[bauaw] Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, February 24, 2024

  • From: bonnieweinstein <giobon@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: BAUAW <bauaw@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2024 09:59:54 -0800

 


Today, February 24, 2024, 12:00 Noon

ILWU Local 10

400 North Point St., San Francisco

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February 25, 202411:00 AM-3:00 PMWest Lake Middle School, Oakland 2629 Harrison StreetOakland, CA


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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 24, 2024, the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel is now over 29,606,* 69,737+ wounded, and more than 406+ Palestinians have been killed and 4,600 wounded 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.
Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll from 1,400 to 1,139. 576 Israeli soldiers killed since ground invasion**


*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.

** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”


Source: mondoweiss.net


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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Comment on the New York Times Editorial titled:

“A U.S. Call for a Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza”

Opinion By The Editorial Board, Feb. 24, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/24/opinion/gaza-ceasefire.html

 

K

Seattle

2m ago

The root of the cycles of violence is the occupation. The US policy in Israel/Palestine has been a failure and contributed to the ongoing suffering on both sides. Even though the US has the capacity to help resolve this issue, it lacks the will. 

 

Consider the following published soon after the occupation started, in September 1967 in an Israeli newspaper by Moshe Machover and others.

 

Our right to defend ourselves from extermination does not give us the right to oppress others

 

Occupation entails Foreign Rule

Foreign Rule entails Resistance

Resistance entails Repression

Repression entails Terror and Counter-Terror

The victims of terror are mostly innocent people

 

Holding on to the occupied territories will turn us into a nation of murderers and murder victims

 

Let us get out of the Occupied Territories immediately


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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 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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2) Sanitation Crisis in Gaza Spreads Disease

“It is a public health concern,” one U.N. official said of the lack of toilets for displaced people in the territory. “But the second thing is simply just dignity.”

By Raja Abdulrahim, Feb. 24, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/24/world/middleeast/gaza-sanitation-crisis.html

Makeshift tents where displaced Palestinians live in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip. In a sprawling tent encampment, access to bathrooms is a prevailing concern. Credit...Fatima Shbair/Associated Press


In a sprawling tent encampment in Gaza, the Israeli bombs fall close enough to hear and feel. But daily life is also a struggle against hunger, cold and a growing sanitation crisis.

 

A lack of sufficient toilets and clean water, as well as open sewage, are problems that displaced Palestinians have struggled with since the early days of Israel’s assault on Gaza.

 

For two months after Salwa al-Masri, 75, and her family fled to the city of Rafah, at the southernmost tip of Gaza, to escape Israel’s military offensive, she said she would walk 200 yards to reach the nearest bathroom. If she was lucky, younger women in line would let her jump ahead. Other times, she might wait up to an hour to use a dirty toilet shared with thousands of other people.

 

“It’s horrible,” Ms. al-Masri said via WhatsApp recently from her family’s ramshackle tent, which they made out of wood and plastic sheeting. “I wouldn’t drink water. I would stay thirsty so I wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom. I stopped drinking coffee and tea.”

 

Many other Gazans, already facing hunger and thirst as a result of Israel’s more than four-month siege of the territory, say they, too, have tried to cut back on eating and drinking even more to avoid an uncomfortable and unsanitary visit to the toilet.

 

Recently, Ms. al-Masri’s son and other relatives bought a cement toilet basin and dug a hole behind their tent, where the sewage gathers. It is a closer bathroom and one she shares with fewer people.

 

But the challenges of getting water to wash with and of the accumulating sewage are threatening their health, and the stench of sewage fills their makeshift encampment.

 

Last month, the World Health Organization reported that cases of hepatitis A had been spreading in Gaza. It also said that there were several thousand people with jaundice, which is caused by hepatitis A, among other conditions. Cases of diarrhea among children have also skyrocketed. All of it is linked to poor sanitation, according to UNICEF.

