[bauaw] Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 2, 2024

  • From: bonnieweinstein <giobon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: BAUAW <bauaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2024 11:36:57 -0800

      


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"The Art of Movement"

An evening of reading, and discussion on the life of Leonard Peltier

Tuesday, February 6, 2024, 7:30 P.M., in person and virtual

Bound Together Books

1360 Haight Street

San Francisco, CA


https://www.facebook.com/events/s/art-of-movement-and-evening-of/370445182255203/?mibextid=RQdjqZ

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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 2, 2024, the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 26,000,* 63,740 wounded, and more than 492 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.


*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 32,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.


NO JUSTICE! NO PEACE!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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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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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) Domicide: The Mass Destruction of Homes Should Be a Crime Against Humanity

By Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Jan. 29, 2024

Photos and accompanying text by Yaqeen Baker

Dr. Rajagopal is the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to adequate housing. Ms. Baker’s home was destroyed in the war in Gaza.

“The ferocity of the attacks is unprecedented: Israel is reported to have already dropped the explosive equivalent of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima almost twice over.”

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/01/29/opinion/destruction-of-homes-crime-domicide.html

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Ms. Baker's home destroyed in Gaza.


The widespread or systematic destruction of homes has long been a feature of modern warfare. But what is often lost in the images of rubble and statistics of destroyed buildings is the profound effect of this loss at a human level.

 

For a home is so much more than a structure: It is a repository of past experience and future dreams, of memories of births, deaths, marriages and intimate moments with our loved ones, amid neighbors and a familiar landscape. The idea of home brings comfort and gives meaning to our lives. Its destruction is the denial of a person’s dignity and humanity.

 

It is for this reason that the systematic and indiscriminate leveling of entire neighborhoods through explosive weapons — as happened in Aleppo, and Mariupol, and Grozny, and towns in Myanmar, or most acutely these days, in Gaza — should be considered a crime against humanity. A growing number of legal and other types of scholars agree.

 

It’s called domicide.

 

Scholars have used the concept of domicide in the context of dam projects that displaced people in Canada and warfare in Syria, and it has been used to call attention to the systematic demolition of Palestinians’ homes and the denial of permits to build new ones in the West Bank by Israel.

 

As an independent expert tasked by the United Nations with promoting and protecting the right to adequate housing, I believe the crime of domicide should be enshrined in international humanitarian and criminal law so that governments and armed groups can be held to account. In an increasingly urbanized world, where densely populated cities are becoming common battlegrounds, the need for such action is all the more urgent.

 

We all understand that killing can be a murder, a war crime, a crime against humanity or an act of genocide, depending on the gravity and intention of the act. The same should apply for the destruction of homes.

 

In Gaza, we are witnessing destruction that is overwhelming in terms of its scale and impact, and far worse than what we saw in Dresden and Rotterdam during World War II, where about 25,000 homes were destroyed in each city. In Gaza, more than 70,000 housing units have been destroyed and more than 290,000 partially damaged. Recent conflicts are all proving to be equally destructive: In parts of Aleppo, up to 65 percent of structures were damaged or destroyed in five years of conflict, while in Mariupol, approximately 32 percent of the structures were damaged or destroyed in a year over 2021 and 2022. In about three months of conflict, a shocking 60 percent to 70 percent of structures in Gaza, and up to 84 percent of structures in parts of northern Gaza, have been damaged or destroyed.

 

The ferocity of the attacks is unprecedented: Israel is reported to have already dropped the explosive equivalent of the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima almost twice over. Much of the infrastructure in Gaza that makes it possible and worthwhile to live in homes there — water and sanitation, education, electricity and health systems, and cultural infrastructure like mosques, churches, and public and historic buildings — have been damaged or destroyed. This crushing of Gaza as a place erases the past, present and future of many Palestinians.

 

Indeed, what has happened to homes and lives in Gaza is a stand-alone crime: domicide. It may not be an exaggeration to say that much of Gaza has been made uninhabitable, as South Africa’s complaint accusing Israel of genocide at the International Court of Justice alleges and which Israel denies. The court, in a preliminary ruling on Friday, called on Israel to take action to prevent genocide in Gaza and avoid the infliction of conditions that result in physical destruction in whole or in part.

 

I drew the same conclusion about domicide following the Russian bombing of Ukrainian cities in my report to the U.N. General Assembly in 2022. But right now, the accusation of domicide is largely a moral judgment. The preciousness of home, unlike the preciousness of life, has little recognition under international humanitarian or criminal law.

 

Some may ask whether the destruction by Hamas militants of Israeli towns and kibbutzim on Oct. 7 also amounts to domicide. While such attacks may constitute human rights violations and war crimes, the destruction of homes was not systematic or widespread enough to be comparable to the examples cited here.

 

Though attacks on individual homes, schools and hospitals can be crimes under humanitarian law, which applies to all international armed conflicts under the Geneva Conventions, the widespread or systematic destruction of homes is not by itself considered a crime in either international or noninternational armed conflicts. It is not mentioned in the Geneva Conventions or in the definition of crimes against humanity according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court or in the U.N. draft articles on the prevention and punishment of crimes against humanity.

 

We should act to update these treaties to include domicide.

 

There is precedent for updating what we legally define as international crimes. The Rome Statute proscribed starvation as a weapon of war, and under a 2019 amendment, the proscription was extended to cover crimes in noninternational armed conflicts.

 

Accountability for domicide in Gaza cannot stop with potential criminal prosecutions or declaratory judgments by courts someday in the future. The enormous cost of rebuilding Gaza and the rest of the Palestinian territories, where homes have been destroyed for decades during occupation, should be borne by Israel and the countries that contributed to this destruction, including the United States, through its supply of weapons and political support.

 

That rebuilding will be hard work. The restoration of destroyed cities after World War II, such as Rotterdam, took more than two decades and cost billions of dollars, funded by the Marshall Plan. Ukraine’s recovery needs after just one year of conflict were estimated at $411 billion, with housing contributing to 37 percent of the cost. Mariupol’s reconstruction alone is expected to cost more than $14 billion and take up to 10 years.

 

And even if Gaza is physically rebuilt, the trauma of losing homes — the shattered lives, erased landscape and obliterated memories — will last for decades. Enshrining domicide in law may make countries think twice about inflicting such trauma in the future.


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2) Hamas’s political chief says the group is studying a new truce proposal.

By Adam Rasgon, Hwaida Saad and Anushka Patil, Jan. 30, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/01/30/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Israeli soldiers in central Gaza this month, during an escorted tour by the military. Credit...Avishag Shaar-Yashuv for The New York Times


The political chief of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, announced on Tuesday that the militant group had received a proposal to pause the fighting in Gaza, after representatives from four nations agreed to present the group with a framework that would begin with a six-week cease-fire to allow for the release of more hostages.

 

Mr. Haniyeh said in a statement that Hamas was studying the proposal that had emerged from talks over the weekend in Paris, which included officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt. Mr. Haniyeh added that Hamas had received an invitation to Cairo to discuss “the framework agreement from the Paris meeting.”

 

While Mr. Haniyeh’s statement indicated that Hamas was considering the proposal, and thanked Qatar and Egypt for their efforts, he emphasized the group’s longstanding demand for a permanent cease-fire and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

 

“The priority is ending the unjust aggression on Gaza and the complete withdrawal of the occupation’s forces,” Mr. Haniyeh said.

 

Although Israel was involved in drafting the proposal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged at the time that there were still “significant gaps.”

 

On Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu appeared to push back at Mr. Haniyeh’s statements, saying that Israel would not withdraw its military from Gaza or free thousands of Palestinian prisoners.

 

“We will not compromise on anything less than total victory,” he said in a speech in the West Bank on Tuesday, according to an Israeli statement.

 

It was unclear whether the two men’s comments were attempts to stake out negotiating positions.

 

After talks in Paris on Sunday, representatives from the four nations agreed to have Qatar present a framework to Hamas that proposes a six-week pause in the war, during which Hamas would exchange some hostages held in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, officials said. In the proposed framework, Hamas would release older hostages, women and children, if any are still being held and are alive, during the initial six-week pause, according to the officials, who said that would be the first of three potential phases of swaps.

 

The officials, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive diplomacy, cautioned that the talks are at an early stage, and many details would need to be worked out if Hamas agrees to start building on the framework. The group’s political leaders, including Mr. Haniyeh, would need to convey the proposal to its military leaders — a process that could take days or longer because the military leaders are believed to be in hiding in tunnels deep beneath Gaza.

 

Mr. Haniyeh suggested in his statement that Hamas was willing to work with the framework, if it helps achieve its demands. In addition to a permanent cease-fire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces, he said Hamas was seeking the reconstruction of Gaza, the lifting of a yearslong Israeli blockade on the territory and the release of Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

 

The four-nation meeting in Paris appeared to offer the most hopeful sign in months for a diplomatic agreement to ease the war.

 

The meeting in Paris — which included the C.I.A. director, William J. Burns; Israeli security officials; and the prime minister of Qatar, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani — came as Israel’s government has faced increased pressure over its handling of the war, which began on Oct. 7. That day, Hamas led sweeping attacks into Israel that Israeli officials said killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 more hostage, making it the worst terrorist attack in the country’s history.

 

More than 100 hostages were released during a weeklong pause in the fighting in November, along with 240 Palestinian prisoners and detainees held by Israel. But efforts toward another deal have so far been elusive.

 

Family members of those still being held in Gaza have called for an urgent deal and the International Court of Justice in The Hague last week ordered the delivery of more humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza, where health officials say more than 26,000 people have died since Israel’s military campaign began.

 

Sheikh Mohammed, the Qatari prime minister, said on Monday that “good progress” had been made in the negotiations. Speaking at an event hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council, he said that talks were the only viable path toward de-escalation, adding that the rising death toll from Israel’s campaign in Gaza was “not getting any results to get the hostages back.”

 

Earlier on Monday, Sheikh Mohammed had met with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, who said at an afternoon news conference that the proposal on the table is “a compelling one” and that “there is some real hope going forward.” But Mr. Blinken added: “Hamas will have to make its own decisions.”


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3) Israeli forces assassinate a Hamas commander inside a West Bank hospital.

By Aaron Boxerman reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 30, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/01/30/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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A health-care worker in a room at Ibn Sina hospital in Jenin in the West Bank on Tuesday, after Israeli soldiers killed three suspected militants. Credit...Alaa Badarneh/EPA, via Shutterstock


Israeli forces stormed a Palestinian hospital in the occupied West Bank early Tuesday morning, killing three militants, including a commander in Hamas, according to the Israeli military and Palestinian officials.

 

The top Palestinian health official in Jenin, Wisam Sbeihat, said that Israeli forces had entered Ibn Sina Specialized Hospital in the northern West Bank city of Jenin dressed in civilian clothes and carrying weapons. They then went to the room where the Hamas commander, Mohammad Jalamneh, 27, was staying with two friends, and shot all three dead, Mr. Sbeihat said.

 

Surveillance video released by the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry on Tuesday shows several gunmen in apparent civilian garb — including one dressed in a white medical coat and another in blue scrubs — walking through the hospital halls, brandishing weapons.

 

“They assassinated these three people, including a patient,” Dr. Sbeihat said in a phone interview, adding that the Israeli forces also arrested two Palestinian medical workers.

 

In a statement, Hamas mourned Mr. Jalamneh as a leader in the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Palestinian faction’s armed wing. A local militia affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad claimed his companions — Mohammad and Basil Ghazawi — as members.

 

The Israeli military said all three had been involved in militant activity, including attacks against Israelis. Mr. Jalamneh had also been planning “to carry out a terror attack in the immediate future and used the hospital as a hiding place,” the military said.

