[bauaw] Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 23, 2024

  • From: bonnieweinstein <giobon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: BAUAW <bauaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2024 10:22:45 -0800


Saturday, February 24, 2024, 12:00 Noon

ILWU Local 10

400 North Point St., San Francisco

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For location of meeting, RSVP: Scan code and register.

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San Francisco, California

ANSWER San Francisco -- (415) 821-6545 

answer@xxxxxxxxxxxx

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Art Against Imprisonment PresentsA Benefit for a New Oakland Mural-Sumud: Resistance Until Liberation

 

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

 

Caroline Davis on SaxophoneSatya Chima, CCWPOpium Sabbah, Oakland Jericho Movement Sunday, March 10, 2:00 P.M.Eastside Cultural Center2277 International Blvd., Oakland For more information contact:

 artagainstimprisonment@xxxxxxxxx


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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 23, 2024, the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 29,514,* 69,616+ wounded, and more than 380+ 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 on Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 38,000 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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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

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




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





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
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) The Trauma Experienced in Gaza Is Beyond PTSD

By Yara M. Asi, Feb. 22, 2024

Ms. Asi is an assistant professor at the University of Central Florida’s School of Global Health Management and Informatics.

“To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation. Treatment may help a Vietnam veteran recognize that a loud sound is not always a threat. Treatment cannot help convince a child in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because they might. It cannot offer comfort to a mother worried her children may starve, because they could.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/22/opinion/gaza-palestinians-mental-health.html

Ibrahim Azab


“We will die. All of us. Hopefully soon enough to stop the suffering that we are living through every single second.” Those words were sent in a text last week by a physician working for Doctors Without Borders in the southern Gaza Strip. And it is far from an uncommon feeling shared by those struggling to survive and care for one another in Gaza these days.

 

What would we call this feeling from the perspective of Western medicine? Suicidal ideation? Depression? Post-traumatic stress disorder? Whatever it is, we are taught that such thoughts are abnormal and require medical intervention.

 

When the bombing finally stops, the rebuilding of Gaza’s homes, schools, hospitals and essential infrastructure will begin — a process Gazans are extremely familiar with at this point. They will also begin processing trauma many people on Earth cannot understand: the prospect of starving to death; waking up at the hospital and finding out you are one of the last surviving members of your family; watching a child killed by an airstrike being pulled from rubble; displacement for the second, fifth or tenth time.

 

How do we repair the shattered minds and emotions of these survivors? Where do we begin to bring people back from a state of mental anguish where the thought of a quick death is seen as a glimmer of mercy?

 

As a Palestinian from the West Bank, I am no stranger to the trauma faced by Palestinians in the occupied territories, and I have spent my career trying to answer those questions and capture and convey the various injustices faced by Palestinians, specifically as they relate to health. Most current frameworks for mental health are almost totally insufficient to describe and reckon with the war-related trauma Palestinians in Gaza have endured these last several months. And by extension, our traditional methods of providing mental health care will not be enough, either.

 

The aftermath of this war will undoubtedly include a harrowing period of recovery that will require extraordinary financial and political investment. But it’s also a time to rethink mental health in populations that have experienced such devastating collective trauma, as well as what genuine healing may look like to ensure that hope and justice, and not just continued trauma, is passed down to future generations. While military campaigns are being waged, the numbers of dead and physically injured tell us just one story about the entirety of the mental and emotional agony being perpetuated, funded and justified.

 

Some studies suggest PTSD and depression are among the most common mental health disorders observed in populations affected by war, but our understanding of how war affects mental health is fairly new. PTSD itself wasn’t a proper medical diagnosis until 1980, after over a decade of research and treatment of Vietnam veterans who returned home with what we previously called “shell shock,” “war neurosis” or “gross stress reaction.” The tools and questionnaires used to screen for PTSD were generally developed and tested in the West, but these days they are deployed extensively across populations affected by the brutality of war, including Syria, South Sudan and Ukraine.

 

While these tools can be valuable, a growing field of literature critiques the lack of nuance or context in some of these framings, including how people describe trauma differently across cultures and process traumatic experiences based in part on their perception of why the trauma is occurring. Too often we rely only on the relatively simple and straightforward analysis of surveys rather than the time-intensive and more subjective experience of interviews, observations and other methods that account for context.

