new ones slated to open in northern Gaza have been suspended, the United Nations said.


The Rafah crossing’s closure has also prevented most aid workers and volunteers from entering to reinforce Gaza’s exhausted medical corps and to repair water and sanitation systems.


Some fresh food is entering northern Gaza, where fears of a famine had been strongest. Residents interviewed last week reported seeing canned food, vegetables and flour in local markets. In recent days, trucks have also carried commercial goods into southern Gaza, filling markets with a wide variety of foods, said a U.N. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to do so publicly.


But the war has left many Gazans without means to buy, especially when prices are far higher than they were before the war and have risen further since the Rafah operation. Two shekels once bought three cans of chickpeas but now cover only one, said Mahmoud Marzouq, 29, a Gaza City resident. And because there are often only a few A.T.M.s operating across Gaza, there is little cash to pay with.


Without free aid, people in the south are now facing the same kinds of dire shortages as those in the north contended with for months.


“I’m afraid it will be our turn this time,” said Manal Hijji, 46, who is sheltering in Rafah. “Less money and less food, plus the crossings being closed for longer, is the quickest way to real starvation.”


So when the United Nations distributed canned goods last week, Ms. Hijji hid as many of them as she could under a pile of clothes and bedding, lest her grandchildren go hungry.


Malnourished people are more vulnerable


After seven months of undernourishment, it will take much longer for Gazans to recover now than it would have in the early days of the war, Dr. Johnson said.


“It’s not like people are starving and they eat a good, high-calorie meal and then they’re fine,” said Bushra Khalidi, a policy adviser at Oxfam, an aid group working in Gaza. “You need vitamins, you need supplements, you need a doctor, you need a health care system that works.”


Malnourished people are more vulnerable to diseases picked up from an environment where much of the water is contaminated, sewage systems broken down and trash pickup nonexistent — and most of the health care system too overwhelmed to treat any but the worst injuries.


All those elements require aid. But the aid effort confronts overbearing security restrictions and political roadblocks in both Israel and Egypt, aid officials say.


Cairo considers the region bordering Gaza highly sensitive. It has barred the United Nations from setting up a full-fledged logistics hub and kept aid groups from importing necessary security gear. Egypt has also allowed a tangle of aid channels to sprout, fostering chaos and inefficiency, said aid officials and diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters freely.


But Egypt says the flow of aid is ultimately on Israel, holding it “solely responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe” in Gaza, the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, said in a statement last week.


Israeli inspectors have filled an entire warehouse in Egypt with rejected items, according to aid officials and others, including two U.S. senators, who have seen the warehouse. Those include water purification tablets, solar panels, wheelchairs, oxygen machines and tent poles, they said, adding that food easily passed inspection.


Only this month did Israel circulate a list of items requiring extra scrutiny, according to Ms. Khalidi, who provided the list to The New York Times. Until then, aid officials say, inspectors sometimes rejected an item one day and allowed it the next without explanation. A single barred item can send the entire truck back for reloading and reinspection, they say.


Israeli officials say they must remove some items “to make sure there is nothing in there that Hamas could use to harm Israeli civilians,” said Shimon Freedman, a spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli military agency coordinating aid delivery. He said that rejections were “very rare” and that many rejected items eventually passed into Gaza. The list of screened items, he said, had not changed since the war began.


Israel has “substantially” increased inspection capacity, including by opening new aid crossings and inspection points and extending operating hours at existing ones, he said.


Aid officials dispute that Israel inspects trucks speedily. In March, trucks were taking an average of 20 days to move the 25 miles from the main Egyptian collection point into Gaza, according to Oxfam. Now that the southern crossings are effectively shut, more than 2,000 trucks are stuck in Egypt, 1,574 of which carry critical food items, the Egyptian Red Crescent has said.


“There’s a lot of aid and fuel waiting,” said Bob Kitchen, the vice president for emergencies at the International Rescue Committee. “It feels futile.”


Checkpoints last hours


Once aid convoys are inside Gaza, aid officials say, Israel often bars them from moving or holds them for hours at a checkpoint, sometimes preventing them from reaching their destination before dark, when they cannot operate. Israeli forces have also fired on aid vehicles and killed aid workers despite being informed in advance of their locations, and they have detained Palestinian truck drivers, leaving international aid workers to take the wheel, aid officials say.


Israel’s military has “taken multiple steps” to “enhance the protection of aid workers,” it said in a statement, including using new technology to identify aid vehicles at night. It said it reviews incidents in which it fires on aid groups.


As a result, the number of aid trucks reaching northern Gaza in April — more than 1,700 — was more than four times that in March, Mr. Freedman said.


Mr. Laerke, of the U.N., said the boost was insufficient and short-lived.


The Biden administration, which for the first time suspended arms transfers to Israel over the Rafah operation, has vocally pressed Israel and Egypt to coordinate on reopening the southern crossings.


Some Israelis have called for just that, including more than 80 Israelis who massed for a protest in Jerusalem last week to condemn recent attacks by ultranationalist Israelis on aid convoys.


But for Israeli policymakers, withholding aid may serve as leverage over those holding Israeli hostages as well as a tactic for depriving Hamas of supplies, said Einav Levy, the founding director of the Israeli School of Humanitarian Aid.


“If they are being fed and provided medical support, we are fueling our enemy,” he said.


Iyad Abuheweila, Abu Bakr Bashir, Patrick Kingsley and Natan Odenheimer contributed reporting.



6) Condemnation Slows, but Does Not Stall, Israel’s Assault on Rafah

Despite fierce criticism, Israel insists it must take control of Rafah and the border with Egypt to prevent future arms smuggling.

By Steven Erlanger, Isabel Kershner and Natan Odenheimer, Reporting from Jerusalem, May 25, 2024

"Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said after his trip last weekend to Israel that, so far, the Israeli Army was not violating American red lines in Rafah. ...Israel said publicly in mid-May that in and around Rafah it had already discovered some 700 tunnel shafts leading to 50 larger smuggling tunnels into Egypt. Mr. Michael said that the army had chosen not to blow up the tunnels yet because it would cause damage inside Egypt. For the same reason, he said, the army is not revealing photographs of the tunnels to try to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian government, which has in the past acted aggressively to find and destroy such tunnels."


Two people can be seen wearing black and walking along an otherwise deserted road.

A camp, once overwhelmed by displaced people from around Gaza and now mostly deserted, on Wednesday in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. Credit...Eyad Al-Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Despite an international court order to stop its assault on Rafah, Israel says it will continue its operation, trying to walk a line between not angering its American allies too much while trying to achieve strategic aims that it considers too important to abandon.


For now, after many weeks of admonitions from the White House, both the Israelis and the Americans are characterizing this as a “limited operation,” allowing the Israelis to proceed, though more slowly and cautiously than they had in other parts of Gaza.


But as the fighting pushes masses of panicked civilians toward areas near the sea with inadequate housing or medical aid, and the closing of the Rafah border crossing dims hope for speedy delivery of humanitarian aid, Israel’s critics abroad condemn the toll on civilians and are unconvinced by what the Israelis have called restraint.


On Friday, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately halt its offensive in Rafah, saying it endangered the civilian population there, but did not call for a complete cease-fire. Israel says it will not halt its military operation.


For Israel, taking Rafah and the border would effectively complete the reconquest of Gaza and could mean a move to a different phase of lower-intensity raids. Rafah has in and under it the last four relatively organized Hamas battalions, a major tunnel infrastructure and rocket launchers, the Israelis say. More important, Israel wants to try to seal the border with Egypt to reduce the smuggling of weapons for the future.


“The airstrikes are continuous and intense, and the smell of smoke doesn’t leave the air,” said Mohammad al-Masri, 31, an accountant who has been sheltering in a tent in Rafah for months. “At night, they advance a few meters at a time, and the people flee immediately.”


He spoke from western Rafah, where residents and other Gazans who took refuge there have not yet been ordered by the Israeli military to leave. Even so, all around him many of the tents that had been sheltering families for months are gone as people have fled elsewhere. “They shoot and bomb us constantly,” he said, “but what scares us the most are the drones.”


Israel’s military aims remain unaltered, however. It wants to secure the entire border with Egypt, destroy the smuggling tunnels that had fortified Hamas, dismantle the last Hamas battalions, bring its remaining hostages home and break Hamas’s administrative control over the entire Gaza Strip.


After months of delays, as negotiations over a cease-fire and a limited hostage exchange ebbed and flowed, Israel has put five brigades, the military has said — an estimated 10,000 troops — into the operation.


Israeli troops have concentrated initially on securing the border, which is lightly populated, circling around Rafah city and pressing the nearly one million people displaced from other parts of Gaza to move to areas that are supposed to be safer but where conditions remain dire.


Pushing slowly from the east, the Israeli military said on Thursday that troops were fighting in the neighborhoods of Brazil, near the border, and Al-Shaboura refugee camp, their deepest penetration into Rafah. But they insist that they have not yet tried to enter the central city, which in normal times has a population close to one million people.


Analysts say that the anger and warnings from the Biden administration and other close allies of Israel have had an effect in moderating Israeli tactics, even if the assault remains devastating.


In interviews, officers who have just left the fighting in Rafah say that Israel is moving more deliberately and that it is using less airpower and artillery, and fewer, smaller bombs, forcing Israeli soldiers to engage in urban guerrilla warfare with Hamas fighters.


With the Americans insisting that Israel evacuate civilians as much as possible from planned zones of operation, in the past two weeks, as many as one million panicked civilians have moved west toward the sea and safer areas, even if facilities to house, feed and care for them are inadequate.


An Israeli officer in the reserves, who has just returned from southern Gaza and is not authorized to speak to the news media, said that the military was using noticeably less air bombardment, and that troops were advancing slowly west in a pincer movement, with one division working near the border, and the other moving into Rafah’s outskirts.


