[bauaw] Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 20, 2024

  • From: bonnieweinstein <giobon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: BAUAW <bauaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 20 Feb 2024 09:41:10 -0800


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Saturday, February 24, 2024, 12:00 Noon

ILWU Local 10

400 North Point St., San Francisco

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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 20, 2024, the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 29,195,* 69,170+ wounded, and more than 492 Palestinians have been killed by Israel in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.  The Palestinian Prisoners Society (PPS) and the Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs Commission released a new tally of Palestinians detained by "Israel", revealing that the number of Palestinian prisoners in the West Bank has risen to more than 6,115.


*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health and other sources including the New YorkTimes. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 36,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.


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

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

Fight for Free Speech: Anti-Colonial Teach-In

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

Tamarack, 1501 Harrison Street, Oakland, 94612

Uhuru Solidarity Movement

(510) 603-6150, oakland@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

NoMoreGenocide.eventbee.com

 

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

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

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

Defend anti-colonial free speech!  

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We are all Palestinian

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

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

Greetings,

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

Mistahi

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


We are all Palestinian

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


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Labor for Palestine

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

Video of December 16th Labor rally for Palestine.

 

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


For More Information:bayarealabor4palestine@xxxxxxxxxProduction of Labor Video Project

www.labormedia.net

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

Just Like The Nazis Did

By David Rovics

 

After so many decades of patronage

By the world’s greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

After crushing so many uprisings

Now they’re making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their Final Solution

Just like the Nazis did

 

They forced refugees into ghettos

Then set the ghettos aflame

Murdering writers and poets

And so no one remember their names

Killing their entire families

The grandparents, women and kids

The uncles and cousins and babies

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re bombing all means of sustaining

Human life at all

See the few shelters remaining

Watch as the tower blocks fall

They’re bombing museums and libraries

In order to get rid

Of any memory of the people who lived here

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re saying these people are animals

And they should all end up dead

They’re sending soldiers into schools

And shooting children in the head

The rhetoric is identical

And with Gaza off the grid

They’ve already said what happens next

Just like the Nazis did

 

Words of war for domestic consumption

And lies for all the rest

To try to distract our attention

Among their enablers in the West

Because Israel needs their imports

To keep those pallets on the skids

They need fuel and they need missiles

Just like the Nazis did

 

They’re using food as a weapon

They’re using water that way, too

They’re trying to kill everyone in Gaza

Or make them flee, it’s true

As the pundits talk of “after the war”

Like with the Fall of Madrid

The victors are preparing for more

Just like the Nazis did

 

But it’s after the conquest’s complete

If history is any guide

When the occupying army

Is positioned to decide

When disease and famine kills

Whoever may have hid

Behind the ghetto walls

Just like the Nazis did

 

All around the world

People are trying to tell

There's a genocide unfolding

Ringing alarm bells

But with such a powerful axis

And so many lucrative bids

They know who wants their money

Just like the Nazis did

 

There's so many decades of patronage

For the world's greatest empire

So many potential agreements

Were rejected by opening fire

They're crushing so many uprisings

Now they're making their ultimate bid

Pursuing their final solution

Just like the Nazis did

  Just like the Nazis did

    Just like the Nazis did


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Free Julian Assange


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Immediate Repeated Action Needed to Free Assange

 

Please call your Congressional Representatives, the White House, and the DOJ. Calls are tallied—they do count.  We are to believe we are represented in this country.  This is a political case, so our efforts can change things politically as well.  Please take this action as often as you can:

 

Find your representatives:

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

 

Leave each of your representatives a message individually to: 

·      Drop the charges against Julian Assange

·      Speak out publicly against the indictment and

·      Sign on to Rashida Tlaib's letter to the DOJ to drop the charges: 

           202-224-3121—Capitol Main Switchboard 

 

Leave a message on the White House comment line to Demand Julian Assange be pardoned: 

             202-456-1111

             Tuesday–Thursday, 11:00 A.M.–3:00 P.M. EST

 

Call the DOJ and demand they drop the charges against Julian Assange:

             202-353-1555—DOJ Comment Line

             202-514-2000 Main Switchboard 



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Mumia Abu-Jamal is Innocent!

FREE HIM NOW!

Write to Mumia at:

Smart Communications/PADOC

Mumia Abu-Jamal #AM-8335

SCI Mahanoy

P.O. Box 33028

St. Petersburg, FL 33733


Join the Fight for Mumia's Life

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

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

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

Send to:

 Mumia Medical and Legal Fund c/o Prison Radio

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

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

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We are saddened to announce the passing of Leonard Peltier’s sister, Linda.

 

Leonard is humbly requesting help with funeral expenses.

 

Even a dollar or two would be greatly appreciated.

 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/help-leonard-peltier-family-bury-his-sister-linda?utm_campaign=p_cp+fundraiser-sidebar&utm_medium=copy_link_all&utm_source=customer

 

Respect,

Dawn Lawson

Personal Assistant Leonard Peltier

Executive Assistant Jenipher Jones, Esq.