 

Importantly, we also lack tools to adequately measure trauma that is ongoing and so deeply entrenched in a community. Because of its extensive history of violence, deprivation and other traumatic incidents, Gaza has been a site of many studies about the mental health burden of life in war, including many of children. A 2020 study of students in Gaza between the ages of 11 and 17 found that nearly 54 percent of participants fit the diagnosis criteria for PTSD. A more recent study of Palestinians across the West Bank and Gaza found that 100 percent of participants had been exposed to traumas in 2021. The traumas that Palestinians face can include events as varied as land confiscation, detention, home demolition, loss of loved ones and fear of losing one’s own life.

 

After such persistent and endless trauma, “the effect is more profound,” Samah Jabr, a psychiatrist who works in the Palestinian Ministry of Health, told Quartz in 2019. “It changes the personality, it changes the belief system, and it doesn’t look like PTSD.”

 

When trauma is so normal, it can also become normalized. My own loved ones in Palestine shrug off or even laugh at experiences that would be highly distressing to most. It’s also easy to miss how poor mental health can increase the risk of physical ailments like heart disease and diabetes among the populace. The limitations of our approach to mental health become exceedingly clear in such contexts.

 

What does this tell us about next steps for Gaza? Like all aspects of the health system in the besieged territory, mental health care is underfunded there. Humanitarian aid distributed to Gaza must include resources devoted to providing adequate mental health services. We are already seeing small efforts to offer children art classes or puppet shows at their crowded shelters, to help them cope with the ongoing trauma, but we need to start more massively building up mental health infrastructure. That includes establishing a well-trained health care work force that can offer a wide range of culturally competent mental health treatments to those affected.

 

For such a wide-scale disaster like the current war, however, we cannot stop at mere medical treatments. For adequate mental health, adults need jobs, children need schools, and everyone needs shelter and regular access to food, water and medicines. Eventually, people need to return home. Robust mental health in survivors cannot be restored without stability, security and a repaired community.

 

Significantly, medical practitioners and researchers cannot be limited by the language of medical diagnoses or the treatment that derives from them. To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation. Treatment may help a Vietnam veteran recognize that a loud sound is not always a threat. Treatment cannot help convince a child in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because they might. It cannot offer comfort to a mother worried her children may starve, because they could.

 

Rather than use the term post-traumatic stress disorder, many have called to reframe the view of such suffering. Some have called it chronic traumatic stress disorder, while others, including Palestinian scholars, have referred to it as “feeling broken or destroyed.” This is not just a matter of semantics. These alternatives show that it is not enough to offer therapeutic options that place the abnormality within the individual and not within the circumstances they are experiencing. Is it not actually quite normal and understandable to feel broken or destroyed when everything you have ever known is reduced to rubble?

 

The scale and scope of suffering in Gaza today remind us that people in war zones need healing, justice and a genuine feeling of physical and mental safety moving forward. Even if a temporary cease-fire is brokered, what is the good of working to recover from such trauma if one is nearly certain they will experience it again? Everyone above the age of 10 in Gaza already has, several times.

 

Until there is meaningful action on the social, political and economic determinants that limit people’s ability to thrive, to experience joy and safety, to merely live, we cannot expect mental health treatments to do what the world’s most powerful actors are unwilling to do.


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2) Netanyahu’s postwar plans for Gaza are at odds with some allies’ positions.

By Patrick Kingsley reporting from Jerusalem, Feb. 23, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/23/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

Israeli soldiers near Gaza’s coastline during an escorted media tour this month. Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel released on Friday his most detailed vision yet for a postwar Gaza, pledging to retain indefinite military control over the enclave while ceding the administration of civilian life to Gazans without links to Hamas.

 

The plan, if realized, would make it almost impossible to establish a Palestinian state including Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, at least in the short term. That would likely accelerate a clash between Israel and a growing number of its foreign partners, including the United States, that are pushing for Palestinian sovereignty after the war ends.

 

Mr. Netanyahu released his plan on the day that Israeli, Qatari, U.S. and Egyptian officials were set to meet in Paris in an effort to advance a deal for a cease-fire and the release of hostages captured by Hamas and its allies in their Oct. 7 attacks. While Israeli officials have indicated that they are open to making a deal to pause fighting and free captives, they have steadfastly rejected pressure to move toward a permanent cease-fire, insisting that they are prepared to wage a protracted campaign to destroy Hamas.

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s document is in effect a position paper that would need to be adopted by the government, though there is no timeline yet for such discussions.