The Biden administration had refused to support Israel’s move on Rafah unless it saw a credible plan to evacuate and protect civilians. Jake Sullivan, the national security adviser, said after his trip last weekend to Israel that, so far, the Israeli Army was not violating American red lines in Rafah.


“What we have seen so far in terms of Israel’s military operations in that area has been more targeted and limited, has not involved major military operations into the heart of dense urban areas,” Mr. Sullivan said. “We now have to see what unfolds from here. We will watch that, we will consider that, and we will see whether what Israel has briefed us and what they have laid out continues or something else happens.”


Israel insists it has heeded American criticism and is trying to warn civilians to move out of the way of the fighting. But even if the civilians are not in the line of fire, the threats to them remain grave with little or no aid crossing from Egypt.


Israel seized the Rafah crossing in what it said was a limited operation against Hamas, effectively closing it. Israel has said it would like to reopen it, but its move on Rafah was not sufficiently coordinated with Egypt, which has demanded that Israel abandon its attack and pull back from the crossing before it can be reopened.


Tamir Hayman, the executive director of the Institute for National Security Studies and a reserve major general and a former head of military intelligence from 2018 to 2021, said that Israeli negotiators misread their Egyptian counterparts and thought Cairo would not object so strongly to its takeover of the crossing. Cairo has now said it will join South Africa in petitioning the International Court of Justice to find Israel guilty of violating the Genocide Convention.


Some Hamas fighters are believed to be evacuating along with civilians, hoping to fight again in areas that Israel had conquered and then abandoned, as in Jabaliya, where renewed fighting is intense, said Kobi Michael, a senior researcher with the Institute for National Security Studies. The Israeli military’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said this past week that the army had killed 180 fighters in the Rafah area.


But Mr. Michael and Israeli officials agree that the four Hamas battalions still in Rafah are not as well trained as those in the north and are not an urgent problem. Strategically, it is far more important for Israel to seal the border with Egypt, Mr. Hayman said.


Despite Egyptian denials of any tolerance of smuggling into Gaza, Mr. Hayman said, Israeli intelligence believes that most of Hamas’s weapons and components came from Egypt, either through smuggling tunnels or through the crossing itself, often carefully hidden over the years in regular commercial truck traffic.


Israel said publicly in mid-May that in and around Rafah it had already discovered some 700 tunnel shafts leading to 50 larger smuggling tunnels into Egypt. Mr. Michael said that the army had chosen not to blow up the tunnels yet because it would cause damage inside Egypt.


For the same reason, he said, the army is not revealing photographs of the tunnels to try to avoid embarrassing the Egyptian government, which has in the past acted aggressively to find and destroy such tunnels.


Unless smuggling into Gaza from Egypt can be controlled, Israel argues, Hamas or another militant group would be able to resupply over time. But how the crossing can be reopened, and under whose auspices, remains one of those deeply political questions that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has refused to answer.


Mr. Netanyahu insists that Israel must dismantle Hamas’s military and administrative control over Gaza while refusing to engage with his allies and the Palestinian Authority, the main existing alternative to Hamas, about who will govern Gaza in the future and care for its citizens.


To many, that implies a lengthy Israeli military occupation that senior military officers have said they want to avoid.


Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the Israeli chief of staff, has been quoted as saying he does not want to see Israeli soldiers conducting traffic in Gaza, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has called on Mr. Netanyahu “to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza Strip.”


But in the broader picture, said Gabi Siboni, a reserve colonel and a fellow of the conservative-leaning Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, the main problem is that the army is only dealing with dismantling the Hamas military system and not the civilian one. Hamas’s control over the civilian sphere will be its launchpad for rebuilding its military, he said.


In his view, there is no alternative to an interim period of Israeli military rule in Gaza that could last several years.


Mr. Hayman said that while the military effort to take Rafah city at this pace could last another two to three weeks, the process of dismantling Hamas’s structures there could take much longer. “The choice is to withdraw or deepen your control and try to get Hamas underground,” he said. “You could stay there for years.”


But now, Mr. Hayman argues, the Rafah crossing could serve as a model or test case for governing Gaza. Israel, he suggested, could negotiate with Egypt and the United States and regional partners a deal whereby the Palestinian Authority takes at least symbolic sovereignty over Gaza’s side of the crossing. It could then invite the United Arab Emirates, for example, to help create a more efficient, faster border screening for people and for goods with U.S. assistance and technology.


A cooperative international architecture like that, he said, “could be a test case for all of Gaza, to be expanded over time, to answer the question of the day after.” But he stopped, then laughed. “These are just my dreams,” he said. “Nothing happens right now.”


Mr. Netanyahu and his far-right coalition allies have firmly rejected Palestinian Authority involvement in Gaza, he noted, and so far rejected the possibility of a regional solution to the war. “That is a great mistake,” Mr. Hayman said.


Raja Abdulrahim contributed reporting.



7) As Israel continues its Rafah offensive, some Gazans choose to stay.

By Raja Abdulrahim and Bilal Shbair, May 25, 2024

Two children stand on the back of a truck receiving bags from a man. Nearby a tent camp is visible.
Palestinians preparing to flee Rafah, in southern Gaza, earlier this month.Credit...Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Gazans have been uprooted time and again during the more than seven months of Israel’s invasion and bombardment. Facing the prospect of having to pack up and flee once more, some in Rafah are putting off leaving, at least for now.


More than 800,000 Palestinians have already fled the southern city of Rafah and its surrounding areas over the past three weeks as Israel presses a military offensive there, according to the United Nations. But many are holding on in what was once considered the safest place in the Gaza Strip, where more than a million had come to find shelter.


They are exhausted, hungry and know that the next place they flee to likely won’t be safe either. Israel has continued to bombard Gaza, even in areas previously designated as safe.


Israeli forces dropped leaflets ordering people to evacuate and launched a military offensive this month in the eastern part of Rafah, and they have been advancing yard-by-yard deeper into the city. The U.N.’s top court appears to have ordered Israel to stop its offensive, but Israel, so far, has signaled that it will continue.


Some in western Rafah are waiting to see what comes before getting out. Others have even fled and returned, having found neither safety nor the essentials of life elsewhere.


“The most despicable word I don’t like to say or hear is ‘displacement,’” 30-year-old Randa Naser Samoud, a math teacher from northern Gaza, said on Thursday as the Israeli military pushed toward the center of the city. “Evacuation means loss of value in life, so much suffering and pain.”


Along with her husband — a dentist — and their three children, Ms. Samoud has already been displaced four times. They are now living in a tent near a U.N. warehouse, and though their area has not received orders to evacuate, about three-quarters of the people around them have already fled.


As Ms. Samoud walked with one of her young sons on Thursday, she saw trucks on the street being loaded with the belongings of families preparing to flee.


“The topic of evacuation is not an easy thing to talk about or decide on,” she said. “I am always talking with my husband about the plans if needed but it’s still hard to decide.”


Her father suggested they move to a school building in one of the cities where many people had fled for shelter. But Ms. Samoud says that the schools-turned-shelters are not good options because of a lack of sanitation and garbage piling everywhere. She worries her children will get sick.


With each displacement, Gazans must start anew, as they often can’t take much with them. Transportation costs can be hundreds of dollars.


“The ultimate horrible thought on my mind is the moment that I have to escape my tent and leave everything I have collected or bought behind me,” she said, pointing to the clothes, dishes and food they have in their tent.


Ahlam Saeed Abu Riyala, 40, said that concerns about access to water have kept her and her family of eight in western Rafah after they were displaced four times.


For months, they have been living in a tent steps away from the Egyptian border — close enough to speak to the Egyptian soldiers on the other side. As Ms. Abu Riyala stood outside her tent speaking to a neighbor, a water truck nearby pumped out clean drinking water for the displaced people in the camp.


“We are now of two minds; I say we should evacuate Rafah before it is too late, but my husband says ‘no,’” she said. “But we cannot leave for many reasons, and water is the top priority.”


The sounds of Israel’s air and ground invasion keep them on edge. They can hear tanks and, at times, Israeli armed drones  that play the message “security” in Arabic or the sound of dogs barking, she said.


Even if they choose to leave, the cost of such a trek might be beyond their means.


“Mentally, physically and financially, I’m exhausted and fed up with the word “evacuation,” she said. “I hate my life and all of this suffering.”



8) Hamas Fires Rockets at Central Israel for First Time in Months

Israel’s military says the rockets came from Rafah, where its troops have been advancing.

By Aaron Boxerman, May 26, 2024


A man stands next to a police van and a plastic bag on the ground that appears to hold metal parts.

An Israeli police officer with the remains of a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, in Herzliya, Israel, on Sunday. Credit...Nir Elias/Reuters

Hamas launched a barrage of rockets at central Israel on Sunday afternoon, setting off air-raid sirens in the Tel Aviv area for the first time since at least late January, and showing that the group retains some long-range missile capabilities more than seven months into Israel’s war against the militant group in Gaza.


The Israeli military said at least eight rockets were fired from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where Israeli forces have been advancing in an operation against Hamas that has drawn global scrutiny. Over 800,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah in the face of the Israeli offensive, deepening the humanitarian crisis in the enclave, according to the United Nations.


Air defenses shot down “a number” of rockets, according to the Israeli military, and there were no immediate reports of major damage.


Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency service, said two women were lightly wounded as they fled to a bomb shelter. Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, took responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it came “in response to massacres against civilians.”


Israeli leaders have insisted for months that a large-scale ground operation in Rafah was necessary to root out the brigades of Hamas militants that remain in the city. The Biden administration, the United Nations and human rights groups have all expressed serious concern over the offensive, which they said threatened the safety of civilians sheltering there.


On Friday, the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah, although at least some of the court’s judges said limited operations could continue despite the decision.


The Israeli military said its troops continued to fight in and around Rafah over the weekend, engaging in firefights. And on Sunday, Israel’s defense minister visited the city, indicating that the military had no intention of stopping. Mr. Gallant received a situational assessment from troops there and was briefed on the “deepening of operations,” according to a statement from his office.


