[bauaw] Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 12, 2024

  • From: bonnieweinstein <giobon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: BAUAW <bauaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 12 Feb 2024 09:01:46 -0800

 

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Gaza Strip Access Restrictions.pdf since 2007

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gaza_Strip_Access_Restrictions.pdf
Palestinians killed and wounded by Israel:As of February 12, 2024, the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 30,000,* (at least 12,000 are children), 67,984 wounded, and more than 492 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.


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


FROM THE RIVER TO THE SEA  PALESTINE WILL BE FREE!END ALL U.S. AID TO ISRAEL!FOR A DEMOCRATIC, SECULAR PALESTINE!

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

Fight for Free Speech: Anti-Colonial Teach-In

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

Tamarack, 1501 Harrison Street, Oakland, 94612

Uhuru Solidarity Movement

(510) 603-6150, oakland@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

NoMoreGenocide.eventbee.com

 

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

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

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

Defend anti-colonial free speech!  

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We are all Palestinian

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwuhbLczgI

Greetings,

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

Mistahi

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


We are all Palestinian

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwuhbLczgI


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Labor for Palestine

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

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.

 

Bay Area Unions and Workers Rally and March For Palestine In Oaklandhttps://youtu.be/L9k79honqIA


For More Information:bayarealabor4palestine@xxxxxxxxxProduction of Labor Video Project

www.labormedia.net

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W0ad3mEylwY

Just Like The Nazis Did

By David Rovics

 

After so many decades of patronage

By the world’s greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

After crushing so many uprisings

Now they’re making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their Final Solution

Just like the Nazis did

 

They forced refugees into ghettos

Then set the ghettos aflame

Murdering writers and poets

And so no one remember their names

Killing their entire families

The grandparents, women and kids

The uncles and cousins and babies

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re bombing all means of sustaining

Human life at all

See the few shelters remaining

Watch as the tower blocks fall

They’re bombing museums and libraries

In order to get rid

Of any memory of the people who lived here

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re saying these people are animals

And they should all end up dead

They’re sending soldiers into schools

And shooting children in the head

The rhetoric is identical

And with Gaza off the grid

They’ve already said what happens next

Just like the Nazis did

 

Words of war for domestic consumption

And lies for all the rest

To try to distract our attention

Among their enablers in the West

Because Israel needs their imports

To keep those pallets on the skids

They need fuel and they need missiles

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re using food as a weapon

They’re using water that way, too

They’re trying to kill everyone in Gaza

Or make them flee, it’s true

As the pundits talk of “after the war”

Like with the Fall of Madrid

The victors are preparing for more

Just like the Nazis did

 

But it’s after the conquest’s complete

If history is any guide

When the occupying army

Is positioned to decide

When disease and famine kills

Whoever may have hid

Behind the ghetto walls

Just like the Nazis did

 

All around the world

People are trying to tell

There's a genocide unfolding

Ringing alarm bells

But with such a powerful axis

And so many lucrative bids

They know who wants their money

Just like the Nazis did

 

There's so many decades of patronage

For the world's greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

They're crushing so many uprisings

Now they're making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their final solution

Just like the Nazis did

  Just like the Nazis did

    Just like the Nazis did


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Free Julian Assange


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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:

https://www.congress.gov/members/find-your-member

 

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: 

             202-456-1111

             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 



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Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!

FREE HIM NOW!

Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733



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Leonard Peltier Update - Not One More Year

 

Coleman 1 has gone on permanent lockdown.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fight for Free Speech – YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FM8GDeGv90E

 

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

www.freeleonardpeltiernow.org


A Plea for the Compassionate Release of Leonard Peltier

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Self Portrait by Leonard Peltier


Write to:

Leonard Peltier 89637-132

USP Coleman 1

P.O. Box 1033

Coleman, FL 33521

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

Video at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jWdJdODKO6M&feature=youtu.be
Sign our petition urging President Biden to grant clemency to Leonard Peltier.

 

https://www.freeleonardpeltier.com/petition

 

Email: contact@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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


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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)


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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:

https://www.amazon.com/Reports-Within-Belly-Beast-Department-ebook/dp/B084656JDZ/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

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


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Sign the petition:

https://dontextraditeassange.com/petition/


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Tell Congress to Help #FreeDanielHale

 

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

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

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

As the Sam Adams Associates note:

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


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

Happy new year, and thank you for your support!

Jesselyn Radack
Director
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
ExposeFacts

Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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Resources for Resisting Federal Repressionhttps://www.nlg.org/federalrepressionresources/

 

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@xxxxxxxxx

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


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Articles

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1) With Israel signaling an offensive into Rafah, Netanyahu said it would require removing civilians.

By Aaron Boxerman reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 9, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/09/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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More than a million Palestinians displaced from their homes have crowded into the city of Rafah, where pedestrians filled a street on Thursday. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has ordered the Israeli military to come up with a plan for civilians sheltering in the southern city of Rafah to evacuate, his office said on Friday, clearing the way for an expected offensive into the crowded city.

 

“Any forceful action in Rafah would require the evacuation of the civilian population from combat zones,” the prime minister’s office said, without saying what area those zones would cover.

 

In recent weeks, roughly 1.4 million Palestinians have squeezed into Rafah — one of the last areas of the Gaza Strip in which Israeli ground troops have yet to deploy in force. Many have been displaced multiple times since the beginning of the war, and finding food, water and medicine has become a daily struggle.

 

But it is not clear where those people could go.

 

The Biden administration warned on Thursday that it would not at this point support Israeli plans for a military operation in Rafah, and both a White House spokesman and the U.N. secretary general warned of catastrophe should Israel attack.

 

“Given the circumstances and the conditions there that we see right now, we think a military operation at this time would be a disaster for those people,” a White House spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters.

 

In a statement, the Israeli prime minister’s office said that it could not realize Israel’s aim of eliminating Hamas’s rule in Gaza while leaving intact what it said were battalions of the group’s fighters in Rafah.

 

The military’s “combined plan” would have to both “evacuate the civilian population and topple the brigades,” it added.

 

Israeli leaders have made clear in recent days that they intend to extend the invasion of Gaza into Rafah, on the border with Egypt. On Wednesday, Mr. Netanyahu said the Israeli security establishment was preparing to operate in the densely crowded area.

 

“Our soldiers are now in Khan Younis, Hamas’s main stronghold.” his office later wrote on social media. “They’ll soon go into Rafah, Hamas’s last bastion.”

 

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based in the occupied West Bank, demanded that Israel’s allies put pressure on its government not to send troops into Rafah.

 

“The obligation to pressure Israel to refrain from committing this attack, with its potential for wide-scale massacres of civilians, falls squarely on the shoulders of countries that still believe in Israel’s right to self-defense,” the ministry said in a statement.

 

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.


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2) Israeli forces raid Al-Amal Hospital in southern Gaza, an aid group says.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 9, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/09/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Credit...Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Israeli forces raided a hospital complex in southern Gaza on Friday and were searching inside the main building, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said, after weeks of intense ground fighting nearby that has left patients and staff trapped inside.

 

The group, which runs the hospital, Al-Amal, has in recent weeks described it as being under “complete siege” with tanks positioned around it and near-daily Israeli attacks. It said this week that more than 200 patients, staff members and rescue workers were inside the hospital.

 

An Israeli military spokesman said he could not comment on the location of Israeli forces. But Israel has said its intelligence indicates that Hamas, the armed group that carried out the deadly Oct. 7 terror attacks in Israel, is operating from inside and around the hospital in the city of Khan Younis, though it has not offered evidence publicly to support the claim.