 

One of the men accompanying him, Basil Ghazawi, was being treated in the hospital’s rehabilitation ward, Mr. Sbeihat said. The Israeli military said that he and his brother, Mohammed Ghazawi, had “hid inside the hospital.”

 

Surging violence in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where millions of Palestinians live under Israeli military rule, has prompted fears of another front in the Middle East crisis spiraling out of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. Since the war in Gaza began, at least 367 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and civilians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the highest toll in years, the United Nations said on Monday.

 

Israel has escalated its attempts to crack down on Palestinian militant activity in the West Bank since Hamas’s surprise Oct. 7 attack on Israel prompted full-blown war. More than 2,960 Palestinians have been arrested since the beginning of the war in near-daily raids, according to the Israeli military.


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4) The War the World Can’t See

From outside Gaza, the scale of death and destruction is impossible to grasp, shrouded by communications blackouts, restrictions barring international reporters and extreme challenges facing local journalists.

By Vivian Yee, Abu Bakr Bashir and Gaya Gupta, Jan. 30, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/30/world/middleeast/gaza-war-palestinian-journalists.html

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The press vest of Saeed al-Taweel, a journalist killed while photographing the bombing of a tower in Gaza City in October. Credit...Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times


To many people outside Gaza, the war flashes by as a doomscroll of headlines and casualty tolls and photos of screaming children, the bloody shreds of somebody else’s anguish.

 

But the true scale of death and destruction is impossible to grasp, the details hazy and shrouded by internet and cellphone blackouts that obstruct communication, restrictions barring international journalists and the extreme, often life-threatening challenges of reporting as a local journalist from Gaza.

 

There are pinholes in the murk, apertures such as the Instagram feeds of Gaza photographers and a small number of testimonies that slip through. With every passing week, however, the light dims as those documenting the war leave, quit or die. Reporting from Gaza has come to seem pointlessly risky to some local journalists, who despair of moving the rest of the world to act.

 

“I survived death multiple times and put myself in danger” to document the war, Ismail al-Dahdouh, a Gaza reporter, wrote in an Instagram post this month to announce he was quitting journalism. Yet a world “that doesn’t know the meaning of humanity” had not acted to stop it.

 

At least 76 Palestinian journalists have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, when Hamas led an attack on Israel and Israel responded by launching an all-out war. The Committee to Protect Journalists says more journalists and media workers — including essential support staff such as translators, drivers and fixers — have been killed in the past 16 weeks than in a whole year of any other conflict since 1992.

 

“With every journalist killed, we lose our ability to document and understand the war,” said Sherif Mansour, the group’s Middle East program coordinator.

 

The New York Times and other major international outlets have evacuated Palestinian journalists who were working for them in Gaza, though some Western news agencies still have local teams there.

 

At the same time, foreign reporters have repeatedly sought to enter and been denied permission by Israel and Egypt, which control Gaza’s borders.

 

A handful have embedded with the Israeli military on very short visits that offer a limited and curated view of the war. And a CNN correspondent briefly reported from inside Gaza after entering with an Emirati aid group.

 

Apart from those, only Gazan journalists have been working there since the war began.

 

Nearly all the journalists who have died in Gaza since Oct. 7 were killed by Israeli airstrikes, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 38 of them at home, in their cars or alongside family members. That has led many Palestinians to accuse Israel of targeting journalists, though CPJ has not echoed that allegation.

 

“Israel is afraid of the Palestinian narrative and of Palestinian journalists,” said Khawla al-Khalidi, 34, a Gazan TV journalist for Al Arabiya, a well-known regional Arabic-language TV channel. “They’re trying to silence us by cutting the networks.”

 

An Israeli military spokesman, Nir Dinar, said that Israel “has never and will never deliberately target journalists.” But he cautioned that remaining in active combat zones carried risks. He called the accusation that Israel was deliberately cutting communications networks to hide the war a “blood libel.”

 

The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate, which has members in both Gaza and the West Bank, has counted at least 25 Gaza journalists who it says were wearing protective vests bearing the word “press” when they were killed, said Shuruq Asad, a syndicate spokeswoman. Some journalists have been sleeping away from their families for fear that sheltering with relatives would put them at risk, she added.

 

Since Oct. 7, Israel has blocked most of Gaza’s electricity and barred all but a slow drip of aid from entering the territory. The war has also damaged or severed communications networks, making it nearly impossible for most Gazans to give interviews to foreign media outlets. Telecommunications have disappeared entirely more than half a dozen times during the conflict.

 

It falls to Gazan journalists, mostly working for Palestinian or regional Arabic-language outlets such as Al Jazeera, or young freelancers equipped with little more than Instagram, to bring scraps of Gaza’s reality to outsiders. In their instantly recognizable navy-blue “press” vests, many have gained attention on social media for their raw, personal English-language videos and photos of the war.

 

Every time Amr Tabash, a 26-year-old freelance photojournalist in Gaza, rushes to capture the aftermath of an airstrike, he said he experiences a fear that he might find his family among the victims. Covering one strike, he found out that his uncle and his cousin had been killed.

 

“I need to be fully focused reporting” on Israel’s attacks, he said. “But I am always worried about my family, and that takes a big part of my focus.”

 

Others have chosen to leave Gaza altogether.

 

Motaz Azaiza, a photojournalist who built up a wide following on Instagram with his coverage of the war, evacuated to Qatar last week.

 

Ms. al-Khalidi, the Al Arabiya journalist, said she had never considered leaving journalism, even as the job got impossibly difficult, far worse than in the previous wars she had covered. But this time, there was no reporting on strikes by day and going home to her family at night, no hot showers, little food. She and her family had to abandon their home for a shelter, she said.

 

“We’re not just reporting on what is happening. We’re already part of what is happening,” she said.

 

One journalist who felt duty bound to cover the war was Roshdi Sarraj, 31, who founded a media company at age 18 and also worked as a photographer and fixer for international news outlets.

 

Before the war, his company, Ain Media, offered production, photography and filmmaking services to local and international clients including Netflix. He and his wife, Shrouq Aila, had worked on a documentary episode for Netflix about bee sting therapy together as they were falling in love, she said.

 

When the war broke out, they were married with a young daughter and the couple was on a pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. They were planning to fly on to visit Qatar.

 

Then Mr. Sarraj learned that a friend and fellow journalist back in Gaza had been killed. Another was missing.

 

Mr. Sarraj’s brother-in-law, Mahmoud Aila, who was helping Ain Media expand in Qatar, said that when he asked about their travel plans, Mr. Sarraj told him, “‘At a time like this, I can only be in Gaza.’” He canceled the trip.

 

Mr. Sarraj’s friends said this was typical of his loyalty to his birthplace.

 

Calm and soft-spoken, Mr. Sarraj was stubbornly principled when it came to the struggle for justice and freedom for Palestinians. He told friends after the war began that he would not leave his hometown, Gaza City, ignoring Israeli evacuation orders, because he believed fleeing was akin to being forced from his home, as many Palestinians had been during the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.

 

It was at his family’s home on Oct. 22, while he was sitting with his wife and daughter, that Ms. Aila said an Israeli airstrike hit. He was wounded so deeply that Ms. Aila could see his brain, she said by phone. They bandaged his head, Ms. Aila telling herself that, at worst, he would be paralyzed.

 

“Doesn’t matter as long as he’s still here,” she remembered thinking. “I don’t care at all if he was paralyzed. I’d stay beside him for life.”

 

But at the hospital, she was told his case was hopeless; the operating room was already overwhelmed. He died within half an hour, Ms. Aila said.

 

She remembered kissing his shoulder in farewell: She could swear he smelled of musk, as if someone had perfumed him at the moment of death.

 

It reminded her of when they were praying in Mecca, their hands on the holy Kaaba shrine’s black cover, which also smelled of musk. She said she had told her husband to pray that he would live to raise his daughter, Dania, so she would not be an orphan like Ms. Aila, who lost both her parents young.

 

But he had not seemed sure, she said.

 

Ms. Aila buried him in a mass grave. Amid the chaos, there was no other option.


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5) Israeli forces opened fire on the grounds of another hospital in Gaza, an aid group says.

By Anushka Patil, Jan. 31, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/01/31/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Israeli forces stormed the grounds of another hospital in Gaza after bombing the area around it for nine consecutive days, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said on Tuesday.

 

The besieged facility, the Al-Amal Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis, is run by the Red Crescent and located inside a compound that is home to the local headquarters of the aid group and to one of its ambulance centers.

 

Thousands of displaced people were sheltering at the compound when Israeli forces moved tanks into the hospital’s front yard, fired live ammunition and smoke grenades and ordered people to leave the premises, the Red Crescent said. Earlier in the day, the organization said at least one displaced person had been killed and nine others injured by heavy shelling and gunfire around the compound.

 

In a statement, the Israeli military denied that it had operated “inside” the Al-Amal Hospital on Tuesday or called for its evacuation but did not answer specific questions about actions in and around the broader hospital compound.

 

The Israeli military has accused Hamas of operating command and control centers inside hospitals in Gaza and has raided health care facilities up and down the strip. Those include Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya, Kamal Adwan Hospital in Beit Lahia and Al-Khair Hospital near Khan Younis. Hamas, Palestinian officials and hospital workers have denied Israel’s claims.

 

The Israeli military made similar accusations last week about Hamas militants operating from within the Al-Amal Hospital. The Red Crescent firmly denied the allegation, saying in a statement that Israel’s “siege and its consequences are a blatant violation of international agreements” to protect medical and humanitarian missions.

 

Those consequences have been particularly dire for some 7,000 displaced people who have been forced to take shelter around the hospital, the aid group said.

 

On Monday alone, the Red Crescent reported that the hospital’s surgical ward had ceased operations because of a lack of oxygen supplies, that two displaced people were killed while trying to retrieve the body of a third and that emergency teams were having trouble reaching the wounded because of gunfire.

 

Late Tuesday evening, the aid group announced that a baby girl at the hospital had died because of the lack of oxygen supplies. “Occupation vehicles have retreated from the vicinity of Al-Amal Hospital,” the Red Crescent added in a separate statement, “while shelling and gunfire continue in the hospital’s surroundings.”


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6) As fighting rages in Gaza City, some residents are forced to move again.

By Adam Rasgon reporting from Jerusalem, Jan. 31, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/01/31/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Palestinians carrying bags of flour from an aid truck near an Israeli checkpoint in Gaza City on Saturday, as clashes continued between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants. Credit...Hossam Azam/Reuters


Several weeks after Israel partly withdrew from the northern Gaza Strip, intense clashes have broken out between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants, sending weary residents on treacherous journeys in search of safety.

 

On Sunday evening, deafening booms ripped through Gaza City, the enclave’s most populous city before the war, and powerful explosions lit up the night sky, residents said. The fighting came after a period of relative quiet for some residents of the north.

 

“The situation was calm, but then there was violent bombing, shelling, and clashes,” Ghada Ikrayyem, 23, a solar panel technician, said in an interview. “It was extremely dangerous.”

 

Ms. Ikrayyem had been living with her parents and nine siblings on the grounds of a gutted tailor shop in Gaza City, sleeping without pillows or blankets for most of the past month.

 

Hamas fighters have tried to re-establish themselves in recent weeks in parts of northern Gaza captured by Israel, according an Israeli security official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters. The Israeli army has sought to prevent Hamas from regrouping, and clashes have ensued, the official said.

 

The fighting indicates that even though the Israeli military said it has dismantled Hamas’s command structure in the north, the group has continued to pose a challenge for Israel.

 

On Monday morning, an Israeli drone flew over Gaza City and called on residents to relocate. Ms. Ikrayyem and her family gathered their belongings and joined a procession of people flowing south. At first they had no destination, but then a family friend across town agreed to take them in, even though the friend was already hosting 40 people.