“Our goals in Gaza are emphasized here in Rafah — to destroy Hamas, return the hostages, and maintain freedom of operation,” he told troops, according to the statement.


Israeli politicians also said the rocket fire demonstrated the necessity of the Rafah offensive. Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, called the incident proof that “wherever Hamas is, the Israeli military must act.”


The rocket barrage briefly disrupted daily life in central Israel, where many people have settled into a kind of wartime routine. Thousands of Israelis called up for the military’s reserves in the aftermath of the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attacks have returned home, and rocket attacks have been largely aimed at communities close to the border with Gaza and with Lebanon.

Tel Aviv protests lead to arrests, and other news.


·      At least seven people were arrested in Tel Aviv on Saturday night as demonstrators protested against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel. Featuring a large banner that read “Crime Minister,” the demonstration added to the growing pressure on Mr. Netanyahu over his handling of the war in Gaza. Many in Israel are angry that he has not done more to bring home the more than 100 hostages believed to still be held in the enclave.


·      Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet who recently threatened to quit the government, said he was seeking to establish an independent commission to investigate Israel’s failure to stop the Hamas-led surprise attack on Oct. 7, as well as its conduct in the war. Under Mr. Gantz’s proposal, the commission would also probe whether Israeli military and political officials had acted in accordance with international law. Mr. Gantz said he had submitted his proposal for cabinet approval; it was unclear whether Mr. Netanyahu and his allies would back the move. A rival of Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Gantz has said he would leave Israel’s emergency wartime government unless the prime minister answered major questions about the future of the war.


·      Four U.S. Army vessels broke free of their moorings off the coast of Gaza on Saturday amid rough seas, the Pentagon said in a statement. Two of them were beached on the coast of Israel, near Ashkelon, and were being recovered with the help of the Israeli military. The other two were anchored on the beach near the temporary pier built by the U.S. military to help deliver aid to Palestinians in the war-torn enclave. The pier was still fully functional, the Pentagon said. The episode was the latest hiccup in the U.S. effort, which has struggled to increase the amount of aid getting into Gaza.


·      The Group of 7 finance ministers on Saturday called on Israel to preserve banking services between Israeli and Palestinian banks, arguing that “maintaining economic stability in the West Bank is also critical for regional security.” Meeting in Italy, the group also urged Israel to “remove or relax other measures that have negatively impacted commerce to avoid further exacerbating the economic situation in the West Bank.”



9) Foster Children Fight to Stop States From Taking Federal Benefits

A longstanding practice of using a child’s federal survivor and disability benefits to defray the cost of foster care is under scrutiny in Congress and statehouses.

By Michael Corkery, May 26, 2024


James Woods and his adoptive father, Wayne Stidham, both wearing white t-shirts, check on the chicken coop they are building.

James, left, and his adoptive father, Wayne Stidham, checking on the chicken coop they are building. Credit...Andri Tambunan for The New York Times

James Wood’s mother struggled with addiction, and he often found himself adrift, not knowing what day or month it was. “I didn’t understand how time worked,” he said.


When James was 14, his mother died of pneumonia, and he entered California’s foster care system. As a minor with a deceased parent and a disability, James was entitled to federal benefits, totaling $780 a month, some of which his mother had accrued during the years that she worked as a nurse.


But James never received the benefits. The government got the money instead, according to James and his adoptive father, Wayne Stidham.


It’s a longstanding practice for many states or counties to apply for the federal benefits of foster children, often without their knowledge, and then use the money to cover some of the costs of their care, according to legal advocates for children and congressional researchers.


Each year, roughly 27,000 foster children are entitled to these benefits because they have either lost a parent or have a disability. There are currently about 390,000 children in foster care in the United States.


“It’s wrong,” said James, who is now 16 and lives in Grass Valley, Calif., located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. “Foster kids could make plans for that money.”


The benefits, the advocates say, should be set aside to provide additional resources for the child like summer camp or art classes. And when the child leaves foster care, they say, the money could be used to pay for college or for a security deposit to rent an apartment.


Some state and county officials say the federal funds are being used to benefit the children and that if money is left over, the child receives the funds upon aging out of foster care.


A spokeswoman for the health and human services department of Placer County, Calif., which oversaw James’s foster care, declined to comment on his situation, but said the county is required by the state to apply for the federal funds and use them for the “benefit of that individual child, which includes food, shelter, clothing, medical care and personal comfort items.”


But this practice, which was been previously brought to light by advocates at Children’s Advocacy Institute and journalists at The Marshall Project and NPR, is increasingly being questioned in courts, in Congress and by officials in the Biden administration. Many states have also been changing their laws to ensure that at least some of the children’s money is conserved.


“We see state agencies trying to fund themselves off the backs of the very children they are supposed to serve,” said Amy Harfeld, national policy director of the Children’s Advocacy Institute, which works to improve quality of life and protections for foster care youth. “It is outrageous.”


In a statement, the Social Security Administration said this week that a child’s federal benefits must be spent on their “current needs and maintenance" and that if there was money left over, the state “must conserve the remaining funds for the child’s future use.”


The agency added that it had recently issued a letter reminding state foster systems “how to use and conserve S.S.A. benefits and to offer them assistance in complying with our requirements.”


Ms. Harfeld, who started pushing to change these practices 15 years ago, said that in many cases, the money never gets conserved by states.


She added that children whose federal benefits are collected by the state receive the same foster care services as those who do not receive the benefit.


“There is no such thing as foster care plus,” Ms. Harfeld said. “The only distinction is that some children are being charged for their care while all the other kids are having their care paid for by the state.”


The practice reflects the scattershot ways that states have historically paid for foster care. In the 19th century, a mix of private and religious groups and some state agencies provided boarding services for the care of foster children.


Even as foster care came to be managed by state and county governments in the 20th century, federal policymakers were reluctant to allocate too much money to these systems for fear that some people might become foster parents simply for the money, said Catherine Rymph, a dean and professor at the University of Missouri, who wrote a book on the history of foster care.


That has left a system that in many places is stretched, Ms. Rymph said. “It is so poorly funded, states will claw back whatever money they can.”


But children say their money — particularly benefits from a deceased parent —  shouldn’t be used to backstop the system. When Anthony Jackson was 12, his mother died of a heart attack in a motel room where he and his siblings had been living.


He regarded his mother as a “powerhouse,” a fixture in her St. Paul, Minn., neighborhood who drove a city-run shuttle transporting older people to doctor’s appointments and to the grocery store. While she worked, she paid into Social Security, which would entitle her children to survivor benefits.


After his mother died, Mr. Jackson, now 20, bounced between different relatives before being placed in foster care in 2017.


While in foster care, Mr. Jackson learned from his former girlfriend’s mother that children with a deceased parent can be entitled to survivor benefits. But when he inquired with the Social Security office, Mr. Jackson was told that the state was receiving the benefits on his behalf.

“That was something that was hers, and I didn’t receive it,’’ Mr. Jackson said.


He said the money could have helped him attend an art school in Savannah, Ga., that he was interested in but couldn’t afford. Mr. Jackson attended college locally in St. Paul, but is no longer enrolled.


In a statement, the Minnesota Department of Human Services said when the foster care system applies for benefits on behalf of a child, the money is not “used to fund the state’s child welfare system broadly.” The statement also noted that a new state law passed this year says that the money can “only be used for the care of the child.” The state will also require that children be notified if the state is receiving federal benefits on their behalf.


Across the country, the tide is shifting. More than a dozen states, counties and cities have established new rules or approved legislation requiring that at least some of the benefits be conserved for the children. There are also bills that have been introduced in more than a dozen other states that would mandate conserving the money or require children to be notified about their benefits.


In a series of congressional hearings in March, Martin O’Malley, commissioner of the Social Security Administration, suggested the agency may need more than the current set of rules to ensure states will set aside and conserve some of the benefits.


At one of the hearings, Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, said she “nearly fell out of my chair” when she was told of this practice.


“Seizing the benefits that go to some of our most vulnerable children just to finance other parts of state government just isn’t right,” she told Mr. O’Malley.


In a 2021 report, the Congressional Research Service said that in 2018, states had used $179 million of federal benefits that were owed to about 27,000 foster children, which is a relatively small amount out of overall funding for foster care.


James Wood remembers his mother, who died when he was 14, giving him three pieces of advice: Don’t use drugs; don’t follow the same path she did; and start making career plans by freshman year of high school. “It really stuck with me,” he said.


James, who is in the ninth grade and was adopted last November, decided to pursue a career in law enforcement. He is going to honor his mother’s wishes and wants the government to honor the intent of survivor benefits.


“If you ask anyone, I think it is very disrespectful to promise someone something and take it away,” James told a state legislative committee in Sacramento last month. “Especially when it’s a kid with a deceased parent.”



10) Deadly Strike by Israel Adds to Pressure to Stop Rafah Offensive

By Isabel Kershner reporting from Jerusalem, May 27, 2024


A boy wearing a brown short-sleeve shirt standing in front of a charred car and looking toward the camera, as other people mill around behind him.

Palestinians in Rafah gathering at the site where internally displaced people were killed by an Israeli strike. Israel says the strike targeted a Hamas compound. Credit...Eyad Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A deadly Israeli airstrike Sunday night that killed dozens of displaced Palestinians in Rafah, in southern Gaza, came just two days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order Israel to immediately halt its offensive in the city.


Israel said the strike killed two Hamas officials, but the civilian deaths generated instant condemnation, likely making it harder for Israel to defend its view that the ambiguity of the court order allowed it to continue its campaign in Rafah.


The military said the target of the strike on Sunday was a Hamas compound, adding that “precise munitions” were used to eliminate a Hamas commander and another senior Hamas official at the site.


But at least 45 people were killed by the blast and subsequent fires, according to the Gaza health ministry, including 23 women, children and older people. The ministry said that 249 people were wounded.