 

The United Nations has described dire conditions and intensifying urban fighting in Khan Younis, where the Israeli military says it is trying to kill or capture Hamas leaders it believes are hiding in and beneath the city in an extensive network of tunnels.

 

Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent agency, said Friday that the group was having difficulty communicating with its staff at the hospital, and that its teams had stopped responding after reporting via wireless radio that Israeli forces were inside. She said that normal communication with their staff has been cut off for about a month.

 

Last week, the agency said that Israeli forces had stormed the courtyard of the hospital and opened fire, hitting five vehicles, including ambulances, and that two of its staff members had been shot and killed by Israeli forces near the entrance on the day before. It has since issued regular reports of firing on the building.

 

The United Nations has said that heavy fighting around the hospital has jeopardized the safety of medical workers and patients.

 

The Red Crescent said Thursday that the lives of 80 patients were in danger because of a lack of oxygen supplies and an inability to perform surgeries. One patient had died because of a lack of oxygen, the statement added.

 

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.


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3) ‘There is no place for the people to run to,’ a man sheltering in Rafah says.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 9, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/09/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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


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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

The Israeli military declined to answer questions about the strikes on Thursday, and they did not appear to signal the start of a major new ground offensive in Rafah.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting.


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4) The U.S. and U.N. warn Israel that a military advance in Rafah could be disastrous.

By Farnaz Fassihi and Alan Yuhas, Feb. 9, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/09/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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“We think a military operation at this time would be a disaster” for the masses sheltering in Rafah, John Kirby, a White House spokesman, told reporters on Thursday. Credit...Pete Marovich for The New York Times


The Biden administration said on Thursday that it would not at this point support Israeli plans for a military operation in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza where more than half of the enclave’s total population has sought shelter, and both a White House spokesman and the U.N. secretary general warned of catastrophe should Israel attack.

 

“Given the circumstances and the conditions there that we see right now, we think a military operation at this time would be a disaster for those people,” a White House spokesman, John Kirby, told reporters.

 

Up to 1.8 million of Gaza’s 2.2 million people have fled their homes since Israel's bombardment and invasion began, and more than a million have sought refuge in Rafah, which lies on the border with Egypt and is a major crossing point for aid trucks. U.N. officials have warned that the city is crammed full of people, squalid and short of critical supplies.

 

An Israeli offensive into Rafah would create a “gigantic tragedy,” the U.N. secretary general, António Guterres, said at a news conference, adding that the war’s combatants had violated international laws of conflict over the last four months.

 

“Half of Gaza’s population is now crammed into Rafah,” Mr. Guterres said. “They have nowhere to go. They have no homes — and they have no hope. They are living in overcrowded makeshift shelters, in unsanitary conditions without running water, electricity and adequate food supplies.”

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Wednesday that Israeli troops had been directed to prepare for deployment in Rafah, calling it one of “Hamas’s last remaining strongholds,” and Palestinian media reported on Thursday that Israeli forces bombarded Rafah with airstrikes.

 

But Mr. Kirby said that U.S. officials had seen “no plans that would convince us that they are about to or imminently going to conduct any kind of major operations in Rafah.”

 

With so many Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, he said, “the Israeli military has a special obligation as they conduct operations, there or anywhere else, to make sure that they’re factoring in protection for innocent civilian life.”

 

He added, however, that “we’ll let the Israelis speak to their military operations.”

 

A State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, made similar remarks on Thursday, saying that U.S. officials continued to hold “very tough and frank conversations” with Israeli officials about the toll in Gaza. The territory’s health officials say deaths have surpassed 27,000 and that many more people have been injured, including large numbers of women and children.

 

“We believe that the civilian death toll in Gaza has been far too high,” Mr. Patel said. He added that U.S. officials have pushed for steps that could be taken to limit the deaths, and that it was “a moral and strategic imperative to minimize the impact on civilians.”

 

Israel has said that its forces seek to limit harm to civilians, and that it has been allowing humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, while also asserting that large amounts of the aid are being captured by Hamas. For months, international pressure has grown for Israel to scale back its military campaign and allow far more supplies into the territory.

 

Top U.N. officials have repeatedly called for a permanent humanitarian cease-fire on the ground that aid delivery at the scale needed is nearly impossible as the war rages. Tensions between the U.N. and Israel increased further after Israel accused 12 employees of the main U.N. aid agency for Palestinians, known as UNRWA, of taking part in the Hamas-led attacks on Oct. 7, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people.

 

Mr. Guterres said he decided to immediately fire most of the accused staff members — two others were already dead — because “those allegations were credible” and “the accusations were really dangerous.”

 

But he also said that Israel had repeatedly denied access to the U.N.’s humanitarian operations in Gaza, particularly in the territory’s north. Only 10 out of 61 planned aid convoys were allowed to reach the north in January, he said, adding that aid workers faced multiple dangers, including live fire.

 

Mr. Guterres said that Israel had shot at one of its aid convoys with naval artillery fire this week. “We are witnessing violations of international humanitarian law and those violations must stop, not only by Israel,” said Mr. Guterres.


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5) Israeli Settlers Left Gaza in 2005. They Now See a Chance to Return.

The United States and many other nations are pushing Israel to hand Gaza back to Palestinian leadership. But within Israel, a powerful lobby is trying to rally support for Jewish settlements there.

By Natan Odenheimer, Feb. 9, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/09/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-settlers.html

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Right-wing activists blocked a road and protested against delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza this week at the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel. Credit...Dylan Martinez/Reuters


A group of Israelis hoping to live in Gaza at the war’s end has already published maps imagining Jewish-majority towns dotting the territory. Far-right Israeli lawmakers have drafted plans to make such settlements legal. And Israel’s national security minister has called for Arab residents to leave Gaza so that Jews can populate the coastal strip.

 

After four months of war and a death toll that Gazan officials say exceeds 27,000 killed, international pressure is mounting on Israel to withdraw from Gaza. But a small group of Israelis is pushing for the opposite: They want Israel to retain control of the territory, from which Hamas launched the deadliest attack in Israeli history, and re-establish the Jewish settlements that were dismantled in Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza.

 

“The minute the war is over, we’ll build our homes there,” said Yair Cohen, 23, a reserve soldier, who said his family was evicted from Gaza in 2005. “The question isn’t whether we will return when the fighting is over, but if there will be a Gaza.”

 

To Palestinians, the settlers’ plans would most likely end in mass displacement and an end to their dream of a Palestinian state — a dream that much of the world would like to see realized. “Israel wants the Palestinian people to choose between destruction and displacement,” the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, told the body last month.

 

But unlikely as resettlement seems to outsiders, the idea is being promoted at a time when Israel has yet to decide how postwar Gaza should be governed.

 

Though the United States and other powers are pushing for Gaza to form part of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has other priorities, including staying in power and placating his far-right coalition partners. In the absence of a government plan for after the war, talk of settlement is filling the vacuum and alarming Israel’s allies.

 

The movement to settle Gaza is driven by nationalist fervor, religious zeal and security concerns after Oct. 7, when Hamas-led fighters stormed the Israeli border from Gaza, killing about 1,200 people and taking 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials.

 

The subsequent war — and the absence of a clear and alternative plan for Gaza’s future — provides what the settlers see as an opportunity. For nearly two decades, settlers and their supporters have viewed the 2005 withdrawal as a catastrophic setback.

 

Israel’s prime minister and defense minister have ruled out resettlement  and the idea lacks support from most of the Israeli public. A Hebrew University poll in December found that 56 percent of Israelis oppose resettling Gaza. But a vocal minority is trying to build momentum behind their project, and they are supported by a third of the lawmakers in Israel’s far-right governing coalition.

 

The settlers’ dream of Israelis returning to Gaza would mean replacing the Palestinians currently living there, and while the settler movement is divided on how to do that, some extremist settlers advocate deportation.