 

“We’re exhausted,” Ms. Ikrayyem said. “We’ve just been going from place to place. It doesn’t stop.”

 

Since the start of the war, nearly two million people in Gaza have been displaced, many of them multiple times. The constant relocation has been particularly hard on large families, who have struggled to find space in crowded shelters or in the homes of friends and relatives.

 

Even the quieter days before the latest round of fighting were tiring, Ms. Ikrayyem said. She described walking long distances to collect drinking water, cooking food on a makeshift stove and waiting in line for an hour to use a restroom.

 

“The simplest things have become real challenges,” she said.

 

Ms. Ikrayyem said some foods were available but skyrocketing prices had made them difficult to afford. Her family, she said, was subsisting mainly on rice, but they had recently tried bread made from flour mixed with animal feed — a practice that has surfaced in recent weeks in the north.

 

Food shortages in northern Gaza have been particularly severe, with insufficient aid trucks reaching Gaza City and the surrounding towns, according to U.N. officials.

 

When the war ends, Ms. Ikrayyem and her family are hoping to leave Gaza because life there has become unbearable, she said.

 

“There’s barely anything left here,” she said. “It will take so many years to rebuild what was lost — the schools, the universities, the institutions, the homes.”


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7) ‘We Are Not Very Far From an Explosion’

By Roger Cohen, Jan. 31, 2024

Roger Cohen covers international news at The Times. He reported this story from the West Bank, where he spoke to I.D.F. soldiers, settlers and Palestinians about their experiences.

“Since its unexpected battlefield victory in 1967 that swallowed the West Bank and extended Israeli power to the Jordan River, Israeli democracy has been shaped by the temptation of holding all the Land of the Prophets and by the mythologizing of that idea. If Israel, through divine providence, had gained control of Judea and Samaria, it could not, in the view of the increasingly powerful nationalist religious right, cede them in a land-for-peace deal like that brokered by the United States with Egypt in 1979. Hubris won the day. Israel ceased to have clear borders, never a good thing for a democracy. Government after government treated the West Bank as part of Israel, a territory for settlement by Israelis, but under military occupation when it came to ruling Palestinians. Governance with the consent of the governed applied to some, not to others. Equality before the law ended.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/31/magazine/west-bank-palestinians-settlers.html

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Huwara, a Palestinian town surrounded by Israeli settlements. Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times


One recent morning in Huwara, a Palestinian man maneuvered a front-end loader back and forth, clearing rocks and rubble that Israel Defense Forces soldiers had piled into a roadblock. Four young soldiers looked on, fingers tensed on triggers, as the machine’s claws heaved shattered masonry from clutching mud. A crowd of approving Palestinian onlookers gathered.

 

The barrier, put in place to prevent access to a main street that has been a battleground over the past year, has infuriated the 7,000 inhabitants of this town in the northern West Bank, who are now accustomed to eking out survival as Israeli forces close stores and control their every movement. The mayor, Moin Damidi, told me that Huwara has become a ghost town. Surrounded by Israeli settlements and traversed by the major north-south highway, it has also become a center of violence. “The greater the pressure, the bigger the explosion,” he said.

 

Jihad Odeh, a city official, pointed at the soldiers. They opened and closed the road 10 times in the past year, he said. “The roadblock is for the settlers, to make them feel comfortable on our main street.”

 

Almost a year ago, a Palestinian militant shot and killed two settlers as they drove through Huwara. In response, settlers swarmed down from the adjacent hilltop settlement of Yitzhar. They burned cars, businesses and homes, killing at least one Palestinian and injuring many more. The I.D.F., nominally responsible for keeping order, did not prevent the riot, and in the aftermath many right-wing politicians celebrated it. Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, called for Huwara to be “wiped out,” and not by lawless settlers — “the state of Israel should do it,” he said.

 

In Huwara, Israeli soldiers are seen as the settlers’ army. Smotrich, under a coalition deal struck in early 2023 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, oversees the administration of settler affairs in the West Bank. He himself lives in the West Bank, in a settlement called Kedumim, a 15-minute drive from Huwara. Israel’s minister of national security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is also a settler who lives in a suburb of Hebron.

 

“Soon they’ll come back and close the road again,” said Sami Sosa, a naturalized American citizen who owns a supermarket at the corner where the roadblock stood. “They’ll probably close my store, too, just because I watched!”

 

For almost 50 straight days after the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack that, according to Israeli estimates, killed about 1,200 people, most of them Israeli civilians, and took about 240 hostage, Israeli forces shuttered every store in Huwara; indeed, most were already closed because of clashes there two days earlier. Sosa invited me into his shop to see the effect of these measures, intended to keep Palestinians from congregating. He opened his cash register; it contained 130 shekels, or about $35. “We are caught,” he said. “Ben-Gvir arms the settlers with automatic weapons and tells them to do what they like, and where are we supposed to go?”

 

On a TV screen in Sosa’s store, as in every Palestinian home, Al Jazeera footage from Gaza looped in a hypnotic, incessant reel: small children dying, flattened homes, dazed Gazans sobbing, dust and debris and desperation and death. This — Israel’s retaliatory bombardment of Gaza, in which more than 25,000 people have been killed, according to Gaza authorities — is the daily diet of Palestinian rage.

 

Watching the news unfold, I recalled the brief conversation I had with the soldiers, about their mission in the West Bank.

 

“Do you have something against the roadblock being removed?” I asked.

 

None of the soldiers had an immediate answer. Finally, one said simply: “We are checking.”

 

Above Huwara looms Yitzhar, population 2,000. It was established in 1983 as part of the sustained government-backed movement of Israelis into what they call Judea and Samaria, the biblical hills where, thousands of years ago, the Jews became a people of the land. What for much of the world is the illegal settlement of the West Bank, under international laws governing belligerent occupation, is for countless Israelis the ultimate act of return.

 

This steady colonization since Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in 1967 has led to a disastrous impasse. A half-million settlers now live in explosive proximity to three million Palestinians. An inept, feckless and unpopular Palestinian Authority, a voiceless Palestinian people, armed settlers and an Israeli military with an ambiguous mission coexist in the treacherous vacuum of putative but ever-more-inconceivable Palestinian statehood. This impasse has persisted for decades, with spasms of violence — including two intifadas, or Palestinian uprisings, lasting more than a decade in total.

 

The question today is whether the gyre of slaughter can be broken, a third intifada averted and something new emerge from the West Bank’s disintegration and Israel’s invasion of Gaza. Is there any lingering basis for the “durable, sustainable peace” imagined by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, involving the pursuit of a Palestinian state through a drive “to revitalize, to revamp, the Palestinian Authority”?

 

Any such basis is hard to discern. “The Palestinian Authority is hopeless — there is no there there,” says Jeffrey Feltman, a former United States assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs. “It suffers from self-inflicted wounds, and Israel has undermined it. As I used to tell Israeli officials, most people treat their security subcontractors better.”

 

Colonized but not annexed by Israel, sliced into nonviable Palestinian pockets of partial self-governance, the West Bank is suspended in the decades-old limbo that a shattered Oslo peace process left behind. This was the so-called status quo, upended by the Hamas attack, that Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, the president of a Palestinian Authority that cooperates with Israel on security, tacitly favored. Abbas enjoyed the wealth and privileges accorded him, his family and his cronies; Netanyahu has made it his life’s work to prevent a two-state outcome. They had the effective backing of the United States, or at least were assured of its inertia.

 

Now violence is everywhere. Settler evictions of Palestinians from West Bank villages have surged since early October, generally with impunity. Livestock has been stolen, olive groves uprooted and burned. In a marked escalation, Israeli security forces killed 492 Palestinians in the West Bank in 2023, according to a United Nations human rights office report; Palestinians there killed 29 Israelis. (The I.D.F. says the number is 41.) Settlers, most of them armed, are jittery. “The script is written since Oct. 7,” says Oded Revivi, the mayor of the large West Bank settlement Efrat. “Written in people raped and burned alive. We now know exactly what we are trying to prevent.”

 

“I have never seen such a terrible situation since I became aware of this Palestinian-Israeli reality,” Mohammad Shtayyeh, 66, the Palestinian prime minister, who directs policies set by Abbas, told me in an interview in Ramallah, the de facto West Bank capital.

 

“We are not very far from an explosion,” Shtayyeh said. “Israel has lost balance and is behaving like a wounded bull. They’re acting in a mood of revenge, killing for the sake of killing.”

 

On Oct. 5, two days before what Israelis now call the Black Sabbath, a 28-year-old Palestinian named Jamal Mahmoud Majdoub opened fire on a settler couple driving down Huwara’s main street. The couple escaped unharmed, but — in a reprise of the riot last February — settlers swept into the town to carry out retaliatory attacks. Israeli security forces killed Majdoub and, in the chaos, an armed settler also shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian, Labib Dumedi, early the next day.

 

Hundreds of Palestinian mourners gathered to carry Dumedi’s body through town in a funeral procession. But Zvi Sukkot, a 33-year-old Israeli settler from Yitzhar, had chosen to erect a sukkah, the festive temporary hut traditionally built during the Jewish harvest holiday Sukkot. He positioned it, for maximum provocation, on Huwara’s main street.

 

Sukkot is not only a settler but also a member of the Knesset, under the banner of Smotrich’s Religious Zionist Party. He claimed to be acting on his authority as an M.K. in placing what amounted to another roadblock.

 

“As a member of the Knesset, my role is to ensure security, so I put up the sukkah,” Sukkot told me when I met him at his home in Yitzhar in December. “Jewish presence anywhere is not a reason for violence. An Israeli couple had been attacked.”

 

The I.D.F. abruptly moved a battalion from the southern border near Gaza to Huwara, an ill-timed move that would later come under considerable scrutiny. This was the last day of the Sukkot holiday and, as it transpired, also the last day of a certain Israel, one that had believed itself progressively more secure through normalization agreements with several Arab states, including Bahrain and Morocco. The Hamas attack shattered every Israeli assumption of might, superiority and security. One Israel has died; another is yet to be born.

 

A winding road leads up past vineyards to Yitzhar. The physical distance from Huwara is short, but the leap from one world to another is large. Israel, of which Yitzhar is a de facto part, is a $50,000 per capita economy, compared with the West Bank’s $5,600. The settlement, its streets and vegetation manicured, feels more like a modest American subdivision than a neighbor to Huwara’s misery.

 

There is nothing manicured about Zvi Sukkot’s home, however. He is away for long hours most days at the Knesset in Jerusalem, where, as an elected representative, he heads a subcommittee on the West Bank. His lawn is unmown, littered with the toys of his six young children. There is no time to hang pictures straight.

 

His yard commands a sweeping view. To the west, the Mediterranean and the Israeli coastal city Netanya are just visible, and to the east, a faint outline of the mountains of Jordan. A single glance takes in the entire width of the Holy Land, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. Many Israelis argue that the country’s pre-1967 border, nine miles wide at its narrowest point, was indefensible.

 

The sight of Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, and between them modern-day Nablus (the biblical city known to Jews as Shechem), is a daily reminder, Sukkot said, sweeping his arm dramatically, that he stands at the place where God’s promise of the land to Abraham was made. “This is where the Jews became a people. Of course we belong here.”

 

He is less inclined to cite the Geneva Conventions, which prohibit the transfer of nationals of an occupying power into occupied territory.

 

Chaya, Sukkot’s vibrant 31-year-old wife, was at first reluctant to show me around the house, noting the mess, but she finally relented. The couple’s 6-month-old son, their first boy after the birth of five daughters, was asleep in a stroller. She exuded energy as she busied herself around the house, making tea and picking up toys. Then we sat down to talk.