An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter, said on Monday that an initial investigation by the military had concluded that the strike, or shrapnel from it, may have unexpectedly ignited a flammable substance at the site. Eyewitnesses described intense fires in the aftermath of the strike.


The Israeli military said in a statement on Monday that it had taken a number of steps before the strike to reduce the risk of harming uninvolved civilians, including conducting aerial surveillance and using precise munitions. “Based on these measures, it was assessed that there would be no expected harm to uninvolved civilians,” the military said.


Military drone footage of the attack, reviewed by The New York Times, showed the munition striking an area housing several large cabinlike structures and parked cars.


Two Israeli officials said that the strike took place outside the designated humanitarian zone that was supposed to offer safe refuge to residents being told to evacuate to get out of harm’s way.


The military named the two targets of the strike as Yassin Rabia, the commander of Hamas’s leadership in the occupied West Bank, and Khaled Nagar, a senior official in the same wing of the group. The military said the West Bank wing was responsible for planning, funding and carrying out terrorist attacks throughout the West Bank and within Israel.


In a statement, Hamas described the Israeli strike on Rafah as “a horrific war crime” and demanded the “immediate and urgent implementation” of the World Court’s decision. The group did not refer to the Israeli military’s assertions about the two Hamas officials who were the targets of the strike.


The strike occurred in Tal as Sultan in northwest Rafah, according to the military. Israeli ground troops have so far been operating in southeast Rafah, and in the narrow corridor along the Egyptian border.


The order issued on Friday by the court, an arm of the United Nations, in The Hague came as part of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. It called on Israel to immediately halt any actions in Rafah, “which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole and in part.”


Israeli officials have argued that the 13-2 ruling allowed it to continue fighting in Rafah on grounds that Israel had not, and would not, inflict such conditions on Palestinians.


But even some of Israel’s allies do not view the order that way. Germany’s vice chancellor, Robert Habeck, said on Saturday that Israel’s offensive in Rafah was “incompatible with international law.” And President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Monday that he was “outraged” by the airstrike in Rafah, adding that these operations “must stop.”


Patrick Kingsley and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.



11) Charred bodies and screams: Witnesses describe scenes of horror at a camp.

By Hiba Yazbek and Abu Bakr Bashir reporting from Nazareth, Israel, and London, May 27, 2024


People picking through the debris of a destroyed camp.

Palestinians at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for displaced people in Rafah, Gaza, on Monday. Credit...Eyad Baba/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Witnesses and survivors described a terrifying scene of tents in flames and burn victims after what the Gaza Health Ministry said was an Israeli strike on a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza.


The health ministry said at least 45 people in the camp had been killed and 240 others wounded.


The Israeli military said that it had aimed a strike at a Hamas compound and killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.


Bilal al-Sapti, 30, a construction worker in Rafah, said he saw charred bodies in the wreckage of the camp in the Tal as Sultan area of Rafah, and people screaming as firefighters tried to put out the flames.


“The fire was very strong and was all over the camp,” he said. “There was darkness and no electricity.”


Mr. al-Sapti said that shrapnel from the strike tore up the tent where he was staying with his wife and two children, but that his family was uninjured.


“What kind of a tent will protect us from missiles and shrapnel?” he said.


UNRWA, the main United Nations agency that aids Palestinians, described on the social media platform X what it called a “horrifying” attack and said the images emerging from the site were “yet another testament” that Gaza is “hell on earth.”


Adli Abu Taha, 33, a freelance journalist who was at a nearby field hospital run by the United Arab Emirates Red Crescent, said the dead and wounded began arriving there shortly after he heard two loud explosions.


“Several injured arrived without one or more limbs and were severely burned,” Mr. Abu Taha said. “The hospital soon became overwhelmed,” he added.


When Mr. Abu Taha went to the tent camp on Monday morning, all he could see was “destruction” coupled with “the smell of smoke and burned flesh,” he said. He said that some families were dismantling their tents and preparing to find another place to seek shelter.


Dr. Marwan al-Hams, who was at the Tal Al Sultan Health Center in Rafah where many of the casualties first arrived before being transferred to nearby field hospitals, said that of the killed and wounded he saw, a majority were women and children.


“Many of the dead bodies were severely burned, had amputated limbs and were torn to pieces,” he said.


Mohammed Abu Ghanem, 26, said that he and the 13 other people who had been sheltering in a tent with him in the camp were wondering where to go. “I hear that everywhere is being bombed and I have no cash to pay for the trucks that evacuate people,” he said, adding: “We have no other option but to remain here and wait for death.”


Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Istanbul.



12) Access to Aid in Gaza Was Dire.

Now, It’s Worse.

By Amy Schoenfeld Walker and Elena Shao Updated May 27, 2024

The flow of aid into Gaza has shrunk so much in May that humanitarian officials say their operations are at risk of shutting down, and that the threat of widespread starvation is more acute than ever.



The entry of aid trucks through Gaza’s southern crossings, where most aid has arrived since the war began, has nearly ground to a halt since Israel expanded its fighting in the southern city of Rafah. In northern Gaza, new entry points have enabled small amounts of critical aid to reach those who have been most at risk of famine for months. But that aid is insufficient to support the Gazan population, and most cannot reach the central and southern areas, where a majority of people are newly displaced by the war.


A ruling issued by the International Court of Justice on Friday appeared to order Israel to halt its military offensive in Rafah, although at least some of the court’s judges said limited operations could continue despite the decision. The ruling made explicit note of the “spread of famine and starvation” in Gaza and emphasized the need for “the unhindered provision at scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”


Last month, Israel had pledged to increase the aid it allowed into Gaza after the killing of seven World Central Kitchen workers in an attack by Israeli forces drew international outrage. Israel’s strict controls on aid and the challenge of distributing it within the enclave had already created catastrophic levels of hunger.


Under pressure from President Biden, Israeli officials began to bring additional aid through the port of Ashdod and opened the Erez crossing in the north, which Israel had closed after the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7. In coordination with Israel, the U.S. military built a temporary pier to bring in aid by sea, a supplement to key land routes in the south.


But in early May, Israel expanded its military operation in southern Gaza after a Hamas rocket attack killed four soldiers near a crossing at Kerem Shalom. Israel closed that crossing as well as the Rafah crossing, where a majority of aid had been coming in. Nearly 300 aid trucks had crossed there in a single day just before the incursion.


“It was a record for us since the outbreak of the war,” said Georgios Petropoulos, the head of the United Nations aid office in Rafah. “We were kind of saying, ‘OK, well, maybe we're getting to where we need to be.’ And then boom, suddenly it's gone.”


Israel reopened Kerem Shalom on May 8, but aid workers from multiple organizations have said the vital entry point remains functionally closed, with a daily average of just eight aid trucks entering. One reason is that Egypt has refused to allow trucks from the closed Rafah crossing to continue on to Kerem Shalom.


Mr. Biden and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt agreed on Friday to send aid and fuel to Kerem Shalom until the Rafah border crossing could be reopened. On Sunday, 126 trucks carrying food and other aid from Egypt reached that crossing, according to a statement by the Israeli military. The U.N. distribution trucks that made it to Kerem Shalom to pick up the Egyptian aid were forced to evacuate the crossing because of a security issue, said Sam Rose, a spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. Officials including Mr. Rose said the aid had not made it past the crossing as of Sunday.


Scott Anderson, a senior official at UNRWA, and Mr. Petropoulos have said that the crossing area is still an active military zone and that safety and logistical challenges can hold up aid that arrives at the crossing and prevent it from being immediately collected and distributed. An Israeli airstrike on a makeshift tent camp in Rafah killed at least 45 people on Sunday night, according to the Gaza health ministry. The Israeli military said the strike was aimed at a Hamas compound.


Empty trucks coming from inside Gaza en route to load aid at Kerem Shalom often sit in hours-long waits behind commercial trucks carrying goods to sell in Gaza, which officials say number more than 100 or 200 per day. While humanitarian groups say they welcome the arrival of commercial supplies, most people inside Gaza cannot afford them, and the shipments may not include basic necessities.


Getting aid to people in Gaza is also difficult because Israel’s expanded operations in the south and north have forced nearly a million people to flee to areas with little shelter, food or water on the coast or among the rubble in more central regions.


Before the Rafah operation, most people were sheltering in the areas where a majority of the aid was coming in. But now, new entry points in the north — the U.S. pier, and a new crossing called Erez West — are beset with problems. They bring in too little aid to sustain everyone and are located far from the largest clusters of people.


The distribution of the aid that does make it through each crossing also poses significant challenges. Israel’s recent evacuation orders in parts of Rafah and northern Gaza have made many aid agency warehouses unreachable and travel more dangerous. UNRWA announced on May 21 that it had suspended distribution in Rafah, citing security issues, supply shortages and an inability to access its warehouse.


Without consistent, predictable deliveries of aid, many trucks do not make it far through desperate crowds. For instance, on May 18, the World Food Program reported that 11 of 16 trucks were looted after leaving the U.S. pier.


An Israeli military road and checkpoint in the north, which bisects the enclave and prevented the easy movement of aid from the south to the north earlier in the war, is likely to create a similar problem for aid moving in the opposite direction, according to Mr. Petropoulos.


COGAT, the Israeli military agency coordinating aid delivery, has said that increasing the amount of aid going into Gaza remains a priority. It reports daily that it has inspected hundreds of trucks and coordinated their transfer to border crossings, though the figures are often higher than those reported by aid organizations, which track the number of trucks that have collected goods for entry into Gaza and exclude trucks carrying commercial goods.


Neither set of figures accounts for difficulties in distribution that can prevent aid from getting to Gazan civilians. Israel says enough aid is entering Gaza and has blamed aid groups for not distributing it faster to civilians — a characterization the aid groups dispute, saying Israeli forces have made distribution extremely difficult.


