U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Sun Dec 03, 2023 5:26 am

The Women Soldiers Who Warned of a Pending Hamas Attack – and Were Ignored: Over the past year, the Israel Defense Forces’ spotters situated on the Gaza border, all women, warned that something unusual was happening. Those who survived the October 7 massacre are convinced that if it had been men sounding the alarm, things would look different today
by Yaniv Kubovich
Nov 20, 2023
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/202 ... 1581146536



Three days after the October 7 massacre in southern Israel, Mai – a spotter who serves in the Israel Defense Forces’ Gaza Division and survived the murderous Hamas assault on her army base near the border – received a phone call at home.

On the line was someone from the army’s human resources division. “If you don’t return to your post,” she was cautioned, “that’s absenteeism during wartime and would mean up to 10 years in prison.” Identical messages were also delivered to colleagues from the army base who, like her on Black Saturday, had been locked in an operations room “armed” only with their cellphones as Hamas terrorists ran amok.

“We tried to explain that we can’t go back,” Mai recounts. “We lost our comrades. We spent hours hiding, among dead bodies, in that operations room.”


According to Mai (a pseudonym, like the names of everyone interviewed for this story), some of the young women who survived the attack are currently being treated in mental health institutions, while others are still too afraid to seek treatment.

“Up till now, the commanders haven’t visited us; nobody from the army has come to speak with us and ask how we’re feeling. They’re simply ignoring our existence.”
Perhaps a clarification should be added to that last statement: They are seemingly ignoring their existence as human beings, not as part of the military.

(The spotters’ job, known as “tatzpitanit” in Hebrew, involves staring at a screen for hours on end, studying surveillance cameras for untoward activities. Nowadays, only women soldiers perform the task.)

IDF spotters working at the IDF base in Nahal Oz.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The spotters decided to stay home and nothing else happened until last week – when they all received identical letters informing them that if they failed to return to their posts by this Wednesday, there would be severe repercussions.

“They told me: ‘You need to come back, your position is ready,’” says another spotter, Shir. “Nobody cares how I am or if I’m fit to do this – the main thing [for them] is for me to return to my nine-hour shift watching screens all day.”

Shir has decided that she will report back to the base – but not because of the threats and intimidation.

“It’s important to make clear that we’re returning only for the sake of our friends who were murdered or kidnapped,” she says, “and not for everyone who abandoned us there.”

Somehow, Shir and her colleagues are not surprised by the attitude they have encountered; just perhaps a little unnerved by its intensity. During their years of military service, they say they’ve grown accustomed to the fact that they “don’t count.” Nor was any notice given to the repeated warnings they raised before Hamas’ infiltration on Black Saturday. Warnings that, it seems to them, were going in one IDF earpiece and out the other.

These included reports about Hamas’ preparations near the border fence, its drone activity in recent months, its efforts to knock out cameras, the extensive use of vans and motorcycles, and even rehearsals for the shelling of tanks.

An IDF spotter working at the Nahal Oz military base, near the Gaza border, earlier this month.Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The spotters believe Hamas was actually being rather negligent: it didn’t try to hide anything and its actions were out in the open. But throughout this period, they say senior officers in the IDF’s Gaza Division and Southern Command refused to listen to their warnings. They believe this stemmed partly from arrogance but also from male chauvinism.

The spotters are exclusively “young women and young women commanders,” explains one of them. “There’s no doubt that if men had been sitting at those screens, things would look different.”

‘Tell everyone we love them’

In some ways, the hours leading up to the morning of October 7 were quite ordinary. Noga, a spotter stationed at the IDF’s intelligence unit at Kissufim, close to the Gaza border, spotted an unfamiliar, suspicious-looking man standing in front of one of the barrier gates erected along the Gaza Strip border.

Her report reached Lt. Col. Meir Ohayon, commander of the 51st Battalion in the Golani Brigade, who at 3 A.M. made his way to the location and, after sighting the man, fired tear gas at him. The suspect turned back and went to a Hamas observation post about 300 meters (nearly 1,000 feet) from the fence, which is the distance at which Palestinians are allowed to stay. The spotter observed several other people at the same position, and it seemed to her that a briefing was being held there.

An armed Israeli observation post hit by Hamas on the morning of October 7.Credit: Hatem Ali/AP

All of the above seemed unusual and disturbing to her, so she shared her feelings with the other spotters as well as the on-duty commander. However, at the end of a discussion that lasted about a minute in the operations room and in consultation with the division, it was decided to return to normal.

“I’m sorry I had to wake you at this hour,” the spotter apologized to Ohayon, “but I still think there’s something strange here.”

Ohayon was unperturbed and replied that it’s always best to be vigilant in order to avoid surprises. A few hours later, it became clear that this “vigilance” did not prevent the surprise.

This was merely the final piece in the puzzle, though. In retrospect, after she fully understood the scope of the disaster, and after she had lost dozens of friends who were either killed or kidnapped by Hamas, the sheer scale of the disconnect became clear to the spotter.

While she had been trying to understand who the suspicious figure was and what he was up to, the IDF and Shin Bet security service had already held discussions following a warning about a terrorist infiltration. It was serious enough for the senior officials to decide (on the Friday evening) to increase the presence of special forces in the south, sending a specialist team trained to deal with terror squads.

Another team from the Shin Bet operational unit and a force from the commando unit were also placed on alert. An elite IDF team from Sayeret Matkal was also dispatched to the area. However, no one in the Southern Command or its Gaza Division bothered to inform the dozens of young women serving as spotters at the Kissufim and Nahal Oz army bases of that. This did not even change at 4 A.M., when it was decided to put the Gaza border communities themselves on alert for fear of possible infiltration.

Ori Megidish (center) with family after she was found by IDF ground troops in Gaza. Megidish, an army spotter, was taken hostage on Oct 7.Credit: Shin Bet Spokesperson's Office

“If we had known about this warning, this whole disaster would have looked different,” Yaara tells Haaretz. “Nobody told us there was such a high level of alert.”

According to Yaara, three hours, or even two hours, would have given the young spotters time to prepare. “But nobody thought to tell us. The IDF left us like sitting ducks on a range. The fighters at least had weapons and died as heroes. The spotters who had been abandoned by the army were simply slaughtered, without any opportunity to defend themselves.”

At around 6:30 A.M., Noga still found time to report about the “infiltration” protocol for communities and military bases, all while hearing the gunfire and shouting of the terrorists outside the command center where she was stationed.

In the spotters’ WhatsApp group, friends from Nahal Oz were already reporting that terrorists were everywhere, that people had been killed and kidnapped, and that there was nowhere to run. At 7:17 A.M., the last message was received in the group, signed by spotters from Nahal Oz: “Tell everyone that we love them and thanks for everything.”

Disdainful attitude

The spotters’ harsh words for their superiors is not a new development. In fact, Haaretz published an investigative report last year focusing on the disdainful attitude toward them from their commanders. At the time, your correspondent spoke with spotters from bases across Israel, including those in the Gaza Division.

One of the issues they raised was that their voice was simply not being heard and that their professional opinion was not being given due weight. It seems that any commission of inquiry studying the events of October 7 will have to start with the testimonies of those surviving spotters.


They can pinpoint seemingly pivotal incidents going back months. For instance, Talia, who has served as a spotter in the Gaza Division for about 18 months and is therefore considered something of a veteran, recounts: “A month before the war, I was sitting in the command center in Kissufim and at around 7 A.M. dozens of cars and vans arrived in the area I’m responsible for, near one of Hamas’ observation towers. After a few minutes, a luxury car stopped next to them – the type of car very few people in Gaza have, so definitely Hamas.”

“I didn’t recognize all of them, but it was clear to me that these men were from Nukhba [Hamas’ special forces], because some of them had ski masks over their faces so as not to be identified. They left there for a briefing that lasted a long time, 30 to 40 minutes, with binoculars, pointing to the Israeli side.”

Talia says she wanted to try to identify the men and see what was in their vehicles – so she pointed the cameras to one of the senior people there and zoomed in.

“He gestured to me, wagging his finger – ‘nu, nu, nu,’”
she recounts, admitting her shock because the camera was located on a high pole at a great distance from where the group was standing, but he knew exactly where it was.

At that stage, she called in her commander. I told her they can see me, that he’s talking to me through the camera,” she recalls. “She also saw this and didn’t know how to react to it.”

After the Gazans left, Talia says she received a report from a more northerly lookout post that the same group had returned and was stopping in different spots along the length of the Gaza Strip.

For Talia and the other spotters on duty that day, this looked like a briefing prior to an operation against Israel – and they acted accordingly.

The entrance to Kibbutz Nahal Oz.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

“We flagged the event, we reported that it was unusual and that they could see us,” she recalls. “We reported that it was a briefing by senior [Hamas] officials who we could not recognize. But until today, it’s not clear what [the IDF] did with that information.”

She says her commanders also tried to pass this information up the chain of command. However, as relatively low-ranking officers, these women “are just as helpless as we are before the senior commanders – and certainly before the division and regional command,” Talia says. “Nobody really pays any attention to us. As far as they’re concerned, it’s ‘sit at your screens’ and that’s it.
They’d say: ‘You’re our eyes, not the head that needs to make decisions about the information.”

When the Hamas attack began on October 7, and after messages had come in from the Nahal Oz base, Talia sent a message to that same commander, asking if she remembered the earlier event. “She replied that she had no doubt it was the briefing for the attack,” she relates. “At the same time, we’re seeing videos of our friends being taken off to Gaza, helpless.”

Every stone, every vehicle

Two to three months. That’s how long it takes for a new spotter to know her sector “better than anyone else in the IDF,” Talia says. “In my sector, I know every stone, every vehicle, shepherd, Hamas training camp, laborers, birdwatchers, trails and outposts.” In her words, a veteran spotter does not need “8200 in order to tell immediately whether her sector is operating unusually,” a reference to the fabled intelligence unit.

It is hard work, often Sisyphean. A spotter’s shift lasts for nine hours, during which she sits in front of a screen attempting to monitor anything that seems at all unusual, even a slight deviation from the norm. Any such event must immediately be logged in an operational report, which is sent to the base commanders, and from there to the intelligence desks of the relevant divisions and command centers.


What happens in practice with the information they have just relayed? The spotters are finding it hard to answer that question.

This was also the case when Hamas drones started flying regularly in their sector.

“In the past couple of months, they began to put up drones every day, sometimes twice a day, that came really close to the border,” says another spotter, Ilana. “Up to 300 meters from the fence – sometimes less than that. A month and a half before the war, we saw that in one of Hamas’ training camps, they had built an exact replica of an armed observation post, just like the ones we have. They started to train there with drones, to hit the observation post.”

Ilana recounts how they passed this information on according to protocol, but even went beyond that: “We yelled at our commanders that they have to take us more seriously, that something bad is happening here. We understood that the behavior in the field was very strange, that they were basically training for an attack against us. Until now, nobody has come and told us what was done with this information.”

And then on Black Saturday, when they saw the drones blowing up their observation posts one after the other, the spotters knew where this was headed. “We knew from the moment the attack began: this was exactly what was happening in the last month and a half of their training,” Ilana says.

There were other preliminary signs too, spotters says. More reports that they wrote, and sent, but whose whereabouts are unknown.

“They never told me what happened with the information we were passing on,” says another spotter, Adi. “We were constantly being told that there might be a terrorist infiltration, that it could happen.” Of course, the IDF needs to be prepared for such an incident, but apparently there was no concrete threat – no matter how many concrete events the spotters reported.

“In the last year, they started to remove pieces of iron from the fence,” says Adi
, citing an example of what was written in another report that might be buried in some drawer somewhere. And there’s more.

“In my sector, they built a precise model of a Merkava IV tank and trained on it all the time,” says another spotter from the Gaza Division. “They trained on how to hit a tank with an RPG, where exactly to hit it and then, in front of our eyes, they trained on how to capture the tank crew.”

She says the spotters tried warning that these training exercises were actually increasing in intensity, “that there were more people taking part, and that they were being done with additional Hamas units coming in from other areas.”

They also noticed that vans and motorcycles were frequently being used in the training. And when protests started taking place by the border [in the months prior to the attack], they observed that “there are Hamas operatives who are constantly examining the places where we are less effective with the cameras. They really planned everything down to the smallest detail.
Anyone who says today that it was unavoidable or that it was impossible to know – that’s a lie.”