 

She grew up in Elon Moreh, a nearby settlement and the first established in the northern part of the West Bank — Samaria, in Israeli parlance. (Judea is the southern part.) Her father, Hillel Lieberman, was an American rabbi born in Brooklyn who immigrated to Israel in 1985. “My father was all about love — for the Torah, and for the land and people of Israel,” she said. “When he came here, he saw the Bible before his eyes.”

 

At the start of the second intifada, in 2000, Palestinian militants killed Lieberman in Nablus, where he would go regularly to the holy site known as Joseph’s Tomb and to an adjacent yeshiva where he liked to study. It took two days to find his body, which was riddled with bullets. He was 36.

 

The killing occurred, as it happened, on Oct. 7, 2000, 23 years to the day before the attack from Gaza. “The cry that was in my heart for so long, now I feel that the whole world has heard it,” she said.

 

To her, the cruelty of the Hamas attack was not new. “We always knew we were facing people who are killers. Nobody listened to us. It’s hard to grasp the magnitude of Oct. 7, but it’s not a surprise to me. We left Gaza in 2005, and look what happened. If we left here, the same thing would happen in Tel Aviv.”

 

Nineteen years ago, Israel dismantled 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip and withdrew its army as part of an evacuation of the area, even as it maintained a blockade, backed by Egypt.

 

For the Sukkots, the settlements are irrelevant to the war. “This is not about Judea and Samaria. It’s about the whole state of Israel, in fact the whole world, where, for Hamas, there must be no place for Jews,” she said.

 

But what, I asked, of the three million Palestinians in the West Bank wanting the same land and often displaced from it?

 

“What should Palestinians do?” Zvi Sukkot exclaimed. “Go to work, raise their children, and if they could stop killing us, that would be great! There is no reason to kick anyone out, but if someone fights us, we won’t apologize for fighting back.”

 

He rushed out for a meeting in another settlement on improving cellphone service, only to return five minutes later.

 

“I forgot my gun,” he said, tucking a pistol into the back of his pants.

 

Since its unexpected battlefield victory in 1967 that swallowed the West Bank and extended Israeli power to the Jordan River, Israeli democracy has been shaped by the temptation of holding all the Land of the Prophets and by the mythologizing of that idea. If Israel, through divine providence, had gained control of Judea and Samaria, it could not, in the view of the increasingly powerful nationalist religious right, cede them in a land-for-peace deal like that brokered by the United States with Egypt in 1979.

 

Hubris won the day. Israel ceased to have clear borders, never a good thing for a democracy. Government after government treated the West Bank as part of Israel, a territory for settlement by Israelis, but under military occupation when it came to ruling Palestinians. Governance with the consent of the governed applied to some, not to others. Equality before the law ended.

 

As the Israeli journalist and historian Gershom Gorenberg has written: “The rule of law, in its substantive sense, is essential to a democratic state. By increments, the settlement project hollowed out the rule of law.”

 

Israel moved steadily right, corroded by an impossible dilemma. Annexation of the West Bank would presumably mean millions of additional Palestinian voters and the end of the Jewish state. On the other hand, decades of military occupation could only eat away at Israeli democracy.

 

The Israel of Ben-Gvir, Smotrich and Sukkot — an Israel that has veered toward maximalist territorial claims — is not some coincidence. It represents the culmination of a process engendered by the capture and retention of the West Bank, with consistent fiscal and security support for settlers.

 

The Israeli punt on the West Bank was, of course, also a decision. It has led to two intifadas and the violent situation today, from Hebron in the southern West Bank to Jenin in the north. It has left Israel with a leader, Netanyahu, who seems to reflect some internal decay.

 

The prime minister has been weakened by the debacle on his watch of the Oct. 7 defeat at the hands of Hamas; by fraud charges whose judicial consequences have been deferred by the war; and by an extreme-right government so obsessed with settlement expansion that it was busy defending the settlements around Huwara despite warnings of a Hamas attack. Nahum Barnea, a prominent Israeli journalist, has observed in Yedioth Ahronoth, a daily newspaper, that the government’s direct responsibility for the biggest defeat in Israeli history “is making it hard for them to make the right decisions.”

 

Ehud Olmert, Israel’s prime minister from 2006 to 2009, describes the situation more bluntly and more personally. “Mr. Netanyahu is a greater danger than the war, in fact than all our enemies put together,” he told me.

 

Given the growing divisions in Netanyahu’s government, Feltman, the former assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs, believes the United States must lay out a concrete political horizon for the day after the war, possibly in the form of “a United Nations resolution that sets a path to two states.” The Biden administration is working to present Netanyahu with a stark choice: either the legacy of the worst defeat in Israeli history, or normalization with Saudi Arabia on the condition of acceptance of a Palestinian state.

 

“Since his first speech after Oct. 7, Israelis have appointed Biden president of the Zionist movement for life,” Olmert says. “He has the leverage, and he does not have much time.”

 

Nablus, the major city of the northern West Bank, is just four miles from Yitzhar. Sara Abdullah, 26, lives with her mother atop one of its many hills in a comfortable apartment with a view that is a realtor’s dream; her uncle, a real estate agent named Bilal Abdullah, owns the apartment above them. Divorced, Abdullah has two children, a son called Shadi, 5, and a daughter, Eliya, 3. They live mainly with their father.

 

On June 9, Sara Abdullah decided to carry out a potentially suicidal attack on Israelis at the southern Huwara checkpoint, about a half-hour away.

 

“Nobody told me to do it — I decided because I was so angry about what has happened,” she said, seated in an armchair with family looking on. “I took a knife with me and chose Huwara because it’s close and there are many Israeli settlers and Jews at the checkpoint.” She did not tell her children, or anyone in her family.

 

To this woman of level voice and expressionless bespectacled gaze, dressed in a black sweatshirt with “Oxford University” emblazoned on its front, it was evident, as she put it, that “children without a childhood, young men without prospects, living a life of harassment and humiliation” will consider risking their lives to attack Israel. In almost every Palestinian family, are there not relatives imprisoned, killed or maimed by Israel?

 

Her uncle and some young cousins sat listening. For weeks, like children throughout the West Bank, they have had no school. Teachers cannot get to classrooms. Most laborers who once worked in Israeli factories and construction sites, or in settlements, can no longer do so. The tens of thousands of people who work in the public sector for the Palestinian Authority are unpaid or only partly paid as Israel withholds tax revenue. Desperation feeds violence. “I knew my children would be fine,” Abdullah said. “There are so many children who have no mother or father because of the occupation. They would have grown up to be proud of what their mother had done.”

 

Her mind made up, she boarded a taxi to Huwara. At the checkpoint, she approached a female Israeli soldier and stabbed her as close to her neck as she could, but the soldier pushed her away and the blade did not penetrate deeply. Soldiers fired stun guns at Abdullah’s legs. Both women fell to the ground.

 

The soldier survived. Abdullah was taken first to Hasharon military prison in central Israel, where she was interrogated for four days. Eventually Israeli security forces took her to Damon prison, near Haifa, where she faced a possible eight-year sentence.

 

Held in a cell with five other women, she had access to TV and a water heater for coffee and tea, and she was able to buy cigarettes and food from a canteen. All that changed on Oct. 7. When news of the Hamas attack broke, Abdullah said, “We began to celebrate, like any Palestinian, and cheer and sing political songs.”

 

The prison staff beat and pepper-sprayed the inmates, removed TVs and radios and denied them access to showers and the canteen. One woman, she said, was removed to solitary confinement for refusing to stop her chant of “Palestine! Palestine!” The Israel Prison Service did not respond to questions.

 

On Nov. 24, a month and a half later, Abdullah awoke to the news that she would be included in an exchange of Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian prisoners. She left Damon prison that day and was freed near Ramallah. “The people want Hamas! The people want Hamas!” a crowd chanted as her family greeted her.

 

Her young son hugged her when she got home. “Don’t leave me again,” he said.

 

“I would not do what I did again,” Abdullah told me. “I suffered a lot.”

 

“If I had known I would have grabbed her and stopped her,” her uncle said.

 

“I am very proud that Hamas forced Israel to release us,” she said. “Israel had all the power before. Who cares that a lot of their civilians were killed?”

 

“No,” her uncle interjected. “Some Israelis are human, and I hope we can live with them one day. I am happy to talk about our future. But when they elect a right-wing fascist government, it becomes difficult.”

 

“We will continue to be knives in their necks,” Abdullah continued. “We cannot share the land. We did not come and break down the door and take their homes.”

 

“The bloodshed on both sides is wrong,” her uncle insisted. “But they don’t want peace. Who killed Rabin? Us or them?” Yitzhak Rabin, the former Israeli prime minister who pursued a two-state peace through the 1993 Oslo accords, was assassinated in 1995 by an Israeli religious-nationalist fanatic.

 

I asked Abdullah what she planned to do now with her life. “I would like to marry again,” she said. “And I will wait for my land to be liberated.”

 

The shelves in Ahmad Odeh’s small supermarket near the gas station on Huwara’s main street were bare after weeks of closure. So, along with his four children, he stopped by an improvised fruit-and-vegetable shop that Mohammad Hamarsheh had set up in what had been a boutique run by his wife.

 

The back of the once-thriving store was full of dresses and other attire. Hamarsheh himself sat slowly tugging leaves from cauliflowers and peeling onions. “There is a saying here that if you have nothing to do, you peel onions,” he said, then laughed. “It’s better than looking up at the settlements and feeling oppressed.”

 

I asked Odeh what he felt about the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. “When I saw what was happening, happiness filled my entire body, even if all of Gaza is destroyed,” he said. “I was happy because of everything done to us and our children in Jenin, in Nablus, in Tulkarm, in Ramallah.” He paused, lost in reflection. “But this won’t change anything in the conflict. The achievement will be zero.”

 

There is little doubt that Oct. 7, 2023, will go down in Palestinian history as a day of liberation — the day that millions of Palestinians whom Israel wanted to render invisible through walls, barriers and fences became visible again in what they see as an act of heroic resistance to occupation. No Palestinian I talked to in the West Bank would offer unequivocal condemnation of the Hamas terrorist attack in the face of those Gaza images of children killed by Israeli bombs.

 

For Israelis, this same date will be that of a heinous Palestinian crime against humanity that summoned from the collective Jewish subconscious images of Jew-slaughter through the ages, culminating in the Holocaust. These seemingly irreconcilable views are one measure of the Israeli-Palestinian chasm any peacemakers would have to bridge.

 

I had asked Shtayyeh, the prime minister, if the Palestinian Authority, which in theory maintains administrative control over parts of the West Bank and pays civil servants in Gaza despite its opposition to Hamas, bears any responsibility for its own unpopularity. He said: “No, it’s not something we did wrong. It is all in the hands of the Israelis.” Later, he asked, “How is it possible for our government to be popular when Israelis confiscate land every day?”

 

As the buck is passed, lives are shattered. Each side dreams of the impossible disappearance of the other. The maximalist claims to all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, made by Hamas in its charter calling for the destruction of the state of Israel and by the Israeli nationalist right, can only result in the prolongation of the cycles of violence that, every few years, send more young people, denied their promise and their hopes, to their graves.

 

A few days later, I went to Odeh’s house, where he generously served a delicious lunch of baked goat. The TV was on, and the usual Gaza reel of death rolled on. His son Ameer, 13, watched. I asked if he was frightened. “No, because if I have to fight one day, I will not use weapons. I will use my education and my mind.”

 

I recalled something Odeh said while buying onions and peppers. “My children watch the news and see all the children dying in Gaza. Even in an unrelated movie, if there is shooting, they ask: Is that the Jews?”

 

For a long time, Netanyahu played a game of divide and conquer, seeking a tame but viable Hamas in Gaza to act as a counterweight to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and ensure that there was no progress toward a Palestinian state. Now Israel faces an entirely different strategic quandary.