Aid organizations have also warned that they will be unable to deliver supplies to anyone if they run out of fuel, and that already inadequate amounts of safe water supplies will disappear. At least 200,000 liters of fuel are needed daily, according to Mr. Anderson of UNRWA. But just a quarter of that amount arrives on average each day since the closure of Rafah crossing, according to U.N. data.


“The fuel limitation means that we often have to choose: Do we keep the generators running at the hospital, the bakery or the sewage plant?” Mr. Anderson said.




Daily truck counts were compiled from multiple sources, including the U.N. dashboard for southern border crossings, meeting minutes from the inter-agency Logistics Cluster, World Food Program reports and updates from COGAT, the Israeli military agency coordinating aid delivery. The counts were cross-checked with multi-date aid truck totals from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Office of the Spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General.


Daily averages were calculated for the northern crossings from May 12 to May 15, as only a total count for that span of dates was available. Trucks carrying commercial goods are excluded.


Maps compare aid truck inflows over the two weeks before the Rafah operation and the two weeks after. Population estimates are based on reports by the United Nations, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics and preliminary, internal estimates from aid organizations in Gaza. Estimates are based on satellite imagery analysis, field observations and shelter registrations, and are subject to change.


Leanne Abraham contributed reporting.



13) Israeli Troops Keep Up Assault on Rafah After Condemnation of Deadly Strike

By Cassandra Vinograd, May 28, 2024


A city skyline with smoke plumes rising.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Tuesday. Credit...Hatem Khaled/Reuters

Israel’s military said its troops were pressing on with their ground assault in the Rafah area on Tuesday, even as international outrage over its operation there intensified in the wake of a deadly airstrike on a camp for displaced Palestinians.


The military has said that the strike in Rafah on Sunday — which ignited a deadly fire in the camp and killed dozens of people — was targeting a Hamas compound. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said it was a “tragic accident” that civilians were killed, a statement that did little to quell a chorus of voices demanding accountability and a halt to the fighting amid reports of another deadly strike in nearby Al-Mawasi on Tuesday.


Britain’s foreign secretary, David Cameron, on Tuesday cited the “deeply distressing” scenes from Rafah over the weekend — many of which featured charred bodies in the wreckage of the encampment — in calling for a “swift, comprehensive” investigation.


The Israeli military’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told a news conference that an investigation was examining “all possibilities” to determine what had caused the fire.


Israeli jets had fired the “smallest munitions” that they could use, he said, insisting that “our munitions alone could not have ignited a fire of this size.” Those claims could not be independently verified.


Even when the cause of the fire is established, Mr. Hagari said, “it won’t make this situation any less tragic.”


Still, he gave no indication that the Israeli military’s operation in Rafah would be interrupted. He did not directly address a question from a reporter about whether tanks had moved into Rafah’s center, saying that Hamas battalions remained in the city and that Israeli forces were operating in a “targeted” way.


In a separate statement, the Israeli military said its troops were operating in the Rafah area, engaging in close-quarters combat, “as efforts are continuing to be made in order to prevent harm to uninvolved civilians in the area.”


China expressed “serious concern” about the Israeli military’s actions in Rafah, citing an order by the International Court of Justice last week that appeared to call for Israel to stop its military offensive there. China “opposes any violation of international law” and “strongly urges Israel to listen to the voice of the international community and stop attacking Rafah,” said Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


But the wording of the court’s order — which called on Israel to immediately halt any actions in Rafah, “which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part” — was ambiguous. Israeli officials have argued that the ruling allowed it to continue fighting in Rafah because the military would not inflict such conditions.


Alexandra Stevenson contributed reporting.


A Gazan official says strikes killed 18 in a ‘safe zone,’ and other news.

·      Eighteen people were killed and dozens injured on Tuesday in strikes in an area of tents housing displaced people in Al-Mawasi, an area of southern Gaza not far from Rafah that was designated by Israel as a safe zone, a Palestinian emergency services official said. Dr. Mohammed Al Moghayer, a senior official with Palestinian Civil Defense, said most of the dead and injured were taken to nearby field hospitals, and others to a hospital in the city of Khan Younis. Gaza’s health ministry said 21 people had been killed in the broader Rafah area. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, said at a news conference that he was not aware of the strikes but would look into them.


·      Around one million people have fled Rafah amid Israel’s assault on the city in southern Gaza, according to the United Nations. The evacuation from Rafah, once the primary destination for people leaving other parts of the enclave, is the latest in a string of displacements since Israel launched a war to dismantle Hamas, the armed group that led the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.


·      China joined a chorus of international voices in expressing “serious concern” about the Israeli military’s actions in Rafah, citing an order by the International Court of Justice last week that appeared to call for Israel to halt its military offensive there. China “opposes any violation of international law” and “strongly urges Israel to listen to the voice of the international community and stop attacking Rafah,” said Mao Ning, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


·      A member of Egypt’s security forces was killed near the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip and an investigation is underway, an Egyptian army spokesman said on Monday, after the Israeli military reported a shooting on the border. Al Qahera News, Egypt’s state-owned television station, cited an unnamed security official as saying it appeared there had been gunfire exchanged between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters, and that the ensuing battle resulted in the death of the soldier. The New York Times could not independently verify the circumstances of the shooting.



14) More Palestinians were leaving Rafah after ‘a bloody and very difficult night.’

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Nazareth, Israel, May 28, 2024


A child lies on a blanket on top of a pile of belongings as other people mill around.

Preparing to leave Rafah on Tuesday after renewed Israeli strikes. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock

Displaced Palestinians were fleeing areas of Rafah on Tuesday, prompted by what residents said was a night of heavy bombardment, as Israeli forces continued their offensive two days after an airstrike there killed dozens of people.


Intense Israeli artillery shelling was reported overnight on Tuesday in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of western Rafah, in the same area as the deadly strike that Israel said was targeting a Hamas compound. The upper floor of the Indonesian Hospital as well as a clinic and a school-turned-shelter were hit in the overnight shelling, according to Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency.


The Israeli military said in a statement that it “continued to operate in the Rafah area,” but did not mention Tal al-Sultan specifically.


“It was a bloody and very difficult night,” said Nedal Kuhail, 30, who was preparing on Tuesday afternoon to leave the apartment in Tal al-Sultan where he had been sheltering with his family since the beginning of the war. “Danger was chasing us from every side.”


Mr. Kuhail said by phone that an Israeli artillery shell struck a lower floor of his building overnight, while another apartment nearby was also hit. He said he saw several people who had been killed or wounded. “This prompted us to make the quick decision to leave Rafah in order to survive,” he said.


Mr. Kuhail estimated that more than 85 percent of the remaining people in his area had fled since Tuesday morning, urged on by the terror they faced overnight. Video footage from the Reuters news agency on Tuesday showed people fleeing parts of Rafah, some on foot and others on carts, as the sounds of blasts and gunfire echoed through the streets.


Around one million people have fled Rafah in the last three weeks amid Israel’s assault on the city in southern Gaza, the United Nations said Tuesday. The evacuation from Rafah, once the primary destination for people leaving other parts of the enclave, is the latest in a string of displacements since Israel launched a war to dismantle Hamas, the armed group that led the deadly attack on Israel on Oct. 7.


Mr. Kuhail said he had found an empty warehouse to rent for his family in the Deir al-Balah area of central Gaza. Even though the warehouse is empty and did not have electricity, water or a bathroom, Mr. Kuhail said he was grateful that he at least had a place to go, unlike many of those fleeing.


“We don’t know where we are going,” said Ahmed al-Namleh, who spoke to Reuters as he fled on foot while pushing his belongings on a cart. “We woke up at 6 in the morning from the shelling and rockets.”


Some of the fear was sparked by the strike and ensuing fires on Sunday, which killed 45 people and wounded more than 200, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.


The Israeli military said that it had used “precise munitions” to kill two senior Hamas leaders. With international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the civilian deaths were “a tragic accident,” though he gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive.


Mr. Kuhail said that he and his family had only decided to flee on Tuesday after artillery shelling signaled that Israeli forces were advancing and that the “danger was getting closer.”


Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Istanbul.



15) Three European countries formally recognize Palestinian statehood.

By Cassandra Vinograd, May 28, 2024


Pedro Sanchez on a TV screen at the front of a bar area.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of Spain announcing Spain’s recognition of a Palestinian state, in a bar in Madrid on Tuesday. Credit...Susana Vera/Reuters

Three European nations formally recognized an independent Palestinian state on Tuesday, drawing the ire of Israel as it continued to press its military offensive in Gaza.


The previously announced moves by Spain, Norway and Ireland are largely symbolic, but serve as a rebuke to Israel in the face of mounting international frustration over the country’s military offensive in Gaza and its occupation of Palestinian territories over the years.


They also come amid global outrage over an Israeli airstrike on Sunday that killed dozens of people at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, despite international calls for the military to curb its offensive in the southern Gaza city. Growing concern over the civilian death toll could prompt more nations to follow suit, analysts say.


Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, on Tuesday accused Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, of complicity in incitement against Jews for his role in recognizing a Palestinian state.


But Mr. Sánchez rejected that claim in an address on Tuesday ahead of a cabinet vote on the matter, calling the recognition a matter of “historical justice” and a “necessity” in order to achieve peace.


“The recognition of Palestine is not against anyone, least of all Israel, a friendly nation that Spain values and holds in high regard and with whom we aim to foster the strongest possible relationship,” he said on the steps of Moncloa Palace, the prime minister’s residence, in Madrid. “Furthermore, our decision reflects our absolute rejection of Hamas, a terrorist organization that is against a two-state solution.”


Ireland — which on Tuesday flew a Palestinian flag outside its presidential palace, alongside those of the European Union and Ukraine — said that it had agreed to establish full diplomatic relations and would appoint an ambassador to a Palestinian state. “We have made this move alongside Spain and Norway to keep the miracle of peace alive,” said Ireland’s prime minister, Simon Harris. “I again call on Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel to listen to the world and stop the humanitarian catastrophe we are seeing in Gaza.”