 

It envisions the creation of an Israeli-controlled buffer zone along the length of Gaza’s border with Egypt, a move that risks inflaming tensions with the Egyptian government. That aspect of the plan would require Israel to invade Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza, where most Gazans are currently sheltering, risking their mass displacement onto Egyptian territory, an outcome that Egypt has repeatedly warned against.

 

The plan also says Israel will seek to retain control over a sliver of land inside Gaza along the Israeli border, where its military is systematically demolishing thousands of buildings in order to create another buffer zone. Israel’s intention is to make it harder for militants in Gaza to repeat a raid like that of Oct. 7, in which Israeli officials say some 1,200 people were killed, although the United States and others have spoken out against any effort to reduce the size of Gaza.

 

The plan was circulated to cabinet ministers and journalists in the early hours of Friday morning. Though Mr. Netanyahu has laid out most of the proposals in public statements, this is the first time that he has collected them in a single document.

 

The plan does not say whether Israeli settlers would be allowed to re-establish communities on Gazan soil, as Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing supporters are pushing for. A senior government official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a matter that puts the prime minister at odds with his base, said that there were no plans to resettle Gaza with Jews, but declined to say so on the record, leaving Mr. Netanyahu with room for maneuver in the future.

 

Israel dismantled its settlements in Gaza in 2005, while maintaining control over its airspace, access to the sea, population registry and telecommunication networks.

 

Other parts of the plan include:

 

Handing administrative control to “local stakeholders with managerial experience” who are “not affiliated with countries or entities that support terrorism.” The reference to terrorism aims to exclude anyone that Israel says has connections to Hamas. And while the document does not explicitly mention the Palestinian Authority, the body that administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the reference to local residents implicitly rules out the involvement of the authority’s leadership in the postwar set-up — a position that is at odds with that of the Biden administration.

 

The dismantling of UNRWA, the main U.N. agency operating in Gaza. Israel has accused 30 UNRWA workers of participating in the Oct. 7 attack. UNRWA’s leaders say the agency tries to ensure its 13,000 employees in Gaza uphold standards of neutrality, but they say it is not possible to track the private allegiances of all its employees.

 

The overhaul of the Gazan education and welfare systems. Israel says schools and other public institutions in Gaza foment extremism.

 

Opposing foreign recognition of a Palestinian state. The plan says that a final resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be achieved through bilateral talks between the two sides — an implicit rejection of hints by countries including Britain and France that they could unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state. Mr. Netanyahu has previously rejected the concept of an independent Palestinian state, but his plan released on Friday did not explicitly rule it out.

 

Johnatan Reiss and Rawan Sheikh Ahmad contributed reporting.


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3) Netanyahu’s ambiguous plan for Gaza leaves him room to maneuver.

By Patrick Kingsley reporting from Jerusalem, Feb.23, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/23/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

A view of Jerusalem’s Old City on Tuesday. Credit...Ammar Awad/Reuters


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s first detailed postwar plan for Gaza was carefully written to postpone long-term decisions about the territory’s fate and to avoid irreversible confrontations with both domestic allies and foreign partners, analysts said.

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s position paper, released on Friday, said Israel would retain indefinite military control over the enclave while ceding the administration of civilian life to Gazans without links to Hamas. If carried out, it would make it nearly impossible in the short term to establish a Palestinian state comprising Gaza and the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

 

The plan signaled to Mr. Netanyahu’s right-wing base that he is defying foreign pressure on Israel to leave Gaza and allow the establishment of a Palestinian state. But the vagueness of its wording signaled to the United States and other foreign powers pressing for Palestinian sovereignty that there is still room for maneuver.

 

To satisfy mainstream Israeli opinion, Mr. Netanyahu said he wanted to retain military control of both Gaza and the West Bank; subcontract the management of civilian affairs to Gazan administrators; and retain control of buffer zones lining Gaza’s borders with Egypt and Israel.

 

Mr. Netanyahu also didn’t explicitly refer to the issue of settlements to avoid angering his far-right coalition partners, who could collapse his government if he rules out resettling Gaza with Jews.

 

All of these approaches infuriated the Palestinian leadership, which quickly condemned the plan. They are also likely to heighten tensions with Israel’s foreign allies, including the United States, who want Israel to abandon the buffer zones; engage in a process toward the creation of a Palestinian state; and hand over control of Gaza to a revamped version of the Palestinian Authority, which administers parts of the West Bank.