 

The United States, the ultimate guarantor of Israeli security, has suddenly revived, with urgency, the idea of a two-state outcome, which Netanyahu has resisted for decades. Israel is more internationally isolated. Settlers are demanding a rapid ratcheting-up of forces in the West Bank; and in many cases, with little training, they are themselves being recruited into the military that is charged, at least officially, with preventing them from attacking their Palestinian neighbors.

 

Hamas has only become more popular in the West Bank, and the Palestinian Authority remains weak. Abbas, who has ruled without an election since 2005, is now 88, and he has no clear successor. An educated younger generation of Palestinians finds itself without any hope for its future.

 

Weapons have flooded into the West Bank from Jordan and elsewhere. Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, says that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are “under tremendous pressure” because “the people want us to do something, they want us to launch war on Israel.” Abbas has never publicly condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which infuriates Netanyahu.

 

A third intifada is not impossible. The level of Palestinian anger, combined with settler violence, is combustible. But prodded by the United States, Shtayyeh says “we have been using every possible way and measure to disengage the West Bank from what is happening in Gaza.”

 

For all the increased violence in the West Bank, there is no indication of a broad uprising. But how a remote and undemocratic Palestinian government can ever become a more credible body remains unclear. In practice, until Abbas and Netanyahu are gone, progress looks doubtful.

 

Abbas seems unlikely to change his way of governing: detached and by many accounts corrupt. One prominent executive in Ramallah, who asked not to be named, told me of a large donation given by his company to the Palestinian Authority for a planned hospital. It was never built. The money disappeared.

 

Ben-Gvir and others on the Israeli right have said that they would like settlers to move into Gaza and rebuild it to expand Israel’s borders. That is far-fetched. The formal position of the government is vague, but it has suggested that it does not want to administer the territory beyond controlling it enough to prevent terror attacks. The most plausible candidate for administering a postwar Gaza, then, is the Palestinian Authority, an idea the Biden administration has advanced but Netanyahu has rejected.

 

Of course, this Gaza scenario would more or less reproduce the dysfunctional arrangement in the West Bank, where Israeli forces do what they want anywhere, even in the 40 percent of the territory that the Palestinian Authority wholly or partly controls.

 

Sitting in Darna, an upscale restaurant in Ramallah, Anwar Jayosi, 64, gazed at the TV images of Palestinians dying in Gaza. The chief executive of Faten, a nonprofit organization that provides funding to small entrepreneurs, especially women, he has led an unusually successful West Bank life. Still, it feels hollow. “Sometimes you feel your tears are dry,” he said. “No more tears. They evaporated.”

 

In 1977, Jayosi was jailed for raising the Palestinian flag in school. During the reforming push of Salam Fayyad, the former prime minister who left office in 2013, he was threatened for urging Palestinian laborers to stop working in Israeli settlements. In the 2014 war in Gaza, he said, 35 Faten-funded entrepreneurs were killed. “We tried passive resistance, armed struggle, a peaceful solution, and nobody is listening,” he said.

 

Persistent humiliation has been a theme of Jayosi’s life — seeing his family’s well bombed when he was five, waiting seven hours to cross the Allenby Bridge into Jordan, listening to Israeli officers telling him “to go home to Ramallah” when he complained about treatment at the crossing into Gaza, now watching the demolition of the Gaza offices of Faten. What was most apparent in all of this, he felt, was Israeli contempt for the subjugated. “Fear makes us brutal to each other,” he said. “We are the victims of the victims who suffered the Holocaust.”

 

I pondered the fate of this reasonable man, prepared to accept a fair division of territory and acknowledge that “we did to each other what we should not have done,” and wondered if anything could break the radicalization of the conflict. The longer they live in proximity, it seems, the less visible Israelis and Palestinians become to each other.

 

Outside a pizzeria largely reduced to rubble by Israeli security forces because its manager was said to have shown sympathy for the Hamas attack in a Facebook post, Bilal Khmous stood assessing the damage. Married to an American, he divides his time between the West Bank and Memphis. “This building belongs to me and my brother, but the Israeli Army has occupied it since October,” he said. As he spoke, a group of Israeli soldiers strolled into what remained of the building.

 

A new Huwara bypass road, intended for settlers and as a means to reduce tensions on the main street, was completed recently after the seizure of large tracts of land. Olive trees skirt the road, but the picking of olives within 110 yards of it on either side is forbidden.

 

Khmous had been building a house on the far side of the new road, but it, too, has been seized by the Israel Defense Forces. “They never pay,” he said.

 

Rising above the northern end of the new road, we could see a rusted Ferris wheel, the leading attraction of Luna Park, one of the few amusement parks in the West Bank. We went over to take a look. The swimming pool was full of fetid water. The bumper cars were rusted. In a large wedding and banquet hall, tables adorned with plastic flowers stood empty beneath chandeliers, awaiting some unlikely lovers. “Nobody wants to get married now,” Khmous said.

 

I asked the owner if the Ferris wheel still worked. He set a team of three young boys to work on fraying wires in a control box. After five minutes, the wheel creaked into life.

 

I boarded a rickety metal tub and from the summit of the wheel looked down on the bypass road, the olive groves now partly inaccessible to Palestinians, Khmous’s occupied house, the tormented town of Huwara and the settler-controlled hills behind it.

 

All the conflict and violence contained within this West Bank scene could not quite efface the beauty of it, as if the possibility of peace still lived somewhere, awaiting some unlikely rebirth of statesmanship.

 

Beneath me I saw the three young boys. They waved. They were laughing. They had made a small thing better. In their paralyzed world, something had moved.


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8) Israel’s Controlled Demolitions Are Razing Neighborhoods in Gaza

By Leanne Abraham, Bora Erden, Nader Ibrahim, Elena Shao and Haley Willis, Feb. 1, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2024/02/01/world/middleeast/Israel-gaza-war-demolish.html

JPEG image

Residential buildings, Gaza City


A resort hotel overlooking the Mediterranean. A multistory courthouse built in 2018. Dozens of homes, obliterated in seconds, with the pull of a trigger.

 

The damage caused by Israel’s aerial offensive in Gaza has been well documented. But Israeli ground forces have also carried out a wave of controlled explosions that has drastically changed the landscape in recent months.

 

At least 33 controlled demolitions have destroyed hundreds of buildings — including mosques, schools and entire sections of residential neighborhoods — since November, a New York Times analysis of Israeli military footage, social media videos and satellite imagery shows.

 

In response to questions about the demolitions, a spokesperson for the Israeli military said that soldiers are “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings” in civilian areas — adding that sometimes entire neighborhoods act as “combat complexes” for Hamas fighters.

 

Israeli officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the issue, said that Israel wanted to demolish Palestinian buildings close to the border as part of an effort to create a security “buffer zone” inside Gaza, making it harder for fighters to carry out cross-border attacks like the ones in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

 

But most of the demolition locations identified by The Times occurred well outside the so-called buffer zone. And the number of confirmed demolitions — based on the availability of visual evidence — may represent only a portion of the actual number carried out by Israel since the war began.

 

To carry out these demolitions, soldiers enter the targeted structures to place mines or other explosives, and then leave to pull the trigger from a safe distance. In most cases, Israeli troops have cleared and secured surrounding areas. But in areas of active fighting, the demolitions are not without risk.

 

Twenty-one Israeli soldiers were killed last week as their unit prepared to detonate multiple buildings near the border in central Gaza. Palestinian fighters fired a rocket-propelled grenade in their direction, triggering the explosives, Israeli officials said.

 

The soldiers were clearing the area to allow residents of southern Israel to safely return to their homes, according to Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for Israel’s military.

 

In December, a State Department spokesman, Matthew Miller, said that the creation of a buffer zone along Gaza’s roughly 36-mile border with Israel would be “a violation” of Washington’s longstanding position against the reduction of territory in Gaza. And experts on humanitarian law say the demolitions — which would prevent some Palestinians from eventually returning to their homes — could violate rules of war prohibiting the deliberate destruction of civilian property.

 

In one video of a demolition from late November, a controlled explosion took down at least four high-rise residential buildings just blocks away from a major hospital in Gaza City. Another demolition in December destroyed over a dozen buildings around the city’s central Palestine Square, which the Israeli military said was home to a large network of tunnels.

 

At least half the buildings in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed since the start of the war, according to satellite analysis estimates. While much of the damage is from airstrikes and fighting, the large controlled demolitions represent some of the single most destructive episodes.

 

In the town of Khuza’a, along the buffer zone to the east of Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, videos from early January show soldiers triggering several detonations, destroying nearly 200 homes. Other videos show the soldiers setting off flares and clapping as they carry out a demolition.

 

One of the largest demolitions identified by The Times was carried out in Shuja’iyya, a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Gaza City. Over three weeks, scores of homes in the same neighborhood were razed, according to satellite imagery from December.

 

In some videos, the demolitions appear to be targeting underground infrastructure. Others capture the destruction of mosques, U.N.-affiliated schools and university buildings — including the demolition of Israa University in mid-January, which drew widespread condemnation after the video circulated online.

 

After U.S. officials raised questions about the decision to demolish the university, the Israeli military said the episode was “under review.” While the site had been cleared and secured by Israeli ground troops, military officials said it had once served as a Hamas training camp and weapons-manufacturing facility — a claim The Times was unable to verify.

 

“That it has previously been used by enemy fighters is not a justification for such a destruction,” said Marco Sassòli, a professor of international law at the University of Geneva, who emphasized that such demolitions should only be carried out if absolutely necessary for military operations. “I cannot imagine how this can be the case for a university, parliament building, mosque, school or hotel in the midst of the Gaza Strip.”

 

A spokesperson for the Israeli military said that all actions by Israeli forces are “based on military necessity and with accordance to international law.”

 

For Palestinians, the demolitions are yet another symbol of loss and destruction in Gaza, raising questions about the territory’s future after decades of displacement and war.

 

“Israel’s plan is to destroy Gaza and make it unliveable and lifeless,” said Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to Britain. “Israel’s goal has always been to make it impossible for our people to return to their land.”

 

Two days after the 21 Israeli soldiers were killed in central Gaza, another demolition video was filmed. In it, a soldier says that, in their memory, 21 homes would be destroyed.

 

Sources and methodology

 

Satellite images by Planet Labs. The image of Palestine Square in Gaza City was captured on Dec. 24, 2023. The image of Khuza’a was captured on Jan. 16, 2024. The image of Shuja’iyya in Gaza City was captured on Dec. 26, 2023.

 

Times reporters reviewed and verified dozens of videos from official Israeli military sources, news outlets and social media accounts, including posts from soldiers who carried out the demolitions in Gaza. Reporters cross-referenced the footage against satellite imagery and geospatial databases to confirm the date, location and spatial extent of the demolitions. Some of the demolition locations were first identified by online researchers and then confirmed by The Times.

 

Aric Toler, Patrick Kingsley and Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting. Meg Felling contributed video production.


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9) Israel releases over 100 detainees back to Gaza, with many showing signs of abuse, a Palestinian official says.

By Hiba Yazbek reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 1, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/01/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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A Palestinian man who was released after being detained with other civilians for questioning by Israeli forces was brought to Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Gaza, on Thursday. Credit...Said Khatib/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Israel returned 114 Palestinians, including four women, to Gaza from detention in Israel on Thursday, according to Gazan authorities and Palestinian media, in what appeared to be one of the largest such releases in recent months.

 

A spokesman for the Gaza crossings authority, Hisham Adwan, said that the people who were released had been detained by Israeli forces from across the Gaza Strip and were returned through the southern Kerem Shalom border crossing with Israel on Thursday morning, and that many had been subjected to “torture and abuse” during their imprisonment.