 

At a recent settler conference in Jerusalem, which was attended by 3,500 people, including some far-right ministers, one group held up signs reading: “Only transfer will bring peace.”

 

As he addressed the meeting, Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, saw the posters and told the group: “You are right.” Then, of the Palestinians living in Gaza, he added: “They should go away from here.”

 

Some attendees shouted: “Only eviction!”

 

The settler movement has a long history and powerful supporters, including Mr. Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister. Both men wield outsize influence because their small parties are critical to keeping Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition in power.

 

The Israeli government began building settlements after the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan and Gaza from Egypt.

 

Most countries consider the settlements illegal, and regard them as an obstacle to the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state. Though Israel withdrew from Gaza, more than 200 settlements housing roughly half a million Israelis remain in the occupied West Bank.

 

Beyond far-right politicians, the movement also includes Israelis who lived in Gaza settlements before 2005, as well as religious hard-liners from West Bank settlements. A keynote speaker at rallies, Uzi Sharbav, was convicted of taking part in the murder of three Palestinians in the 1980s. Although sentenced to decades in prison, he was pardoned in 1990.

 

Some settlers view living in Gaza through a religious prism, seeking to inhabit the land of their ancestors in fulfillment of what they believe was a promise made by God in biblical times. Others say settlements are essential for Israel’s security, arguing that a civilian presence among Palestinians makes it more difficult for militants to organize attacks.

 

Avishai Bar-Yehuda, 67, was forced to leave the strip with his family nearly 20 years ago. Now dying from cancer, his final wish is to be laid to rest in the sands of Gaza.

 

“We pray to return,” he said at the settlers’ rally.

 

The push to resettle Gaza is happening both in political channels, in which far-right politicians are trying to give it legal backing, and at the grass roots.

 

In one provocation last month, settlement supporters briefly sent their children to break through military lines to play inside the buffer zone near the Gaza border.

 

In November, 11 members of Israel’s Parliament, mostly from Mr. Netanyahu’s party, Likud, proposed repealing a law that prohibits Israeli citizens from entering Gaza.

 

Likud has not advanced those proposals, and Mr. Netanyahu has called resettlement “an unrealistic goal.” The United States recently imposed financial sanctions on several settlers in the West Bank amid a rise in settler-led attacks on Palestinians there, highlighting foreign opposition to the settlers’ plans.

 

But the settler movement has a track record of ignoring both foreign criticism and official policy, often building unauthorized settlements that later gain government approval.

 

Already, settler leaders are drawing up plans to infiltrate Gaza, hoping to build unauthorized villages that could eventually be recognized.

 

In early February, over 100 activists entered a closed military zone near the border, trying to breach Gaza. The military turned them away.

 

One of the activists, Amos Azaria, explained how supporters would start with small encampments.

 

“We’ll keep trying to get inside,” he said in an interview shortly after the failed incursion. “Should we have been successful today, we would probably be removed quickly. But we will take more substantial steps. We’ll arrive with tents and try to settle. Many families are ready to do whatever it takes.”

 

Some believe that Israeli soldiers already in Gaza could help settlers. And scores of soldiers have posted videos from Gaza in which they express support for resettlement.

 

“It’s our country, all of it — Gaza too,” Capt. Avihai Friedman, a military rabbi, was recorded recently telling a group of soldiers in Gaza. “The whole promised land.”

 

Settler leaders have tried to shake off the notion that they are driven by religious conviction alone. They argue that such communities make Israel safer. If settlers had been allowed to remain in Gaza, they say, it would have been harder for Hamas and other militants to organize the Oct. 7 attack.

 

“Only settlements justify long-term military presence, which in turn ensures security,” said Brig. Gen. Amir Avivi, former deputy commander of the Gaza Division and now chairman of the Israel Defense and Security Forum, a right-wing institute.

 

Many Israelis disagree. “The settlements there were a security risk,” said Omer Zanany, security expert at a foreign policy research group, the Mitvim Institute, and Berl Katznelson Foundation. “Israeli military forces had to escort children to kindergartens and schools.”

 

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinians’ ambassador to Britain, compared resettlement with the mass displacement of Palestinians that surrounded  Israel’s founding in 1948. “The Biden administration could end all this tomorrow if it stopped shielding, arming and funding not only Israel but its illegal expansion,” he said.

 

Opposition also extends to some settler leaders. Oded Revivi, the mayor of Efrat,  said those supporting resettlement had “no grip on reality,” adding, “There is no justification for deporting Palestinians.”

 

Although Mr. Netanyahu’s government does not officially back resettlement, critics fear the idea will gain momentum because Israel’s leaders have not proposed a real alternative vision.

 

“What scares me is that the settler movement is playing in an empty field,” Mr. Zanany said. “No one else is pushing a vision for after the war.”

 

Patrick Kingsley contributed reporting.


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6) Egypt Warily Eyes Gaza as War Builds Pressure on Its Border

Egypt has reinforced its frontier with Gaza and warned Israel that any move that would send Gazans spilling into Egyptian territory could jeopardize their decades-old peace treaty.

By Vivian Yee, Feb. 10, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/10/world/middleeast/egypt-gaza-israel-war.html

image/webp

Displaced Palestinians in a makeshift tent camp on Thursday in Rafah, on Gaza’s border with Egypt. Credit...Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters


More than half of Gaza’s population is squeezed into miserable tent cities in Rafah, a small city along Egypt’s border, left with nowhere else to go by Israel’s military campaign.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has threatened to overrun the area, and on Friday, he directed his forces to plan the evacuation of civilians from Rafah to clear the way for a new offensive against Hamas.

 

But it is not clear where those people could go.

 

Rather than opening its border to give Palestinians a refuge from the onslaught, as it has done for people fleeing other conflicts in the region, Egypt has reinforced its frontier with Gaza. It has also warned Israel that any move that would send Gazans spilling into its territory could jeopardize the decades-old Israel-Egypt peace treaty, an anchor of Middle East stability since 1979.

 

Israel’s next steps in the war could force such a breaking point.

 

During past conflicts in the region, Egypt has taken in refugees from Syria, Yemen and neighboring Sudan. But in this war, it has reacted very differently to the plight of its Arab neighbors, spurred by a mix of alarm over its own security and fear that the displacement could become permanent and undermine Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

 

Egyptian leaders are also wary of the Islamist Hamas stoking militancy and spreading influence in their country, as Egypt has spent years trying to quash Islamists and an insurgency at home.

 

A Hamas-led attack on Israel on Oct. 7 set off the war in Gaza, and Mr. Netanyahu has called Rafah one of “Hamas’s last remaining strongholds.” However accurate that label, Rafah is also now the full-to-bursting shelter of last resort for about 1.4 million hungry, desperate people, according to the United Nations, most of them displaced from elsewhere in Gaza.

 

Egyptian officials have urged their Western counterparts to tell Israel that they see any move to force Gazans to cross into Sinai as a violation that would effectively suspend the 1979 peace treaty, according to a senior Western diplomat in Cairo. Another senior Western official, a U.S. official and an Israeli official said the message was even more direct, with Egypt threatening to suspend the treaty if the Israeli military pushed Gazans into Egypt.

 

The Egyptian government repeated that warning to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Wednesday, when Mr. Blinken was in Cairo to meet with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the Israeli official said.

 

The U.S. official said Egypt had made clear it was prepared to militarize its border, perhaps with tanks, if Palestinians begin to be pushed into Sinai.

 

While Egyptians have never warmed to Israel in more than four decades of peace, their treaty has been one of the few stable constants in a turbulent region. Egypt has benefited from the security cooperation and from the generous American support — including more than $1 billion in annual aid — that it brought.