In her words, ”They abandoned our friends to die because nobody wanted to listen to us. It’s beneath their dignity to listen to a sergeant – who for two years has been staring at the same screen and knows every stone, every grain of sand – tell them something contrary to what the senior intelligence officers are telling them. Who am I, some little woman, before a man with the rank of major or lieutenant colonel, for whom everybody stands at attention when he enters the room?”

A few minutes after 1WTC was hit the following message came over the public address system in 2WTC. I was in the 44th floor sky lobby of 2WTC at the time. “A plane had just crashed into 1WTC but the integrity of 2WTC was OK.” Notice how you are not instructed to leave and not instructed to stay. The message was repeated again. Seconds after the message was repeated flight 175 crashed into 2WTC.... I would like to make it clear here on what exactly came over the public address system at 9:02 AM. I made a conscious effort to memorize it. “A plane had just crashed into 1WTC and that the integrity of 2WTC was OK.” This message was repeated once more. Seconds after the second announcement flight 175 crashed into 2WTC. -- Jim Kazalis, 9/11 survivor and volunteer guide in NYC

Obviously, people started leaving WTC1 after the first strike at 8:46. People also began leaving WTC2. As I recall from reading about it, Building Security through the public address system advised those in WTC2 who were evacuating to return to their desks. -- Brian Good

I was in the second tower that got hit. When you refer to “they” you have to clarify who that is. When the first building was hit, the Morgan Stanley security went screaming through the floor telling everyone to evacuate. When I was in the stairwell, the announcements said that the building was safe -- stay where you are go back. -- Ken Robulak, Former Financial Advisor at Morgan Stanley (company) (2001–2004)

I was in Manhattan that day. On my walk home to Brooklyn I met a man who was on the 20th floor of the south tower when the plane struck. He said the firefighters were telling everyone to stay put and not to leave the building. He chose to ignore them and lived as a result. -- Greg Murphy, Studied Bachelor of Arts Degrees in Art and Art History (Graduated 2017)

-- Why didn't they evacuate the World Trade Center in September 11 after the first crash?, by quora.com

‘They studied us in depth’

Forty fighters from the Golani Brigade’s 13th Battalion, some Bedouin trackers and three women combat soldiers from the artillery corps who were on standby: this was the entire force at Nahal Oz on the morning of Saturday October 7 facing hundreds of terrorists – a significant proportion of the 3,000 or so who infiltrated with vans, cars and motorcycles from the sea, land and air. The soldiers had no chance.

“They knew much more about us than we thought,” says another spotter, Liat. “Today I know, and my friends are also sure of it, that they studied us in depth. Not just where we were sitting and observing from.
They did an insane job.”

Palestinians from the Gaza Strip entering Kibbutz Kfar Azza on October 7.Credit: Hassan Eslaiah/AP

A spotter who was on duty at one of the lookout posts that day says: “There were so many warning signals along the way. Hamas didn’t do this under the radar. It’s just that nobody thought to accept the opinion of some spotters when intelligence personnel were thinking completely differently.”

In April, Smadar sat at the lookout post in Kissufim and noticed something new at one of Hamas’ training camps. “They had built a precise model of the border area,“ she says. “They trained there on how to break through the fence. Contrary to what the IDF thought, their training was for infiltration on the ground, not from tunnels. As time passed, their training became more intensive.”

About a month and a half before the attack, that training apparently shifted up a gear.

“We started to see them getting 300 meters from the fence, and their trainers stood with stopwatches and measured how much time it took them to run to the fence, to reach it, and to return to their positions. We knew there was something [happening],” says Liat. According to her, even though disturbances were also taking place near the fence,
“the forces we sent did practically nothing – even the warning shots stopped. Combat soldiers would arrive, fire tear gas and leave.”

Those reports, it seems, piled up in the rubbish heap of the tragedy.

A month before the war, there was an apparent change of approach among some spotters: A senior officer from the Gaza Division came to the operations room on one of the bases along the Gaza border in order to talk about the sector, so one of the spotters decided to tell him exactly what was on her mind.

“I told him there was going to be a war and we’re simply not ready,” she says, recalling the conversation. “That what’s happening with Hamas along the border fence is not normal. That they’re mocking the IDF, that our hands are tied and we’re not even [firing] warning shots.”

The response of the senior officer was to ask for her name, to regard her with admonishing eyes and to “put her in her place” for having the temerity to address him directly rather than going through the proper channels.

“He said to me, ‘I’ve been in the sector since 2010. I was a commander here, an intelligence officer, I know Gaza inside-out, and I’m telling you that everything’s fine. You’re here only six months and I’ve been here 12 years. I know the sector like the back of my hand.”

Someone who has known the sector for less time – but still in depth – is Einat, a spotter from Nahal Oz. That Saturday, she was at home (“in the safe room with the family”), but recognized immediately what was about to happen.

“As soon as I understood that there was such a large infiltration, I told [my family]: ‘There’s a Hamas raid, they’ll kidnap soldiers and charge into the residential communities.’ I even told them there was no way they weren’t coming with paragliders. They looked at me like I was crazy. I started shouting that we knew there would be something and no one would listen to us.”

Then the messages from friends at the base began to arrive, plus the photos and videos from Palestinians on Telegram. “We were seeing how they were murdering our friends and how they were being taken to Gaza,” she recalls. “I cannot describe the frustration, the sense of abandonment by the senior commanders. We issued warnings, we told our commanders, but we’re considered the bottom of the division’s food chain.”

In response to this article, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit stated: “The IDF and its commanders are following all the male and female soldiers who were present during the events of October 7 closely. The male and female soldiers are accompanied by medical professionals from the mental health system. This is in addition to the continuous contact with their commanders, who are a support system and attentive ear. The return to their posts will be gradual and sensitive, supervised and according to the condition of each person. There is no intention of disciplinary measures against anyone. If there were any conversations that might suggest otherwise, they are contrary to the guidelines and will be dealt with accordingly.”
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:42 am

by Amy Goodman
December 04, 2023

Israel Kills 800 Palestinians as Truce Ends; Hospitals Under Attack as Gazans Have Nowhere to Turn
by Amy Goodman
December 04, 2023

Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israeli strikes have killed more than 800 people since Saturday, after Israel targeted the besieged Palestinian territory with some of its most violent assaults yet — including parts of southern Gaza previously designated by Israel’s military as “safe” zones. Dozens were killed as Israel flattened homes in the Jabaliya refugee camp where displaced families were sheltering, while in Gaza City’s Shuja’iyya neighborhood Israeli strikes destroyed 50 residential buildings and homes, killing more than 300 people.

Ambulance drivers have been targeted by Israeli snipers, including a medic who was shot transporting an injured person toward al-Awda Hospital. UNICEF spokesperson James Elder delivered this message from inside Gaza’s Nasser Hospital.

James Elder: “We cannot see more children with the wounds of war, with the burns, with the shrapnel littering their body, with the broken bones. Inaction by those with influence is allowing the killing of children. This is a war on children. … Clearly, words, clearly, pleas from the world do not make a difference on those who have the power to stop the killing, the maiming of children.”

Following the collapse of the temporary truce Friday, Israel continues to restrict the number of aid trucks permitted into the besieged enclave as Gazans continue to plead for food, water and a permanent end to the attacks.

Watan al-Masri: “The days of the truce, God protect us, we slept. We rested. There were no drones, and we were living well. But with what happened today, we’ve been living in fear and anxiety. Really, fear has returned. The sadness has returned. With every explosion, we spring up. Is it in front of us? Is it behind us? We are living in terror. If anyone has any way to help us, we are dying of starvation.”

Over the weekend, Hamas said it would not release any more Israeli hostages until a ceasefire comes into effect and Israel releases all Palestinian prisoners.

Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have publicly warned Israel’s military about the thousands of Palestinian civilians it has killed and injured. This is Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin: “You see, in this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.”

Austin’s warning came as The Wall Street Journal reported the U.S. has supplied Israel with 15,000 bombs, including 2,000-pound bunker busters, and 57,000 artillery shells since October 7.

UAW Becomes Largest U.S.-Based Union to Call for Gaza Ceasefire
by Amy Goodman
December 04, 2023

Here in the U.S., a protester is in critical condition after setting themself on fire Friday outside the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta, Georgia. Authorities said the protester never posed a threat to consular staff, and the self-immolation was believed to be “an act of extreme political protest.”

In Denver, Colorado, hundreds of Jewish activists and their allies blocked traffic on the busy Speer Boulevard Sunday following a week of protests outside the Colorado Convention Center, where the Jewish National Fund was holding its Global Conference for Israel. Fifteen members of Jewish Voice for Peace were arrested after chaining themselves together on the road and halting traffic for over an hour.

The United Auto Workers became the latest, and largest, union to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. The UAW joins the American Postal Workers Union, the California Nurses Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and others in calling for a ceasefire. The UAW is also creating a “divestment and just transition working group” and taking a closer look at the union’s “economic ties to the conflict.”


“No One Is Safe in Gaza”: Journalist Akram al-Satarri Reports from Khan Younis Amid Israeli Assault
by Amy Goodman
December 04, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/4/ ... transcript

We speak with Palestinian journalist Akram al-Satarri in Khan Younis, the southern Gaza city that is now the focus of Israel’s assault. Israel has ordered many Palestinians to leave their homes and head further south toward Rafah near the Egyptian border, which Israel also attacked over the weekend. “They are being bombarded while they are trying to move,” says al-Satarri. “The safety is in the very south of Rafah, and when they reach the promised safety, they end up being bombarded.” Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israel’s air and ground assault has killed more than 800 people since Saturday, and Israel has killed over 15,500 Palestinians and displaced more 1.7 million from their homes since October 7, when it began its war on the besieged territory in response to a deadly attack by Hamas militants on surrounding Israeli communities.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show looking at Gaza as Israel expands its air and ground assault on the besieged territory days after a truce between Israel and Hamas ended. Palestinian health officials say Israel has killed at least 800 people since Saturday. The Gaza Health Ministry official says hospitals are being, quote, “flooded with an influx of dead bodies.” In Gaza City, a massive Israeli attack leveled about 50 buildings in the neighborhood of Shuja’iyya, reportedly killing more than 300 people.

We’re going to turn right now just outside the hospital in Khan Younis called the Nasser Hospital. There, Gazan journalist Akram al-Satarri is standing. He’s going to talk to us about the situation in the south of Gaza, in Khan Younis, and also talk about his own situation and where his family is living, as well. This is Akram.

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: … sixty-five square kilometers, becoming the largest battlefield on Earth. Gaza, 1.8 million people asked to move and leave their homes in the very north in the Gaza Strip, in Gaza City and Gaza central area, towards the very south of Gaza, to Rafah area. They are being bombarded while they’re trying to move. Houses are being destroyed. In last 24 hours, more than 1,760 people were killed. In the last 12 hours, more than 316 people were killed.

The massive movement of the people can be seen for everyone who’s moving throughout the different streets of the Gaza Strip, people who are grabbing anything they can take, people who moved from the north to the central Gaza and to the Khan Younis area. They are grabbing almost everything, because they came almost with nothing from the north. And now they’re being asked to move to the south because the bombardment is going heavier. And in the south, when they are settling there, the bombardment is resumed, and people are killed. In the last three or four hours, several incidents and several explosions were reported in different areas of the Gaza Strip, inclusive Khan Younis area, Rafah area, to the very south of the Gaza Strip, and Gaza central area and Gaza City and the north, as well.

Palestinians, who were left with almost nothing — no transportation, no fuel, no energy, no supplies whatsoever. Even the water now is becoming a very scarce commodity in the Gaza Strip. People with all of that facing — all of that they are facing are being asked to move. Some of them are walking on foot for such a very long time for the sake of just fleeing to safety. The safety is in very south of Rafah. And when they reach the promised safety, they end up being bombarded. When they reached the promised safety, they lost their dears. They lost the shelter that they are trying to build. I was on my way to Rafah and then back to Khan Younis area. I was seeing the people who were trying to erect the tents on the two sides of the road, people who were just taking any kind of wood and branches of the trees that they can find, any kind of plastic sheets, any kind of wood, to start and do something that can serve them as a shelter.