Secretary Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee

800-901-4413

dawn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

www.freeleonardpeltiernow.org




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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) Israel is discussing new limits on access to an important mosque in Jerusalem.

By Patrick Kingsley reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 19, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/19/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Israeli security forces look on as Palestinians pray near the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in October. Credit...Afif Amireh for The New York Times


The Israeli government is discussing whether to increase restrictions on access to an important mosque in Jerusalem during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, leading to predictions of unrest if the additional limits are enforced.

 

Cabinet ministers discussed on Sunday whether to bar some members of Israel’s Arab minority from attending prayers at the Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan, according to two officials briefed on the deliberations, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss a sensitive matter.

 

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that a decision on the matter had already been reached, without saying what it was. But the two officials said a final decision would be made only after the government received recommendations from the security services in the coming days.

 

Israel has long limited access to Al Aqsa for Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and since the start of the Gaza war, it has imposed extra restrictions on Arabs in Israel. But some had hoped those limits would be largely lifted for Ramadan, which starts in early March.

 

The mosque complex is sacred to both Muslims and Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because it was the site of two Jewish temples in antiquity that remain central to Jewish identity. By Muslim tradition, it was the place from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, and tens of thousands of Muslims visit the mosque every day during Ramadan.

 

Israeli police raids at the site, riots there by young Palestinians and visits by far-right Jewish activists have often been a catalyst for wider violence, including a brief war between Israel and Hamas in 2021.

 

The move to further restrict access was promoted in the Israeli cabinet by Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right minister for national security, who has long pushed for greater Jewish control over the site and less Muslim access to it. In recent days, he had warned that Muslim worshipers might use access to the mosque to display support for Hamas, the armed group whose Oct. 7 terrorist attack prompted Israel to launch airstrikes and a ground invasion in Gaza.

 

Analysts say that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is wary of angering Mr. Ben-Gvir because his ruling coalition depends on Mr. Ben-Gvir’s support. But Arab leaders as well as some Jewish Israelis have warned that by allowing Mr. Ben-Gvir to dictate policy at the mosque, Mr. Netanyahu ‌could inflame an already volatile situation‌, as well as‌ undermine freedom of worship.

 

The move would be “liable to pour unnecessary oil on the fire of violence,” Waleed Alhwashla, an Arab Israeli lawmaker, wrote on social media.

 

Dan Harel, a former deputy chief of staff in the Israeli military, said in a radio interview that the move would be “unnecessary, foolish and senseless” and might “ignite the entire Muslim world.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s office declined to comment.

 

Gabby Sobelman and Myra Noveck contributed reporting.


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2) Palestinians tell the International Court of Justice that Israeli policies amount to ‘colonialism and apartheid.’

By Marlise Simons and Ephrat Livni, Feb. 19, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/19/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister opened arguments in proceedings on the legality of Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. Israel does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction in the matter. The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, opened the proceedings by telling the court that Israel had subjected Palestinians to decades of discrimination, leaving them with the choice of “displacement, subjugation or death.”


The International Court of Justice in The Hague began hearing arguments on Monday on the legal consequences of Israel’s decades-long occupation of Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The six-day hearings, which are expected to address Israel’s actions in areas it occupied in 1967, have gained attention amid Israel’s war in Gaza against Hamas.

 

The court is scheduled to hear from about 50 nations, including some of Israel’s allies, such as the United States and Britain, as well as critics, including China and Russia.

 

The Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, opened the proceedings by telling the court that Israel had subjected Palestinians to decades of discrimination, leaving them with the choice of “displacement, subjugation or death.”

 

“The Palestinians have endured colonialism and apartheid,” he said. “There are those who are enraged by these words. They should be enraged by the reality we are suffering.”

 

Israel has said it does not recognize the court’s jurisdiction over its activities in the West Bank, arguing that the questions raised by the proceedings are political but not legal.

 

The court, the United Nations’ highest judicial body, is expected to issue an advisory opinion after the hearings, although it could take weeks to reach one. It will not be legally binding, and Israel has ignored opinions from the court before. But the proceeding this time comes amid growing international pressure on Israel to halt fighting in Gaza, which began after Hamas-led attacks on Israel last October.

 

The proceedings this week before a panel of 15 judges are separate from a case brought by South Africa that accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a charge Israel denies. Last month, the court ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in the territory, without ruling on whether genocide was occurring.

 

Still, the timing of this week’s hearings could contribute to an uncomfortable spotlight on Israel’s policies when questions about Palestinian statehood are top of mind for diplomats internationally as negotiations for a cease-fire in Gaza continue.

 

The United Nations General Assembly first asked the court to consider Israel’s activities in Palestinian territories more than two decades ago. In 2004, the court concluded in an advisory opinion that a wall that Israel was building around the territories violated international law, although Israel ignored the finding.