 

But Mr. Netanyahu was also careful not to go too far. He included no new ideas, choosing instead to repackage proposals that he has presented several times before. Nor did he directly rule out any of the options promoted by the United States.

 

Mr. Netanyahu’s pledge to hand day-to-day administration to Gazan managers did not explicitly reject the idea that they could be directed by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

 

“The administration of civilian affairs and the enforcement of public order will be based on local stakeholders with managerial experience” who are not “affiliated with countries or entities that support terrorism,” the position paper said, avoiding any mention of the Palestinian Authority while implicitly creating a challenge to its involvement.

 

The plan also rejected the idea of foreign countries unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, a move recently hinted at by Britain and France. But it did not directly dismiss the idea of Palestinian statehood altogether, even though Mr. Netanyahu has on other occasions rejected the concept.

 

The document even leaves open the possibility of “a permanent arrangement with the Palestinians,” which it says “will only be achieved through direct negotiation between the parties.”

 

By using such ambiguous language, analysts said, the plan buys Mr. Netanyahu time because it satisfies his base while giving foreign leaders hope that he could still change course before it is too late.

 

“It doesn’t ruin anyone’s plan,” said Nadav Strauchler, a political analyst and former strategist for Mr. Netanyahu. “It leaves a lot of options open and postpones a lot of decisions.”

 

“He is treading a thin line,” said Mr. Strauchler. “Think how many different eyes and audiences are reading this paper with different glasses.”


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4) The head of the agency that aids Palestinians warns it is at a ‘breaking point.’

By Vivian Yee and Aaron Boxerman, Feb. 23, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/23/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news




















Palestinians sheltering in a school in the Jabaliya camp, in northern Gaza, say critical food shortages have left some residents “on the verge of death.” Credit...Mahmoud Issa/Reuters (Screenshot)


The main United Nations aid agency that serves Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere in the region has “reached a breaking point,” its leader has warned, as donors have pulled funding from the agency and Israel imposed further restrictions on its operations and called for its closure.

 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, the chief lifeline for Gaza’s besieged population of 2.2 million people through the Israel-Hamas war, has lost $450 million in donor funding, including from the United States, since Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s employees were involved in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

 

Absent new funding, UNRWA, the largest aid agency on the ground in Gaza, says that its reserves will be gone by March, even as aid groups warn that Gaza is on the verge of famine.

 

“I fear we are on the edge of a monumental disaster with grave implications for regional peace, security, and human rights,” Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA’s commissioner general, wrote in a letter to the president of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday.

 

Fewer aid trucks have entered Gaza this week than earlier in the year, when between 100 and 200 aid trucks were arriving on most days; both border crossings used for aid have frequently closed, sometimes because Israeli protesters have blocked a crossing. A total of 69 trucks entered on Tuesday and Wednesday, the agency said. It added that it is aiming for 500 per day to meet Gaza’s needs.

 

The International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to take immediate steps to facilitate the aid Gaza desperately needs, which UNRWA would normally play a central role in distributing. But Israeli officials have argued that its employees’ alleged links to Hamas fundamentally compromise the agency.

 

Israel has claimed that at least 10 percent of the agency’s staff is affiliated with Palestinian armed groups in Gaza. UNRWA’s leaders say the agency tries to ensure its 13,000 employees in Gaza uphold standards of neutrality, and that it shares the names of its staff with Israeli authorities, but they say it is not possible to track the private allegiances of all its employees.

 

A proposal for Gaza’s postwar future shared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel on Thursday night with members of his cabinet called for UNRWA to be closed in Gaza and replaced “with responsible international aid agencies.”

 

Israeli officials have taken a series of actions against UNRWA since the day the allegations became public, which was the same day the international court issued its aid order. Israeli officials have said they would revoke its tax exemptions and other privileges as a U.N. agency, limit visas for staff and suspend shipment of its goods in and out of Israel.

 

Mr. Lazzarini argued that Israel wanted to close UNRWA to make it impossible to create a Palestinian state alongside Israel. He cited a map that Mr. Netanyahu presented to the U.N. General Assembly in September that showed the Palestinian territories of Gaza and West Bank within Israel’s borders.

 

Israel’s calls to close UNRWA are “not about the agency’s neutrality,” Mr. Lazzarini wrote in his letter to the president of the U.N. General Assembly. “UNRWA’s mandate to provide services to Palestine refugees within this same area is an obstacle to that map becoming a reality.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu has previously rejected the concept of an independent Palestinian state, though his plan released Friday did not explicitly rule it out. The plan does not say whether Israeli settlers would be allowed to move back to Gaza, from which they withdrew in 2005.