 

“The inhumane living conditions — barely any clean water, clean toilets and possibility to keep the surroundings clean — will enable hepatitis A to spread further,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the W.H.O., wrote on social media at the time, “and highlight how explosively dangerous the environment is for the spread of disease.”

 

Prominent epidemiologists have estimated that an escalation of the war in Gaza could cause up to 85,000 Palestinian deaths over the next six months from injuries, disease and lack of medical care, in addition to the nearly 30,000 that local authorities have already reported since early October. Their estimate represents “excess deaths” that would not have been expected without the war.

 

Schools, hospitals, mosques and churches have become overcrowded shelters for Palestinians seeking safety from Israeli airstrikes. The few available bathrooms have to be shared among hundreds or thousands of people who sometimes wait in lines for hours to use them.

 

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the accompanying ground offensive have increasingly pushed Palestinians south into the overcrowded corner of Gaza around Rafah and forced them to erect makeshift tents. As a result, access to bathrooms and sanitation has only worsened.

 

Some 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are now in Rafah — more than half of Gaza’s total population of about 2.2 million — even as Israel threatens to invade the area.

 

After the Hamas-led attacks on Israel on Oct. 7, Israel’s near-complete siege on Gaza has prevented most things from coming into the territory, creating a dire shortage of food, water and medicines. Additionally, representatives of both UNICEF and the Palestine Red Crescent Society said their organizations have tried to bring in portable toilets and materials to build sanitation facilities, but the Israeli authorities prevented them.

 

“It is a public health concern,” said Abrassac Kamara, a UNICEF manager for the Palestine WASH program, which helps deliver safe water and sanitation services. “But the second thing is simply just dignity. It is something we take for granted, but it’s really how we are taking dignity away from people.”

 

Israel’s civil administration, the bureaucratic arm of its military in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, said the restrictions on certain goods entering Gaza prevented the entry of items that could also be used for military purposes.

 

Hamas “exploits civilian resources in order to strengthen itself militarily at the expense of caring for the civilian population,” the civil administration said, without explaining how portable bathrooms could serve military needs.

 

UNICEF officials said they have had to resort to constructing toilets out of wood, concrete and plastic sheeting — materials already available in Gaza — often at a high cost. The agency plans to make 500 such toilets in Rafah to help reduce the congestion.

 

“At the moment, anything that is considered construction material — mostly metal, but also sandwich panels, nails, reinforcement rods — are all banned,” Mr. Kamara said. “We are making do.”

 

UNICEF had planned to build another 500 toilets in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, but had to abandon those efforts as Israel’s ground offensive moved into the area recently.

 

“They will literally put any sort of privacy screening — plastic at the back of the tent — and just dig and bury when they need to relieve themselves,” Mr. Kamara said. “We are back to the basic sanitation of digging a hole and covering it.”

 

In a video posted on Instagram last month, Bisan Owda, a Gazan journalist and documentary filmmaker, chronicled the daily struggle of finding a latrine. As she walked past tents in the street, carrying a large jug of water, she narrated her challenges.

 

“This is my daily routine,” she said, “walking for almost 20 to 25 minutes to reach a bathroom — struggling to reach a bathroom, actually.”

 

Other women have lamented a desperate lack of sanitary pads in the territory, and at least one of them told The New York Times that she had started taking birth control pills to stop her period altogether.

 

Sana Kabariti, 33, a pharmacist from Gaza City, in the north, said she fled home with her family to the town of Nuseirat, in central Gaza, as Israeli bombs rained down on their neighborhood in the first few days of the war. She and some 40 members of her extended family, including 10 children, cloistered in a small room and shared one bathroom, she said. But there was no water and no toilet paper.

 

So despite the dangers, they returned to their homes.

 

“With regards to the toilet, there wasn’t any water,” she said. “And this is what led to the families with us to return to Gaza City, and to the danger, because they couldn’t handle the lack of water and lack of toilet paper.”