 

Human rights groups view the proceedings this week as a long-delayed opportunity to address questions about the Israeli occupation, what they consider discriminatory practices that violate international law and Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

 

“Governments that are presenting their arguments to the court should seize these landmark hearings to highlight the grave abuses Israeli authorities are committing against Palestinians,” said Clive Baldwin, the senior legal adviser at Human Rights Watch, which says it has documented abuses amounting to illegal persecution and apartheid.


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3) The U.S. says it struck more Houthi targets in Yemen, including an underwater drone.

By Julian E. Barnes Reporting from Washington, Feb. 19, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/19/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

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Houthi supporters in Sana, Yemen, on Friday attending a rally against American strikes on Houthi targets. Credit...Osamah Abdulrahman/Associated Press


The United States struck five Houthi military targets, including an undersea drone, in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen on Saturday, the U.S. military announced on Sunday.

 

The use of the underwater drone is believed to have been the first time that Iran-backed Houthis had employed such a weapon since they began their campaign against ships in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden on Oct. 23, the military’s Central Command said in a statement.

 

American military officials provided few details of what they called an “unmanned underwater vessel,” but the Houthis have received much of their drone and missile technology from Iran. In addition to the underwater drone, the Houthis were also using a remotely piloted boat, the statement said.

 

The U.S. struck both the surface drone and the submarine drone and launched other strikes against anti-ship missiles, the military said in its statement, but provided no precise details on the location.

 

Maritime drones are becoming an increasingly powerful and effective weapon. Ukraine has used sea drones to devastating effect against Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Ukraine has deployed both drones that skim the surface of the water and those that travel underwater to attack Russian ships.

 

Mick Mulroy, a former Pentagon official and C.I.A. officer, said the Houthis’ use of an underwater drone was significant. He said the Houthis appeared to be adjusting their strategy.

 

“Unmanned surface and subsurface vessels are likely more difficult to detect and destroy than aerial drones and anti-ship missiles,” Mr. Mulroy said. “If all of these weapons systems were used against one target, it could overwhelm the ship’s defenses.”

 

The United States Central Command, which is overseeing operations against the Houthis, said the strikes were conducted on Saturday after determining the missiles and the drones posed a threat to both American Navy ships and commercial vessels.

 

In late October, the Houthis began a campaign to target commercial vessels, mostly in the Red Sea, off the coast of Yemen, saying that the attacks were in solidarity with Palestinians under attack in Gaza by Israel. The stepped-up attacks have prompted an American-led international maritime response, including a series of strikes on Houthi targets in Yemen.

 

The U.S. has accused Iran of supplying the Houthis and in some cases helping plan operations. However, more recently, American officials have said that Iran does not have direct control over the Houthis.


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4) It’s Not Just Wages. Retailers Are Mistreating Workers in a More Insidious Way.

By Adelle Waldman

Ms. Waldman’s forthcoming novel, “Help Wanted,” takes place in a big-box store, Feb. 19, 2024

JPEG image

Brian Ulrich


Back in 2018, with an eye to writing a novel about low-wage work in America, I got a job at a big-box store near the Catskills in New York, where I live. I was on the team that unloaded the truck of new merchandise each morning at 4 a.m.

 

We were supposed to empty the truck in under an hour. Given how little we made — I was paid $12.25 an hour, which I was told was the standard starting pay — I was surprised how much my co-workers cared about making the unload time. They took a kind of bitter pride in their efficiency, and it rubbed off on me. I dreaded making a mistake that would slow us down as we worked in tandem to get between 1,500 and 2,500 boxes off the truck and sorted onto pallets each morning. When the last box rolled out of the truck, we would spread out in groups of two or three for the rest of our four-hour shift and shelve the items from the boxes we’d just unloaded.

 

Most of my co-workers had been at the store for years, but almost all of them were, like me, part time. This meant that the store had no obligation to give us a stable number of hours or to adhere to a weekly minimum. Some weeks we’d be scheduled for as little as a single four-hour shift; other weeks we’d be asked to do overnights and work as many as 39 hours (never 40, presumably because the company didn’t want to come anywhere close to having to pay overtime).

 

The unpredictability of the hours made life difficult for my co-workers — as much as, if not more than, the low pay did. On receiving a paycheck for a good week’s work, when they’d worked 39 hours, should they use the money to pay down debt? Or should they hold on to it in case the following week they were scheduled for only four hours and didn’t have enough for food?

 

Many of my co-workers didn’t have cars; with such unstable pay, they couldn’t secure auto loans. Nor could they count on holding on to the health insurance that part-time workers could receive if they met a minimum threshold of hours per week. While I was at the store, one co-worker lost his health insurance because he didn’t meet the threshold — but not because the store didn’t have the work. Even as his requests for more hours were denied, the store continued to hire additional part-time and seasonal workers.

 

Most frustrating of all, my co-workers struggled to supplement their income elsewhere, because the unstable hours made it hard to work a second job. If we wanted more hours, we were advised to increase our availability. Problem is, it’s difficult to work a second job when you’re trying to keep yourself as free as possible for your first job.