I am already an IDP now, internally displaced person, because my whole area was asked to leave, and I had to leave my home, my apartment, one apartment that I spent a whole time trying to build for me and for my family. And when we were about to leave, we were wondering what we can we take and what can we leave, because our capacity to take things is very limited. We started prioritizing: medication, number one. Medications, number one, because they are life-saving. And then blankets, sheets, mattresses, whatever we can get, even the water we were carrying with us because of the fact that I told you: Water is a scarce commodity in the Gaza Strip.

People who are now in Rafah are facing a very dramatic situation. They don’t have supplies. They don’t have food. They don’t have water. And they are still struggling for the sake of securing any type of living or life in that area. They have been losing their children, their mothers, their spouses, for the sake of just getting anything that can help them to start fire and to warm some water and to cook something. One-point-eight millions in Gaza now officially IDPs, internally displaced people. And those 1.8 million people are trying to find somewhere place that they can hide, but the heavy bombardment in the last few days and the heavy bombardment throughout the whole conflict left no one safe in Gaza, left no one is safe in Gaza because of the —

AMY GOODMAN: It sounds like we have lost Akram —

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: — large-scale killing resulting from that bombardment, large-scale devastation resulting from that bombardment, and large-scale insecurity resulting from that, as people of Gaza are facing a profound access and security crisis. They have not been able to access anything. And their personal security have been jeopardized by the ongoing devastation and escalation.

AMY GOODMAN: Akram al-Satarri, reporting to us from Gaza. He’s in southern Gaza. He’s standing just outside the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where he has also, in addition to reporting there, moved his family south. Khan Younis is a place where the Israeli military originally told people in northern Gaza to move to, and now they are bombing Khan Younis, where so many hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved, to Khan Younis and further south to Rafah. It’s extremely difficult to make these conditions — to make these connections, and we thank all of those who have helped us. We’re going to turn now to a break. This break are Gazan journalists, Palestinian journalists who have survived the assault so far, though many have lost family members, singing together.


AMY GOODMAN: “We Will Stay Here Until the Pain Goes Away.” Journalists in Gaza seen sitting together in their press-identified clothing in a viral video singing “We Will Stay Here Until the Pain Goes Away.” More than 60 journalists and media workers have been killed since October 7th, 54 of them Palestinian journalists in Gaza.


“We Are All Palestinians”: COP28 Activists Demand Ceasefire in Gaza, Defying Protest Restrictions
by Amy Goodman
December 04, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/4/ ... transcript

Despite strict limits on protest in the United Arab Emirates, as well as United Nations rules at the climate conference known as COP28 now underway in Dubai, over 100 people demonstrated on the sidelines of the summit Sunday in solidarity with Palestine to demand a ceasefire in Gaza. Some held banners with watermelons painted on them, a known symbol of the Palestinian movement, to circumvent a ban on Palestinian flags. Protesters were barred from chanting phrases like “from the river to the sea” and “Free Palestine” and were not permitted to say “Gaza,” “Palestine” and “Israel” or name any other nation. Several still did so in defiance. Democracy Now! is broadcasting from COP28 this week, and we feature voices from the protest.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: These are voices of a protest Sunday when over a hundred people gathered on the sidelines of the U.N. climate summit for a peaceful action in solidarity with the Palestinian people demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

PROTESTER 1: When human rights are under attack, what do we do?

PROTESTERS: Stand up, fight back!

PROTESTER 2: We’ll be reading for you today from the Gaza Ministry of Health list of names of all those who have been killed since October 7th.

PROTESTER 3: Moaz Etemad Youssef Dalloul, female [sic] — male, 6 years old. Tala Amjad Alyan Abu Ayada, 5 years old. Elaine Amjad Alyan Abu Ayada, 3 years old. Hamza Muhammad Nahed Al-Fasih, 3 years old.

PROTESTER 1: The names are still being written.

TARIQ LUTHUN: My name is Tariq Luthun. I am a Gazawi born in Detroit. This violence is not happening just in my hometown of Gaza. It’s happening everywhere. Being in Detroit, there are so many situations in which water has been cut off. Being just down the street from Flint, Michigan, we see water be poisoned and polluted for the people and the residents of Flint. And precedents like that, where people are expendable, is only possible because of the violence we see inflicted upon people back in my homeland. And because of that, we are taking a stand here today not just as Palestinian people, myself, but people who are allied with justice for all people across the world, because that is what is necessary to have true climate justice. What good is finding a world that is green if the roots are soaked in blood? What good is a world that is green if there’s nobody left to live in it? The precedent set on people’s lives and the calculations we make as to who is expendable, that is the precedent we set for who’s expendable anywhere.

PROTESTER 1: Hey ho! Take me by the hand! Strong in solidarity we stand! Human rights and justice! Human rights and justice! Hey ho! End the apartheid!

SHIRINE JURDI: Just because now we have social media, we were able to see some of the facts. Have you seen this TikTok that went viral? We know TikToks that goes viral about food. Did you see this TikTok about how you remove white phosphorus from your body? Because white phosphorus weapons are being shelled on people, shelled on civilians, shelled on women and children. And this is where most of the casualties are. Lots of women were — we have almost 50,000 women pregnant, trying to deliver at this time of the period, and these women, lots of them, lost their lives, and, if you have seen, also these newborn babies. Have you seen them? Have you seen them struggling for air to breathe? But, unfortunately, electricity was cut off. They had no food, no water, no sanitation. They had nothing to breathe on. They had nothing to survive on. And lots of these newborn children were killed. And let’s be their voices.

CHEBON KERNELL: [speaking in Muscogee] I come here from the continent of North America representing our Indigenous peoples of our Muscogee communities who for many years now we have lived in an occupied state. We were dispossessed of our lands. We were forced upon reservations, where we were confined to one area. The water and the resources that we had known for thousands upon thousands of years were taken from us and commodified and exploited and stolen from our peoples. Today we come here, and I stand here and have been asked to say these words, because I stand in solidarity with each one of my relatives here and everything that you’re going through, my relatives on these lists here. I’m never going to forget those names that are being said. And one day I will greet them when I join them in the spirit world. But today I want to say something before more violence is incurred, that this has to stop now.

ANCEL LANGWA: I stand here as a member of Africans Rising, which is a Pan-African movement of Africans working for unity, justice, peace and dignity. Just like Desmond Tutu said, “If you are neutral institutions of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” So we are here because we have decided that we shall not be neutral.

ASAD REHMAN: Sisters, brothers, solidarity, greetings from the Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice.

Today we stand in a space bearing the words “the United Nations,” in a process we are deeply committed to as the eyes, ears and voices of our people fighting for justice, the body that was created after the horrors of the Second World War with a promise of “never again,” a promise that made it illegal to target civilians, a promise that made it illegal to use food, water, medicine as a weapon of war, a promise of human rights, a promise that all people would be able to live with dignity, free from occupation and oppression.

And for these last two months we have witnessed not just the Palestinian people starved, trapped, cut off from the world, bombed and killed, their screams echoing throughout the night with no hope of rescue, as every morning we wait desperately for that message that our friends and our colleagues are still alive, but whilst watching the international community stand in silence — and again, not just for these last two months, but for 15 years of an illegal blockade, for 50 years of an occupation and apartheid, and a hundred years of ethnic cleansing and settler colonialism. We watched an international community that has been actively complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity, where the genocidal intent isn’t even bothered to be hidden anymore. And still, of course, that’s not enough. We’ve seen hospitals, schools bombed. We’ve seen medics, journalists and even U.N. staff killed, 18,000 people. Human rights and humanitarian law is lying in shreds.

And some ask — some ask us: Why do we care about the Palestinians? Why do climate justice groups mobilize in their millions, from Pakistan to the Philippines, from Belgium to Brazil, from South Africa to Sweden? Why is it our people from all around the world — Black, white, Brown, Jew, Muslim, Christian — are taking to the streets? It’s because we have seen the masks that have slipped. We have seen how the Palestinians are not even viewed as human beings. And in the faces of the Palestinians, for Black, Brown and Indigenous people, we see our past, our present and our future, of lives deemed less valuable than others, of an arc of 500 years of colonialism and racialized capitalism, of sacrificed people and of sacrificed land, of the powerful profiting from oppression, but then saying they don’t have any money for climate finance, but billions for bombs and bullets against the people.

And we say — and we say to those powerful countries, who put words of human rights into texts over there, that no amount of empty words will ever erase your complicity. You not only wrote the blank check, you enabled this. You own this. You own this as much as those who are dropping the bombs on the terrified people of Palestine. So, here today, we, the peoples of the world, say to the Palestinian people, the international community over there may have forgotten you, but you are not alone. You will never be alone, because we are all Palestinians! Ceasefire now! End settler colonialism! End apartheid! End the occupation! Free Palestine!

PROTESTER 1: We’re going to close this moment by respecting the names, the identities, the children, the women, the mothers, the fathers, the journalists have been murdered. We are going to read some of those names.

PROTESTER 4: Issa Ahmed Issa Al-Nashar, 8 years old. Zaid Sabry Musleh Radi, 8 years old. Fayez Shadi Fayez Al-Dakka, 8 years old.

TARIQ LUTHUN: Menna Essam Mahmoud Abu Eyada, 14 years old. Mahmoud Muhammad Fathi Al-Shaer, 14 years old.

PROTESTER 5: Amjad Khaled Kamal Rashwan, 3 years old. Salma Muhammad Khalil Abu Al-Ala, 2 years old.

AMY GOODMAN: Voices from a protest Sunday inside the U.N. climate summit here in Dubai, showing solidarity with the Palestinian people, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. The first voice in this last segment was Chebon Kernell of the Muscogee Nation here in the United States, and the last speech you heard was our guest right now, Asad Rehman.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

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by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023

Gaza Death Toll Approaches 16,000 as Israel Intensifies Attacks and Lays Siege to Hospitals
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023

The World Health Organization says the situation in Gaza is “worsening by the hour,” as Israel’s military lays siege to hospitals and intensifies its assault on areas it previously ordered civilians to flee to. The death toll from the Israeli bombardment is approaching 16,000 — with thousands more believed to be trapped under the rubble.

Twenty-six of Gaza’s 35 hospitals are now out of service. In the north, Israeli tanks encircled Kamal Adwan Hospital and began shelling the medical complex. Doctors there say Israeli snipers are firing on anyone attempting to leave. Images from the hospital’s courtyard show bodies swaddled in white sheets lined up in rows, after medical staff were unable to bury the dead.

In southern Gaza, an intense Israeli assault on the city of Khan Younis has left hospitals overrun. This is Ibrahim Esbeitan, whose 2-month-old son was injured in an Israeli airstrike Monday.

Ibrahim Esbeitan: “They told us to leave Gaza City. There’s a war in Gaza. So we left the north and came here to the south, just like they asked. But this is what we found in the south. What can we do? This is my son. He was born on the second day of the war, and we haven’t been able to register his birth yet.”

As he spoke, Ibrihim Esbeitan gestured to his infant son, who lay motionless while medical workers connected him to an oxygen supply. The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, has called Gaza the “most dangerous place in the world to be a child.”

Israeli Strikes Kill World-Renowned Researcher Sofyan Taya, Journalist Montaser Al-Sawaf
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023

More than three-quarters of Gaza’s population is displaced, with some 2 million people forced into a 90-square-mile area in the south which Israel is actively bombing.

Among the dead is Sofyan Taya, president of the Islamic University of Gaza and a renowned researcher in physics and applied mathematics. Taya was killed along with his family in an Israeli airstrike Saturday in Jabaliya, just north of Gaza City.

On Monday, Israel cut phone and internet access across Gaza for the fourth time, plunging most of Gaza’s residents into another total communications blackout. This comes as Israeli attacks continue to kill journalists at an unprecedented pace. On Friday, Montaser Al-Sawaf, a freelance journalist working for the Turkish Anadolu Agency, was killed along with his brother and other relatives in an Israeli airstrike on his home. Al-Sawaf reportedly bled to death after no ambulances were available to save him. The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 56 Palestinian media workers have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7.

U.S. State Department Says It’s “Too Soon” to Judge Whether Israel Is Protecting Civilians
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023

In Washington, D.C., State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said Monday it was “too soon” to judge whether Israel has been doing enough to protect civilians in Gaza. Miller was challenged by veteran Palestinian journalist Said Arikat.

Said Arikat: “And you don’t think that Israel intentionally kills civilians?”