 

And despite the rising tensions, Egyptian and Israeli officials are still communicating with each other.

 

The Israeli official said that military officers from both countries, who have a long-established relationship of trust born of security cooperation around the border, are also speaking privately about Israel’s likely incursion into Rafah. In those discussions, the Egyptians asked Israel to limit the operation’s scale, this official said.

 

The two countries, which have jointly enforced a crippling blockade on Gaza since Hamas took control in 2007, are also discussing giving Israel a greater role in securing the narrow buffer zone that runs along the approximately nine-mile border between Egypt and Gaza, according to regional and Western officials.

 

But state-owned Egyptian media outlets have published anonymous denials by Egyptian officials about any agreement, signaling the Cairo government’s reluctance for its population to see any hint of cooperation with Israel. And Israel’s talk of controlling the zone has only added to strains in the relationship.

 

Egypt is Gaza’s only neighbor other than Israel, and since Israel invaded the territory in October, Egypt has helped about 1,700 gravely wounded Palestinians leave Gaza for treatment in Egyptian hospitals.

 

But Cairo categorically rejects any larger influx of Palestinian refugees onto Egyptian soil.

 

“There is a difference between hosting refugees and agreeing on forced displacement of a people,” Hani Labib, a pro-government commentator in Egypt, said Tuesday on an evening talk show.

 

The sensitivity dates back to 1948, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were expelled from their homes in the war surrounding Israel’s creation, never to return.

 

Many Palestinians and other Arabs refer to this chapter in history as the nakba, Arabic for catastrophe, and the permanent displacements of 1948 have reverberated in the Arab world’s memory as an injustice never remedied.

 

To many people in Egypt and across the Middle East, Israel forcing Gazans to leave their homes during this war, and perhaps flee Gaza altogether, would amount to a second nakba.

 

Early in the war, Israel pushed in diplomatic discussions for Gazans to move to Sinai, but Israeli officials have stopped formally advocating this since November.

 

Still, comments by hard-line Israeli government ministers endorsing the expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza and open calls from some Israelis to rebuild Jewish settlements in the enclave have fed Arab fears that, after the war, Gazans who leave would be unable to return — further undermining hopes for a future Palestinian state.

 

Those worries also set Gazans apart from refugees in other crises.

 

Though some Gazans have said in interviews with The Times that they hope to escape to Egypt as the war has intensified, many, motivated by a bone-deep commitment to the dream of statehood, reject any suggestion of abandoning their homeland.

 

“Egypt is not an option for me to run to,” said Fathi Abu Snema, 45, who has been sheltering in a Rafah school for four months. “I prefer to die here.”

 

Egypt’s president, Mr. el-Sisi, has sworn repeatedly to reject what he calls the “liquidation of the Palestinian cause,” winning applause even from Egyptians frustrated with him on other grounds.

 

But perhaps more important, Cairo also dreads what Palestinian refugees in Sinai would mean for Egypt’s security. Restive, embittered refugees could launch attacks at Israel from Egyptian soil, inviting Israeli retaliation, or be recruited into the local insurgency in Sinai that Egypt has battled for years.

 

Egypt also fears the spread onto its territory of Hamas because of its origins as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian Islamist political organization. The Brotherhood came to power in free elections after Egypt’s 2011 Arab Spring uprising. But Mr. el-Sisi’s regime, which overthrew the Brotherhood in 2013, has vilified the group as terrorists and spent the past decade trying to eradicate it from Egypt.

 

In another sign of the growing pressure on Egypt, Israel wants control over the narrow buffer zone separating Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

 

Mr. Netanyahu has said that Israel must control the zone, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, and analysts say Egypt is worried that Israel wants to seize it as a means to push Gazans into Sinai.

 

Israeli leaders have cited security concerns, saying Hamas smuggles weaponry through the Gaza-Egypt border zone.

 

But years ago, Egypt destroyed the main smuggling tunnels from its territory into Gaza, flooded them with seawater and razed the buildings that provided cover for people using the tunnels. It argues that it has done its part to sever smuggling routes.

 

Israeli military and intelligence officials have concluded that a significant amount of Hamas’s weaponry comes not from smuggling, but from unexploded munitions fired by Israel into Gaza and recycled by Hamas, as well as from arms stolen from Israeli bases, according to a recent Times investigation.

 

Sinai is such a sensitive region for Egypt that it normally bars most nonresidents from entering it, including journalists. But interviews and videos taken in recent years by the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors abuses in the area, show that the Egyptian military continued working to destroy new tunnels until at least late 2020. The material was shared with The Times.

 

The group interviewed five smugglers in Sinai who said smuggling between Egypt and Gaza came to a halt at least two years ago. It also spoke to an Egyptian soldier stationed at the border who said troops were ordered to shoot any moving object they spotted in the area to deter smuggling. Its staff has observed the Egyptian military using patrols, drones and bulldozers to guard against smuggling.

 

With its military outmatched by Israel’s and its economy mired in a deep crisis, Egypt has few options for bending Israel to its will. And its mountain of debt and desperation for foreign currency have raised questions over whether Israel’s Western allies could offer rich enough financial incentives to persuade Egypt to resettle Gazans in Sinai.

 

But so far, Western leaders, fearing instability in Egypt, have instead pressed Israel to refrain from displacing Gazans to Egypt.

 

Reporting was contributed by Patrick Kingsley, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Adam Rasgon from Jerusalem, Nada Rashwan from Cairo, and Abu Bakr Bashir from London.


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7) These Israelis and Palestinians Are Still Working for Peace. Just Quietly.

Positions have hardened on both sides in the face of the Gaza war, but some activists refuse to give up hope. They let us sit in on one of their meetings.

By Adam SellaVideo by Guy Barak, David Blumenfeld, Alexandra Eaton and Emily Rhyne, Feb. 10, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/10/world/middleeast/israelis-palestinians-peace-activists.html

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For almost 20 years, Combatants For Peace has called for non-violence and an “end to Israel’s occupation of Palestine.” But after Oct. 7, some attendees are more hesitant to speak out about their activism. Times reporters attended one of their sessions. (Screenshot from video)


Palestinians crowded into a small house in a town outside Bethlehem, as their compatriots fought in the Gaza Strip, to talk about a subject that has become nearly taboo in their cities and towns:

 

How to build a lasting peace.

 

“This thing is not appropriate in the community we live in,” said Aya Sbeih, a Palestinian member of the group that was meeting in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Combatants for Peace. “So I keep it a secret.”

 

Many peace groups have been struggling  since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack and Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which have hardened the positions of many Israelis and Palestinians. But some activists, including those in Combatants for Peace, have quietly started to resume their work.

 

Ms. Sbeih, a member of the group for seven years, said she had come to several recent meetings with newfound doubts about peace activism, at least in the current climate. And some attendees said they now feel uncomfortable speaking publicly about their work. But Ms. Sbeih said the meetings “always give me hope that something will happen.”

 

Founded by former fighters from both sides of the conflict, Combatants for Peace drew a range of people to its January meeting, including young students just returned from reserve duty in Gaza and longtime peace activists. Some said they were fed up with despair and wanted to latch onto a glimmer of hope.

 

But they face intense opposition in their communities, where grief and anger dominate over the Oct. 7 attacks, which Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, and over Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which has killed more than 27,000 people, according to Gazan health officials.

 

Since the war began, support has increased “for hard-line positions of violence, and you can see that in both Israeli and Palestinian society,” said John Lyndon, the executive director of the Alliance for Middle East Peace, an organization of peace groups.

 

Alongside the growing hawkish sentiment, he said, there was a rise in “opposition, eye-rolling and disagreements with organizations and individuals who are urging for nonviolence, diplomacy and partnership.”