 

Eventually, the bombing in Gaza City became so intense that she and her family had to flee again. They headed south, first to the city of Deir al Balah and eventually to Rafah.

 

They are better off than many in Rafah because they are sheltering in a room in a house shared among many. But the bathroom is small, and they must trek each day to get water to wash themselves and try to keep the bathroom clean. Showering is a luxury they can rarely afford.

 

They do not use toilet paper. Even if they can find it at markets, the price is exorbitant: Israel’s siege has driven up the cost of what few goods are still available in Gaza.

 

Instead, the family cuts up pieces of fabric to use, Ms. Kabariti said.

 

“There are many people who aren’t willing to use the bathroom more than once a day,” she said.

 

In her neighborhood, she recounted meeting an older woman who refused to use the bathroom in the center where she was sheltering because it was so dirty and unhygienic. Instead, neighbors allowed her to use their bathroom.

 

But not wanting to impose, she uses it only once a day — right after sunrise when she has said her morning prayers. Afterward, she holds it in until the next morning.

 

“I don’t know how long a person’s body can continue like this after nearly four months,” Ms. Kabariti said.

 

Abu Bakr Bashir contributed reporting.


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3) U.S. Criticism of Israel Shows Frustration, but Support Remains Steadfast

By Aaron Boxerman, Feb. 24, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/24/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

The aftermath of strikes in the West Bank city of Jenin on Friday. Credit...Alaa Badarneh/EPA, via Shutterstock


Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s reversal of Trump-era policy on settlements in the occupied West Bank reflects rising Biden administration frustration with Israel, but it is unlikely to dent the strong American backing for its ally’s military campaign in Gaza or pressure Israel to change course, analysts said on Saturday.

 

During a trip to Argentina on Friday, Mr. Blinken called the settlements “inconsistent with international law," a break with policy set under the Trump administration and a return to the decades-long U.S. position.

 

The Biden administration is increasingly fed up with the Israeli government’s conduct in the Gaza war and beyond, with officials speaking out more publicly on contentious issues, said Nimrod Novik, a fellow at the Israel Policy Forum think tank. As an example, he cited a U.S. decision to slap financial sanctions on four Israelis accused of attacking Palestinians in the West Bank — three of them settlers — at a time when settler violence against Palestinians has increased.

 

Mr. Novik called Mr. Blinken’s remarks “too little, too late,” adding that the administration’s moves “in practice, are disjointed. The message is there, but it’s a tactical statement where the overall strategy is unclear.”

 

The United States has long been Israel’s most important international ally. After the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 left 1,200 dead in Israel, mostly civilians, Washington has consistently backed Israel’s blistering campaign in Gaza. The Biden administration has also shielded Israel from international censure by blocking cease-fire resolutions at the U.N. Security Council, even as the death toll in Gaza nears 30,000, according to health officials in the enclave.

 

Blinken’s declaration appears to have been triggered by an announcement by Bezalel Smotrich, a senior Israeli minister, that a planning committee would soon discuss moving ahead with over 3,000 new housing units in the settlements. Most would be in Ma’ale Adumim, where three Palestinian gunmen killed one Israeli and wounded several others on Thursday.

 

Mr. Smotrich called the new units “an appropriate Zionist response” to the attack.

 

Biden administration officials have repeatedly condemned settlement expansion in the West Bank — where roughly 500,000 Israelis now live among some 2.7 million Palestinians — as an obstacle to the longstanding U.S. goal of a two-state solution. In recent weeks, Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly said he worked for years to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, which he has long said would endanger Israel’s security.

 

Palestinians hope the West Bank will be an integral part of their future independent state, but Israeli settlements have slowly taken over sizable chunks of the territory. Palestinian officials called Mr. Blinken’s declaration long overdue and not nearly enough.

 

“Reversing an illegal act by the previous administration has been overdue for three and a half years,” Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian ambassador to Britain, said in a phone call on Saturday. “For the love of God, I don’t understand why Blinken and President Biden sat on their hands on this issue — and many others — for all this time.”