Matthew Miller: “We think far too many people” —

Said Arikat: “When you bomb — when you bomb neighborhoods” —

Matthew Miller: “I have not seen evidence that they are intentionally killing civilians.



We believe that far too many civilians have been killed. But again, this goes back to the underlying problem of this entire situation, which is that Hamas has embedded itself inside civilians” —

Said Arikat: “Come on.”

Matthew Miller: — “inside civilian homes, inside mosques, in schools, in churches. It is Hamas that is putting these civilians in harm’s way.”

Lawsuit Accuses Netherlands’ Government of Complicity in Israeli War Crimes
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023

A court in the Netherlands has heard a lawsuit brought by human rights groups challenging the government’s export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel. Oxfam and Amnesty International argue the arms transfer violates the Netherlands’ obligations under international law to prevent war crimes, citing Israel’s wide-scale and serious violations of humanitarian law in Gaza. Dutch human rights lawyer Liesbeth Zegveld argued the case.

Liesbeth Zegveld: “The state must immediately stop its deliveries of F-35 parts to Israel. That is its obligation under Common Article 1 of the Geneva Conventions, it is its obligation under the Genocide Treaty to prevent genocide, and it is its obligation under export law. The position of the state that we can’t confidently establish whether violations are taking place is a charade.”


“There Simply Is No Safe Place in Gaza”: Aid Groups Demand Ceasefire as Israel Intensifies Its War
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/5/ ... transcript

The World Health Organization is warning the crisis in Gaza is getting worse by the hour as Israel intensifies its ground and air assault across all parts of the Gaza Strip, including surrounding the Jabaliya refugee camp and bombing Khan Younis, where many had fled to from the north. With Israel’s attack killing close to 16,000 Palestinians, Shaina Low from the Norwegian Refugee Council describes the “hectic, chaotic, desperate” conditions on the ground and says she can barely get in touch with her colleagues in Gaza, let alone coordinate a humanitarian response to the destruction. “If they can’t get in touch with each other, our operations come to a standstill,” says Low. “We desperately need a ceasefire in order to be able to finally address these dire needs.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at the U.N. climate summit.

The World Health Organization is warning the crisis in Gaza is getting worse by the hour as Israel intensifies its ground and air assault across all parts of the Gaza Strip. UNICEF says there’s, quote, “no safe zones” remaining in any part of Gaza, where the death toll from the Israeli bombardment is approaching 16,000. Israeli troops have reportedly encircled Jabaliya, the largest refugee camp in Gaza. A spokesperson for the Gaza Health Ministry said hospitals are struggling to cope with the surge of patients.

ASHRAF AL-QUDRA: [translated] The wounded and patients are on the floor. There is no life-saving health service in the hospitals of southern Gaza Strip, hence hospitals in southern Gaza have totally collapsed. They cannot deal with the quantity and quality of injuries that arrive at the hospitals. It is difficult for the ambulances to reach the injured in the targeted areas. The Israeli occupation targets ambulances that move in the southern areas of the Gaza Strip. It prevents them from reaching the targeted places.

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Mirjana Spoljaric, traveled to Gaza.

MIRJANA SPOLJARIC: I have just visited the European Gaza Hospital. And the things I saw there, it’s beyond anything that anyone should be in a position to describe. What shocked me the most were the children with atrocious injuries and at the same time having lost their parents, with no one looking after them. We are facing a situation here that will not be healed by sending in more trucks. We need to provide protection to the civilians in Gaza, to the women and children, to the elderly people that I saw today that have nowhere to go. The majority of people I met today have been displaced several times. I met people who have lost limbs because they needed to evacuate between treatments, and they lost a hand or a foot because they couldn’t be treated in the hospital where they arrived first. I was told today that the north has lost its entire surgical capacity.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric.

We begin today’s show in Jerusalem, where we’re joined by Shaina Low. She’s a communications adviser in Palestine for the Norwegian Refugee Council, has spent much of the last 15 years working in Palestine.

Shaina, thanks so much for joining us in this very desperate time in Gaza. Can you describe the overall situation to us?

SHAINA LOW: What we’re hearing from our staff on the ground in Gaza is just that day after day things are getting more and more hectic, chaotic, desperate. We’re hearing about massive influxes of people fleeing Khan Younis, fleeing south and west to barren areas of land where there’s no facilities able to accommodate them. We’re hearing about shelters that are overwhelmed and bursting at the seams and cannot house any additional people. We’re hearing about people being so desperate that they are sleeping on the streets, trying to salvage whatever materials they can find in order to build a makeshift shelter. Yesterday our office lost internet connection because people had actually cut the internet cable in order to use that to help make a shelter. This is the level of desperation that we’re getting at.

Stores have shut down because there’s no food available or no stocks available to be sold. Yesterday our staff survived on eating crackers, because there was nothing else available. Day after day, the situation is getting more and more desperate. About 1.9 million people out of 2.3 million, over 80% of Gaza’s population, is internally displaced with nowhere to go. We desperately need a ceasefire in order to be able to finally address these dire needs, because we cannot address them while there are ongoing hostilities. It is simply impossible.

AMY GOODMAN: So much of the population has moved from the north to the south, Khan Younis and even more south. These are places that they went to because the Israeli military said they would be safe. Now they’re saying in order to destroy Hamas, they must bomb those places, as well. Where are they telling them to go, Shaina?

SHAINA LOW: You know, they’re telling people to go not to safe places, but to so-called safer places. But what we’ve been seeing for the last eight weeks in Gaza is that there simply is no safe place in Gaza. There’s no place that’s safe from bombardment, from land, air and sea. We’re seeing that there’s no safe place for people to seek shelter, not only because of the ongoing bombardments, but simply because there aren’t facilities able to accommodate so many people. People are being exposed to the elements. They’re in overcrowded shelters where there’s diseases spreading. We’re already hearing about hepatitis A being detected inside some of the U.N. shelters. There really is no safe place.

We have been calling on Israel to stop these directives calling on people to flee. These directives are violations of international humanitarian law, because Israel is neither guaranteeing the safe passage of people to reach areas of safety, they aren’t guaranteeing safety in those areas, and they aren’t guaranteeing people the right to return home once hostilities have ended.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what is happening in the hospitals? And also, how many staff do you have in the Norwegian Refugee Council in Gaza? And what has happened to their families?

SHAINA LOW: Well, what we’re hearing about the situation in hospitals is that there is a desperate need for additional beds. There are about 1,500 beds, I heard from the World Health Organization yesterday during a briefing. There’s an estimated need of around 5,000 beds. There used to be 3,500 beds in Gaza, so we’re seeing — as needs increase, we’re seeing the number of beds decrease. Of course, there’s a shortage of — chronic shortage of medical supplies, medicines, clean water just to make sure that places are sterile and that patients can be treated safely. We’ve been hearing for weeks reports of maggots coming out of people’s wounds because they cannot be properly cared for and treated.

We have a staff of 54 currently inside of Gaza. And thankfully, all of our staff has stayed alive. But I cannot say that they are safe or unharmed. Multiple members of our staff have lost family members. We had one staff member, Amal, who had followed Israel’s directives to flee from the north, as she fled her home in northern Gaza and ended up in Rafah, where the home she was seeking shelter in was bombed, killing her only child, her 7-year-old son Khaled, and killing 10 other members of her family. Just this week, we had another colleague who was injured in an airstrike on Rafah, allegedly one of those safer places, and two of her family members were killed. We have staff who are sleeping on the streets because they have no place to go, including one staff member who has a 2-month-old baby. They are unable to find shelter. People are desperate. We are doing the best that we can not just to support people, ordinary people, in Gaza, but to support our staff. But we are increasingly finding our hands tied and are unable to do things because it’s not safe for us to operate. We cannot reach the aid that we have stored in warehouses in Gaza, either because the roads are cut off or because it simply isn’t safe for us to access them.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you been able to reach people in Gaza? We’ve been trying all morning. People we have been able to reach in the past, we cannot reach today.

SHAINA LOW: I was able to be in touch with my colleague Yousef this morning. He told me that he was on his way to go and check on the rest of his family, who are staying in Khan Younis. Unfortunately, because connectivity is very difficult, I hadn’t been able to get in touch with him since the early morning. I reached out to one of our security managers, because I was concerned that I hadn’t heard from him. And thankfully, about 10 minutes before I came on the air, I got notice that, yes, Yousef was safe and had reached our office, returned to our office.

But this is the difficulties and challenges that we’re living with, where we’re wondering not just if our staff is OK, but wondering if we’ll be able to connect with them. It’s not just worrying on a personal level, because these aren’t just our colleagues. These are our friends. These are the people that we work with day after day. But also it’s impossible for us to have any type of humanitarian response without being able to coordinate that, neither coordinate between our office in Jerusalem and our office in Gaza, but also with our staff in Gaza who are trying to manage this response. If they can’t get in touch with each other, our operations come to a standstill.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about a comment of State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller, who said it’s too soon to judge whether Israel has been doing enough to protect civilians in Gaza. He was challenged by a veteran Palestinian journalist, Said Arikat. This is a clip.

SAID ARIKAT: And you don’t think that Israel intentionally kills civilians?

MATTHEW MILLER: We think far too many people —

SAID ARIKAT: When you bomb — when you bomb neighborhoods —

MATTHEW MILLER: I have not seen evidence that they are intentionally killing civilians. We believe that far too many civilians have been killed. But again, this goes back to the underlying problem of this entire situation, which is that Hamas has embedded itself inside civilians —


MATTHEW MILLER: — inside civilian homes, inside mosques, in schools, in churches. It is Hamas that is putting these civilians in harm’s way.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you respond to what State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said?

SHAINA LOW: From what we’ve been seeing and hearing, it seems that Israel is not proportionate in its response, is not adhering to international humanitarian law. While there may be legitimate military targets, the principles of humanitarian law of distinction, proportionality and precaution still apply. When 70% of those who are killed are women and children, it seems that proportionality is not being taken into consideration.

Just yesterday, it was reported that Israeli military officials said that they would start employing technology to try and lower the number of civilian deaths. The fact that they’re realizing that they need to lower, and have the ability to lower, the number of civilian deaths would indicate that prior to that, that they were not taking those appropriate precautions. They were not making sure that their attacks were proportionate according to international humanitarian law. And it seems that with the indiscriminate bombardments that are happening, it’s impossible to distinguish between civilian and military objectives.

AMY GOODMAN: Shaina Low, we want to thank you for being with us, communications adviser in Palestine for the Norwegian Refugee Council, has been an daily touch with her colleagues in Gaza, usually several times a day when connectivity allows, has spent much of the last 15 years in Palestine.


Climate Crossfire: From Gaza to Ukraine, How War & Military Spending Accelerate Climate Chaos
by Amy Goodman
December 05, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/5/ ... transcript

Broadcasting from COP28 in Dubai as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, Democracy Now! investigates how militarism and war fuel the climate crisis. “The jets, the tanks, the bombs, the missiles, all of these things that we are seeing raining down on people, they’re all fossil fuel-dependent,” says Deborah Burton, co-author of a new report that shows increased spending by NATO nations will divert millions of dollars from climate finance while increasing greenhouse gas emissions. “We are absolutely going in the wrong direction.” Shirine Jurdi, a women, peace and security expert with close colleagues in Gaza, lays out how women are disproportionately impacted by the climate crisis and the global war machine. “If we want to talk about real impacts and outputs out of this COP, we really need to look at militarization.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re broadcasting from COP28, the U.N. climate summit in Dubai.

As Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza, we turn now to look at how militarism and war fuels the climate crisis. A new report warns that increased spending by NATO nations will divert millions of dollars from climate finance while increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

We’re joined now by two guests. Shirine al-Jurdi is a women, peace and security expert from Lebanon, member of the MENA — Middle East North Africa — task force with the Women and Gender Constituency at COP28. She’s also a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in Lebanon and the MENA and regional liaison officer at the Middle East and North Africa Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict. And Deborah Burton is here. She’s co-founder of Tipping Point North South. She leads their Transform Defense project, focused on military emissions and spending, climate change and climate finance, co-author of the report, “Climate Crossfire: How NATO’s 2% military spending targets contribute to climate breakdown,” published with the Transnational Institute.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Deborah [Burton], let’s begin with you.


AMY GOODMAN: Talk about what you have found in this report. We’re going to go specifically to the conflict just hours from us right now, in Gaza, and what that means. But broadly, talk about the link between NATO, war and climate change.