 

Chen Alon, a co-founder of Combatants for Peace, encountered that early one day when a neighbor stopped to ask, “Have you finally sobered up?” That is an expression that, since Oct. 7, some Israelis have been using to describe their abandonment of the political left.

 

Mr. Alon, a former Israeli military officer who refused to serve in 2002 over his objections to the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, suggested they get coffee to talk it over. But questions have also come from within activists’ homes.

 

Jamil Qassas, the president of the Palestinian side of the organization, said a relative had recently challenged him about the group. “What’s the role of the organization right now?” he was asked. “Are the Israeli members participating in the war?”

 

Mr. Qassas led Palestinians in clashes with Israeli forces during the first intifada, but renounced violence after he began working in Israel and came to conclude that not all Israelis were enemies. He assured his relative that Combatants for Peace maintains its antiwar stance, and that nonviolence remains a basic principle, including for Israeli members.

 

“I know there are lots of people who don’t accept what I do,” he acknowledged.

 

Amid a pervasive atmosphere of distrust in which each side accuses the other of having no real interest in peace, the meetings at the group’s office in the town of Beit Jala offer refuge for new members and veteran volunteers alike.

 

For Hila Lernau, an Israeli who attended an event for the first time last month, the gathering was a respite from a drawn-out argument at home. Ms. Lernau had been urging her daughter to resist joining the military as a conscientious objector. But shortly before the meeting, Ms. Lernau learned that she had lost her fight. Her daughter was going into the service.

 

Feeling as if her efforts had been futile, Ms. Lernau asked, “How do you stop your children from becoming fighters?”

 

Mr. Qassas replied that it was essential to teach children long before fighting became an option, saying they should learn “the depth of the problem, and the needs of each side.”

 

Secrecy and isolation are nothing new for the organization, which was born out of clandestine meetings in 2005, during a Palestinian uprising called the second intifada.

 

Mr. Alon still recalls the fear he felt at early meetings in Beit Jala, Bethlehem and East Jerusalem, when a handful of former Israeli soldiers, conscientious objectors to the occupation of the West Bank, met with Palestinians who had also renounced violence.

 

“It was my first time in the West Bank without a gun,” Mr. Alon said of those meetings, which took place amid fears of violence and kidnapping.

 

Nearly 20 years later, he is not immune to the passion aroused by the Oct. 7 attack. “When I saw the atrocities done to my people,” Mr. Alon said, “of course I experienced difficult emotions of vengeance.”

 

When Mr. Qassas called him on Oct. 7 to ask after his safety, Mr. Alon felt grounded again. Then, as the war progressed and the death toll in Gaza rose, Mr. Alon tried to support Palestinians in the organization, some of whom have lost dozens of relatives.

 

“We would talk about the most difficult things,” Mr. Qassas said, “but at least we stayed together and kept going.”

 

Both activists, despite the resistance they face, cling to hope that when the conflict finally ends, “we will be the infrastructure, the community upon which our joint life will be built,” Mr. Alon said.

 

“If I have sobered up,” he said, “it’s in knowing that violence won’t solve anything.”


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8) Terrified Gazans Await an Israeli Advance in the City Where They Fled

By Ben Hubbard, Feb. 10, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/10/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Palestinians looking at the destruction from an airstrike in Rafah in the Southern Gaza Strip on Friday. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press


As the war has raged, Ahlam Shimali has watched as people have fled fighting and destruction elsewhere in Gaza and packed into Rafah, the territory’s southernmost district, where she lives.

 

Rents have skyrocketed, and multiple families share small apartments. Tent camps have taken over most open areas. Food and fuel have become so scarce that she burns old clothes and pages from books to heat canned beans and bake flatbread.

 

Now, Israel’s stated intention to expand its ground invasion into Rafah has left her terrified, with no idea where she and her family could flee.

 

“What would happen to us if there were tanks, clashes, an invasion and an army?” said Ms. Shimali, 31.

 

More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are now sheltering in Rafah, many of them after Israel told them to flee south to avoid the war farther north.

 

Israeli officials have been suggesting that the next step in their effort to destroy Hamas will be in Rafah, and, on Friday, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that “any forceful action in Rafah would require the evacuation of the civilian population from combat zones.”

 

The Israeli government has not specified which areas these would be and where the civilians now sheltering in them would be expected to go.

 

Aid groups, the secretary general of the United Nations and officials from the Biden administration have warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be catastrophic. The area’s high density would increase the chances of civilian deaths in military strikes, and an advance by Israeli ground troops could further interrupt the delivery of aid.

 

Already, the overcrowding has taxed the area’s resources, and newly displaced Gazans continue to arrive as fighting rages on in the city of Khan Younis to the north.

 

“It is very bad; the hygiene level is very low,” said Fathi Abu Snema, 45, who has been sheltering with his family in a United Nations school in Rafah since early in the war. “Here we eat only canned food, which is anything but healthy. Everything else is very expensive.”

 

He feared that many would die if Israel invaded Rafah, especially since people had nowhere else to go.

 

“I prefer to die here,” he said. “There is not one safe place to go in Gaza. You could get killed anywhere, even in street.”

 

Rafah sits along the border with Egypt, although very few Gazans have been allowed to leave during the war, mostly because Egypt, and many Gazans themselves, fear that if they leave, they will never return to Gaza.

 

That leaves few options for people like Sana al-Kabariti, a pharmacist and skin-care expert.

 

She fled to Rafah from Gaza City, where both her home and her clinic have since been destroyed, giving her little to return to, she said.

 

Even if the war were to stop soon, she expects there would be little interest in her skin-care services, since people would be focused on trying to rebuild their homes and lives, she said.

 

“I am worried about my future in Gaza,” said Ms. al-Kabariti, 33. “I really need to leave the strip.”

 

Iyad Abuheweila and Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting.


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9) A 6-year-old girl and the rescuers searching for her have been found dead in Gaza, an aid group says.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 0, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/10/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Hind Rajab in an undated photograph. The 6-year-old Palestinian girl went missing two weeks ago after the family’s car came under fire in Gaza City. Credit...Family handout, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


A 6-year-old Palestinian girl and the two rescuers who went looking for her nearly two weeks ago were found dead on Saturday, the Palestine Red Crescent said, ending a desperate effort to discover their fates.

 

Two rescuers with the Red Crescent were dispatched in an ambulance on the evening of Jan. 29 to find Hind Rajab, who was believed to be trapped in a vehicle in Gaza City with six dead family members. The aid group said they had been killed by Israeli fire.

 

A Red Crescent statement on Saturday accused Israeli forces of bombing the ambulance as it arrived “just meters away from the vehicle containing the trapped child Hind,” and killing the two rescuers inside. It said this happened “despite prior coordination” between the Red Crescent and the Israeli military.

 

The Red Crescent shared an image of the charred and nearly unrecognizable ambulance on social media.

 

Neither the Red Crescent nor Hind’s family members who were in the area around the time the ambulance arrived on Jan. 29 reported any fighting between Israeli forces and armed Palestinians there, though this could not be independently verified.

 

The Israeli military did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Red Crescent’s allegations. The military said last week that it was not aware of the incident.

 

A spokeswoman for the Red Crescent said that the girl's family had discovered the bodies of their relatives and the ambulance crew. It was not immediately clear how Hind died.

 

The Red Cross had issued a series of desperate posts since the rescuers went missing, trying to draw attention to the harrowing situation.

 

The search was hampered by the ongoing presence of Israeli forces in the area, making it too dangerous to send more rescuers to the scene, according to the Red Crescent.