 

No wonder my co-workers cared so much about the unload time: For those 60 minutes, they could set aside such worries and focus on a single goal, one that may have been arbitrary but was largely within our shared control and made life feel, briefly, like a game that was winnable.

 

Many people choose to work part time for better work-life balance or to attend school or to care for children or other family members. But many don’t. In recent years, part-time work has become the default at many large chain employers, an involuntary status imposed on large numbers of their lowest-level employees. As of December, almost four and a half million American workers reported working part time but said they would prefer full-time jobs.

 

When I started working at the store, I assumed that the reason part-time work was less desirable than full-time work was that by definition, it meant less money — and fewer or no benefits. What I didn’t understand was that part-time work today also has a particular predatory logic, shifting economic risk from employers to employees. And because part-time work has become so ubiquitous in certain predominantly low-wage sectors of the economy, many workers are unable to find full-time alternatives. They end up trapped in jobs that don’t pay enough to live on and aren’t predictable enough to plan a life around.

 

There are several reasons employers have come to prefer part-time workers. For one thing, they’re cheaper: By employing two or more employees to work shorter hours, an employer can avoid paying for the benefits it would owe if it assigned all the hours to a single employee.

 

But another, newer advantage for employers is flexibility. Technology now enables businesses to track customer flow to the minute and schedule just enough employees to handle the anticipated workload. Because part-time workers aren’t guaranteed a minimum number of hours, employers can cut their hours if they don’t anticipate having enough business to keep them busy. If business picks up unexpectedly, employers have a large reserve of part-time workers desperate for more hours, who can be called in on short notice.

 

Part-time work can also be a means of control. Because employers have total discretion over hours, they can use reduced schedules to punish employees who complain or seem likely to unionize — even though workers can’t legally be fired for union-related activity — while more pliant workers are rewarded with better schedules.

 

In 2005, a revealing memo written by M. Susan Chambers, then Walmart’s executive vice president for benefits, who was working with the consulting firm McKinsey, was obtained by The New York Times. In it, Ms. Chambers articulated plans to hire more part-time workers as a way of cutting costs. At the time, only around 20 percent of Walmart’s employees were part time. The following year, The Times reported that Walmart executives had told Wall Street analysts that they had a specific target: to double the company’s share of part-time workers, to 40 percent. Walmart denied that it had set such a goal, but in the years since, it has exceeded that mark.

 

It’s not just Walmart. Target, TJX Companies, Kohl’s and Starbucks all describe their median employee, based primarily on salary and role, as a part-time worker. Many jobs that were once decent — they didn’t make workers rich, but they were adequate — have quietly morphed into something unsustainable.

 

One of the most surprising aspects of this movement toward part-time work is how few white-collar people — including economists and policy analysts — have seemed to notice or appreciate it. So entrenched is the assumption that full-time work is on offer for most people who want it that even some Bureau of Labor Statistics data calculate annual earnings in various sectors by taking the hourly wage reported by participating employers and multiplying it by 2,080, the number of hours you’d work if you worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year. Never mind that in the real world few workers in certain sectors are given the option of working full-time.

 

The shift to part-time works means that focusing exclusively on hourly pay can be misleading. Walmart, for example, paid frontline hourly employees an average of $17.50 as of last month — and recently announced plans to raise that to more than $18 an hour. Given that just a few years ago, progressives were animated by the “Fight for $15,” these numbers can seem encouraging. The Bloomberg columnist Conor Sen wrote on social media last year that “Walmart’s probably a better employer at this point than most child care providers and a lot of the jobs in higher ed.”

 

The problem is that most Walmart employees don’t make $36,400, the annualized equivalent of $17.50 an hour at 40 hours a week. Last year, the median Walmart worker made 25 percent less than that, $27,326 — equivalent to an average of 30 hours a week. And that’s the median; many Walmart workers worked less than that.

 

Likewise, at Target, where pay starts at $15 an hour, the median employee doesn’t make $31,200, the annualized full-time equivalent, but $25,993. The median employee of TJX (owner of such stores as TJ Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods) makes $13,884. The median Kohl’s employee makes $12,819.

 

Those numbers, though low, are nevertheless higher than median pay at Starbucks, a company known for its generous benefits. To be eligible for those benefits, however, an employee must work at least 20 hours a week. At $15 an hour — the rate Starbucks said it was raising barista pay to in 2022 — 20 hours a week would amount to $15,600 a year. But in 2022 the median Starbucks worker made $12,254 a year, which is lower than the federal poverty level for a single person.

 

And this is after the post-Covid labor shortage, when pay for low-wage workers rose faster than it did for people in higher-income brackets.

 

Since my stint at the big-box store, where I ended up working for six months, I’ve come to think that every time we talk about hourly wages without talking about hours, we’re giving employers a pass for the subtler and more insidious way they’re mistreating their employees.