 

Israeli forces who invaded Gaza after the Oct. 7 Hamas-led attack have detained men, women and children by the thousands, according to estimates by the United Nations. The New York Times reported last month that, according to accounts by nearly a dozen of the detainees or their relatives, detainees have been stripped, beaten, interrogated and held incommunicado. The United Nations and organizations representing Palestinian prisoners and detainees have given similar accounts.

 

The Israeli military said in a statement that it detains people suspected of involvement in terrorist activity and releases those who are cleared. It said the Israeli authorities were treating detainees in accordance with international law and “incidents in which the guidelines were not followed will be looked into.”

 

Mr. Adwan said that at least 15 of the newly released detainees required urgent medical treatment upon their release.

 

“They arrived in a deplorable condition,” he said. “They were subjected to torture, abuse and starvation, and they were even barefoot.”

 

Israel had sporadically been releasing small groups of detainees over the last four months, but Thursday’s group seemed to be the largest, Mr. Adwan said. Last week, Israel released 45 men and 27 women it had detained and returned them to Gaza, he said.

 

Footage posted by Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency, showed at least seven men in matching gray tracksuits receiving medical treatment at a hospital in the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

 

The United Nations human rights office said last month that Israel’s treatment of Gazan detainees might amount to torture. It estimated that thousands had been detained and held in “horrific” conditions before being released.

 

Raja Abdulrahim contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


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10) A federal judge dismisses a suit to block U.S. support of Israel — but urges Biden to re-examine his approach.

Shawn Hubler reporting from Sacramento, Feb. 1, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/01/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

image/webp

Five days after a hearing at the federal courthouse in Oakland, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White dismissed a lawsuit by Palestinian Americans seeking to block U.S. support of Israel’s military campaign. Credit...Philip Pacheco/Getty Images


A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit by Palestinian Americans who sought to force the White House to withdraw support for Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, as was widely expected based on constitutional precedent that only the political branches of U.S. government could determine foreign policy.

 

But, unexpectedly, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White indicated that he would have preferred to have issued the injunction were he not limited by the Constitution, and he implored the Biden administration to “examine the results of their unflagging support” of Israel.

 

The determination came five days after a hearing in Oakland, Calif., in which Judge White allowed the head of a humanitarian group, a medical intern and three Palestinian Americans with relatives in Gaza to tell the court that their loved ones were being slaughtered. They alleged that the U.S. government has underwritten a genocide by backing Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

 

“President Biden could, with one phone call, put an end to this,” Laila el-Haddad, a Palestinian activist and author living in Maryland, told the judge. She said that Israeli attacks had killed at least 88 members of her extended family in Gaza. “My family is being killed on my dime.”

 

Judge White, who last week had called the testimony “gut-wrenching,” wrote that the evidence and testimony “indicate that the ongoing military siege in Gaza is intended to eradicate a whole people.”

 

But, he added, “there are rare cases in which the preferred outcome is inaccessible to the court.”

 

This, he wrote, was such a case: “It is every individual’s obligation to confront the current siege in Gaza, but it is also this Court’s obligation to remain within the metes and bounds of its jurisdictional scope.”

 

Legal precedent limits judicial power over U.S. presidents on foreign policy decisions, and lawyers for the government had argued that, regardless of the testimony about Gaza, the White House and Congress have the constitutional prerogative to set policy on Israel.

 

However, in a remarkable aside, Judge White, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, urged President Biden to rethink U.S. policy on the military siege, writing that “it is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide.”

 

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said they would contest the decision, but were heartened by the judge’s comments.

 

“While we are disappointed in the outcome, we are very pleased that the court recognized that it is plausible that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza,” said Marc Van Der Hout, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “and that the United States is supporting that genocide.”

 

Katherine Gallagher of the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, the plaintiffs’ lead counsel, noted that the court “used extremely strong language.”

 

“We hope that the executive branch hears the court’s call,” she said, “as the situation on the ground in Gaza continues to be dire.”

 

On Oct. 7, Hamas launched a terrorist attack against Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking 240 others as hostages, according to Israeli authorities. In the months since, Israel has bombarded the Palestinian enclave of Gaza in an effort to crush Hamas, which has governed the territory. Local health officials in Gaza say that more than 25,000 people have been killed there, including thousands of children, and that most of the 2.2 million people living there have been displaced and are facing famine.

 

The unusual legal action in California was filed on Nov. 13 by Palestinian humanitarian groups and eight individual supporters. It accused President Biden, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III of violating federal common law by defying customary international laws that bind the U.S. to the 1948 Genocide Convention.

 

The suit asked Judge White to order the president and his administration to “take all measures within their power” to stop “Israel’s commission of genocidal acts against the Palestinian people of Gaza.” It also sought injunctions halting aid for Israel and preventing the White House “from obstructing attempts by the international community, including the United Nations, to implement a cease-fire.”

 

The hearing earlier this month came hours after the United Nations’ highest judicial body ordered Israel to prevent genocidal acts by its forces but stopped short of calling for an end to the war in Gaza.

 

The International Court of Justice was responding to charges brought by South Africa, which alleged that Israel’s military response was crafted to deny Palestinians the right to exist.


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11) Chicago becomes the largest U.S. city to approve a cease-fire resolution.

By Colbi Edmonds, Feb. 1, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/01/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Protesters calling for a cease-fire during a Gaza rally near the University of Illinois, Chicago, this month. Credit...Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press


The Chicago City Council voted on Wednesday to approve a resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas, making it the largest city in the United States to do so.

 

Mayor Brandon Johnson broke a 23-to-23 tie to ensure passage of the resolution.

 

Before the council discussion, residents and activists spoke passionately about their support of a cease-fire, cheering and clapping for their peers. Mr. Johnson at one point cleared the council chamber to lower the volume of dissent while Debra Silverstein, the council’s only Jewish member, spoke in opposition to the resolution.

 

Similar debates have played out in communities nationwide as the passions ignited by the war in Gaza have reverberated through American politics. But the issue has been particularly contentious in Chicago and its suburbs. On Tuesday, hundreds of Chicago Public School students walked out of class in support of the resolution.

 

“You serve a county that is home to the largest population of Palestinians in America, Palestinians who have been here because they were exiled for the last 75 years,” a resident said during the public-comment session that preceded the council discussion and vote. “For four months, you’ve heard us loud and clear, and it’s a shame that it’s taken this long.”

 

The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson, the civil rights activist, attended the meeting in support of the resolution. He is one of many Black religious leaders across the country who have called on President Biden for a cease-fire.

 

Alderman Daniel La Spata, a sponsor on the resolution, acknowledged on Wednesday that the city’s vote would not directly affect international policy.

 

“We vote with solidarity,” Mr. La Spata said. “We vote to help people feel heard in a world of silence.”

 

But despite the emotions surrounding the issue, council members held a largely restrained and respectful discussion.

 

“I think some of the arguments here on the floor defy some logic,” Alderman Byron Sigcho-Lopez said, adding: “We all want peace, as we said, but how can we want peace and be against cease-fire?”

 

The topic has been contentious among city leadership since the Oct. 7 attacks. Ms. Silverstein won passage of a resolution condemning Hamas a week after the attack, and on Wednesday she lamented that similar language was not part of this resolution as well.

 

“We all want an end to the bloodshed and an end to the war,” Ms. Silverstein said during Wednesday’s meeting. “But it is vital to understand what caused the conflict, and we should pass a resolution that addresses the issue responsibly.”

 

Around 70 cities in the country, including San Francisco, Seattle and Detroit, have passed resolutions on the war, with at least 47 of those calling for an immediate cease-fire, according to Reuters.


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12) The Dawn of a New Era of Oppression

By Charles M. Blow, Jan. 31, 2024

“Democratic candidates committed to White supremacy replaced every Republican incumbent in the 1875 elections.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/31/opinion/racist-backlash-history.html

Attachment: A close-up of large chains with tape that are part of Charles Gaines’s sculpture “Moving Chains.”
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Detail of “The American Manifest: Moving Chains” (2022) by Charles Gaines. Credit...Ike Edeani for The New York Times


I am fascinated, and alarmed, by the swiftness with which periods of backlash take shape after surges of Black progress, and I believe that we have entered another such period.

 

Much of my inquiry on the matter has focused on the period after Reconstruction was allowed to fail and that saw Jim Crow begin to rise. Much of this was embodied by the state of Mississippi, which in 1870 was majority Black. White supremacists in the state developed the “Mississippi Plan” in advance of the state’s 1875 elections to use fraud and the intimidation of Black voters, including through violence, to retake state power from progressives.

 

The plan worked. As the historian Jason Phillips wrote for the Mississippi Historical Society and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, “Democratic candidates committed to White supremacy replaced every Republican incumbent in the 1875 elections.”

 

The racists took control of the state’s legislature and judiciary, impeached the Republican governor and installed a replacement of their liking.

 

Reconstruction ended when, with the Compromise of 1877 to end a contested presidential election, Democrats in Congress, mostly from the South, allowed Republican Rutherford B. Hayes to claim the presidency in exchange for the withdrawal of all federal troops. They had been enforcing the Reconstruction-era constitutional amendments and were providing a measure of protection for Black citizens in the South.

 

The next step was the calling of the Mississippi constitutional convention of 1890, which had the express purpose of encoding white supremacy into the state’s DNA. Other Southern states followed suit as the Jim Crow era took shape.

 

This was the start of a pattern that seems to repeat itself every few decades. In the 1910s, after the beginning of the first wave of the Great Migration, there would come the violent backlash of the Red Summer, as bloody riots targeting Black Americans broke out, some taking place in cities to which Black people had migrated, lured by the promise of better economic and social conditions, and fleeing racial terrorism.

 

And in the 1920s — as Richard Rothstein outlines in “The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” — restrictive covenants, the practice of putting clauses in deeds to forbid the selling or renting of real estate to Black people, spread across the country.

 

Backlash would flare again after the civil rights movement. During the last years of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, his cause lost favor, even in liberal cities. For instance, just weeks after passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a New York Times survey found that most white New Yorkers “said they believed the Negro civil rights movement had gone too far.”

 

In 1968, King was killed during Richard Nixon’s run for the White House. Nixon visited King’s wife and went to King’s funeral. His campaign also did some cursory outreach to Black voters, which led to him winning 15 percent of the Black vote, even though only 3 percent of Black voters identified as Republican that year.

 

But we now know what was happening behind the scenes. In an interview published in 2016, the Nixon aide John Ehrlichman said: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and Black people.” He went on to explain how Nixon’s team underscored the criminalization of drugs as a way to discredit both groups, helping to usher in the war on drugs and mass incarceration, which have been catastrophic for the Black community.

 

I now believe that we are in the early phase of yet another backlash, with the dismantling of affirmative action, governmental attacks on the teaching of Black history and the full-court press on the political right to get rid of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.

 

The symbolic alignment of a cross-section of Americans, particularly the young, with Black liberty and Black lives after the murder of George Floyd and the wave of protests that it brought forth, retreated with the speed of the tide before the advance of the tsunami.

 

The results for this era could be wide-reaching, altering the composition of student bodies and corporate workforces, locking in and perpetuating privilege and disadvantage for a generation. And as with previous backlashes, some liberals have grown weary, distracted or disaffected, and their allyship has withered and fallen away.

 

And then there are the more explicit attacks. Newly reported F.B.I. data reveals that the number of hate crimes in schools nearly doubled between 2018 and 2022, with African Americans being the most frequent victims. The most common victims of hate crimes outside of schools were also African Americans.

 

This disturbing data arrived to little attention as people remain distracted by raging wars, a border crisis, the various court cases of a former president and the start of the presidential primaries.

 

I believe that the whiplash from these events has been particularly disorienting and enraging for younger Americans, for whom this may be their first experience of such a backlash, and that their frustration has manifested in a broad dissatisfaction with politics in general that has fed a dissatisfaction with the current administration.