 

Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza has left more than 27,000 people in Gaza dead in the past four months, according to health authorities in the territory. More than 12,000 of the dead are children, according to Gazan authorities.

 

The U.N. agency for children, Unicef, said on Friday that more than 600,000 children and their families have been displaced to the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

 

Israel’s war in Gaza began after Hamas staged a cross-border attack on Israel which Israeli authorities said killed about 1,200 people.

 

The two ambulance team members, Yousef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, were sent after a Red Crescent dispatcher spent three hours on the phone trying to console Hind as she was trapped in the car.

 

The Red Crescent said it had coordinated the movements of the ambulance with the Israeli military. Similar coordination is done by other aid organizations operating in Gaza, including U.N. agencies.

 

Some aid groups have reported convoys coming under fire.

 

The two rescuers confirmed arriving at the scene of the vehicle in Gaza City, in the Tal al-Hawa neighborhood, at about 6 p.m. on Jan 29. Then the Red Crescent lost contact with them and had not heard from them since.

 

The Israeli military’s tanks and forces remained in the vicinity, preventing the Red Crescent from sending other rescuers to the scene, the aid group said.

 

After the tanks withdrew, Hind’s family went to the area and saw that she was dead in the vehicle and the Red Crescent ambulance had been hit, with the two rescuers dead inside, said Nebal Farsakh, a spokeswoman for the Red Crescent. She added that the family notified the Red Crescent and sent them photos.

 

“What can we say to the mother of 6-year-old Hind? What can we say to the families of our missing colleagues Youssef Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoon?” the Red Crescent’s final post on the case said on Friday, before the group received confirmation that they were all dead.

 

“Every day for the past 11 days they have endured the heart-wrenching uncertainty about the location of their loved ones. Their suffering makes us more determined to find out what happened. We must learn the truth.”

 

Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.


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10) As hunger stalks Gaza, one family uses animal feed in place of flour.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 10, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/10/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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A food distribution in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, last week. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock


As the United Nations’ World Food Program warned that famine looms for more than half a million people in Gaza, Um Mohammad Abu Awwad, a 35-year-old mother, said that her family sheltering in the north of the territory has not been able to find any flour to buy for weeks.

 

Even when flour was available, she said, a bag would cost around $200 — an impossible sum for their family, which has no income amid the war.

 

Ms. Abu Awwad said that she has had to resort to grinding hay and animal fodder as a substitute for flour. But even animal feed was becoming more expensive now, she said.

 

“We want food and water to keep our children alive,” Ms. Abu Awwad said in a voice message this week. “The adults can survive, but the children are dying of hunger.”

 

The World Food Program warned last month that the entire population of Gaza — about 2.2 million people — was suffering crisis levels of food insecurity or worse. In late December, the agency said that nine out of 10 people were eating less than one meal a day, and the situation has worsened as aid groups struggle to deliver the little aid that is entering Gaza.

 

“If you want to avert the famine, you need to make sure that people have something to eat every day,” the W.F.P.’s director for the Palestinian territories, Matthew Hollingworth, said in an interview on Thursday after visiting Gaza.

 

And agencies face hurdles to distributing the aid that does enter Gaza, including roads rendered impassable by bombardment and Israeli military operations. Still, the W.F.P. said that it had delivered boxes of 10-day rations, wheat flour and hot meals to an estimated 1.3 million people last month. In northern Gaza, where the agency says needs are greatest, nearly 300,000 people are “almost entirely cut off from assistance,” it said.

 

Ameera Harouda contributed reporting from Doha, Qatar.


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11) Strikes continue to hit Rafah after Netanyahu signals a planned Israeli advance there.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 10, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/10/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Palestinians extinguish a burning car hit by an Israeli strike in Rafah on Saturday. Credit...Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters


More than two dozen people were killed on Saturday as Israeli forces continued to bombard the province of Rafah and other parts of the southern Gaza Strip with airstrikes, Palestinian media and The Associated Press reported.

 

More than a million Palestinians are stuck as the Israeli military says it is preparing for a ground invasion there.

 

Hundreds of thousands of Gazans have flooded into Rafah during four months of Israeli bombardments, a ground invasion and warnings by the Israeli military to flee south. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled this week that Israel intends to push farther south into Rafah, which he described as the enclave’s last Hamas stronghold.

 

On Saturday, Israeli airstrikes struck a vehicle and homes where displaced people were sheltering. Palestinian media and The Associated Press reported at least 29 people were killed, including children, but the Gazan health authorities did not immediately confirm that death toll.

 

Gazan health officials said on Saturday that more than 28,000 people had been killed in bombing and other Israeli military actions, most of them women, children and other noncombatants.

 

The ongoing Israeli strikes have terrified displaced people in Rafah, who are mostly living in makeshift tents and have nowhere else to flee.

 

On Saturday, Germany, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, joined an international chorus condemning Israel’s stated intention of expanding its ground invasion into the province. Aid groups, the Secretary General of the United Nations and officials from the Biden administration have warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be catastrophic.

 

Nabil Abu Rudeina, the spokesman for the Palestinian Authority in the Israel-occupied West Bank, on Saturday, called on the United States to pressure Israel to stop what he called “the genocidal massacres” of Palestinian civilians. Israel denies it has committed genocide or purposely targeted civilians.

 

The United States, which sends billions in military aid to Israel every year, has been strongly supportive of the Netanyahu government since it launched the war in Gaza on Oct. 7, after a Hamas-led attack in southern Gaza that Israel says killed some 1,200 people.

 

The heavy toll on civilians in Gaza has ignited outrage around the world and has eroded support for Israel in the United States, especially in the Democratic Party.

 

On Thursday, President Biden, who has been a stalwart supporter of Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, sharply escalated his criticism of the Israel military’s approach to the war, calling military operations in Gaza “over the top” and saying that the suffering of innocent people has “got to stop.”


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12) Israel is working on a ‘detailed plan’ to move Gazans north, Netanyahu says.

By Andrés R. Martínez, Feb. 11, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/11/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

image/webp

People gathering around a burned police vehicle that was reportedly destroyed in an Israeli bombardment in Rafah on Saturday. Credit...Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said that his government was working on a plan to evacuate people from the city of Rafah in southern Gaza ahead of an expected ground offensive there against Hamas, as allies voiced concern about the ground assault.

 

Mr. Netanyahu, in excerpts from an interview with ABC News, said that he agreed with U.S. officials that “safe passage” must be provided to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians who have taken shelter in Rafah. He said, without giving specifics, that Israel was “working out a detailed plan” to move Gazans to areas north of Rafah. ABC is set to broadcast the full interview on Sunday morning.

 

“Victory is within reach,” Mr. Netanyahu said, a phrase he has used several times in the past week. “We are going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion,” he said, adding, “We are going to do this while providing safe passage for the civilian population.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu and his government have faced increasing criticism from allies, including the United States, about an anticipated ground invasion of Rafah.

 

More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are now sheltering in the city, many of them after Israel’s military told them to flee south to avoid the war farther north. Many are exhausted, hungry and running out of options after months of a war that has claimed the lives of more than 27,000, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

 

Aid groups, the secretary general of the United Nations and officials from the Biden administration have all warned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would be disastrous, and that the people there have nowhere to go.

 

Israel has been discussing plans to send troops to Rafah for weeks, despite a growing demand from world leaders that it declare a cease-fire. Mr. Netanyahu last week publicly rejected Hamas’s latest offer for a pause in fighting that would allow hostages held by the militants to be released, but Israeli officials have signaled that their government was still open to negotiation. The Biden administration has said that negotiations will continue in the days ahead.

 

Basem Naim, a Hamas official, said on Sunday that Mr. Netanyahu “is deluding himself” if he thinks that threatening to invade Rafah will increase the pressure on Palestinian negotiators.