While scores of countries have already recognized Palestinian statehood, the closely coordinated moves by the three European nations carried added weight amid the growing toll of the war in Gaza, and because most Western European countries, and the United States, have resisted taking such a step out of solidarity with Israel.


Jonas Gahr Store, the prime minister of Norway, said in an interview last week that his country was taking action along with Spain and Ireland in an effort to salvage the possibility of a two-state solution in the face of an Israeli government that has openly rejected it.


Mr. Store said Norway is hoping to break what he sees as “a downward spiral, with militant groups like Hamas setting the agenda on the Palestinian side” and the Israeli government “establishing hundreds of thousands of settlers” on occupied land.


And even if the reality of two states can seem far away, Mr. Store said, “more countries in Europe are making the same analysis as Norway, that the Palestinians should have the same rights and obligations that statehood entails,” committed to peace and bound by international law.


The moves will likely have little immediate effect on conditions for Palestinians in Gaza, where health authorities say more than 36,000 people have been killed in over seven months of Israeli bombardment and ground combat.


The White House has flatly rejected unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood, with Adrienne Watson, a National Security Council spokeswoman, saying that President Biden “believes a Palestinian state should be realized through direct negotiations between the parties.”


Aaron Boxerman, Steven Erlanger and Emma Bubola contributed reporting.



16) War-Weary Iraqis Feel for Gaza, but Fear Spread of the Conflict

Iraqis want to help Palestinians but say they are still recovering from their own wars and fear playing host to a proxy fight between Iran and the United States.

By Alissa J. Rubin, Reporting from Baghdad, May 28, 2024


An overhead view of a huge rally in a wide area between two lines of buildings.

Iraqis at a mass rally in Baghdad in support of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in October. Credit...Anmar Khalil/Associated Press

Iraqis have known the bitter taste of war so intimately and frequently over the past 40 years that they say they can feel viscerally the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza. They remember the dreaded whistling of a shell before impact, the fear of a knock at the door bringing word of a loved one’s loss, the stench of blood drying on concrete.


This was daily life for many Iraqis for years as an insurgent struggle against the American occupation and a civil war between Sunni and Shia Muslims brought destruction and death to their neighborhoods, shattered families and left behind countless widows and orphans.


Those memories initially prompted thousands of people to join demonstrations on the streets of Iraq’s cities to show their solidarity with the Palestinian cause. But as the war in Gaza dragged on, those displays of support faded.


“You want to help,” said Yasmine Salih, a 25-year old dental student, referring to the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza, “but you can’t because your own bucket of troubles is full.”


Nowhere is that sense more vivid than in Baghdad’s historic Adhamiyah neighborhood, where most people follow the Sunni branch of Islam — as do most Palestinians. A number here took up arms against the American military occupation of Iraq that began in 2003, and they view the Israeli assaults on Gaza as a similar fight against an occupying force.


Many people in the neighborhood cheered when they heard the news of the Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7. But since then, the crowds have dwindled, partly because of a recognition that their efforts could do little to help Palestinians, residents say.


“When the Hamas attack happened, it was like a good omen,” said Sheikh Mohammed Samir Obaidi, 44, a lawyer and local leader in Adhamiyah who has championed the Palestinian cause. “We celebrated here,” he added.


Yet six months later, when Sheikh Obaidi tried to organize a peaceful demonstration and prayer for Palestinians after Israel’s attack on Al-Shifa hospital in March, he said he was bitterly disappointed by the turnout.


“Even though we held the event after the Friday midday prayer, when 2,000 people were already gathered, they did not stay,” he said. “They just went home for lunch.”


In 20 interviews in Sunni, Shia and mixed neighborhoods of Baghdad, as well as in conversations with political scientists and pollsters, it is clear that Iraqis feel a deep sympathy for Palestinians. Yet many of those same people still feel overwhelmed by the aftermath of Iraq’s own conflicts.


“Many Iraqis resist the idea of interfering directly in this war, and the reason is that they have had enough wars, and they don’t want to be involved in one more,” said Munqith Dagher, an Iraqi pollster, now based in Jordan. “They have suffered a lot.”


At least 272,000 Iraqis were killed during the last 20 years of conflict, according to Brown University’s Cost of War project. At least 250,000 more — with some estimates far higher — died during the Iraq-Iran war during the 1980s, according to estimates by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Ms. Salih, the dental student, is pursuing an advanced degree while caring for her 2-year-old son, who has cerebral palsy. Sitting in a cafe in Karada, a neighborhood where she had come to study, she tried to describe the conflicted feelings she has about balancing her own struggles with the plight of Gazans.


“At the beginning, when I saw the videos — especially of the pregnant women and the children — I was crying and crying,” she said. “But for a long time Iraqis have suffered a lot of trauma, and so you get so that even when you see terrible things, you stop feeling. It’s as if we’ve become numb.”


Despite her age, Ms. Salih has already lived through the U.S. invasion, the ensuing sectarian war, and the Islamic State takeover of much of northern Iraq in 2014.


As a child of a mixed marriage — one parent was Sunni and the other Shia — she was close to relatives of both sects who were killed.


“What is happening in Gaza is horrible,” she said. “We know this because of what we suffered,” she said.


Other young Iraqis have turned away from even allowing themselves to focus on the conflict. Hamid, 22, who declined to give his last name, sells cheap sneakers and T-shirts at an outdoor stand in a commercial area near the Tigris River in Baghdad. He expressed a general sense of concern, but made clear he wanted to avoid the subject.


“Palestine is our second country, Quds is the third city for us,” he said, using the Arab name for Jerusalem. But Iraq, he said, “should not get involved.”


Complicating matters for many is a desire to distance themselves from what they see as an incipient proxy war between the two biggest foreign players in Iraq, the United States and Iran. Many Iraqis decry the United States’ support for Israel, which they say is hypocritical given that American leaders talk publicly about their support for human rights, pointing at what they say are Israeli human rights abuses against Palestinians.


But their views of Iran are, if anything, more disparaging, because its influence in Iraq is more pervasive and visible. Many especially seem to resent Iran’s backing of Iraqi Shiite armed groups, who, with Tehran’s blessing, have joined the fight against Israel by launching rockets and drones at U.S. military camps from inside Iraq and, in February, began near daily attacks on Israeli targets.


“For Iraqis and for the Iraqi street, it seems that Iran is using Iraq to serve its regional interests through the war in Gaza,” said Firas Elias, a political science professor at the University of Mosul who specializes in Iraqi and Iranian politics. “Yet if the conflict expands, Iraqis fear their lives will be most affected.”


The Iranian-backed groups in Iraq say they are supporting Gazans by attacking Israel’s ally, the United States. But periodically the United States has fired back, including in Baghdad, which has reminded Iraqis of how quickly conflict can return.


In the Sadr City district of Baghdad, despite most residents adhering to the same Shiite branch of Islam as that of most Iranians, many see the Iranian government as a malign influence.


“Frankly, Iran put the Palestinians in this situation; they encouraged Hamas on Oct. 7,” said Abu Tibba, a 48-year-old day worker and father of four who is also a volunteer organizer for the populist and nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. “Where does Hamas get weapons to fight Israel? From Iran,” he said as he prepared to go to Friday prayers in late April.


“Iran not only got the Palestinians in trouble, Iran got their houses wrecked by Israel, their children killed by Israel,” he said. “For 40 years, Iran has been saying ‘Death to America,’ ‘Death to Israel,’ and what has happened? Palestinian houses are destroyed. Palestinians are killed. Palestinians have nowhere to go.”


Over and over in Iraq, conversations about Palestinians, Gaza and Israel morph into discussions of the United States and Iran.


Noor Nafah, 32, a member of Parliament who participated in protests in Iraq in 2019 against corruption and Iranian influence and is not affiliated with any political party, said the war in Gaza pained Iraqis for a host of overlapping reasons.


She ticked off young people’s disillusionment with the U.S. support for Israel; anger that Iran and the United States were usurping Iraq’s sovereignty and fighting on Iraqi soil; and worry that Iraq’s fragile economy cannot afford to get drawn into the conflict.


But above all, she said, many Iraqis stress that after decades of war at home, they are only now stitching their lives back together.


“People say to me, ‘Please, please let me deal with my own problems first,’” She said. “‘All these hard things from the past are still touching us.’”


Falih Hassan contributed from Baghdad.



17) Six Things to Know About ‘Forever Chemicals’

The federal government is ordering the removal of PFAS, a class of chemicals that poses serious health risks, from drinking water systems across the country.

By Lisa Friedman, Published April 10, 2024, Updated May 28, 2024


A close-up of researchers’ hands, wearing protective purple gloves. One set of hands is pouring a liquid from a white plastic bottle into a much smaller brown bottle.

PFAS is everywhere, including drinking water. A researcher pouring a water sample. Credit...Joshua A. Bickel/Associated Press

Almost half the tap water in the United States contains PFAS, a class of chemicals linked to serious health problems. In April the Environmental Protection Agency announced that, for the first time, municipal utilities will have to detect and remove PFAS from drinking water.


Here’s what you need to know.


What are PFAS?


In 1938 a young chemist working on refrigerants for Dupont accidentally discovered a new compound that was remarkably resistant to water and grease, a finding that would lead to the creation of the Teflon brand of nonstick cookware.


Today there are nearly 15,000 per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, which collectively go by the acronym PFAS, according to a database maintained by the E.P.A.


The common link is that they have a special bond of carbon and fluorine atoms, making them incredibly strong and resistant to heat, water, oil and dirt. For that reason, PFAS is used for everyday items as varied as microwave popcorn bags, water-repellent clothing and stain-resistant carpets. PFAS are also in firefighting foam, cosmetics, shampoos, toys and even dental floss.


Where are PFAS?


Everywhere, including drinking water. The indestructible nature that makes PFAS useful in some products also makes them harmful to human health. The chemicals are virtually indestructible and do not fully degrade, accumulating in the environment and the human body.