 

The unfortunate reality of all this is that if history is our guide, the effects of these backlashes linger for decades.


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13) A Select Few Witnessed Alabama’s Nitrogen Execution. This Is What They Saw.

There are contrasting accounts of the first U.S. execution by nitrogen gas, but most witnesses agreed on one thing: It did not go as Alabama had promised.

By Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Feb. 1, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/01/us/alabama-nitrogen-execution-kenneth-smith-witnesses.html

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Kenneth Smith was executed last week at the William C. Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, Ala. Credit...Edmund D. Fountain for The New York Times


When Alabama conducted the first known execution using nitrogen gas last week, the world was watching — in a figurative sense.

 

Only a small group of witnesses actually watched Kenneth Smith die on a gurney in an execution chamber in rural Alabama, an execution that state officials described as a model for other states looking for alternatives to lethal injection.

 

The witnesses offered a range of descriptions on what exactly occurred in the 22 minutes during which curtains were drawn back on the death chamber — allowing them to watch as a man, strapped to a gurney, struggled through the last minutes of his life.

 

Mr. Smith was one of three men convicted of murder in the 1988 stabbing death of Elizabeth Sennett, whose husband had hired the men to kill her. Mr. Smith had already survived one failed execution, in November 2022, when executioners spent hours trying to access a vein to inject him with lethal drugs.

 

He was “terrified” of the nitrogen execution, according to a man who spent time with him in recent months as a spiritual adviser, the Rev. Jeff Hood.

 

Lawyers for the state had asserted in court papers that the use of nitrogen gas, pumped into a mask, would render Mr. Smith unconscious within seconds and then kill him. But a week after the execution, most witnesses who have spoken publicly said Mr. Smith remained conscious for several minutes, and many described it as a profoundly disturbing event.

 

As several states begin considering laws to adopt the use of nitrogen gas in their executions, here are the accounts of some of those who witnessed the first one.

 

Kenneth Smith is led into the execution chamber

 

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the execution to proceed shortly before 7 p.m. local time, and Mr. Smith was taken to the execution chamber.

 

The only public account of what took place in the chamber before the curtains were opened has come from Mr. Hood, who entered when summoned by prison officials and then largely remained with Mr. Smith.

 

When we were waiting to enter the execution chamber, the corrections officer kept banging on the door. She told me, “He’s resisting.” When I walk in, the entire execution squad is in the execution chamber, which I’ve never seen before. Kenny said something like, “I’m giving them hell.” They have to strap him down, and obviously, if you resist that, that’s not going to be an easy thing to do.

 

Mr. Hood said he anointed Mr. Smith’s head with oil as he lay on the gurney. Then, Mr. Hood was led back outside briefly while Mr. Smith was fitted with the mask.

 

We go in again and as soon as I get in there, he’s trying to comfort me. … He kept on saying, “I’ve got this, I’ve got this, I’ve got this.” … He kept on talking about his “release date” — that today was his release date — that he was free and that he’s out of there.

 

Mr. Hood began to read Bible passages to Mr. Smith, and said he responded energetically after nearly every line.

 

I would say, “The Lord is my shepherd,” and he would say, “Damn right!” When I’m reading, “You who are without sin shall cast the first stone,” he looks at the guards and says, “You know he’s talking to y’all?” I think he saw that as his final resistance.

 

It was only moments before the execution would begin.

 

When he was in the chamber, before they opened the curtains, he was bouncing his head around, as if he was listening to music.

 

The execution begins

 

Marty Roney, a longtime reporter for The Montgomery Advertiser, had witnessed two previous executions. This time, he said, the dimly lit viewing room had a strong scent of disinfectant as five journalists and Mr. Smith’s family members were led in. His job, in part, would be to keep track of the elapsed time, if he could.

 

The room is probably 8 by 12 [feet], with 13 folding chairs — it’s tight. There is a large glass window in front of the media room that lets you look into the death chamber. The five of us [reporters] decided to divvy up duties. … My job was, if I found the clock, I would keep the clock.

 

In another witness room sat two sons of the murder victim, Mike and Chuck Sennett, as well as their wives, a friend and another relative of Ms. Sennett’s.

 

Mike Sennett said there were also two people he did not know; he thought they were prison officials from another state. In 2010, the family attended the lethal injection execution of John Parker, who was also convicted in his mother’s murder.

 

We went down for the Parker execution and it was like him going to sleep. We didn’t know what to expect with this. My anxiety was just building all day long, wondering what’s going to happen.

 

Kim Chandler, a reporter with The Associated Press, wrote an account of what she saw when the curtains were pulled back at 7:53 p.m.

 

Smith, wearing a tan prison uniform, was already strapped to the gurney and draped in a white sheet. A blue-rimmed respirator mask covered his face from forehead to chin. It had a clear face shield and plastic tubing that appeared to connect through an opening to the adjoining control room.

 

Another media witness, Ralph Chapoco of The Alabama Reflector, wrote that Mr. Smith seemed to be trying to reassure his relatives.

 

From the moment the curtain opened and throughout the time that corrections staff read the death warrant, Kenneth Eugene Smith never took his eyes off his supporters or the members of his family. … He scanned their faces one by one, smiled at each of them and several times made a sign with his fingers which meant “I love you.” He would look into the eyes of one person, smile, then move onto the next person, smile and then move on to the next person.

 

The gas begins flowing

 

Mr. Smith remained conscious for several minutes, according to the five media witnesses, including Mr. Roney.

 

For four minutes, he was gasping for air. He appeared to be conscious. He was convulsing, he was writhing, the gurney was shaking noticeably.

 

Mr. Roney said that he tried to count the seconds between Mr. Smith’s gasps.

 

We’re not allowed watches. There is no second hand on the clock. It’s a digital clock that’s on military time. I’m sitting there, “one Mississippi, two Mississippi,” between his breaths.

 

He said the execution was vastly different than the two he had witnessed before.

 

The two lethal injections I saw, I saw very little physical movement after we believe the process began. Their head goes down, their eyes roll in the back of their head, and then you look for the chest to stop working. You can always fool yourself in that situation into thinking you’re watching someone fall asleep. But there was no mistaking this for what it was.

 

John Hamm, the commissioner of Alabama’s prison system, said at a news conference that he believed Mr. Smith had tried to hold his breath when the nitrogen started flowing, potentially prolonging the process.

 

It appeared that, one, Smith was holding his breath as long as he could. And then there’s also information out there, he struggled against his restraints a little bit but there was some involuntary movement and some agonal breathing. So, that was all expected and is in the side effects that we’ve seen or researched on nitrogen hypoxia. So, nothing was out of the ordinary of what we were expecting.

The media witnesses said Mr. Smith’s breathing was no longer visible at 8:08 p.m.

 

In the room where the Sennett family was seated, there was near silence, Mike Sennett said, as they watched Mr. Smith convulse. Mr. Sennett said he, too, believed that Mr. Smith had initially tried to hold his breath. As Mr. Smith continued to shake, Mr. Sennett said he began to think, “How long is this going to take?”

 

We were told by some people that worked [in the prison system] that he’d take two or three breaths and he’d be out and gone. That ain’t what happened. After about two or three breaths, that’s when the struggling started. Other people kept saying he was trying to raise himself up. Yeah, he was. I’d probably try and do the same, try and get off the table.

 

Mr. Sennett says he has been unable to get the violence of Mr. Smith’s last moments out of his mind.

 

With all that struggling and jerking and trying to get off that table, more or less, it’s just something I don’t ever want to see again.

 

The curtains close

 

The curtains to the media witness room were closed at 8:15 p.m.

 

Mr. Sennett had jotted down some notes for a brief address but, overwhelmed with emotions and without his glasses, he said he struggled to read from them. The family wasn’t celebrating, he told reporters; they were just glad the execution had finally happened, after more than 35 years. He later said that he meant to say more about feeling sorry for the Smith family and their loss.

 

Mr. Chapoco found it difficult to turn to the task of writing an article.

 

Trauma has a way of playing tricks on a person’s mind. I knew what I experienced. I could even visualize it. For some reason, however, I could not string a series of coherent thoughts together. … Frankly, I underestimated the impact [the] execution would have, believing I could place it in the back of my mind.

 

Mr. Roney said a rush of adrenaline helped him to focus and type up his story.

 

Once the whistle blows, you do your job. When the curtain opened up, you don’t really have time to — you take it all in — but you don’t have time to let it affect you. I have a job to do. I’m thinking, “Don’t screw it up. Am I seeing what I think I see?” And then you’re in the media room and you’re on deadline and it’s all business.

 

Later, there was a news conference in the hotel lobby of a Holiday Inn Express with Mr. Hood and two death penalty opponents. Joining them was Mr. Smith’s wife, Deanna Smith, who married him while he was in prison in 2021. She wore a shirt that said, “Never Alone” and described the painful experience of watching her husband die.

 

Tonight, I watched my husband jerk and convulse and gasp for air for at least 10 minutes.

 

She said it was difficult to sit in the same room with reporters who were focused on chronicling the moment.

 

They put the media in that room with us, our family. And while our son was crying, having just watched his father take his last gasp for air, the media is sitting behind us, shuffling papers and talking about time. My question to you guys is, where’s the humanity? Where’s the compassion? Where’s love and forgiveness?

 

When Mr. Sennett returned to his hotel — the same one — he was stunned to see the news conference in the lobby.

 

When we come back to the hotel, the guy said, “They’re having a big rally in there.” We just sat there and listened, and about half of what he said had really happened. They played it up pretty good. Wasn’t expecting that.

 

Afterward, Mr. Sennett met one of Mr. Smith’s sons. They wound up embracing.

 

He just more or less said that he’d been waiting a long time to meet us and tell us he’s very sorry. I told him: “You were a baby back then. You had nothing to do with it. Your family had nothing to do with it. We don’t blame any of y’all. We blame Kenneth Smith.”

 

Mr. Sennett said that over the years, he had been most bothered by how long it took Alabama to carry out the execution, and the fact that Mr. Smith never wrote an apology to the family.

 

We did not get a letter of apology in 35 years. That’s all we wanted. His spiritual adviser told us that he tried to get that out of him, and he would not say it. So good riddance to you. That’s all we wanted was that letter of apology. That’ll stay with me for a long time.

As the night wore on, people began to return to their hotel rooms. Unable to sleep, Mr. Roney said he poured himself a drink and watched television.

 

All of a sudden it’s over with and done, but there’s no way you can go to bed for two hours because you can’t switch it off like that. … This one has stuck with me. When I drove home, about an hour and a half away, my wife gave me a kiss on the cheek and said, “Was it bad?” and I said, “Uh-huh.”


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14) In the West Bank, Palestinians Struggle to Adjust to a New Reality

The volatile mix of violence, tensions and Israeli restrictions has had a stultifying effect on the West Bank

By Yara Bayoumy and Rami Nazzal, Feb. 2, 2024

Reporting from multiple cities in the West Bank

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/02/world/middleeast/west-bank-palestine-israel.html

Relatives mourning Ahmed and Jalal Jabarin, who were shot dead by Israeli troops after their car broke through a checkpoint near the city of Hebron, West Bank, this month. Credit...Marco Longari/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


At one of the main checkpoints between the West Bank and Jerusalem, only two of four lanes were open recently and the hours of operation were shortened to 12 hours a day.

 

Haneen Faroukh, 26, said she now had to wait for hours to run simple errands. Israeli soldiers had sown panic among ordinary Palestinians who make the crossing frequently to reach jobs, doctors, relatives or just their homes.

 

“They yell at us all the time,” said Ms. Faroukh. “We’re too scared to say anything.”

 

For many Palestinians, life in the West Bank, already hard under years of Israeli occupation, is now subject to ever more onerous restrictions and an increased military presence since Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel that killed an estimated 1,200 people.