DEBORAH BURTON: I mean, I think the first thing I want to say, sitting here alongside Shirine, is, I don’t think we can be seeing a more extreme example of a war machine in operation than what it is we’re seeing and hearing from Gaza. I just want to say that Israel is the 15th-largest military spender in the world, and it’s spending $24 billion a year on its military. And you’re seeing this let rip on a population that really cannot defend themselves.

So, what we’ve been working on with Transnational Institute and Stop Wapenhandel in the Netherlands is this report, “Climate Crossfire.” “Climate Crossfire” is actually a companion piece to a report we wrote last year before COP, and that was looking generally at how military spending accelerates climate breakdown. So that was the general picture. This year we’re looking — we’re focusing on NATO.

NATO is a 31-member-strong military alliance. And just to give people a kind of general little bit of context to help orientate themselves, global military spending now is $2.2 trillion per annum. It’s rising. It’s risen something like 20% in the past 10 years. NATO accounts for half of that, so $1.1 trillion per annum accrues to NATO. And this is all before Ukraine and Gaza, so this is all going to start taking a sharp incline up.

Generally, in terms of emissions, the global military are estimated on patchy data, because they don’t fully report, but something in the order of 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And again, to put that in context, that is more than the 52 countries of the African continent, that come in at — that’s somewhere in the order of 3.5 to 4%. That’s the total greenhouse gas emission burden — it’s hardly a burden — for 52 countries. The global military come in at 5.5%.

So, to look to NATO, to come to NATO, which, as I said, is a 31-member military alliance, accounts for half of military spending, in terms of emissions, it currently would rank — if it were a country, NATO would come in at 40, the equivalent of the Netherlands, for example. And with its 2% of GDP request, what NATO are asking their 31 members to do is to increase on what they’re spending now and get their military spending, annual military spending, up to 2% or more of GDP. OK?

So, what we worked on, we asked the question: Well, what would that mean for greenhouse gas emissions? And what would it mean for military spending? And we worked over this eight-year period of 2021 to 2028. And in the case of military spending, it would be, over that eight-year period, accruing another $2.57 trillion over that eight-year period. And that $2.57 trillion would get you, as an example, 118 years — 118 years — of that paltry $100 billion climate finance figure that was agreed at in the Paris meeting in 2015.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you mean by “climate finance”?

DEBORAH BURTON: So, this is the $100 billion that was agreed in 2015 at Paris —

AMY GOODMAN: That Hillary Clinton announced in Paris.

DEBORAH BURTON: — as support, climate support, climate finance support, for the world’s most vulnerable countries. And we, the rich countries, are legally bound to deliver that. So what we’re trying to do with the scale of military spending, which is in the trillions — it’s in the trillions — is to put that alongside these, on the one hand, pledges and, on the other hand, gaps. There are so many climate finance gaps.

The 2% GDP target for NATO members in terms of emissions — so there is an emissions burden to this — currently NATO is sitting — again, you know, it’s something in the order of the Netherlands’ emissions, in terms of emissions. That 2% increase over that eight-year period, again, we calculate, would bring it closer to Russia, Russia’s emissions burden. Russia is a major, you know, oil-producing country. It’s something like 2 billion tons of CO2 equivalent.

AMY GOODMAN: In fact, actually, President Putin is expected to be here in Dubai tomorrow.

DEBORAH BURTON: What can we say? I mean, you know, it’s clear here at COP, and certainly in terms of this issue that we’re working on here, the military emissions story. And it’s primarily because of Ukraine, and now with Gaza. Suddenly, we are able to get some oxygen of publicity — you know, we’re here now talking about this — because of this collision between conflict, wars, conflict-related emissions — which, I should say, is not in that 5.5% estimate. This estimate of 5.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions accruing to the military does not include conflict, doesn’t include conflict.

So, with Ukraine and now Gaza, we are able to illustrate, to show, to, as I say, bring oxygen and publicity to the fact that there is an absolute correlation between military spending — so, the more you spend on your big-ticket, gas-guzzling, fossil fuel — totally fossil fuel-reliant hardware — the jets, the tanks, the bombs, the missiles — all of these things that we are seeing raining down on people, they are all fossil fuel dependent. There is an absolute correlation between military spending and the emissions that come from that hardware. And we are going in the wrong direction. We are absolutely going in the wrong direction. And the NATO 2% target, for example, is completely counter to all climate targets.

AMY GOODMAN: Say what you mean by 2% target.


AMY GOODMAN: You must spend on the military.

DEBORAH BURTON: They are asking their 31 members to spend 2% —

AMY GOODMAN: I remember Trump, President Trump, kept saying —


AMY GOODMAN: — “You are not paying your fair share.”

DEBORAH BURTON: In fact, and more, we need you to spend. We need you to spend more. And it doesn’t really stop at NATO. NATO have allies in other parts of the world who are looking at 2% or more. So, this 2% of GDP, it’s important — it doesn’t sound like very much, but it’s very significant, because you’re talking about orders of billions over a period of time.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to Shirine al-Jurdi. We just came in on Saturday night. Sunday there was a major protest against what’s happening in Gaza, calling for a ceasefire. There were at least a hundred people protesting, holding a sign that said “ceasefire.” You were one of the people there. The names of the dead were being intoned throughout the protest. You just heard our last segment talking about what’s happening in Gaza. You’re with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Can you talk about the connection between war, weapons and militarism, directly what’s happening in Gaza?

SHIRINE JURDI: Yeah. We can see, like, the gloomy picture just, like, by what we saw now and by Deborah, the numbers that she gave. This is a gloomy picture that we have. And definitely what we see and what we know is that women are disproportionately impacted by conflict. So, what about if you have lack of infrastructures, especially when we talk about conflict? It means we are talking about lack of infrastructures, lack of infrastructures of peace, of institutions, and also lack of the rule of law. And unfortunately, this is all unfolding in Gaza, in the Middle East at large, in other conflict areas, as well, but maybe now we are talking about a Palestine per se and what’s happening in Gaza.

What’s happening is tremendous. I mean, I could not even believe that we are living this at this moment in our history. This is too hard even to believe that we are witnessing that. We are witnessing that within our own eyes. And I think it’s just obvious, like the impact of militarization on women. And we’ve seen it in different spaces. We’ve seen it, like as now was mentioned, like, in hospitals. We’ve seen it with mothers. We’ve seen it, like, at the grassroots. And —

AMY GOODMAN: How many women were pregnant in Gaza?

SHIRINE JURDI: Almost 50,000 women were pregnant at that time. And if we have seen, with the lack of electricity, when electricity was put down, we saw even these infants struggling, struggling to breathe, to continue living. And unfortunately, lots of these newly born kids were also killed. And this is not only a genocide. I mean, this goes beyond humanity.

So, the nexus between climate, militarization, gender is highly now needed, especially now that we are in the COP, and especially that the issue of militarization is not put on the agenda. And at times, like, we see that the circle — if we really want to talk about emissions, if we really want to talk about fossil fuel phaseout, if we really want to talk about GST, if we really want to talk about real impacts and outputs out of this COP, we really need to look at militarization. We need to look at it from first the resources, the production, the export, the import, and how it is being used, like now in Gaza and also in Lebanon the white phosphorus bombs. I don’t know if you noticed or if you saw in TikTok, it went viral how they’re telling people how to remove the white phosphorus bombs. We are used to —

AMY GOODMAN: You mean the white phosphorus from their skin.

SHIRINE JURDI: Yeah, from their skin, because it will keep on going into your skin. And what about the implications that it has on the soil? What about the implications that it has on the water, on the earth, that we are having and breathing, as well?

AMY GOODMAN: I want to read you something from Al Jazeera: “From polluted water supplies to toxic smoke-filled air from burning buildings and bodies, every aspect of life in Gaza is now filled with some form of pollution.” There’s evidence of Israel using white phosphorus weapons both in Gaza and South Lebanon. This has disastrous effects on both the environment and people’s health
. You’re focusing on Palestine. You yourself are from Lebanon.

SHIRINE JURDI: Yeah, Amy. In Palestine, we saw it with our own eyes. And we saw because of the many journalists, that they’re risking their lives, and many who lost their lives, as well, risking to take photos and to document the atrocities that are being done. In Lebanon, as well, we have seen also how phosphorus weapons were used. And we saw also how this huge area, green areas of olive trees were burned and put down, whether in Gaza or in Lebanon. I mean, it’s a huge catastrophe, whether at the forest level, whether at the human level. And it’s going beyond, beyond issues of actual present and direct impact, to the trauma, the trauma that everyone is living.

AMY GOODMAN: And this is from Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor: “Due to technological developments affecting the potency of bombs, the explosives dropped on Gaza may be twice as powerful as a nuclear bomb.”

SHIRINE JURDI: Exactly. That was even like two weeks ago, before the ceasefire. So, I could see — like, now I was even scared to see, because, I mean, it’s too — you cannot even watch these bombs that are being — yesterday I was watching — I follow several journalists, and I was watching her, and she was saying, “Now this is a massacre. If these, like now, bombs are being used while we are told to go to the south to a safe space, but there’s no safe space, so this is meant to terminate us.”


DEBORAH BURTON: You absolutely can’t talk about this without the arms industry.


DEBORAH BURTON: Because, I mean, they’re all — when we talk about even emissions, the arms industry — the supply chain for militaries are more polluting than the militaries themselves. It may come as a bit of a surprise that they are like this. The arms industry, just in the way that you can track oil through — the military’s use of oil through war. Of course, when they’re, you know, at war, oil usage goes up. So, you can track profits, war profits to the arms industry. There is no story without fully addressing the culpability of the arms trade.

And, you know, I brought something I want to read, because it will apply to Gaza. It absolutely will apply to Gaza. Their stock shares, their shares are going up, as soon as any conflicts hit. They’re making profits as it is. It’s a very nice life, thank you very much, as it is. When conflict kicks in, it’s off the scale. So, this is the CEO of Raytheon, OK? And I want to read this.


DEBORAH BURTON: “Everything that’s being shipped into Ukraine today, of course, is coming out of stockpiles, either at the DOD” — the Department of Defense — “or from our NATO allies, and that’s all great news. Eventually we’ll have to replenish it and we will see a benefit to the business over the coming years.” That’s a guy called Greg Hayes, CEO of Raytheon.

Israel, Israel’s suppliers, everybody that’s involved in the food chain, the kind of war machine food chain that is enabling Israel to do what it is doing on Gaza, will be making money. They will be going home very happy with their bottom lines and their profits in their back pockets.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us. And we will link to your report. Deborah Burton is the co-founder of Tipping Point North South. She leads their Transform Defense project, focused on military emissions and spending, making the link between climate change and militarism. And Shirine al-Jurdi, women, peace and security expert from Lebanon. Thanks so much, both, for being with us.

SHIRINE JURDI: Thank you, Amy, for having us.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:47 am

by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

Israeli Forces Intensify Assault on Khan Younis as U.N. Official Decries “Apocalyptic” Situation
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

In Gaza, Israeli tanks are pushing further into the southern city of Khan Younis as its deadly ground assault continues and Palestinian casualties rise. The few functioning hospitals remain completely swamped with an influx of injured people, many of them children. The WHO called the assault on Gaza “humanity’s darkest hour.” At least 16,200 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since October 7. The U.N.'s top humanitarian relief coordinator said Israel's attack in southern Gaza has been as devastating as in the north, with the “apocalyptic” conditions preventing the delivery of aid. Some 85% of the population has now been displaced.

Ibrahim Mahram: “We suffered from the war of cannons and escaped it to arrive at the war of starvation. Now we cannot find food. We make the food by ourselves. We divide one tomato between all of us. … There is no safe place. They finish off one place at a time, and only God knows where we will end up. Are we going to be alive? Are we going to be martyrs? We do not know what our destiny is. Today I eat, but I do not know if I’m going to eat tomorrow.

IDF Spokesperson Lauds Reported Ratio of 2 Civilians Killed for Death of Every Hamas Fighter
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

An Israeli military spokesperson appeared on CNN Tuesday and touted a report released this week which said the IDF killed some 5,000 Hamas fighters, which would equal roughly two civilians killed for every Hamas member.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus: “You will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive, and perhaps unique in the world.”

The comments were swiftly condemned, and the accuracy of the figures have apparently not been verified outside of the Israeli military.