 

From the perspective of employers, “flexible” scheduling remains extremely efficient. But that efficiency means reneging on the bargain on which modern capitalism long rested. Since the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act during the New Deal era, employers have had to pay most of their workers for 40 hours of work even when business was slow. That was just the cost of doing business, a risk capitalists bore in exchange for the upside potential of profit. Now, however, employers foist that risk onto their lowest-paid workers: Part-time employees, not shareholders, have to pay the price when sale volumes fluctuate.

 

To the extent that the shift to part-time work has been noticed by the larger world, it has often undermined rather than increased sympathy for workers. For decades, middle- and upper-class Americans have been encouraged to believe that American workers are hopelessly unskilled or lazy. (Remember when Elon Musk praised Chinese workers and said American workers try to “avoid going to work at all”?) The rise in part-time work seems on its face to support this belief, as white-collar workers, unfamiliar with the realities of the low-wage work environment, assume that workers are part time by choice.

 

It’s a bit rich. Policies undertaken to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers’ well-being are then held up as evidence of the workers’ poor character. There is poor character at play here. It’s just not that of workers.


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5) The U.S. said the cease-fire resolution would jeopardize efforts to broker a hostage-release deal.

By Farnaz Fassihi, Feb. 20, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/20/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

The United Nations Security Council meeting on Tuesday. Credit...Mike Segar/Reuters


The United States on Tuesday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution put forth by Algeria that would have called for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza. It was the third time Washington had blocked a resolution that would have demanded an immediate end to fighting.

 

Humanitarian agencies, U.N. officials and other diplomats have argued that without a cease-fire, humanitarian aid at the scale that Gaza needs is not possible.

 

The United States said that the resolution would jeopardize Washington’s ongoing negotiation efforts with Qatar and Egypt to broker a deal that would release hostages from Gaza in exchange for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire. Those negotiations have stumbled, with neither Israel nor Hamas reaching a consensus on the terms for a deal.

 

“Any action the council takes right now should help not hinder these sensitive and ongoing negotiations,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. “Demanding an immediate unconditional cease-fire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring endurable peace.”

 

Thirteen council members voted in favor. Britain abstained.

 

Algeria’s ambassador to the U.N., Amar Bendjama, sharply criticized the United States, telling the council that voting against the resolution “implies an endorsement of the brutal violence and collective punishment inflected upon” the Palestinians. He said “silence is not a viable option, now is the time for action and the time for truth.”

 

The United States has drafted a rival resolution, which is still in early stages of negotiations, that calls for a temporary humanitarian cease-fire as soon as practical, and the release of hostages. It also states that Israel’s army must not carry out an offensive in Rafah under the current conditions there. More than a million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, many of them displaced multiple times, under the current conditions.

 

But diplomats at the United Nations have grown frustrated with the United States, saying it has prioritized its own diplomatic negotiations at the expense of the wider Council’s efforts, undermining the ability of the U.N. body to do its job. In October, the United States vetoed a humanitarian resolution, put forth by Brazil, to deliver aid to Gaza at a time when Israel had placed the strip under a strict blockade of essential aid, saying it could undermine President Biden’s efforts with the government of Israel to win aid delivery to Gaza.

 

Russia and China condemned the U.S.’s veto. “It is not that the Security Council does not have an overwhelming consensus, but rather it is the exercise of the veto by the United States that has stifled the Council consensus,” said China’s ambassador, Zhang Jun, adding that while the U.S. vetoed the cease-fire, civilians were getting killed and suffering.


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6) South Africa says Palestinians endure ‘a more extreme form of apartheid.’

By Marlise Simons reporting from Paris, Feb. 20, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/20/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

A woman on the left points as Mr. Madonsela, wearing a scarf in the colors of the South African flag, looks forward.


South Africa said Tuesday that Israel’s policies toward Palestinians were “a more extreme form of apartheid,” invoking its own charged history of racial discrimination to add to global pressure on Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

 

The court, the United Nations’ highest judicial body, is hearing six days of arguments over Israel’s “occupation, settlement and annexation” of Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The U.N. General Assembly asked the court to review the legality of Israeli policies in the Palestinian territories more than a year ago, before Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

 

In the proceedings, which began Monday, more than 50 countries were scheduled to argue before the 15-judge bench over the next week, a level of participation never before seen at the court. The court is expected to issue an advisory opinion that would be nonbinding. Israel has said it will not participate in the oral arguments, saying the questions before the court were biased.

 

South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela, addressed the judges on Tuesday morning, weeks after his country argued at the court that Israel was committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. In that case, the court ordered Israel, which has denied the charges, to take action to prevent genocide in Gaza, but has not yet ruled on whether one is occurring.

 

Mr. Madonsela, recalling South Africa’s “painful experience” of decades of apartheid and discrimination, drew parallels with what he called Israel’s colonization of Palestinian territories it seized in 1967. Citing the separate court systems, land zoning rules, roads and housing rights for Palestinians, he said Israel had put in place a “two-tier system of laws, rules and services” that benefit Jewish settlers while “denying Palestinians rights.”

 

Israel has long denied that it operates an apartheid system, calling such allegations a slur.