 

As part of Israel’s crackdown on UNRWA, Bezalel Smotrich, Israel’s finance minister, issued a directive not to transfer food aid for Gaza that has been lingering in the Israeli coastal city of Ashdod to the agency. U.N. officials will instead funnel the aid — 1,050 containers holding mostly flour — through the World Food Program, Jamie McGoldrick, a top U.N. humanitarian official in Jerusalem, told reporters on Thursday.

 

The Israeli authorities did not immediately confirm that the flour was cleared to enter Gaza. A spokeswoman for Israel’s customs office said U.N. shipments not intended for UNRWA were “being released as normal,” but declined to comment on specific cargo.

 

Mr. Smotrich’s office called the move a positive step toward further hobbling UNRWA’s ability to operate in Gaza. “If that’s true, then excellent,” said Eytan Fuld, a spokesman for Mr. Smotrich. “That was the goal.”


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5) More patients have died at a hospital Israel raided, Gazan officials say.

By Anushka Patil, Feb. 23, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/23/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

A woman grieves as people killed in an Israeli strike are buried at the Nasser hospital premises last month. Credit...Ahmed Zakot/Reuters


The Gaza Health Ministry said that conditions were deteriorating rapidly at the largest hospital in Khan Younis on Thursday and that Israeli forces had once again invaded the complex after a brief withdrawal earlier in the day.

 

The ministry said 13 patients who had died from the lack of power and oxygen in recent days had been buried within the hospital complex. Sewage had flooded its ground floor, the ministry said, and the hospital was out of drinking water and food.

 

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their operations or conditions at the hospital. Israeli authorities have pushed back on the World Health Organization’s description of dire conditions at the hospital, saying this week that the facility had sufficient medical supplies and that Israel had delivered a generator for the intensive care unit and food for the remaining patients.

 

Nasser was the largest functioning hospital left in Gaza before Israeli forces stormed it last week in what the military said was a search for Hamas fighters, arms and the bodies of Israeli hostages. Before that, fighting had raged around the sprawling hospital for weeks, devastating the surrounding neighborhoods. Israeli troops had ordered thousands of displaced Palestinians who were sheltering at the hospital to leave, and doctors said some were shot at as they tried to flee.

 

The W.H.O. said on Sunday that Nasser could no longer function, and aid groups have been scrambling over the past week to transport patients from what the facility to other sites in southern Gaza, including field hospitals.

 

Dr. Ayadil Saparbekov, a W.H.O. official whose responsibilities cover Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory, said at a news conference on Thursday that 51 patients had been evacuated from Nasser over the course of three missions earlier in the week, but that 140 patients still remained. The W.H.O. and its partners would continue trying to move them, he said, but the situation remained “very difficult.”

 

Footage of the evacuation missions shared by the W.H.O. showed aid workers comforting patients in the dark and lifting them from hospital beds as explosions boomed nearby. W.H.O. personnel witnessed four doctors and nurses and about a dozen volunteers who were still at the hospital trying to keep patients alive, Dr. Saparbekov said. The hospital has no food, no medical supplies, no oxygen and no electricity, he said.

 

Gaza’s health ministry reported on Thursday evening that Israeli forces had withdrawn from the hospital but were still surrounding it and were blocking movement. Less than two hours later, however, the ministry said that soldiers had raided the facility again.


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6) As Gaza War Grinds On, Israel Prepares for a Prolonged Conflict

While Israeli forces have delivered a major blow to Hamas in a fight that has taken a devastating toll on civilians, the group that led the Oct. 7 attack on Israel remains a threat, officials say.

By Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman, Feb. 23, 2024

Adam Rasgon and Aaron Boxerman reported from Jerusalem, speaking with current and former Israeli security officials and Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip.

“Hamas fighters have conspicuously avoided confrontations with the army in Khan Younis, hoping to outlast their opponents in the safety of their underground warrens, military analysts said. ‘The army is being very aggressive there without facing much competition from the other side,’ said Amos Harel, a military affairs analyst for the Haaretz newspaper.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/23/world/europe/israel-gaza-hamas-war.html

Israeli soldiers on patrol in the Gaza Strip, during a tour for journalists escorted by the Israeli military this month. Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times


As the war in Gaza rages on, the situation in the battered enclave is one of devastation and despair. More than 29,000 people have been killed, according to Gaza health officials, the majority in a relentless Israeli bombing campaign. Neighborhoods have been flattened, families wiped out, children orphaned, and an estimated 1.7 million people displaced.