 

Israeli authorities have created new choke points for travel, throttling traffic. They have stopped allowing many Palestinians to work in Israel, a lifeblood for the local economy. And they have increased the intensity of raids and arrests in West Bank neighborhoods.

 

The Israeli military says there has been a “significant increase in terrorist attacks” in the West Bank since Oct. 7, necessitating the need for the additional security measures and raids.

 

Many Palestinians who spoke to The New York Times say these measures, at times humiliating, have provoked frustration and anger. They have watched in horror as an estimated 26,000 people, including friends and relatives, have been killed under heavy Israeli bombardment in Gaza, while facing worsening conditions at home under Israeli authority and attacks at the hands of Jewish settlers.

 

In the extreme, it has translated into violence by Palestinian factions. Last month, two Palestinian men stole cars and ran over Israelis in a suburb of Tel Aviv, the Israeli police said. One person was killed and 17 others were injured, according to emergency officials. Both men were residents of the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

 

The hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in the West Bank — which includes a number of Palestinian cities interlaced with Israeli settlements — have long had to reckon with an Israeli occupation that largely dictates their lives.

 

Israel controls access to most of the water in the West Bank, restricts Palestinian access to several roads and decides who can enter Israel for work. Israel has continued to authorize the construction of thousands of new buildings on Jewish settlements, while making it extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain building permits in the areas of the West Bank that Israel directly administers, a fact that blocks most Palestinian development in those areas.

 

Before the war, more than 100,000 Palestinians in the West Bank were working in Israel and Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to Raja Khalidi, who leads the Palestine Economic Policy Research Institute.

 

Since Oct. 7, Israel has canceled the majority of those work permits. And the steady flow of workers from the West Bank who usually cross the border has been reduced to a trickle.

 

For a few weeks after the Hamas-led attack, buses from Jerusalem to Ramallah in the West Bank were only allowed to drop off passengers as far as the checkpoint, forcing passengers to take different forms of transportation.

 

Charlie Gabajee, 47, said he worked as a delivery man between Israel and the West Bank until his permit was revoked.

 

“Life is so restricted now,” he said in his car as he inched his way through the checkpoint to take his 85-year-old mother, Claire, to the hospital.

 

He explained how Israeli soldiers regularly check cars with their guns trained on the passengers. He fears that it could get worse in the West Bank.

 

“I think there is a plan for the Israeli government that, after they finish in Gaza, they’ll come here to the West Bank and try to shut it down even more,” he said.

 

By the middle of December, the number of “access and movement restrictions” Israeli forces established in the West Bank, including checkpoints and road blocks, rose to 694 from 645, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

 

The economic shock waves have rippled through the West Bank.

 

Israel collected tax money in Gaza and the West Bank and gave the funds to the Palestinian Authority, which has limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank. After Oct. 7, Israel withheld funds earmarked for salary and pension expenses in Gaza. The Palestinian Authority, in turn, refused to accept the partial transfer, which led to many Palestinian civil servants having their wages cut. The Israeli government recently approved a plan for the frozen tax funds to be held by Norway.

 

With the money frozen, Palestinian banks face increased risks of default on loans to Gazans, Palestinian workers in Israel and to salary-squeezed employees of the Palestinian Authority.

 

The Palestinian Authority was forced to take out a $400 million loan in December to keep itself afloat. This brought the Palestinian banking system’s overall public debt load to $2.5 billion, Mr. Khalidi said.

 

“I don’t want to use the phrase ‘perfect storm,’ because it seemed appropriate for Covid, but it’s much worse than that,” Mr. Khalidi said. “The overall blow to aggregate demand and consumption in the economy is being felt through the West Bank, while the collapse in Gaza is seen as a worst case that may yet befall the West Bank.”

 

Some public schools in the West Bank have shut down because teachers have stopped receiving salaries from the Palestinian Authority. Even if schools are open, some parents are too scared to send their children out of fear they may get caught in an Israeli raid.

 

“I send my daughter to school but I feel like she’ll die at any moment. I’m on my nerves,” said Manal Hamade, 42, who runs a women’s salon in the Balata neighborhood on the outskirts of Nablus.

 

“The Israelis used to carry out raids at night, but now at any moment they come in,” she said.

 

Her anxiousness and wariness reflected the mood of the neighborhood, where residents keep watch for any signs of outsiders that could signal an Israeli raid on the camp.

 

Across the West Bank and Jerusalem, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah says, at least 380 Palestinians have been killed since Oct. 7 by Israeli forces.

 

The Israeli military said in a statement that it “conducts nightly counterterrorism operations to apprehend suspects, many of them are part of the Hamas terrorist organization. In addition, as part of the security operations in the area, dynamic checkpoints have been put up over different places.”

 

Even before the Hamas attacks, settler violence was hitting its highest levels since the U.N. began tracking it in the mid-2000s. According to U.N. figures in November 2023, there was an average of one incident of settler violence a day in 2021. Since Oct. 7, the average is seven incidents per day. Extremist settlers have been attacking Palestinian homes and businesses in the West Bank. They have burned down the tents of seminomadic Bedouin herders and shot people, witnesses have said.

 

On Thursday, President Biden ordered broad financial and travel sanctions be imposed on Israeli settlers accused of violent attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank.

 

Hadya Sidr, 42, lives in the city of Hebron with her husband, Abed, and four children and stepchildren. They said they had gotten used to occasional harassment from settlers living nearby. But since the Oct. 7 attacks, they said, the settlers have felt more emboldened.

 

Most evenings, Ms. Sidr said, settlers throw stones, trash and empty wine bottles to harass them.

 

“We were living normally before, you could go out and about, but now, it’s not possible. It’s just too scary,” she said.

 

Her husband added that the settlers also yell profanity at them: “Muhammad is a pig,” referring to the Prophet Muhammad.

 

“After 4 or 5 p.m., we do not leave our homes. Why? Because we’re worried that a settler sees us and shoots at us,” he said.

 

The Sidrs, like many Palestinian families living in the West Bank’s numerous refugee camps — many of which are built-up areas that were established decades ago — said the declining economy had hit them particularly hard.

 

“In normal times, we’re barely able to get enough food,” said Mr. Sidr, who sews Palestinian embroidery on various textiles. “There is no more living here. Everyone who had some money hidden away has spent it.”

 

“After the war, we’re going to be forced to beg from people,” he added.


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15) Israel’s defense minister signals the army could push toward Gaza’s southernmost point.

By Aaron Boxerman and Nick Cumming-Bruce reporting from Jerusalem and Geneva, Feb. 2, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/02/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news#israels-defense-minister-signals-the-army-could-push-toward-gazas-southernmost-point

Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, speaking in Tel Aviv, Israel, in December. Credit...Pool photo by Alberto Pizzoli


Israel’s defense minister has signaled that Israeli ground forces could advance on Rafah — one of the last southern Gaza cities that Israeli ground forces have not yet reached — raising concerns in a corner of the enclave where hundreds of thousands of people have crowded for shelter from the war.

 

“We are completing the mission in Khan Younis, and we will reach Rafah as well, and eliminate every terrorist there who threatens to harm us,” the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said during a visit to troops in Khan Younis, according to footage distributed by his office late Thursday.

 

It was not clear whether Mr. Gallant’s comments reflected an immediate military objective or were intended more as a signal of resolve both to the Israeli public and to Hamas as Israel awaits the armed group’s response to a proposed initial framework for a cease-fire and release of more Israeli hostages from Gaza.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel will continue fighting Hamas in Gaza until “complete victory,” even as he faces rising domestic pressure to make a deal to free the hostages and international calls to ease the fighting and limit harm to civilians.

 

Thousands of Palestinians have fled south in recent days to escape the fighting in Khan Younis and central Gaza, many with just the clothes they were wearing. The United Nations has described dire conditions in Khan Younis, where Israel has engaged in intense urban fighting as it 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.

 

Roughly half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have crammed into the area surrounding Rafah, a city at the enclave’s southern border where about 200,000 lived before the war, the United Nations said on Friday.

 

Israel’s stated goal of toppling Hamas’s rule in Gaza would most likely require at least some of its forces to enter Rafah to attack the group’s network there.

 

If Israel were to advance on Rafah, it is not clear how it would provide for the safety of civilians, many of whom have fled multiple times as Israel has called for evacuations of areas it intended to target.

 

Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said the agency was deeply concerned about escalating combat in Khan Younis and the rise in displaced Gazans fleeing for Rafah.

 

“Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next,” Mr. Laerke told journalists in Geneva on Friday.

 

Severe constraints on deliveries of supplies like food, water and medicine, and escalating levels of disease have increased the sense of desperation, Mr. Laerke said. “Every week we think it can’t get any worse,” he added. “Well, go figure, it gets worse.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu has said that Israel must take control of a strip of land along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt to defeat Hamas. The move could effectively cut Egypt off from Gaza, potentially weakening Egypt’s regional role and bringing the fighting directly to its border.

 

Egyptian officials have said that Israeli military control of the land corridor would violate agreements between the two sides.

 

“It must be strictly emphasized that any Israeli move in this direction will lead to a serious threat to Egyptian-Israeli relations,” Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian government spokesman, said in late January.


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16) The Palestinian Red Crescent says Israeli forces attacked a hospital in Khan Younis.

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 2, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/02/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news#israels-defense-minister-signals-the-army-could-push-toward-gazas-southernmost-point

An injured man was brought to Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip in January. Credit...Haitham Imad/EPA, via Shutterstock


Israeli forces attacked a hospital complex in southern Gaza on Friday and killed a number of people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society, which said one of its employees was among the dead.

 

The Israeli military declined to comment on the Red Crescent report. It has said its intelligence indicates that Hamas is operating from inside and around the hospital, Al-Amal, though it has not offered evidence to support its claims.

 

The Al-Amal complex, and a second hospital, the Nasser Medical Complex, have been surrounded for days by Israeli ground forces, according to aid groups and the Gazan Health Ministry, trapping thousands of patients, medical staff and displaced Palestinians who had sought shelter.

 

They are two of the last partially functioning hospitals in southern Gaza, though they are facing shortages of water, food, oxygen and medicine needed for thousands of patients, health officials say.

 

Israel said last week that it was “carrying out precise operations” in Khan Younis against Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls Gaza. The military said its intelligence indicates that Hamas is operating from inside and around both the Nasser and Al-Amal hospitals.

 

Israel has long contended that Hamas uses hospitals, a charge denied by both Hamas and hospital administrators.

 

The Palestinian Red Crescent said that Israeli forces on Thursday had stormed the courtyard of Al-Amal and opened fire, hitting five vehicles, including ambulances.

 

Two Red Crescent staff members were shot and killed by Israeli forces near the entrance gate of Al-Amal the day before, the group said. The Israeli military did not respond on Friday to questions about those claims.

 

“The situation in the hospital is terrible in all aspects,” said Dr. Mohammad Abu Moussa, a radiologist at Nasser whose family is sheltering there. He said that he had seen an airstrike nearby from the top floor of the hospital Friday afternoon. “There are very few doctors and not many with specialties. There are only two surgeons.”

 

The United Nations has said that heavy fighting around both hospitals has jeopardized the safety of medical staff, injured and sick patients and thousands of other Palestinians sheltering there. Oxygen supplies at both hospitals are nearing depletion, according to the U.N. and Red Crescent.

 

Despite the heavy military operations around Nasser hospital, the World Health Organization said that it and other aid groups were able to reach the facility this week and deliver badly needed medical supplies.

 

“Within a week Nasser has gone from partially to minimally functional, reflecting the unwarranted and ongoing dismantling of the health system,” the W.H.O. chief, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, wrote on social media this week. “The morale of the medical staff has significantly declined due to these grim circumstances.”


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