 

Still, Mr. Blinken’s declaration was “better late than never,” Mr. Zomlot said, adding that Palestinians expected “real actions” against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank rather than “baby steps.”

 

But that expectation might not be forthcoming, analysts said. Aaron David Miller, a former U.S. diplomat, said the Biden administration was unlikely to follow up Mr. Blinken’s declaration with “serious costs and consequences.” Alongside regional mediators, U.S. officials have been trying to clinch a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas, making a “sustained public war with Netanyahu” unpalatable for Biden, he said in an email.

 

Although Mr. Biden entered office pledging to reverse some of his predecessor’s policies on Israel, many remain intact. A separate Jerusalem consulate that effectively served as the U.S. liaison to the Palestinians was never formally reopened after it was closed by the Trump administration; the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington is still closed; and most financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, which governs parts of the West Bank, is frozen under legislation signed by Mr. Trump.


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4) U.N. human rights experts urge nations to stop exporting arms to Israel.

By Nick Cumming-Bruce reporting from Geneva, Feb. 24, 2024

“The United States supplies the most military aid to Israel, more than $3 billion, which accounts for about two-thirds of Israel’s arms imports. It also maintains large weapons stockpiles in Israel, which the United States has allowed the Israeli military to draw from.”

https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/02/24/world/israel-hamas-war-gaza-news

Israeli soldiers patrolling the central Gaza Strip, photographed during an escorted tour by the Israeli military early this month. Credit...Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times


United Nations human rights experts on Friday urged countries to stop transferring arms or ammunition to Israel that it might use in Gaza on the grounds that they could be deployed to commit war crimes.

 

More than 30 U.N. human rights monitors signed onto a statement issued on Friday asserting that Israel’s military operations in Gaza had repeatedly violated international law and that states were obligated under international law to halt arms transfers if evidence suggested they might be used to commit war crimes.

 

“Such transfers are prohibited even if the exporting State does not intend the arms to be used in violation of the law — or does not know with certainty that they would be used in such a way — as long as there is a clear risk,” the statement said.

 

Israel has rejected allegations that it has committed war crimes in the operations it launched in Gaza after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7. It maintains it has tried to warn civilians in advance to leave areas being attacked and has targeted only civilian buildings being used  by Hamas for military purposes.

 

But Israel has faced growing international condemnation for the tens of thousands of civilians, most of them women and children, who Gazan health officials say have been killed or injured since it began its invasion of Gaza in October.

 

Human rights experts have said that Israel’s use of powerful, imprecise bombs with a wide blast range in densely populated areas amounts to an indiscriminate and disproportionate attack on civilians that cannot be justified by military necessity under international law.

 

Hamas, the armed group that once controlled Gaza, is also accused of committing atrocities against Israeli civilians during cross-border attacks on Oct. 7. Israeli officials say Hamas-led raiders killed 1,200 people and took 250 hostage.

 

Multiple news organizations have reported allegations of sexual violence during the attack, and The New York Times in late December published a monthslong investigation that included accounts from several eyewitnesses who said they saw women being sexually assaulted and killed.

 

A report released by the U.N.’s human rights chief, Volker Türk, later on Friday found that all parties in the conflict had committed “clear violations of international humanitarian law, including possible war crimes.”

 

He urged governments to use their influence to stop, and not to enable, violations of international law, and also called for an independent investigation to determine other potential violations of international law.

 

The experts called for Israel’s leading arms suppliers, the United States and Germany, to halt military aid, along with Britain, France, Canada and Australia. Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain have already decided to suspend arms transfers to Israel.

 

The United States supplies the most military aid to Israel, more than $3 billion, which accounts for about two-thirds of Israel’s arms imports.

 

It also maintains large weapons stockpiles in Israel, which the United States has allowed the Israeli military to draw from.

 

President Biden has shown no sign of changing course despite recently characterizing Israel’s military response in Gaza as “over the top” and receiving sharp criticism from within his administration and skepticism from allies in Europe.