 

While global scrutiny grows over Israel’s conduct in the war, the Israeli military, by its assessment, has delivered a major blow to the capabilities of Hamas, killing commanders, destroying tunnels and confiscating weapons. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of destroying Hamas remains elusive, according to current and former Israeli security officials.

 

They anticipate a protracted campaign to defeat Hamas.

 

An Israeli military intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity under military protocol, said that Israel was engaged in a comprehensive mission to unravel Hamas’s military capabilities.

 

U.S. officials say they believe Hamas has been constrained by the Israeli operations, but that Israel will not be able to achieve, in the foreseeable future, its goal of eliminating the group’s military capability. The officials requested anonymity to discuss intelligence assessments.

 

Israel launched its assault on Gaza after a Hamas-led attack against Israel on Oct. 7 in which an estimate 1,400 people were killed or taken hostage,

 

Since then, Israel asserts it has killed more than 10,000 militants, but it hasn’t explained how it calculates the number and analysts say it is difficult to get a precise figure in the chaos of war. Israeli officials say the military has dismantled the command structure of 18 of Hamas’s 24 Gaza battalions, killing commanders, deputy commanders and other officers, effectively rendering the units ineffective.

 

But thousands of Hamas fighters, attached to remaining battalions or operating independently, remain above and below ground, according to the former and current security officials.

 

Hamas has revealed little about its own losses, although it has publicly mourned the deaths of at least two senior commanders, Ayman Nofal and Ahmad al-Ghandour. The group regularly issues statements saying it has hit Israeli soldiers across the enclave.

 

“The resistance is still able to inflict pain on the enemy,” Youssef Hamdan, Hamas’s representative in Algeria, said this month.

 

During the most recent fighting in Gaza, Israeli analysts say, Hamas has avoided direct confrontations with Israeli units, which Israel has cited as a sign of weakness.

 

But other experts say that Hamas has a reason for the strategy. The Hamas leadership, according to the Western officials who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, believes that if any meaningful amount of its military strength survives the war, it will represent victory.

 

Mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been meeting to try to hammer out a cease-fire deal. But Israel has shown no signs of relenting, pressing ahead in three distinct combat zones.

 

Northern Gaza

 

When the Israeli military’s 401st Brigade invaded Gaza in late October, it took an entire week of ferocious gun battles to reach the northwestern tip of Gaza City, according to military officials. Around three weeks ago, the brigade did it in two hours.

 

That contrast was a reflection of the blow the army had delivered to Hamas’s military capabilities in the north, dismantling its command structure, the former and current security officials said. Groups of Hamas fighters in the region were now operating in isolation, without support from the broader military wing, the military intelligence official said.

 

But the fact that Israeli soldiers were returning after withdrawing weeks earlier also indicated that Hamas was still active there. The Israeli military believes that at least 5,000 militants remain in the north, the intelligence officer said.

 

That would represent a small but formidable force capable of launching rockets into Israel and attacking ground troops, Israeli military officials said.

 

“Hamas hasn’t been completely defeated in northern Gaza,” said Col. Nochi Mandel, the chief of staff of the Nahal Brigade, which operates in the north. “We’ve done a lot of work, but there’s still more to do.”

 

The army returned this month to the vicinity of Al-Shifa Hospital, the scene of intense combat in November, to fight militants regrouping in the area, he said, and would go back to other parts of the north in the coming weeks. Colonel Mandel, however, emphasized that the army was no longer encountering strong resistance.

 

For the estimated 300,000 Palestinian civilians believed to still be in the north, the raids have been sudden and unpredictable, intensifying the humanitarian crisis. It has made it difficult to navigate the area, where food has become scarce and lawlessness is rife, residents say.

 

Yahya al-Masri, a doctor at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, said he had to walk an extra two miles to work last week when clashes erupted between his home and the hospital. “You try to avoid the fighting but there’s no feeling of safety,” said Mr. Masri, 28.

 

Current and former Israeli officials said Israeli forces would most likely continue to sweep northern Gaza to tamp down the Hamas insurgency for the foreseeable future, at least until there was some kind of political settlement for postwar Gaza.