U.S. Bans Visas for Settlers Involved in Violence; Divided Senate Votes on Israeli, Ukraine Funding
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

The Biden administration announced Tuesday it would ban visas for Israeli settlers involved in surging West Bank violence. Israeli soldiers and settlers have killed at least 260 Palestinians and wounded over 3,000 in the occupied West Bank since October 7.

The U.S. government’s rare rebuke of Israel comes as the Senate is voting today on a $106 billion spending package which would send more military funding to Ukraine and Israel. Senate Republicans vowed to block the package over its lack of funding for so-called border security. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders spoke out against the bill on the Senate floor Monday.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: “I do not believe we should be appropriating over $10 billion for the right-wing extremist Netanyahu government to continue its current military approach. What the Netanyahu government is doing is immoral. It is in violation of international law. And the United States should not be complicit.”

Despite his condemnation of Israeli violence, Sanders has refused to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

14 Congressmembers Vote Against House Resolution Conflating Anti-Zionism with Antisemitism
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

Thirteen House Democrats and one Republican, Congressmember Thomas Massie, voted against a new resolution explicitly equating anti-Zionism with antisemitism Tuesday. Ninety-two Democrats voted “present.” The resolution also states the phrase “from the river to the sea” — a popular slogan at protests for Palestinian rights — is a call for the “eradication of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.” Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American congressmember, wrote, “Opposing the policies of the government of Israel and Netanyahu’s extremism is not antisemitic. Speaking up for human rights and a ceasefire to save lives should never be condemned.”

AIPAC Throws Millions at Possible Insurgent Campaigns to Unseat Progressive Democrats
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

In a mounting offensive by AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to unseat progressives who speak up for Palestinian rights, Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has been courted by AIPAC, announced earlier today he is launching a primary challenge against New York Congressmember Jamaal Bowman.

Last month, two Michigan Democrats running for the U.S. Senate revealed AIPAC offered them $20 million to instead primary Congressmember Rashida Tlaib for her House seat. Nasser Beydoun, a Lebanese American businessman, and Hill Harper, a Hollywood actor-turned-politician, both turned AIPAC down.

Meanwhile, a new book by journalist Ryan Grim reports an AIPAC representative approached Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with an offer to raise $100,000 after her stunning 2018 win. The fundraising was presented as an opening salvo to “start the conversation” about AOC’s position on Israel.


“Catastrophic”: Gaza Aid Worker on “Horror” of Forced Relocations Amid Israel’s War on Southern Strip
by Amy Goodman
December 06, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/6/ ... transcript

We go to Gaza for an update on Israel’s attack, which is now being described as one of the worst assaults on any civilian population in recent times. As Israeli tanks enter Khan Younis and the Palestinian death toll tops 16,000, we speak with Yousef Hammash. The advocacy officer for the Norwegian Refugee Council in Gaza describes how he and his family are facing internal displacement for the third time during the assault, this time from Khan Younis, where they had fled after Israeli warnings to head to the south of the Gaza Strip. Now in Rafah by the Egyptian border, they are struggling to find shelter and, like thousands of other now-homeless Palestinians, have resorted to living in a makeshift tent. “I left everything behind,” Hammash says about leaving his home in Gaza City, now destroyed. “I didn’t care what I was going to lose. I was looking for the safety of my family.” Hammash says a paltry amount of humanitarian aid is being allowed into Gaza even as refugees of the war face starvation, dehydration and infection. “The amount of aid that’s coming to Gaza is literally not tangible,” he says.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from the U.N. climate summit in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

We begin today’s show in Gaza, as Israeli tanks are moving into the center of Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city, after days of intense shelling and airstrikes. Palestinian health officials say the death toll in Gaza has topped 16,200, including over 6,600 children. This is a resident of Khan Younis speaking after Israel bombed his home.

HAMDI TANIRA: [translated] There were 30 people inside the house. Twenty of them were children, children aged 15 days, 1 year, 3 years, 4 years. We set up a place for them to sleep throughout the bombardment. We put them to sleep. We went to sleep. All of a sudden, what happened to us, we don’t know. The fire hit us. And like you see, all of it collapsed on top of us. None of us made it out completely OK. Everybody is hurt. How and why, we don’t even understand what happened ourselves. We rushed to the hospitals to check on the children and came back this morning to check the house. Look at this. I swear, we don’t even know how we made it out alive.

AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday, Jan Egeland, the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, released a statement, saying, quote, “The pulverising of Gaza now ranks amongst the worst assaults on any civilian population in our time and age. Each day we see more dead children and new depths of suffering for the innocent people enduring this hell,” he said.

We’re joined now by Yousef Hammash, advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. He’s joining us today from Rafah.

Yousef, thanks so much for being with us. If you can start off by talking about what’s happening right now, from Khan Younis, where you were, to Rafah, where you have fled now?

YOUSEF HAMMASH: Thanks for hosting me, Amy.

Unfortunately, after seven days of the humanitarian pause, we weren’t expecting that we will see this madness getting increased. The madness is getting bigger and bigger. And directly after the humanitarian pause, the bombing started mainly in the south, and the Israeli land operation started taking place in Khan Younis, and they turned Gaza into three pieces. While it used to be cut into two parts, now it’s three parts. So we have Gaza City and the middle area and Khan Younis and Rafah.

And as the ground operation started the eastern part of Khan Younis, and they asked the residents to flee to Rafah, that’s what forced us to flee for the third time now to Rafah. And hundred thousands of people had to do this, to take this choice to flee into Rafah and to build these small tents made by wooden sticks and plastic under this harsh weather. And it became really crazy situation suddenly. And we had to witness the same as we witnessed in the northern part of Gaza when the military operation — even the war started on 12th — after the war started on 12th of October, when they asked us to flee to the south. And we didn’t have other option, and we fled to the south to Khan Younis, and now we found ourselves doing it again. Hopefully, it’s going to be the last time.

Unfortunately, the humanitarian situation is catastrophic here. People are using anyplace as a shelter. People are living on sidewalks and streets and any empty area they found. They put anything to cover their heads, and they consider it as a shelter, without any means of protection. And it’s a horrible situation that I don’t think I have the ability to describe it. If you see it by your own eyes, you will be shocked. We never witnessed such horror. And you can see it in people’s face. They are in a miserable situation that doesn’t have any option to do. All what they do is looking for their safety, fleeing from a place to another place.

AMY GOODMAN: Yousef, it’s not usual in most situations where the journalists themselves are trying to save their own families and their own lives as you report on the entire situation. If you can track your own journey with your family? I think some 60 journalists, Gazan and Palestinian journalists, about that number, have been killed in these last weeks, including the head of the Gaza journalists’ association, so many cameramen and reporters. But if you can start with your journey where you left, first north, and then going home to Jabaliya, and go from there, and why in each situation the terror and the destruction that you left behind?

YOUSEF HAMMASH: So, at the beginning of the — on 7th October, I had to flee my house, because I lived in Beit Lahia, which is more near to the border, and usually, as in our previous experience from wars and escalation, it’s the first areas to be targeted. And I thought it’s better for me to take my children and my extended family to Jabaliya camp, which is the center of the north, and convincing myself that it’s going to be a bit more safe. And since the moment that I did this decision, I left everything behind. I didn’t care what I’m going to lose. I just was — I was looking for the safety of my family. The two, three days after the war, my house was targeted, and my parents’ house was targeted, and the other house with my brother was targeted.

And on the 12th of — we had to stay in my grandparents’ house in Jabaliya. On the 12th of October, we started to receive these phone calls from Israelis and settlers just threatening us and warning us about what’s coming. And then I had to decide to flee again from Jabaliya to the south, based on what they asked us. And again, our responsibility towards our children and our extended families forced us to take these options. We fled to Khan Younis without anything, literally. We had to start our new life. And I was lucky because I have some relatives there, so I had to — I managed to find a roof to cover my head.

And I wasn’t expecting that we will live this horror again, and we had to take this option again for the third time to go to Rafah. But, unfortunately, in Rafah we don’t have that option to have a roof to cover our heads. And since two days, I’m trying, surfing around Rafah, looking for anyplace to shelter my family. And unfortunately, until now, I didn’t succeed to find a place. Today I had to go to build a tent for my family, finding a safe place, as they call it, in al-Mawasi area, that’s going to be much safer there. And we follow what’s the instruction that — what we receive. And I had to do the same as the other hundred thousands of other people in Gaza who had to take that option also. So, I had to build a tent. I don’t know how we will manage to fit in it, but this is the option that we have.

But especially the two days when the military operation started in Khan Younis, the horror that we saw from the bombardment, the nonstopping bombardment — I was calculating for the timing between each missile was eight seconds, imagining we were living in an earthquake, Amy. And that’s what’s, again, always putting us in a situation in front of our children that we are useless to protect them. We cannot even provide protection for our children and our — my sisters, for example. I felt very useless in front of them because I cannot do anything for them. So we had to take that option, convincing ourselves again that we will be safe. I am pretty sure there is no place safe in Gaza.
But we’ll do as much as — I will take whatever it takes. I will do it to protect my family.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, you’re not a journalist. You’re an aid worker. You are an advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. But your descriptions of what is happening there are so critical. How do you do your work and the other 50 or so Norwegian Refugee Council workers do their work in Gaza as they’re being forced to flee? And are you trying to get now over the border from Rafah into Egypt?

YOUSEF HAMMASH: Yeah, Amy, we are trying to do our best, because this is our role, and this is why we are here. But, unfortunately, we are in the same situation like everyone is here. During the humanitarian pause, we were assessing the situation, trying to do distribution plan, because we are trying to help as much as we can people in need. The majority of — the entire population in Gaza are in need. So, you have to understand the situation in general. Half of the population before 7th October was relying on humanitarian aid. Imagine adding this catastrophic situation to the need of people. The entire population in Gaza is in need. And if you combine us all as humanitarian actors, we cannot cover the need that we are having here.

We used these seven days to manage to have our trucks entered through Rafah and to do our distribution plan and trying to assist as much as we can. But then we found ourselves in the circle of violence again. And unfortunately, even in front of the situation now, we are useless. We cannot protect ourselves even as humanitarian workers. There is no protection for any of us. We are all in Gaza under the same circumstances. We are trying, but the situation is preventing us. And trust me, many of my colleagues are — had to sleep in the streets —

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what —

YOUSEF HAMMASH: Sorry. Go ahead, Amy.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about what kind of aid is getting through and isn’t getting through, and what it means when you have something like 1.8 million, 1.9 million Palestinians, out of — what? — 2.3 million, who are on the run, who are internally displaced?

YOUSEF HAMMASH: Honestly, Amy, what all of us as humanitarian actors can do is like a drop in the ocean of needs here. And we keep asking for allowing more and more trucks of aid to enter, but it’s too political, and everyone understands the situation now. They allow only — there is not even an accurate number for how many trucks per day we can get through Rafah. It’s too political situation, what’s bringing us to understand it. Trust me, in the past few days, we were chasing our trucks. We were trying to find solution how to get it through Rafah, manage — store it in some place, then trying to distribute it as fast as we can, because we understand it’s nothing comparing to the need. So we are trying to do our best. Even if it was few people that we can assist and help, it is something. But even to reach that small something is not easy. It’s almost impossible because of the situation that we are living in. The amount of aid that’s coming to Gaza is literally —

AMY GOODMAN: Yousef Hammash —

YOUSEF HAMMASH: — not tangible and is not affecting the need. It’s not really affecting the amount of need that we are having in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you so much for being with us, Yousef Hammash, advocacy officer in Gaza for the Norwegian Refugee Council. He fled Khan Younis earlier this week, joining us now from Rafah. He was in Beit Lahia originally, fled to the Jabaliya refugee camp, then to Khan Younis, then to Rafah near the border crossing with Egypt.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:49 am

by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

More Palestinian Civilians Killed as Israel’s Assault on Gaza Enters Third Month
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

Israeli tanks have advanced into the center of the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip as Israel’s assault on the besieged Palestinian territory enters its third month. On Wednesday, an Israeli strike on the Jabaliya refugee camp killed 22 family members of Moamen Al-Sharafi, a correspondent for Al Jazeera Arabic, including his parents and siblings. Palestinians in parts of southern Gaza that Israel has claimed are safe continue to come under fire. This is Amir Magnam, a 5-year-old boy injured Wednesday when an Israeli strike hit a school in eastern Khan Younis where his family was sheltering.