 

South Africans see “an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against Black people in my country,” Mr. Madonsela said. He said that South Africa had a special obligation to call out apartheid practices wherever they occur. He also called on Israel to dismantle the separation wall between Israel and the West Bank, which the court had ordered be removed in 2004 and still stands.

 

The United States is scheduled to make arguments on Wednesday.


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7) One in six children in northern Gaza is severely malnourished, UNICEF says.

By Cassandra Vinograd, Feb. 20, 2024

“The war between Israel and Hamas has exacerbated an already grim situation: Even before Oct. 7, nearly 70 percent of Gazans were dependent on humanitarian assistance for food because the territory has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.”

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/20/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

Displaced Palestinian children receiving food at a school in Rafah on Monday. Credit...Mohammed Abed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


The United Nations’ children’s agency has warned that acute malnutrition has surged in Gaza, with one out of six children in the north of the territory suffering its effects amid dire shortages of food and water.

 

The agency, UNICEF, said in a statement on Monday that the estimate was based on data collected through nutrition screenings at shelters and health centers last month, and that the situation was “likely to be even graver today.”

 

Humanitarian agencies have accused Israel of restricting aid deliveries to northern Gaza, which was the first area of the enclave targeted by Israel’s military offensive and has been devastated by four months of bombardment and ground fighting. Israel has denied blocking aid deliveries.

 

In southern Gaza, where more than a million people from northern Gaza have fled, UNICEF said that five percent of children under the age of two are acutely malnourished.

 

“There is a high risk that malnutrition will continue to rise across the Gaza Strip due to the alarming lack of food, water and health and nutrition services,” it added in the statement, expressing alarm that the enclave was “poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths.”

 

Calling the surge in malnutrition “dangerous and highly preventable,” U.N. aid officials reiterated pleas for additional humanitarian aid and access for Gaza.

 

The war between Israel and Hamas has exacerbated an already grim situation: Even before Oct. 7, nearly 70 percent of Gazans were dependent on humanitarian assistance for food because the territory has been under Israeli and Egyptian blockade since 2007.


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8) An attempt in the Israeli Parliament to expel an opposition lawmaker falls short.

By Patrick Kingsley reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 20, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/20/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

Ofer Cassif, an Israeli lawmaker, during the debate over his impeachment in the Knesset on Monday. Credit...Abir Sultan/EPA, via Shutterstock


A far-left Israeli lawmaker, Ofer Cassif, has narrowly avoided being expelled from Parliament after he backed efforts to charge Israel with genocide at the International Court of Justice.

 

Of Israel’s 120 lawmakers, 85 voted to expel Mr. Cassif — just short of the 90 required to oust a member of the Knesset, as the Parliament is known in Hebrew. Eleven lawmakers voted against the motion, and the remaining did not vote.

 

Right-wing lawmakers began proceedings against Mr. Cassif, a Jewish member of Hadash, a predominantly Arab political alliance, after he signed an online petition in January that accused Israel of taking “systematic and thorough steps to wipe out the population of Gaza.”

 

Oded Forer, a right-wing opposition lawmaker, called Mr. Cassif’s efforts “treasonous,” accusing him of endangering Israel’s security and of backing Hamas’s attacks on Israel. Mr. Forer then led efforts to expel Mr. Cassif through a law enacted in 2016 — and never previously enforced — that allows for the impeachment of lawmakers who back “armed struggle” against Israel.

 

Mr. Cassif was suspended from Parliament in October for 45 days after criticizing the government’s conduct of the war.

 

Though he survived permanent expulsion on Monday, supporters had said the effort to oust him had already highlighted the shrinking space for dissent in wartime Israel.

 

“The attempt to oust him is simply political persecution,” Haaretz, the main left-leaning newspaper in Israel, said in an editorial published the day before the vote. The editorial also called the effort “an antidemocratic act meant to serve as a precedent for ousting all of the Knesset’s Arab lawmakers.”

 

Several prominent Arab Israeli politicians were detained by the police for several hours in November as they prepared to hold a rally to protest Israel’s campaign in Gaza.

 

Johnatan Reiss and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.


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9) Three Questions About Rafah

A looming battle in the southern Gaza city embodies the brutal dynamics of the conflict.

By David Leonhardt, Feb. 20, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/briefing/rafah-israel-gaza-war.html

Rafah, southern Gaza. Credit...Mohammed Salem/Reuters


The looming battle for Rafah — a city on the southern end of Gaza, farthest from where Israel’s invasion began — embodies the brutal dynamics of the conflict. The war is both a military operation against Hamas, an extremist organization that has vowed more terrorist attacks against Israel, and a humanitarian crisis that has brought death, hunger and displacement to Gazan civilians.

 

The humanitarian crisis is clear. During its four-month invasion of Gaza, Israel has killed more than 29,000 people, many of them children. The civilian toll, as a share of the population, is among the highest from any modern war. Many more Gazans have fled their homes and are struggling to find food. An assault on Rafah, which has become a refuge for more than half of Gaza’s population, would worsen the misery.