 

Khan Younis

 

Since the collapse of a fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in early December, Israeli troops have advanced through the southern city of Khan Younis — sweeping westward toward the Mediterranean Sea. Israeli military officials have said that the city has been one of the most significant centers of Hamas military activity.

 

Israeli forces are targeting Hamas’s extensive underground tunnel network in and around the city, the intelligence official said. The official added that many key subterranean command centers had been destroyed, but most of the tunnel network remained intact.

 

Hamas fighters have conspicuously avoided confrontations with the army in Khan Younis, hoping to outlast their opponents in the safety of their underground warrens, military analysts said.

 

“The army is being very aggressive there without facing much competition from the other side,” said Amos Harel, a military affairs analyst for the Haaretz newspaper.

 

Over the past month, Israeli troops have focused on the western edge of Khan Younis, which includes two major medical complexes — Al-Amal and Nasser Medical Center — in order to target what officials called the last bastions of organized Hamas resistance in the area.

 

Israeli forces stormed the Nasser hospital on Thursday, and the military arrested hundreds of people inside who it said were affiliated with Hamas and other militant groups. Many Palestinians sheltering inside the complex fled for Rafah.

 

Ahmed Moghrabi, a surgeon at Nasser, described joining those fleeing as Israeli drones overhead called for the remaining displaced Palestinians to evacuate the hospital. As he left Khan Younis, he said he saw the devastated city outside the hospital walls for the first time in nearly a month.

 

“No more buildings. No more streets. Bodies rotting,” he said. “I can’t stop crying.”

 

Rafah

 

Israel’s leaders have said that Israeli forces would ultimately enter Rafah, the southernmost city on the border with Egypt, to fight four Hamas battalions they say are based there. The Israeli military says that roughly 10,000 Hamas fighters remain in the area.

 

But it is an operation that would potentially cause widespread civilian casualties. About one million people are believed to be sheltering in the city, according to the United Nations.

 

As they await an expected Israeli invasion, Palestinians huddling in tents, apartments, and schools in Rafah have been overcome with uncertainty and exhaustion amid widespread hunger. Israel has said that there were no firefights inside the hospital, but that there was extensive fighting around it.

 

“You’re terrified all day and night,” said Sobhi al-Khazendar, 30, a lawyer sheltering in Rafah. “Everything is so confusing. You don’t know what to do, whether to stay put or look for another place to go.”

 

Mr. Netanyahu has promised to evacuate civilians from combat zones there, but his words appear to have done little to mollify rising criticism from the United Nations and the Biden administration about an operation to target Rafah.

 

Israeli officials say that a Rafah operation is essential for rooting out Hamas’s remaining forces and destroying tunnels between Egypt and Gaza used to import arms.

 

Israel’s military has already drawn up multiple plans for a ground operation in Rafah, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, the military’s chief of staff, told reporters last week. The timing of the operation would require a decision from the country’s civilian leaders, he said.

 

In recent days, a rift has emerged within Israel’s war cabinet about when to begin a Rafah operation, said an Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive details.

 

Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot, who joined the Israeli cabinet from the opposition after the Hamas-led assault on Oct. 7, both favored making a deal to free all of the hostages held by militants in Gaza before conducting an operation, the official said.

 

The official said Mr. Netanyahu and Ron Dermer, his closest ally in the five-person cabinet, wanted to invade Rafah before concluding such a deal to release hostages. The prime minister’s office declined to comment on whether there was a rift regarding Rafah in the cabinet.

 

Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting from Washington and Iyad Abuheweila from Istanbul.


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7) The Particular Anguish of Being Palestinian in Israel

By Raghad Jaraisy and Ofer Dagan, Feb. 23, 2024

Ms. Jaraisy and Mr. Dagan are co-chief executives of Sikkuy-Aufoq, a nonprofit run by Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel working toward an equal and shared society.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/23/opinion/palestinians-citizens-israel-gaza.html

Samantha Wall


As the rest of the world watches the Gaza war with horror, one community is following it with a particular kind of anguish: the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

 

They are connected by family ties, language, culture and history to their fellow Palestinians in Gaza — while living, working and studying side-by-side with Jewish Israelis in the very country that caused their people’s misfortune.

 

Palestinian citizens of Israel are no strangers to seeing their country of citizenship bring force to bear on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, and their own history is rife with systematic discrimination and little recognition of their collective identity. Israel’s war in response to the devastating attack by Hamas on Oct. 7 has led the Israeli government to ratchet up those social, economic and legal pressures, putting an already vulnerable people in an especially thorny place and threatening the fragile links between Jewish and Palestinian citizens.