The chemicals are so ubiquitous that they can be found in the blood of almost every person in the country. One recent government study detected PFAS chemicals in nearly half of the nation’s tap water. A global study of more than 45,000 water samples around the world found that about 31 percent of tested groundwater samples that weren’t near any obvious source of contamination had PFAS levels considered harmful to human health.


What does PFAS do to the body?


According to the E.P.A., exposure to PFAS can cause damage to the liver and immune system and also has been linked to low birth weight, birth defects and developmental delays as well as increased risk of some prostate, kidney and testicular cancers. New research published in the past year found links between PFAS exposure and a delay in the onset of puberty in girls, leading to a higher incidence of breast cancer, renal disease and thyroid disease; a decrease in bone density in teenagers, potentially leading to osteoporosis; and an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes in women.


Why didn’t the E.P.A. regulate PFAS in water sooner?


Many environmental advocates argue that PFAS contamination should have been dealt with long ago.


“For generations, PFAS chemicals slid off every federal environmental law like a fried egg off a Teflon pan,” said Ken Cook, president and co-founder of the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group.


Activists blame chemical companies, which for decades hid evidence of the dangers of PFAS, according to lawsuits and a peer-reviewed study, published in the Annals of Global Health, of previously secret industry documents.


The new E.P.A. rule requires utilities to reduce PFAS in drinking water to near-zero levels.


How can I get rid of PFAS?


Not easily. In homes, filters attached to faucets or in pitchers generally do not remove PFAS substances. Under-sink reverse-osmosis systems have been shown to remove most but not all PFAS in studies performed by scientists at Duke University and North Carolina State University.


Municipal water systems can install one of several technologies including carbon filtration or a reverse-osmosis water filtration system that can reduce levels of the chemicals.


Now that limits have been set, when will PFAS disappear from tap water?


It could take years. Under the rule, a water system has three years to monitor and report its PFAS levels. Then, if the levels exceed the E.P.A.’s new standard, the utility will have another two years to purchase and install filtration technology.


But trade groups and local governments are expected to mount legal challenges against the regulation, potentially delaying it even before a court makes a final ruling. And if former President Donald J. Trump were to retake the White House in November, his administration could also reverse or weaken the rule.



18) Gaza Offensive Will Last at Least Through End of Year, Israeli Official Says

By Aaron Boxerman and Gabby Sobelman, May 29, 2024


A red beam of light appears over an grim scene of destroyed buildings.

Destruction inside northern Gaza near the Israel-Gaza border. Credit...Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, said Wednesday that he expected Israel’s military operations in Gaza to continue through at least the end of the year, appearing to dismiss the idea that the war could come to an end after the military offensive against Hamas in Rafah.


“We expect another seven months of combat in order to shore up our achievement and realize what we define as the destruction of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s military and governing capabilities,” Mr. Hanegbi said in a radio interview with Kan, the Israeli public broadcaster.


Israeli officials have told the public to expect a protracted campaign that would progress in phases toward lower-intensity fighting. Mr. Hanegbi’s assessment, however, appeared to be at odds with earlier projections by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said in April that the country was “on the brink of victory” in its war against Hamas. In recent weeks, Israeli troops have repeatedly returned to areas of northern Gaza in an attempt to tamp down a renewed insurgency there by Hamas militants.


Israel faces rising pressure to wind down its campaign and reach a cease-fire deal with Hamas that would include the release of hostages held in Gaza. The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has requested arrest warrants for Israel’s prime minister and defense minister; the World Court has ordered Israel to rein in its offensive in Rafah; and the Biden administration has expressed frustration with the lack of a clear Israeli endgame for postwar Gaza.


The outcry has only sharpened in recent days, after an Israeli bombardment — which sparked a conflagration in an area where displaced Palestinians were sheltering — killed at least 45 people in western Rafah, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The Israeli military said the airstrike had targeted two Hamas commanders and that it was looking into what could have caused the blaze.


At least 290 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza and over 3,600 wounded since the ground invasion began in late October, according to military statistics. The military said another three soldiers were killed and three more seriously wounded on Tuesday in Rafah, where Israeli forces have been advancing in a long-anticipated assault.


Over one million Gazans have fled the city in the face of the onslaught, according to the United Nations. Israel has called the operation essential to take out Hamas forces arrayed in the city, while the Biden administration and human rights groups have voiced concern over the plight of the civilians who had sought shelter there.


Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly said that his government sees it as critical to seize control of a buffer strip along the southern edge of Gaza, from Israel’s border to the Mediterranean, a roughly 9-mile-long zone between Gaza and Egypt known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor.


Israel’s military now controls around 75 percent of the corridor, Mr. Hanegbi said. He said that Israeli control of the area was critical to prevent cross-border smuggling that would allow Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups to rearm.


Over 36,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Hamas-led surprise attack on Israel on Oct. 7, according to Gazan health officials. Roughly 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the attack, according to the Israeli authorities, and Palestinian militants took around 250 people back to Gaza as hostages.


Since the Israeli operation in the Rafah area began in early May, ground forces have slowly advanced toward the coast, with firefights generally confined to neighborhoods in eastern Rafah. But deadly strikes over the past few days appear to have targeted western Rafah and nearby areas where Israel has not formally ordered an evacuation. Dozens of Palestinians have been killed over the past few days in Rafah alone.


Two days after the strike in western Rafah that killed dozens, Gazan health officials said another bombardment had taken place, killing at least 21. The Israeli military denied striking within the borders of the Israeli-designated humanitarian zone for evacuees in al-Mawasi, which is northwest of the city of Rafah.



19) Israel used U.S. made bombs in the strike that killed dozens near Rafah.

By Robin Stein, Christiaan Triebert and Haley Willis, May 29, 2024

“Video shot by witnesses after the attack shows the scale of suffering. People scream as they pull charred bodies from rubble while flames rage behind them. One man holds up the body of a headless child.”


People look at an area of charred debris.

The damage after Israeli airstrikes on an area near Rafah in a camp for displaced people on Sunday. Credit...Jehad Alshrafi/Associated Press

The bombs used in the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a camp for displaced people near Rafah on Sunday were made in the United States, according to weapons experts and visual evidence reviewed by The New York Times.


Munition debris filmed at the strike location the next day was remnants from a GBU-39, a bomb designed and manufactured in the United States, The Times found. U.S. officials have been pushing Israel to use more of this type of bomb, which they say can reduce civilian casualties.


The key detail in the weapon debris was the tail actuation system, which controls the fins that guide the GBU-39 to a target, according to Trevor Ball, a former U.S. Army explosive ordnance disposal technician, who earlier identified the weapon on X. The weapon’s unique bolt pattern and slot where the folding fins are stowed were clearly visible in the debris, Mr. Ball said.


The munition fragments, filmed by Alam Sadeq, a Palestinian journalist, are also marked by a series of numbers beginning with “81873.” This is the unique identifier code assigned by the U.S. government to Woodward, an aerospace manufacturer based in Colorado that supplies parts for bombs including the GBU-39.


At least 45 people in Kuwaiti Al-Salam Camp 1, which was built in early January, were killed by the blast and subsequent fires, according to the Gazan health ministry. More than 240 were wounded.


U.S. officials have been encouraging the Israeli military for months to increase the use of GBU-39 bombs in Gaza because they are generally more precise and better suited to urban environments than larger bombs, including U.S.-made 2,000-pound bombs that Israel routinely uses. President Biden said earlier this month that the U.S. was pausing a delivery of the larger bombs.


“The strike was conducted using two munitions with small warheads suited for this targeted strike,” Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the Israeli military spokesman, said during a news conference on Tuesday. The bombs contained 17 kilograms of explosive material, he said. “This is the smallest munition that our jets can use.”


In response to questions from The Times, the Israeli military declined to specify the munition used. The GBU-39 has a net explosive weight of about 17 kilograms, or 37 pounds.


Admiral Hagari said the military had taken steps to narrowly target two Hamas leaders, who he said were killed in the strike, and did not expect the munitions to harm nearby civilians. The bombs were dropped on sheds inside a camp for internally displaced people, and many tents were visible close by. Footage shows that the bombing set off deadly fires.


Admiral Hagari said the Israeli military’s investigation was continuing. He suggested the fire might have been sparked by a secondary explosion, which he said indicated there may have been weapons stored in the area.


“Our munition alone could not have ignited a fire of this size,” Admiral Hagari said.


Frederic Gras, a French consultant on munitions, questioned the Israeli military’s reasoning. “Any explosion or detonation starts a fire as soon as flammable products are in the vicinity,” he said, noting that there are often many gas cylinders and lamps in such camps.


Video shot by witnesses after the attack shows the scale of suffering. People scream as they pull charred bodies from rubble while flames rage behind them. One man holds up the body of a headless child.


“The Israelis have said they used 37-pound bombs,” John Kirby, a White House spokesman said at a briefing on Tuesday. “If it is in fact what they used, it is certainly indicative of an effort to be discreet and targeted and precise.”


Larry Lewis, a former Pentagon and State Department adviser who has written several federal reports on civilian harm, said it seemed as though the Israeli military had in this case taken steps to mitigate danger to civilians.


“Secondary explosions can be hard to anticipate,” Mr. Lewis said.


But he said he was troubled that in surveillance footage released by the military, four people appeared to be outside the targeted buildings before the strike. Mr. Lewis said the decision to strike at that time raises questions about whether the Israeli military “knew and accepted a possible civilian toll” or failed to notice the people, suggesting potential problems in their precautionary measures.


Wes J. Bryant, a retired American Air Force master sergeant who served on a task force critical of Israel’s use of weapons in Gaza, told The Times that he had dropped many GBU-39 bombs during his military service and that this strike was problematic.


“It indicates continued targeting negligence — either an unwillingness or inability to effectively safeguard civilians,” Mr. Bryant said. “When you use a weapon that’s intended as precision and low collateral damage in an area where civilians are saturated, it really negates that intended use.”