 

But the military importance of Rafah for Hamas is also real, experts say. On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded Israel, murdering, sexually assaulting and kidnapping civilians. Since the attack, Hamas’s leaders have refused to release dozens of Israeli hostages. With Israel having taken control of much of northern and central Gaza, at least some Hamas leaders and their weapons seem to be in tunnels under Rafah.

 

Two things, then, are simultaneously true: To defeat a violent enemy, Israel may need to invade Rafah. And an invasion of Rafah would almost certainly worsen the war’s awful civilian toll.

 

In today’s newsletter, I’ll examine three questions: What does Israel hope to accomplish by invading? What might forestall an invasion? And how might the civilian toll be reduced if an invasion happens?

 

Israel’s goals

 

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has set an ambitious goal: Eliminating Hamas. The goal is also contentious.

 

Some Israelis wish their government would instead prioritize the release of hostages. Many U.S. officials, meanwhile, believe the elimination of Hamas is unrealistic. “Operations that kill militants often radicalize others,” my colleagues Julian Barnes and Edward Wong note.

 

Still, an invasion of Rafah could debilitate Hamas. Without control of Rafah, as Yonah Jeremy Bob, The Jerusalem Post’s senior military correspondent, has written, “Hamas would lose its last major remaining battalions, its last large city for hiding its leadership and human-shield hostages, and its only remaining way to rearm and smuggle in weapons from outside of Gaza.”

 

One sign of Rafah’s importance to Hamas came during a nighttime raid last week, when Israeli forces stormed a building there and rescued two hostages.

 

Can it be avoided?

 

The most likely path for avoiding an invasion would involve an extended cease-fire in exchange for the release of about 130 hostages that Hamas is still holding in Gaza. “Either our hostages will be returned, or we will expand the fighting to Rafah,” said Benny Gantz, a centrist Israeli politician who joined the government after the Oct. 7 attacks.

 

There are certainly impediments to a deal. For one thing, Hamas’s leaders understand that the hostages give them leverage: Israel’s military might be even more aggressive if no hostages remained. For another, Netanyahu has often seemed more interested in destroying Hamas than winning the hostages’ release. Israel has also balked at releasing Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages.

 

Still, Netanyahu faces domestic pressure to bring home the hostages. Hamas leaders, for their part, may be able to spare their own lives in a cease-fire.

 

Protecting civilians

 

If Israel does invade, officials around the world have called on it to protect civilians in Rafah. President Biden and the leaders of many other countries say Israel has been callous about civilian lives in the war’s first four months. Last week, the International Court of Justice declined to oppose an invasion of Rafah but reiterated its order that Israel protect civilians. The court has also ordered Hamas to release the hostages.

 

How might Rafah’s civilians be protected? In many wars, civilians find safety in a neighboring country, but Egypt has largely refused to accept refugees. It is instead building a wall near Rafah.

 

Some military experts say that Israel has already taken steps to protect civilians, such as creating humanitarian corridors that allow civilian Gazans to flee battle zones — even though disguised Hamas militants might escape too. “Israel has adjusted almost everything in their approach to evacuate civilians,” John Spencer of the Modern War Institute at West Point said. Over the past two months, the daily death toll in Gaza has declined to about 150 (including both fighters and civilians), according to Gazan officials, down from more than 400 per day in October.

 

But 150 daily deaths is still a terrible toll, and many human rights experts say Israel could reduce it. In Rafah, that could involve several actions: less aerial bombing; the creation of both humanitarian corridors to leave Rafah and temporary safe zones within the city; and fewer restrictions on the humanitarian aid that Israel allows to enter.

 

Biden administration officials are frustrated that Netanyahu does not have a clearer plan for protecting civilians in Rafah, according to my colleagues in Washington. Some congressional Democrats argue that the U.S. should interrupt its flow of weapons to Israel unless Israel gives a higher priority to protecting innocent Gazans.

 

Inside Rafah, many people are simply scared. “We’re trying to live with the war conditions, but they are very difficult,” Salem Baris, 55, who has fled to Rafah, told Al Jazeera. Ten children in his family have been wearing white hospital coveralls — intended for adults — to stay warm. “I hope this nightmare ends, and I can go home soon,” Baris said.


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10) ‘Beginning of the End’ as Assange Case Returns to Court

Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has been in prison for nearly 5 years, fighting a U.S. extradition order. A hearing is his last chance to be granted an appeal in Britain.

By Megan Specia, Reporting from London, Feb. 20, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/20/world/europe/assange-us-extradition-uk-court-case.html

Supporters of Julian Assange protested on Tuesday outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London. Credit...Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


Since 2019, Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been held in a high security prison in southeast London while his lawyers fight a U.S. extradition order. Now, that particular battle may be nearing its end.

 

On Tuesday, Mr. Assange’s case returned to a British court for a two-day hearing that will determine whether he has exhausted his right to appeal within the U.K. and whether he could be one step closer to being sent to the United States.