 

Rafah sits along the border with Egypt, which has so far refused to take in Palestinian refugees, fearful over its own security and worried that the displacement could become permanent and undermine Palestinian aspirations for statehood. Egypt has reinforced its frontier with Gaza and also warned Israel that any move that would send Gazans spilling into its territory could jeopardize the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, an anchor of Middle East stability since 1979.

 

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.


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13) Israeli analysts say it is unlikely an invasion of Rafah is imminent. Here’s why.

By Isabel Kershner, Feb. 11, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/11/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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The population density in Rafah will make a ground operation there a major challenge. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Israeli leadership has framed an invasion of the southern Gaza city of Rafah as an imperative to achieve its goal of eliminating Hamas. But it’s a strategy that is fraught with complexity and is generating criticism over the potentially catastrophic impact such an operation would have on the more than 1 million Gazans sheltering there.

 

The planning will likely take Israel’s military some time, Israeli officials and analysts said on Sunday. A major challenge for Israeli forces will be how to move civilians who have crowded into the city out of harm’s way. Many Gazans fled to Rafah on the instructions of the Israeli military to avoid the fighting farther north in Gaza, and a chorus of international leaders have expressed concerns that the people there have nowhere to go.

 

The Biden administration has also raised concern over a new phase of the Israeli offensive coinciding with the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, according to reports in Israeli media. An attack during Ramadan — which is expected to start March 10, though the timing depends on the sighting of the moon over Mecca — could be viewed as particularly provocative and whip up emotions among Muslims in the region and beyond.

 

Israeli officials say the military is still working on its plans for invading Rafah and that they have not yet been presented to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the meantime, some have struck a defiant tone about the anticipated assault on a city that officials have called the last Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

 

“The operation in Rafah will happen,” Avi Dichter, a minister from Mr. Netanyahu’s conservative Likud party, told Israel’s public broadcaster, Kan, on Sunday. “It will begin and it will end, just like in other places,” he said.

 

He also dismissed the idea that Ramadan should pose any constraints. “Ramadan is not a month without wars — it never was,” he said, noting that Egypt went to war against Israel in 1973 during Ramadan.

 

Israeli officials and analysts say Israel is acutely aware of the difficulties of mounting an intensive campaign in Rafah.

 

“Israel understands that Rafah is a complex issue,” said Yaakov Amidror, a former general and national security adviser. “It is not imminent,” he said of the operation, “but it will have to be done.”

 

Mr. Amidror, now a fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, a conservative think tank, said that for Israel to fulfill its war goals of dismantling Hamas’s military capabilities and its ability to govern, the military “must go into Rafah” to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions there.

 

But given the population density right now, the Israeli authorities understand that doing so without evacuating civilians would be “almost impossible,” he said.

 

That means civilians in Rafah will need to be moved — and Mr. Netanyahu said in an interview with ABC News that Israel was “working out a detailed plan” to do so.

 

He did not provide details on where and how that might take place. Mr. Dichter suggested that Gazans could be moved to an area to the west of Rafah along the seashore. Mr. Amidror suggested other options, including some areas of central Gaza where the military has not yet operated, or the nearby city of Khan Younis, once Israel winds down its campaign there.

 

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.


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14) Israeli strikes kill dozens in Rafah, Gazan officials say, as commandos free 2 hostages.

Yan Zhuang, Gabby Sobelman and Andrés R. Martínez, Feb. 12, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/12/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

A man holding his daughter at a hospital in Rafah on Monday. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Israeli special operations forces raided a building in the southern Gazan city of Rafah early Monday to free two hostages held by Hamas, as Israel launched a wave of attacks to aid the operation, the military said. Dozens of Palestinians were killed in Rafah overnight, according to the Gazan health ministry.

 

The nighttime operation — only the second time Israeli forces said they had rescued captives in Gaza since the war began in October — prompted elation in Israel but fueled fear and panic among more than a million Palestinians who have crowded into Gaza’s southernmost city, seeking refuge from Israeli military actions farther north.

 

The rescue came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signaled that Israeli ground forces would soon enter Rafah with the goal of eliminating Hamas battalions there. The prospect of ground battles inside the city, which is bracketed by a closed Egyptian border, has created worldwide alarm over the risks to civilians who say they have nowhere else to flee.

 

At 1:49 a.m. on Monday, Israeli special forces soldiers broke into a building where the two hostages were being held, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the military’s chief spokesman, said at a news conference. About a minute later, Israeli forces fired on nearby buildings in an effort to disrupt Hamas’s communications and to allow the soldiers to safely bring the hostages out, he said. At the same time, he said that Israeli warplanes had fired on Hamas targets in the area.

 

The ministry of health in Gaza said that at least 67 people had been killed overnight in Israeli strikes in Rafah. News outlets reported deadly attacks on two mosques in Rafah and said that people were being taken to Kuwait Hospital in the city.

 

Neither the Israeli account nor the toll reported by the Gazan health ministry — which does not distinguish between civilian and combatant deaths — could be verified independently.

 

Ziad Obeid, a customs official who had fled to Rafah, described being awakened at 2 a.m. by a barrage of explosions so bright that it was “as if we were in the middle of the day, not the night.” He added: “It was a horrible night.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu has ignored warnings from Israel’s most important allies, including the United States and Britain, not to proceed with plans to send troops into Rafah, saying that Israel has no choice but to finish its assault on Hamas.

 

The United Nations and aid groups have repeatedly warned that an advance on Rafah would be devastating to civilians and risk exacerbating a catastrophe that is already unfolding, with residents running low on food, clean water and medicine. The people in Rafah, many of whom have already fled their homes at least once to escape Israeli attacks since the start of the war, have nowhere else to go, the United Nations and aid groups have said.

 

On Sunday, Mr. Netanyahu promised to offer Palestinians safe passage to northern areas of Gaza before an invasion of Rafah, though he offered no details.

 

A flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at reaching a cease-fire agreement has had few apparent results. Last week, Mr. Netanyahu spurned an offer from Hamas to free hostages in exchange for Israel withdrawing from Gaza, abiding by a long-term cease-fire and freeing Palestinians held in Israeli jails.

 

In a statement on Monday praising the rescue operation, Mr. Netanyahu said: “Only continued military pressure, until total victory, will bring about the release of all of our hostages. We will not miss any opportunity to bring them home.”


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15) Palestinians in Rafah describe a ‘night full of horror’ during Israel’s operation.

Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 12, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/12/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

Mourning bodies at a hospital in Rafah on Monday. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press


Palestinians in Rafah described a night of fear as Israeli strikes pummeled the area early Monday, killing and wounding dozens, according to the Gazan health ministry, and highlighting the cost of Israel’s military operation to free its hostages.

 

“I swear to God it was an indescribable night,” said Ghada al-Kurd, 37, who is among more than a million people sheltering in the southern Gaza city. “The bombing was everywhere — we were convinced that the Israeli army was invading Rafah.”

 

Israel’s military said early Monday that it had conducted a “wave of attacks” on Rafah to provide cover for soldiers who freed two hostages held by Hamas. The health ministry in Gaza said that at least 67 people had been killed in the strikes, and that the toll was likely to rise. The ministry’s figures do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

 

Dr. Marwan al-Hamase, the director of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, said that the hospital had received 100 injured people overnight, along with the bodies of 52 who were killed.

 

Maher Abu Arar, a spokesman for the Kuwait Hospital in Rafah, said the hospital had taken in at least 15 bodies and 50 wounded people. “There were a lot of body parts,” said Mr. Abu Arar, following “successive and sudden” Israeli strikes.