 

That is a terrible mistake.

 

Most of Israel’s two million Palestinian citizens, who make up about 20 percent of the national population, hold on to their Palestinian identity, language and culture. At the same time they speak Hebrew, participate in Israeli politics to varying degrees and are generally acquainted with Jewish and Israeli culture. They hold a unique position, as perhaps the only group that continues to form friendship, partnership and solidarity ties — albeit often flawed and partial — with both the Palestinians across the border and the Jewish citizens of Israel.

 

That delicate position provides a rare commodity in the region: the ability to see a broader and more nuanced picture and serve as a bridge to a long-lasting solution to the war and the larger conflict. The links between the two groups could be a model for a different future in the area, and a stronger Palestinian voice in Israel could increase the demand for a just and humane resolution to the war, helping both peoples. The Palestinian citizens of Israel are worth listening to.

 

Many Palestinians in Israel were filled with revulsion on Oct. 7 as Hamas attacked the Israeli towns near the border and murdered and brutalized their inhabitants. They also suffered their own casualties: Seven of the 240 people kidnapped and taken to Gaza were Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel, and more than a dozen Palestinian citizens were killed in the Hamas attack or by rockets fired from Gaza since that day.

 

But unlike a majority of Israel’s citizens, who have for the past four months been glued to an Israeli media that barely covers what is happening in Gaza, Palestinian citizens have learned, with dread and panic, from Arab news sources, friends and social media the enormous toll of death and destruction suffered by their people.

 

Despite the violent history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, they’ve been aghast at the deep humanitarian crisis, the starvation of Gazans and the forced displacement of over a million people that evoked the Nakba, or catastrophe — the mass flight and expulsion of Palestinians when Israel became a state.

 

The trauma has been compounded by their inability to do or even say much about it. The government has cracked down harshly on criticism of its actions, and even empathy with the Palestinian people in Gaza. Palestinian citizens of Israel have borne the brunt of the crackdown.

 

A Palestinian doctor was suspended from his position, Palestinian students at colleges and universities have been punished, and other people have been arrested for social media posts that were often simply misunderstood by those who don’t speak Arabic.

 

Well before the war, Palestinian citizens of Israel had to deal with discrimination — lesser government services for education, welfare, housing and culture, along with a campaign against their collective identity. Now the silencing of dissent has had a significant impact not only on the psyches of Palestinian citizens, who worry that even liking a social media post will put them in a cell, but also on their economic well-being.

 

Since Oct. 7, their unemployment rate has tripled to 15.6 percent largely because of firings for political reasons, boycotts and downturns in sectors with a large proportion of Palestinian Israeli workers. The increase for Jewish Israelis was milder — slightly more than doubling to just over 8.6 percent.

 

The government is also attempting to cut the very budgets dedicated to the development of Palestinian citizens. The war is estimated to have cost Israel nearly $60 billion in the first three months — an expense so extreme that the Moody’s rating agency recently downgraded Israel’s credit rating.

 

In an effort to minimize further economic damage, Israel has increased its deficit and is pushing major budget cuts through parliament. These include cuts across the board, but the board isn’t flat. Reductions to funding directed to Palestinian citizens are slated to be three times higher than the rest — 15 percent compared with 5 percent. Through these budget cuts the Palestinians in Israel are effectively paying a disproportionate cost of the war against fellow Palestinians.

 

This hurts the entire Israeli economy. International institutions such as the O.E.C.D., as well as the Bank of Israel, have warned that without serious investment in the economic development of the large Palestinian community in Israel, the economy could suffer. The plans now threatened to be cut actually work. Over the past few years the employment rate of Palestinian women increased to approximately 45 percent in the second half of 2023 from 33 percent in 2014.

 

The hostile environment has also worsened the relationship between Jewish and Palestinian citizens, raising fears of a return to the violence in mixed Arab-Jewish cities in Israel of nearly three years ago. Israel’s right-wing government has also begun making it easier for Jewish citizens to acquire weapons.

 

Rather than isolating and weakening the Palestinian citizens of Israel, marking them as the “enemy within” through repressive tactics, the Israeli government must remove discriminatory policies against them and stop fighting recognition of their Palestinian identity.

 

Doing so would create a model of what equal partnership between Palestinian and Jewish Israelis could look like, one that would signify a significant step toward reconciliation and an end to the cycle of violence.


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