Amir Magnam: “I went into the classroom and went to play with my friend. Then suddenly I heard a sound going boom, and we ran. A rock fell on me, on my legs, and then I ran away.”

Reporter: “Who got injured?”

Amir Magnam: “Father. A big rock fell on father, hit him here on the leg. A big rock fell on me here on my leg.”

As Israeli Siege Continues, U.N. Warns 97% of Gazans Have “Inadequate” Food Supplies
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

Gaza’s Health Ministry says Israeli attacks have killed more than 16,200 people — more than 7,100 of them children. In a new report, the World Food Programme finds at least 97% of households in northern Gaza have “inadequate” supplies of food to meet their needs. A third of residents of southern Gaza reported high levels of “severe” or “very severe” hunger.

Reuters Investigation Reveals Israeli Tank Killed Journalist Issam Abdallah and Injured 6 Others
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

In Lebanon, a Reuters investigation has revealed an Israeli tank crew killed one of its journalists and wounded six other reporters on October 13 by firing two shells in quick succession from Israel while the journalists were live-streaming cross-border shelling. The attack killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and injured six others, including Agence France-Presse reporter Christina Assi. Reuters has condemned the killing and is demanding that Israel explain its actions.

U.N. Chief António Guterres Invokes Article 99 in Rare Move to Force Debate on Gaza Ceasefire
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter in a bid to force a debate at the Security Council on a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. Guterres’s spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric announced the move on Wednesday.

Stéphane Dujarric: “The secretary-general urges the members of the Security Council to press to avert a humanitarian catastrophe, and he appeals for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared.”

It’s the first time Guterres has invoked Article 99 since he became U.N. secretary-general seven years ago — and just the fourth time in U.N. history.

Doctors Without Borders Holds Vigil for Medical Workers Killed in Gaza
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023

In New York City, medical workers with the French charity Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, held a candlelight vigil outside the United Nations headquarters Wednesday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza as they honored colleagues who’ve been killed by Israel’s assault on hospitals and clinics. Four MSF staff members are among the hundreds of medical workers who have been killed in Israel’s attacks since October. This is Dr. Africa Stewart, an obstetrician and chair of MSF’s board of directors.

Dr. Africa Stewart: “We speak out now because you cannot deliver humanitarian aid while you fear for your own life. I’m here for the mommies. I’m here to remind us how hard it is to run full speed when you’re pregnant, how debilitating it is to decide if you’re going to hold your toddler’s hand or a parent’s hand as you flee. Our colleagues are being killed at the bedside of our patients. This must stop. We need basic perinatal care, which includes water and food and electricity.”


“Terrorized”: Gaza Poet Mosab Abu Toha on Being Stripped, Jailed & Beaten by Israeli Forces
by Amy Goodman
December 07, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/7/ ... transcript

We speak with celebrated Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha for his first interview after he was jailed and beaten by Israeli forces, when he was detained at a checkpoint in Gaza while heading to Rafah with his family. He was rounded up with scores of other Palestinians. “I felt humiliated. I felt terrified and terrorized by this army because they were ordering us to do everything at gunpoint,” says Toha, now in Cairo. He calls on Western leaders to stop supporting the violence against Palestinians. “If you can’t stop the war, if you can’t stop the carnage, the genocide, just stop financing it.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has invoked Article 99 of the U.N. Charter for the first time in decades to press the Security Council to support a ceasefire in Gaza as Israel intensifies its assault, which began two months ago today, on October 7th, after Hamas attacked Israel.

In a letter, Guterres wrote, quote, “Amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces, and without shelter or the essentials to survive, I expect public order to completely break down soon due to the desperate conditions,” he wrote.

He went on to write, quote, “We are facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system. The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole and for peace and security in the region. Such an outcome must be avoided at all cost.”

We begin today’s show with the celebrated Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha, who was recently jailed and beaten by Israeli forces. He was detained at a checkpoint in Gaza as he was headed toward Rafah with his family. He was rounded up with scores of other Palestinians. After he was released from an Israeli jail two days later, Abu Toha posted a message on social media, writing, quote, “I’m safe but still have pain in nose and teeth after being beaten by Israeli army. I gave them all my family’s passports, including my American son’s but they didn’t return anything. Also my clothes & my children’s were taken and not returned to me. No wallet, money, credit cards,” he wrote.

AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha’s detention sparked global outcry from the literary community and beyond. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Progressive and other publications. He founded the Edward Said Library in Gaza. His first book of poetry, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear, won the American Book Award and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. The poetry collection was published by City Lights Books.

On Sunday, Mosab Abu Toha managed to leave Gaza with his wife and three children through the Rafah border. He joins us now from Cairo, Egypt, for his first interview since he was jailed.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Mosab. Thank you so much for being with us. I’m sorry for all you have gone through. Can you describe what happened, where you were detained, where you were jailed, what happened to you when you were in Israeli prison?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Thank you so much for having me.

I made it from the north of Gaza to the south of Gaza, but I was jailed by the Israeli army. I was trying to cross and reach the Rafah border crossing. Our names were listed by the American — by the Department of State, because my youngest son, 3 years and a half, was born in America. He’s an American citizen. So I was trying to cross from the north of Gaza, where I spent the past two months, I would say, to the south of Gaza, where Rafah is, and where we were advised to go. But at the checkpoint, I was picked by the Israeli army, along with about 200 other people. I was picked by the Israeli soldier. He called me by describing me. He said, “The man with the black backpack and the red-haired boy, put the boy down and let him go, and come to me.” So, I mean, I took our passports, my son’s and also my wife’s and two other children, thinking that I would show the passports and also my American son to them, so that they would just let us go. But I was surprised, because he ordered me, very aggressively, to put the son down and come to join the queue of other people who were kidnapped with me.

I mean, there was a young — a younger man. He was so scared, and he said, “I wanted my mother. I want to be with my mom. Oh, my mom, come help me,” etc. I tried to calm him down, telling him, “Oh, don’t worry. Maybe they are going to ask us some question, and then we would go.” But that was not the case.

I was then summoned by another Israeli soldier who was sitting next to another soldier who was pointing his gun at us. They asked us to recite our names and our ID numbers, and then I was led to another Israeli Jeep, in front of whom — I mean, there were three Israelis soldiers — I was forced to take off all my clothes. I just took off my pants and my shirt, etc., and I kept my boxer shorts on. But I was surprised when they asked me to just also take off my boxer shorts. So I was naked. And I felt humiliated. I felt terrified and terrorized by this army, because they were ordering us to do everything at gunpoint. And then I was beaten in my face. I was beaten in my stomach. And I still have pain in my face.

And later, I realized they were taking us to Bir As-Saba, or Be’er Sheva, about two hours away from Gaza, without knowing what they were going to do to us. I had little clothes to warm my body during the cold weather. And so, I mean, they took me for interrogation, and I did tell them all my story. And I wasn’t aware that the whole world, especially in America, were just writing about me and asking for my release. I think this was one reason — I mean, I didn’t do anything in my life; I didn’t harm any person, although I lived under occupation all my life. And I was wounded when I was 16. I got a piece of shrapnel just a few centimeters away from my windpipe, so I was harmed. My house was bombed. But I myself didn’t harm anyone. But I was harmed again. And I am still harmed by the fact that my family and my neighbors are still in Gaza. And the last time I was in touch with my mother and my sisters and also my brothers and their children was five days ago, the same day I left Gaza. So I have no single piece of news whether they are alive or dead.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, Mosab, I’d like to ask you — I mean, of course, you mentioned very soon after you arrived in Egypt that you remain very, very concerned because your parents and your siblings are in Gaza. You have not been able to reach them for five days. Are you able to reach others in Gaza? I’d just like to read very briefly what a leading military analyst from the U.S. has said, drawing an analogy between the Second World War’s bombardment of German cities like Dresden and Cologne and the contemporary present bombardment of Gaza by Israel. This is Robert Pape, writing, “Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne — some of the world’s heaviest-ever bombings are remembered by their place names. Gaza will also go down as a place name denoting one of history’s heaviest conventional bombing campaigns.” So, Mosab, if you could talk about that and what you know now about what’s going on in Gaza since you left?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I mean, the situation, I think, is different than the other place names that you mentioned. For your information and your respected audience, I still have friends whose houses were bombed a few weeks ago and whose bodies are still not retrieved. And I wrote in one of my posts that not only are Gazans, are we and Gazans concerned about being killed under the rubble of our house, but also of being — maybe of being alive under the rubble and no one coming to rescue us. So, there are no fire trucks. There are no civil defense staff. There is no fuel. There are no equipment — there is no equipment to retrieve the bodies of those who might be still alive under the bombing of their house — after the bombing of their houses. So I don’t think Gaza could be compared to any other place on Earth.

And now with social media and all the world watching us, I mean, it’s different from maybe Second World War. I mean, people would hear the news of the bombing of a house or something maybe later. But people are just watching us live, and no one can step in to stop their carnage, the genocide that is committed against my family, my neighbors, my friends, my students, my fellow writers and artists.

So, during the truce a few weeks ago — I think two weeks ago there was the truce. I was in Deir al-Balah in the second — in the other half of the Gaza Strip, while my brother Hamza, who is a father of three children and whose wife is pregnant and is about to give birth — so, that’s another issue that no one talks about, I mean, the reality and the circumstances with which women in Gaza are living. I mean, they are talking about sexual violence against Israeli women, but no one talks about the violence against our lives. No one talks about pregnant women. No one talks about women themselves buried under the rubble with their families. So, this is not called violence? So, you just care about sexual violence? That’s all you care about? [inaudible] how this world is really thinking.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, so, could you talk about that? Could you say —

MOSAB ABU TOHA: And this needs to stop. And you need to —

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, I was saying —


NERMEEN SHAIKH: — if you could elaborate on that?


NERMEEN SHAIKH: What the situation of Palestinian women, in particular, as you pointed out, Palestinian women who are pregnant, given what the situation in hospitals is? You’ve said a little bit about this in the past. If you could elaborate?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I mean, you know, women, just like other women in the world — I mean, women in Gaza have their own needs. I men, there are no clean bathrooms. There are no clean toilets. And they need their own things. You know, when a woman gets the period, I mean, there are no — you know, there are no stuff for them to take care of their bodies. And there are also the other pregnant women. So, many hospitals in Gaza are out of service right now, not only for the wounded but also for pregnant women. No one talks about this. You need to talk about this. Where can my sister-in-law, my brother’s wife, where can she give birth? And is there enough clothes for the newborn baby? So, you don’t care about this violence committed against parents? How they are going to manage their lives? No one talks about this.

This is violence in itself, not only killing us, but about — so it’s also about the lack of water, the lack of food. You know, so, before the start of this carnage, we used to buy 25 kilo of wheat flour for 40 shekels, which is about $12. Yesterday, my wife’s uncle messaged me, and he said, “I paid 500 shekels,” which is about $130. So he paid $130 to get 25 kilograms of flour wheat — wheat flour — and if you could find it, of course, because there is lack in respect to wheat flour and other basic things. But so, if he had the money to buy it, there are other people who have not been able to get any money because they are jobless. Most people in Gaza depend on daily jobs — farmers, sellers, etc. So, there are — the majority of people in Gaza don’t have money, so they are sometimes begging other people to give them money. So, no one talks about this. They are just talking about sexual violence, about October 7th. But this has been going on, even before October 7th, by the way.

AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha, we are reporting on everything, the horrific stories we’re hearing from October 7th, but also what happened before October 7th to Palestinians and after. And I wanted to get your response to the World Health Organization calling the assault on Gaza humanity’s “darkest hour.” The U.N.'s top humanitarian relief coordinator said Israel's attack on southern Gaza has been as devastating as in the north, with the apocalyptic conditions preventing the delivery of aid, some 85% of the population now displaced. And particularly, if you could talk about your conversations with doctors and nurses in Gaza? You tweeted, “Just imagine yourself as a father watching your child not only having his/her leg amputated, but also dying of pain. Do you still feel you are a father? That there are still humans in the world?” Talk about the hospitals.