 

Asked about the U.N. experts’ recommendations, a State Department spokesperson said the United States supported Israel’s right to self-defense and that U.S. officials had made clear that Israel must comply with international humanitarian law, including taking steps to minimize harm to civilians.

 

Earlier this month, the European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell Fontelles, responded to President Biden’s stated concern over the immense civilian suffering, saying that “if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms.”

 

His comments echoed wider European calls for a halt to arms sales to Israel. A Dutch court this month ordered the Netherlands to block shipments to Israel of F-35 jet fighter parts from American-owned warehouses. Judges rejected the government’s argument that the aircraft were essential for Israel’s security and said there was a “clear risk the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.”

 

Britain continues to allow arms sales to Israel, one of its close allies, but is under pressure to change its policy as a signatory of the Arms Trade Treaty, which says that states should not supply arms that might be used to commit genocide or crimes against humanity.

 

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, according to documents produced in court proceedings earlier this year, was unable to conclude that Israeli operations in Gaza complied with international humanitarian law, and British government ministers have warned Israel against an assault on Rafah.

 

Adam Sella contributed reporting.


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5) A U.S. Call for a Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Gaza

Opinion By The Editorial Board, Feb. 24, 2024

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/02/24/opinion/gaza-ceasefire.html

Fatima Shbair/Associated Press


Vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza while circulating a softer hostages-for-cease-fire resolution of its own may have been the best of the bad options available to the Biden administration. President Biden is right to take this step. Given the scale of death and destruction in Gaza, and the prospect of more to come, he can take other measures as well that might lessen Palestinians’ suffering and loss of life.

 

The issue is not whether Israel was justified in going after Hamas after the terrorist attack of Oct. 7. It was, and it has achieved some of its military aims. It has destroyed significant parts of Hamas’s military infrastructure and reduced its fighting force. Hamas reportedly says it has lost about 6,000 of an estimated 25,000 fighters; Israel says it has killed more than 10,000 of them.

 

But this war, on its current course, is leading to the wholesale killing of Palestinians while Hamas gains in international standing and the remaining Israeli hostages remain captive. The United States, as Israel’s most important ally and source of military aid, should take the lead in changing that.

 

The president was right to demonstrate sympathy and support for Israel in the days after the Oct. 7 attack. Since then, his administration has worked tirelessly with Arab allies, first mediating a brief halt in fighting in November and more recently trying to negotiate a longer cease-fire to release the Israeli hostages and to bring humanitarian relief to Gaza.

 

Hamas launched its attack to provoke an Israeli response, knowing that the people of Gaza would be acutely vulnerable. The terrorist group hides its fighters among civilians, and built its infrastructure, including miles of tunnels, underneath homes, schools and hospitals.

 

Since the war began, the two million people who live in Gaza have been pounded by Israeli bombardment. More than 29,000 people have been killed, according to Palestinian figures; more than half of Gaza’s homes and buildings have been destroyed, and the United Nations has raised the alarm that, cut off from supplies of food, Gazans are at risk of starvation. The death toll could soon rise sharply if Israel carries out a ground invasion of Rafah, a city in the far south of Gaza, where the military believes 10,000 Hamas fighters remain, and to which a million civilians have fled.

 

Yet every U.S. effort to rein in the Israeli assault has been rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or blocked by unacceptable demands from Hamas. Mr. Netanyahu, in particular, has been more concerned about satisfying the far-right and religious coalition partners who keep him in power. On Friday he released a position paper for postwar Gaza that allows for indefinite military control by Israel, playing to his base of supporters while angering Palestinians.

 

This complicates the work of the United States and moderate Arab states, which are trying to engineer a plan for “after Gaza” — a crucial step in making sure that Gaza has a chance at stability once the fighting stops. Though no details have been made public, the plan, which is not part of the proposed Security Council resolution, calls for international help in the reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip, the formation of a functional Hamas-free government in the West Bank and Gaza, the normalization of Israeli relations with Saudi Arabia, and a road map toward a demilitarized state for the Palestinians.