 

Ms. al-Kurd said that people in Rafah were panicking and considered evacuating during the night, but “no one knew where to even go.” She added in a voice message that her young nieces “were crying and I was trying to calm them down,” even though she was also “very scared.”

 

Gazans in Rafah have been wondering if they should evacuate ahead of an expected Israeli ground offensive into the city. But many who have already been displaced multiple times since the start of the war have said that they have nowhere else to go.

 

Ms. al-Kurd sent five short voice messages she recorded during the night in which the sound of intense bombing and machine guns can be heard clearly. In the background of one of the recordings, a young girl cries and calls for her mother. In another message, Ms. al-Kurd says: “The bombing was very close.”

 

“To simply put it, it was a night full of horror, strikes, death and destruction,” said Akram al-Satri, 47, who is staying in the Shaboura refugee camp in Rafah. He said strikes there began at around 1 a.m. and that there were “very violent clashes.” He added in a voice message on Monday morning that several houses and a mosque in the area had been destroyed.

 

“The explosions caused a state of panic among men, women and children alike,” Mr. al-Satri said. “The state of panic pushed everyone to pack whatever they had, thinking that the ground invasion of Rafah had begun and that they would live what others have in Khan Younis, Gaza City and the north,” he added, listing areas of Gaza that Israeli ground troops have invaded over the past four months of war.

 

Majd Huwehe, 35, a freelance journalist, said that the strikes and clashes “started suddenly,” sending him and his family running to a nearby school for shelter because the tent they were staying in could not offer protection from shrapnel. “Everyone was terrified,” he added.

 

Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Istanbul and Abu Bakr Bashir from London.


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16) Here’s what to know about the rescued hostages.

By Mike Ives and Matthew Mpoke Bigg, Feb. 12, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/12/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

A photo released by the Israeli military shows two freed hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, right, and Louis Har, second from left, being reunited with their families in Israel on Monday. Credit...Israeli military, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Israeli security forces said early Monday that they had freed two hostages who were being held in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, in only the second known rescue of its kind in Gaza since the start of the war. Officials in Gaza said that accompanying Israeli strikes had killed dozens of Palestinians in the city overnight.

 

The hostages, Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, were undergoing tests at a hospital near Tel Aviv and were both in good condition, according to a joint statement from the Israeli military, the police and the domestic security agency, Shin Bet.

 

“Fernando and Louis, welcome home,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “I salute our brave fighters for the daring action that led to their release.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s office said that Mr. Marman and Mr. Har were both dual citizens of Israel and Argentina. They were among more than 240 people captured during the surprise Oct. 7 raid on southern Israel by Hamas and other militant groups. Israel said it launched attacks in Rafah to provide cover for the rescue.

 

The two men, looking gaunt but not visibly harmed, cried and embraced family members who had come to be reunited with them at Sheba Medical Center, according to video released by the Israeli military.

 

Mr. Har was pale and “a little in shock,” according to Idan Berjerano, his son-in-law, who visited him and spoke to Israel’s public broadcaster.

 

The Israeli military said that Mr. Marman and Mr. Har had been kidnapped from the same house in Nir Yitzhak, a kibbutz near the border with Gaza. They were taken hostage along with other family members including Clara Marman, who is Mr. Marman’s sister and Mr. Har’s partner. Ms. Marman and the other family members were freed in November as part of a weeklong cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

 

An Israeli news website, Ynet, reported that the two men had told their captors that they were Argentine and had tried to make conversation by talking about soccer.

 

The rescue was the main story in the Israeli news media, but the public reaction appeared more muted than in November, when about 100 of the hostages were released during the cease-fire. This appeared partly to reflect the knowledge that more than 100 people remained in captivity.

 

“Not stopping till they all come home,” the organization Bring Them Home Now, which advocates for the release of the hostages, said in a social media post.

 

Last week, The New York Times reported that Israeli intelligence officers had concluded that at least 30 of the remaining 136 hostages had died since the start of the war.

 

Before Monday, Israeli forces had said they rescued at least one hostage, Pvt. Ori Megidish, who was freed during a military operation in October. But the military has released few details about that operation.

 

In December, the Israeli military said its forces had mistakenly killed three hostages in Gaza who had been waving a makeshift white flag.

 

With military analysts saying that rescue operations are not the path to freeing most of the captives, hostages’ families have been pressing Israel to prioritize negotiations for their release. Last week, Mr. Netanyahu publicly rejected Hamas’s latest proposal for another pause in fighting that would allow for some of the hostages being held by the militants to be released. But Israeli officials have also signaled that their government was still open to negotiation.

 

Asked in an interview televised Sunday with ABC News how many of the remaining hostages were still alive, Mr. Netanyahu said, “Enough to warrant the kind of efforts that we’re doing.”

 

President Javier Milei of Argentina — who last week made his first state visit to Israel as president — thanked the Israeli military for rescuing the two men. In a statement on Monday, Mr. Milei’s office said that he had raised the subject of Argentine hostages in his meetings with Israeli leaders.

 

Reporting was contributed by Gabby Sobelman, Myra Noveck and Cassandra Vinograd.


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17) A Dutch court moves to block the export of F-35 parts to Israel.

By Cassandra Vinograd, Feb. 12, 2023

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/12/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

F-35 fighter jets at an air base of the Royal Danish Air Force near Skrydstrup, Denmark, last year. Credit...Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


A court in the Netherlands on Monday ordered the Dutch government to stop exporting parts for F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a move that reflected mounting alarm over the heavy civilian toll of Israel’s war in Gaza but was unlikely to have an immediate effect on the military campaign.

 

The Netherlands hosts a warehouse of U.S.-owned F-35 parts that are exported to countries that operate the fighters. Oxfam and two other human rights organizations filed a lawsuit against the Dutch government in December, demanding that it halt the exports amid concerns over potential Israeli violations of international law in Gaza.

 

In an initial ruling in December, a court declined to issue the order, but on Monday a court of appeals in The Hague said it agreed with the rights groups. It gave the Dutch government seven days to stop exporting F-35 parts to Israel.

 

“The court finds that there is a clear risk that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets might be used in the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law,” it said in a ruling.

 

The Dutch government said it would lodge an appeal with the country’s Supreme Court against the ruling, which came as Prime Minister Mark Rutte was visiting Israel. Israel’s Defense Ministry declined to comment.

 

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to health officials there, since Israel launched a retaliatory war against Hamas after the armed group’s deadly Oct. 7 attack. Rights organizations have increasingly called for countries to block weapons exports to Israel to protest how the country is carrying out its offensive.

 

Analysts said Monday’s ruling would have little impact on the Israeli military’s capabilities given that it has other weapons at its disposal, and because F-35 parts are available elsewhere.

 

“If one supplier isn’t able to deliver for any reason, the parts can be sourced from another,” said Gareth Jennings, aviation editor at the defense intelligence firm Janes.

 

For the moment, he added, the Dutch ruling seems to be “a symbolic act rather than one having any meaningful effect on Israel’s F-35 fleet.”

 

The F-35, made by the U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, is considered to be one of the most expensive weapons programs in history. Each jet has a roughly $80 million to $100 million price tag; the aircraft are capable of avoiding enemy radar and use a highly advanced software system.

 

More than a dozen countries — including Israel, the United States and Britain — own or have placed orders for F-35s. Israel was the first known to have used one in combat, saying in May 2018 that it had used the F-35 in two airstrikes in the Middle East, without specifying the targets.

 

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday. In December, American military officials confirmed that the United States had rushed extra support for the fighters to Israel after the Oct. 7 attacks.

 

“Since early October, the F-35 program has delivered surge support to Israel,” Lt. Gen. Michael Schmidt told a House Armed Services subcommittee.

 

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.


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