 

Mr. Assange did not appear before the court, declining to attend virtually because of ill health, according to his lawyers, but dozens of protesters gathered outside, demanding his release.

 

In the United States, Assange, 52, faces charges under the Espionage Act of 1917 that could amount to a sentence of up to 175 years in prison, his lawyers say, although lawyers for the United States government had previously said that he was more likely to be sentenced to between four and six years. Here’s what to know about the long-running legal battle over his extradition and what could happen next.

 

Assange has been in a British prison for nearly five years. Here’s why.

 

The U.S. charges against Mr. Assange date to events in 2010, when WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of secret military and diplomatic documents leaked by Chelsea Manning, an Army intelligence analyst.

 

The files exposed hidden diplomatic dealings and included revelations about civilian deaths in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

In May 2019, during the Trump presidency, the U.S. Justice Department accused Mr. Assange of violating the Espionage Act by soliciting and publishing secret government information, charges that raise profound First Amendment issues. (The Obama administration had considered charging Mr. Assange but decided against it because of the threat to press freedom.)

 

While Mr. Assange for years has been fighting efforts to extradite him from Britain to face the U.S. charges, his life in limbo in London goes back even further.

 

In June 2012, Mr. Assange entered the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to escape extradition to Sweden, where he faced an inquiry into unrelated allegations of sexual misconduct and rape that were later dropped. He stayed in the embassy for the next seven years.

 

In April 2019, he was thrown out of the embassy, where he had become an unwelcome guest, and was promptly arrested for skipping bail. Weeks later, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment which charged Mr. Assange with 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act, by participating in a criminal hacking conspiracy and by encouraging hackers to steal secret material. (Ms. Manning was later sentenced to 35 years in prison but was released after seven years when President Obama commuted her sentence.)

 

This hearing is the “beginning of the end” of extradition challenges in U.K. courts, Assange’s team says.

 

The extradition order for Mr. Assange was initially denied by a British judge who ruled in January 2021 that Assange was at risk of suicide if sent to a U.S. prison. Britain’s High Court later reversed that decision after assurances from American officials about his treatment. Priti Patel, Britain’s then home secretary, approved the extradition request in 2022.

 

But the legal challenges continued. Mr. Assange’s legal team had an earlier request for an appeal to Ms. Patel’s order rejected by a single judge. Now, two High Court judges will hear his final bid for an appeal in a British court.

 

Mr. Assange’s legal team was expected to outline its case on Tuesday, followed by the U.S. Justice Department’s legal team. The judges will then consider the case — which could take hours, days or weeks — before announcing their decision.

 

And there are a few potential outcomes. The judges could allow Mr. Assange to appeal his extradition order, in which case a full appeal hearing would be scheduled, opening the door to a new decision about his extradition.

 

Or, if Mr. Assange’s request to appeal is denied, he could be sent swiftly to a plane bound for the United States, his legal team has said. But his lawyers have vowed to challenge his extradition in the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

 

Theoretically, that could block his extradition from Britain until the case was heard in Strasbourg because Britain is obliged to follow the court’s judgment as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

The process has taken its toll on Mr. Assange’s health. And rights groups expressed fears about what comes next.

 

Stella Assange, Mr. Assange’s wife, said during a press briefing last week that her husband, who has been suffering from depression, has aged prematurely during his years in prison, and she fears for his mental and physical health.

 

“His life is at risk every single day he stays in prison, and if he’s extradited, he will die,” she said. The pair, who began a relationship while Mr. Assange lived in the Ecuadorean Embassy, have two children, and they regularly visit Mr. Assange in prison.

 

“Julian and I protect the children. They don’t know frankly,” Ms. Assange said about the indictment against him. “And I don’t think it’s fair on them to know what is going on.”

 

Alice Jill Edwards, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, has urged Britain to halt Mr. Assange’s extradition, citing fears that, if extradited, he would be at risk of treatment amounting to torture or other forms of punishment. In a statement earlier this month, she pointed to risks that he could face “prolonged solitary confinement, despite his precarious mental health status, and to receive a potentially disproportionate sentence.”

 

The Australian government has also called for Mr. Assange, an Australian citizen, to be sent to his home country, where its parliament passed a motion last week calling for his release. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he had discussed the matter in a meeting last fall with President Biden, and on Thursday Mr. Albanese told the Australian parliament “it is appropriate for us to put our very strong view that those countries need to take into account the need for this to be concluded.”

 

Rights groups like Amnesty International and advocates for press freedom, including Reporters Without Borders, have long called for the U.S. charges against Mr. Assange to be dropped and the extradition order canceled.

 

Rebecca Vincent, the director of international campaigns for Reporters Without Borders, said in a statement ahead of the hearing that the U.S. could drop the extradition request or consider Mr. Assange’s time in Belmarsh prison as time served.

 

“None of this is inevitable,” Ms. Vincent said in a statement ahead of the hearing. “No one should face such treatment for publishing information in the public interest.”


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