Neil Collier, Eric Schmitt and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting. Additional production by Ainara Tiefenthäler and Shawn Paik.



20) Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.

By Aurelien Breeden, May 29, 2024



Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators rallied in cities around the world on Tuesday days after an Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in a tent camp in Rafah, southern Gaza.


In Britain, a large protest gathered in central London chanting, “Blood on your hands” and, “Stop arming Israel” not far from Downing Street and the prime minister’s residence. Most of the demonstrators left peacefully but officers arrested 40 people at a breakaway protest that obstructed a highway, according to the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday, and three officers were injured.


In France, thousands of demonstrators converged on the Place de la République, in the heart of Paris, where they waved Palestinian flags and shouted, “We are all children of Gaza,” before spreading out through the city. Some of the protesters briefly blocked the ring road around the French capital. Others scuffled with riot police officers who fired tear gas to prevent demonstrators from approaching the Israeli Embassy.


In Mexico, clashes broke out between small groups of protesters hurling rocks and other objects at police officers outside the Israeli Embassy in Mexico City. Six police officers were injured, according to local news reports citing the capital’s authorities.


In Italy, protesters briefly blocked a train station in Bologna by descending on the tracks. Demonstrators also gathered in Karachi, Pakistan, to protest the Israeli strikes and to express solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.


Mark A. Walsh contributed reporting.



21) ‘All eyes on Rafah’ surges on social media after a deadly Israeli strike.

By Ali Watkins, May 29, 2024


Three people, one holding a device spewing pink smoke, stand in front of a banner held up by several people that says “All Eyes on Rafah.”

The phrase “All Eyes on Rafah” was on display at a protest in Naples, Italy, earlier this month. Credit...Ciro Fusco/EPA, via Shutterstock

The slogan “All Eyes on Rafah” has ricocheted across social media this week following an Israeli strike in the Gazan city that killed dozens of civilians and provoked international outrage.


For months, the phrase has been a touchstone in the social and cultural dialogue around Israel’s war against Hamas in the region. It has periodically trended on social media, particularly as Israeli military attacks in the city — located in the southern Gaza Strip, along the Egyptian border — have escalated.


On Wednesday, the saying was once again trending, this time through what appears to be an A.I.-generated image showing a field of refugee tents spelling out “All Eyes on Rafah.” One version of the graphic has been shared more than 38 million times on Instagram.


The phrase may have originated in comments made in February by Rik Peeperkorn, who heads the World Health Organization’s office for Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Mr. Peeperkorn was speaking at a news conference as the Israeli military intensified its campaign in the southern Gaza strip.


“All eyes are on Rafah,” Mr. Peeperkorn said at the time.


The comment was almost immediately repurposed by pro-Palestinian and humanitarian groups to draw attention to Gaza and Rafah, which was one of the last remaining destinations for displaced Palestinians from other parts of the territory. Among them were Save the Children International, Oxfam and, later, pro-Palestinian lobbying groups like Jewish Voice for Peace.


The saying was also heard at pro-Palestinian protests that swept across Western universities earlier this month.


The deadly strike in Rafah on Sunday was quickly denounced by world leaders. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said the attack had killed two Hamas officials, and he called the civilian deaths a “tragic accident.”



22) Top U.S. officials say the deadly airstrike in Rafah, while tragic, did not cross Biden’s red line.

By Zolan Kanno-Youngs reporting from Washington, May 29, 2024

“U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in southern Gaza was a tragedy but that it did not violate President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel.”


From left to right, President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III walking beside a wreath of flowers.

Vice President Kamala Harris, center, said “the word tragic doesn’t even begin to describe” the deaths from an Israeli strike in Rafah. Credit...Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in southern Gaza was a tragedy but that it did not violate President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel.


The bloodshed came after Mr. Biden warned earlier this month that the United States would block certain arms transfers if Israel targeted heavily populated areas in Rafah — a warning that has been tested regularly as the war has ground on.


John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said the deaths were “devastating” but that the scale of the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy. “We don’t want to see a major ground operation,” Mr. Kirby told reporters. “We haven’t seen that.”


Israeli tanks were on the outskirts of the city “to try to put pressure on Hamas,” Mr. Kirby said. He also offered a measure of specificity about Mr. Biden’s warning to Israel, which critics have said was too vague.


“We have not seen them go in with large units and large numbers of troops in columns and formations in some sort of coordinated maneuver against multiple targets on the ground,” Mr. Kirby said. “Everything that we can see tells us that they are not moving in in a major ground operation in population centers in the city of Rafah.”


Mr. Biden has faced pressure from advocates and members of his own party to use his power to curtail arms to Israel as a way to influence its conduct in the war. The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, which raises questions about American responsibility as the death toll mounts.


The strike in Rafah on Sunday ignited a deadly fire and killed at least 45 people, including children, and wounded 249, according to the Gazan health ministry. It has prompted international outrage, including from leaders in the European Union, the United Nations, Egypt and China.


Vice President Kamala Harris, asked about Rafah on Tuesday, said “the word tragic doesn’t even begin to describe” the deaths. She did not answer a follow-up question about whether the strike crossed a red line for Mr. Biden.


Still, the Israeli military’s conduct was similar to what Mr. Biden said he would not tolerate when he warned, in an interview on CNN earlier this month, that the United States would not supply Israel with weapons to attack Rafah.


“I have made it clear to Bibi and the war cabinet they’re not going to get our support if, in fact, they’re going into these population centers,” Mr. Biden said in the interview.


In that interview, Mr. Biden emphasized that the United States would still ensure Israel’s security, citing the Iron Dome missile defense system and his support for Israel’s “ability to respond to attacks.” But he said he would block the delivery of weapons that could be fired into densely populated areas of Rafah.


The area that was hit on Sunday was not included in evacuation orders that Israel issued in early May, and some Palestinians sheltering in the camp said they had believed it was a safe zone.


The Israeli military said that the target of Sunday’s strike was a Hamas compound, and that “precise munitions” had been used to target a commander and another senior official there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “tragic accident” that civilians were killed.


Around one million people have fled Rafah during Israel’s assault on the city, according to the United Nations, including many in the western part of the city and in the area around the camp that was struck on Sunday.


A State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said the United States was watching Israel’s investigation of the incident closely.


“Israel has said that it might have been that there was a Hamas ammo dump near the area where they took the strike,” Mr. Miller said. “It’s a very important factual question that needs to be answered.”


The Israeli military’s spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, told a news conference that Israeli jets had fired the “smallest munitions” that they could use and added that “our munitions alone could not have ignited a fire of this size.”


Israel invaded Gaza after the Hamas-led attacks of Oct. 7 killed some 1,200 people in Israel. Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed more than 36,000 people, many of them women and children, according to health officials in Gaza.


World leaders, including Mr. Biden, have warned of the dangers of a major military operation in Rafah without a proper plan for evacuating the displaced Gazans taking refuge there.


Mr. Miller was able to provide little detail on hundreds of thousands of people who have fled Rafah in recent weeks.


“Some of them have gone back to Khan Younis,” he said. “Some of them have pushed into western Rafah. Some of them have gone to Mawasi. I don’t think there’s any one answer.” Mr. Miller said he did not know if Israel was assisting those people.


Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute and an adviser to Palestinian leaders during past peace negotiations, said the White House was benefiting from its ambiguous descriptions on Mr. Biden’s “red line” for Israel’s military operation in Rafah.


“It’s definitely blurry and by design,” Mr. Elgindy said. “They don’t want to be pinned down. They don’t want to pin themselves down by identifying an exact point or line that gets across because Israel will absolutely cross that line. We’ve seen that over and over again.”


Erica L. Green contributed reporting from Washington, and Michael Crowley from New York.



23) U.S.-built pier for delivering aid to Gaza breaks apart in rough seas.

By Helene Cooper Reporting from Washington, May 29, 2024


A platform sits in shallow water alongside a beached military vessel.

Rough seas over the weekend broke four U.S. Army ships free of their moorings and damaged the temporary pier the Army had built to deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza. Credit...Oren Ziv/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The temporary pier that the U.S. military constructed and put in place to provide much-needed humanitarian aid for Gaza has broken apart in rough seas, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.


The latest calamity to befall the pier endeavor punctuated a particularly grim several days in Gaza, where Israeli forces have ramped up attacks on the city of Rafah just two days after carrying out a deadly strike that killed dozens of people.


“Unfortunately, we had a perfect storm of high sea states, and then, as I mentioned, this North African weather system also came in at the same time, creating not an optimal environment to operate,” Sabrina Singh, the Pentagon deputy press secretary, said at a news conference.


Army engineers are working to put the pier back together and Defense Department officials hope that it “will be fully operational in just a little over a week,” she said.


In early March, President Biden surprised the Pentagon by announcing that the U.S. military would build a pier for Gaza. Defense officials immediately predicted that there would be logistical and security issues.


In the days after the pier became operational on May 17, trucks were looted as they made their way to a warehouse, forcing the U.N. World Food Program to suspend operations. After officials beefed up security, the weather turned bad. American officials had been hoping that the sea surges would not start until later in the summer.


On Saturday, heavy seas forced two small American military vessels that were part of the pier operation to beach in Israel. On Sunday, part of the pier broke off completely, including a wider parking area for dropping off supplies transported by ship, officials said. That part will have to be reconnected.


The pier is now being removed from the coast of Gaza to be repaired after getting damaged in the rough seas, Ms. Singh said. Over the next two days, it will be pulled out and taken to Ashdod, in southern Israel, for repairs.


She said that the fact that the pier, which cost $320 million, was able to get 1,000 metric tons of aid into Gaza before it broke apart demonstrates that it can work.


White House policy does not allow U.S. troops on the ground in Gaza, so the Pentagon was able to start but not finish the mission.


And as the pier project struggles, the situation in Gaza remains dire. Even before Sunday’s deadly Israeli strikes, more than 34,000 people had died and more than 77,000 people had been wounded, according to health officials in the territory.