 

That plan, however, depends on first arranging a cease-fire durable enough to provide for the release of the remaining Israeli hostages — the most recent proposal was for at least six weeks. The resolution the United States is circulating does not go as far and does not have sharp teeth. It proposes a cease-fire “as soon as practicable,” which can be whatever Israel wants it to be, and it warns Israel against invading Rafah under current conditions. And it will most likely be vetoed by Russia and China.

 

But given the extraordinary record of American support for Israel at the United Nations — demonstrated by dozens of vetoes to block resolutions critical of Israel, including three calling for a cease-fire in Gaza — the fact of the United States circulating a resolution that mentions the term “cease-fire” should be a signal to Israelis that American leaders are losing patience with Mr. Netanyahu’s forever war.

 

In the waning days of the Obama administration, the United States also sent a message to Israel when it abstained on a resolution condemning settlement construction in the West Bank, thus allowing it to pass. The resolution had no practical import, but it made an important point — which the Biden administration has reinforced — about settlements as an obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.

 

Similarly, this resolution, however short-lived, is a moment for the U.S. to make clear to the Israeli people that its enduring support for Israel does not extend to the worst policies of its government. However divided America might be, the United States still wields a powerful voice in Israeli affairs, both as supplier of arms and aid and as its political shield on the world stage.

 

The Israeli public has made clear its longing to dump the discredited Mr. Netanyahu. And the Israeli military, which must depend on American arms after almost five months of fighting in Gaza and the threat of Hezbollah to the north, is keenly aware of the danger of alienating the Biden administration. Recent opinion polls show that over 80 percent of Israelis approve of Washington’s leadership — and prefer Mr. Biden to Donald Trump by 14 points.

 

That gives Mr. Biden considerable leverage. One option, described by Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, in a recent article in the journal Foreign Affairs, would be for Mr. Biden to bypass Mr. Netanyahu and instead make a direct address to the Israeli people.

 

He could make clear that Israelis face a stark choice — an endless war that would only create more Hamas-like militants and turn more Americans against Israel, or the plan for “after Gaza” proposed by the Americans and Arabs, one that includes international financing for the rehabilitation of Gaza and peace with Saudi Arabia.

 

Though Israelis may not be in any mood to contemplate a Palestinian state, and the depth of their fury against Hamas may be unknown, Mr. Biden has earned considerable trust from them through his decades of unstinting support.

 

Speaking directly to Israelis may prove to be more fruitful than speaking to Mr. Netanyahu, who has alienated himself from the Biden administration and has become an obstacle to any kind of lasting peace. On the contrary, his far-right allies are worsening tensions with the Palestinians. Itamar Ben-Gvir, an extremist who serves as national security minister, for example, has proposed severe limits on Palestinian and Arab Israeli worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan. Those restrictions, at a site Israelis call the Temple Mount, would no doubt stoke further anger and violence as Ramadan begins in early March.

 

There is considerably more President Biden and his administration could do, including continuing the diplomatic effort toward a humanitarian cease-fire that would ease the suffering of Palestinian civilians and allow the remaining hostages to return to their families. He could also do more to demonstrate America’s commitment to the two-state solution, the only path to a lasting peace, by proposing a resolution in the Security Council to that effect. Arab support and a unanimous vote, argues Mr. Indyk, would be hard for Israel, or the Palestinians, to resist.

 

None of this, of course, may be enough to quiet the global outcry over the war’s toll on Palestinians, or to silence the fierce criticism of Mr. Biden by the American left. At the same time, any move to pressure Israel carries political risks as well. This is a moment when there are no good options for Mr. Biden politically; so it is a moment when leadership is indispensable. Allowing this conflict to continue unchecked is no longer acceptable, and the United States alone has the power and leverage to do what must be done.


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