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Mm-hmm. So, the first hospital I was able to enter was Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital, which is in Deir al-Balah. And I went there — I mean, I don’t like to go to hospitals, because, first of all, there is no space for me to enter. I mean, beds are full of patients and wounded people. And at the same time, the corridors, the inner hallways are just full of people lying there. I mean, wounded people are getting treated, getting surgeries while on the floor. So, but I had to go to the Shuhada al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah to get some treatment for my face and my bleeding nose. So, there are not enough doctors to treat the patients and the wounded people. And there are just bodies everywhere. People even — I mean, they would just go and bury people without their relatives around, because their relatives have died with them, which is really, really heartbreaking. And people are turned into numbers and names. They would just put a body in a piece of cloth and just write their names, and that’s it. They would just take them to the cemetery.

So I was able to talk to some doctors and nurses at the hospital. And I was shocked. I mean, I knew that there were not enough medications, but I was told by one nurse about the case of a child who had her leg amputated. And because there was no anesthesia, no painkillers, the child died while she was having her leg amputated. And I’m wondering, I mean: How would I feel as a father if my child had to have her leg or arm amputated, while she is watching her arm or leg amputated, and then she would continue to bleed, and then she would die because of the pain? And I’m asking all the people in the world just to put themselves in my place as a father. And I’m asking them: Are you really ready in the future when a Gazan child meets you maybe in the street or when you come visit Gaza or visit the cemeteries in Gaza? What would you say to this child? What have you done to protect his family? So, you are living in the Western world —

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Mosab, finally —

MOSAB ABU TOHA: — and you are, in some way or another, supporting Israel — yes.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: No, please go ahead. Finish.

MOSAB ABU TOHA: I mean, you are — in some way or another, you are supporting Israel, not — I mean, you know, you are paying taxes, which is going to — I mean, most of the taxes are going to Israel. And I’m really shocked by the American administration, and I hope that my voice would reach the American administration people. So, when October 7th happened, you went to Israel. You showed your support. You offered weapons, and you offered money. So you were able to do everything. But now you are asking Israel to protect — to minimize the casualties among the civilians. Can you do anything to protect the civilians? So, you are calling Israel to minimize the casualties, OK? So, what can you do as an American administration to force Israel to abide by the world law? Is it really hard for you to stop the carnage, to protect the civilian people, to protect hospitals, to protect shelters, UNRWA schools?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: So, finally, Mosab, what is your message to the U.S., to President Biden, and to European leaders?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: Well, I think if you can’t stop the war, if you can’t stop the carnage, the genocide, just stop financing it. Stop providing more weapons to Israel. Because these weapons are just killing children who are just like your other children. I mean, your children and you, as an American or a European parent, you could be born here in my place in Gaza. Your child could be living in an UNRWA school, in a shelter. They could be bombed in a classroom. Instead of studying and, you know, continuing education, your child could be just sheltering in a classroom with no teacher, with no books. They are just being educated how to survive, if they could.

AMY GOODMAN: Mosab, we just have 30 seconds, but were you ever told why you were jailed? You were jailed — I think that day about 200 Palestinians in Gaza were jailed. There was a great outcry for you. Do you know if the others were released?

MOSAB ABU TOHA: No. I mean, there are a few other people I knew by name because they are from the same town as me, from Beit Lahia. And now it’s — so, I was kidnapped on November 19th, and now today it’s December 7th. Until now, there are other people who are still detained by the Israeli army, and their families are just contacting me: “Did you — do you know anything about our…” I told them, “I just left. I was just released. I don’t have any news about your family.” So they are still kidnapped.

And the Israelis, by the way, accused me of being a Hamas member. You know, I mean, what a ridiculous accusation. I have been living in America for the past four years. And I’ve been hurt, you know, without — I asked them. I asked the Israeli captain if they have any photograph, if they have any satellite photo of me holding a weapon or being in any place that could cause any harm to you. And he slapped me in the face. He said, “You give me the proof!”

AMY GOODMAN: Mosab Abu Toha, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Palestinian poet and author, jailed by Israeli authorities as he and his family fled Gaza. His son is an American citizen. He is a columnist, a teacher, and founder of the Edward Said Library in Gaza, also author of the American Book Award-winning book of poetry, Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2023 3:54 am

by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

Israeli Soldiers Strip and Detain Palestinians in Gaza, Including Journalist and Other Civilians
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees warns civil order is “breaking down” in the Gaza Strip as Israel continues its unrelenting assault. In one of the latest attacks, dozens of Palestinians were killed and injured as Israeli warplanes struck near the al-Amal Hospital and the Palestinian Red Crescent’s headquarters in Khan Younis. In Gaza City, Doctors Without Borders reports 115 Palestinians were brought to the Al-Aqsa Hospital Thursday dead on arrival. The medical charity said in a statement, “The hospital is full, the morgue is full. We call on Israeli Forces to stop the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip and protect civilians and civilian infrastructure. We need a ceasefire now.”

Video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers in Beit Lahia in northern Gaza detaining over 100 Palestinian men at gunpoint, forcing them to strip to their underwear while lined up, kneeling on the pavement. Among those detained was Diaa Al-Kahlout, a Palestinian journalist with the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. In a statement, the newspaper condemned the mistreatment of Al-Kahlout and other civilians, saying Israeli forces “deliberately subjected the Gazans to degrading treatment, forcing them to disrobe, conducting intrusive searches, and subjecting them to humiliation upon arrest, before forcibly transporting them to undisclosed locations.”

In the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry reports at least six Palestinians were killed and many others wounded in Israeli raids overnight.

Israeli Airstrike Kills Palestinian Academic and Activist Refaat Alareer and Family Members
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza has killed the prominent Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, along with his brother, his sister and her four children. He authored dozens of stories and poems about life under Israeli occupation. Refaat Alareer spoke to Democracy Now! in October as Israeli strikes rattled his family’s home in Gaza City.

Refaat Alareer: “We speak about thousands, hundreds and thousands of Israeli bombs and shells targeting all areas of the Gaza Strip. The kids can’t sleep. The kids can’t eat. The kids can’t even speak. Most of the time they’re just mute, silent, shaking out of fear, sometimes whimpering because of how close the bombs are wherever you are in Gaza.”

After headlines, we’ll speak with Jehad Abusalim, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and former student of Refaat Alareer, whom Abusalim described as a teacher, mentor and friend.

Netanyahu Threatens to Reduce Beirut to Rubble If Hezbollah Increases Attacks
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

An anti-tank missile fired by Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon killed an Israeli civilian on Thursday. The cross-border attack prompted retaliatory fire from Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to reduce Lebanon’s capital Beirut to rubble if Hezbollah increases its attacks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “If Hezbollah chooses to start an all-out war, then it will, by its own hands, turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Younis.”

Released Captives Confront Israeli War Cabinet over Response to Hostage Crisis
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

In Tel Aviv, friends and family of Israelis held hostage by Hamas held a candle-lighting ceremony Thursday marking the start of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah. This is Daniel Lifshitz, whose 83-year-old grandfather Oded was kidnapped by Hamas and brought to the Gaza Strip on October 7.

Daniel Lifshitz: “So, we light the candles for the return of the hostages, for the release of the hostages, to make a deal for the hostages. And that’s what we are here for.”

On Tuesday, released Israeli hostages joined the loved ones of Israelis still held captive, in a meeting with Netanyahu and his war cabinet. Ha’aretz reports one woman whose release was negotiated during an exchange of captives assailed Israeli leaders for indiscriminate attacks that put hostages at risk. She said, “We slept in tunnels, and we feared not Hamas, but Israel might kill us, and then it would have been said, 'Hamas killed you.'”

Another former hostage whose husband remains a captive cited recent reports in The Wall Street Journal that Israel has drawn up plans to flood Gaza’s network of underground tunnels with seawater — a move that could foul Gaza’s supply of drinking water for decades. She said, “He was taken to the tunnels, and you talk about washing the tunnels with seawater. You prioritize politics over the hostages!”


“We Want Freedom”: Refaat Alareer, Gaza Scholar & Activist Killed by Israeli Strike, in His Own Words
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/8/ ... transcript

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza has killed the acclaimed Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, along with his brother, his sister and her four children. Alareer was just 44 years old. For more than 16 years, he worked as a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza and authored dozens of stories and poems about life under Israeli occupation in Gaza. “Whether it is my kids or any Palestinian kid or any Palestinian, no one is safe. No place is safe. Israel is bombing everywhere,” Alareer told Democracy Now! on October 10.

Previous interviews with Refaat Alareer:

October 2023: Israel’s 'Barbaric' Bombardment Is Part of Ethnic Cleansing Campaign
May 2021: Israel Is Trying to Destroy Us: Gaza Father & Writer Speaks Out as Palestinian Death Toll Nears 200


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at the U.N. climate summit.

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has entered its third month. Health officials in Gaza say the Israeli assault has killed over 17,000 Palestinians. Earlier this week, an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City killed the acclaimed Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, along with his brother, his sister and four of his nieces. For more than 16 years, Alareer worked as a professor of English literature at the Islamic University of Gaza, where he taught Shakespeare and other subjects. Refaat Alareer was a father of six and a mentor to many young Palestinian writers and journalists. He also co-founded the organization We Are Not Numbers. He authored dozens of stories and poems about life under Israeli occupation in Gaza.

In a few minutes we’ll speak to one of his friends, but first I want to return to Refaat Alareer in his own words. He’s spoken to us several times. This is October 10th. As he spoke to Democracy Now!, Israeli strikes rattled his family’s home in Gaza City.

REFAAT ALAREER: What is happening in Gaza is complete and utter extermination of the non-Jewish population in occupied Palestine. As you mentioned, Israel ordered a medieval hermetic siege from air and sea. Israel has also just bombed the only way out through Egypt, the Rafah crossing. The only way out is for — what’s happening, what we are foreseeing is slow starvation, slow genocide. Maybe Israel is going to push us all into the sea.

And I think what is making it even more difficult than before is that the whole world, not even lip service — all American and European countries and politicians are rushing to pledge allegiance to Israel and to Netanyahu. American politicians, American presidential hopefuls are literally calling for genocide. American mainstream media is not pushing back against Israeli officials calling for the collateral damage of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

Why is this happening? Because we refuse to live under occupation. We refuse to live in total submission. We want freedom. We want this occupation to end. This is not a state of war, as one of your guests just mentioned. This is a state of occupation that started over 75 years, that started with the British Empire giving Palestine to the Zionist movement in 1917. …

The only hope we have is in the growing popular support in America, in the movements of — the movements, the human rights and the rights movements in America and across Europe, to take to the streets to pressure their politicians into putting an end to this dark, dark episode of not only the history of the Middle East, but also the history of humanity. If people are asking how was the Holocaust allowed and other genocides in Africa and across the world, now you can see this live on TV, live on social media. Palestinians’ whole blocks destroyed, hospitals, schools, businesses. We are speaking about thousands and thousands of housing units destroyed by Israel. So, my message to the free people of the world is to move to pressure, to mobilize and to take to the streets.

AMY GOODMAN: Refaat Alareer, you are the father of six. How old are your children? And can you describe what it’s like to live there right now?

REFAAT ALAREER: Like I said, this has been systematically happening for over seven decades. It was the noose around Gaza’s neck was tightened 15 years ago, and it’s being tightened even further now. The situation is unspeakable. You can’t describe what’s happening in words. We speak about thousands, hundreds and thousands of Israeli bombs and shells targeting all areas of the Gaza Strip. The kids can’t sleep. The kids can’t eat. The kids can’t even speak. Most of the time they’re just mute, silent, shaking out of fear, sometimes whimpering because of how close the bombs are wherever you are in Gaza. And again, the houses shake every time there is a bomb around. And this is happening again all over Gaza Strip.

Israel is telling people, is pushing people forcibly to leave out of their homes and urging them to go to certain places, like the city center or the U.N. places, shelters, and then Israel bombs the roads leading to these areas and bombs these crowded areas. Yesterday, there was a massacre. Israel killed about 60 Palestinians in Jabaliya refugee camp in a local market where there is a U.N. school, people taking shelter there. So, whether it is my kids or any Palestinian kid or any Palestinian, no one is safe. No place is safe. Israel is bombing everywhere.

AMY GOODMAN: Those were the words of the acclaimed Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, speaking on Democracy Now! October 10th. Earlier this week, he was killed in an Israeli airstrike along with his brother, his sister and four of his nieces. Refaat last posted on social media Monday, writing on the platform X, quote, “The Democratic Party and Biden are responsible for the Gaza genocide perpetrated by Israel.” When Democracy Now! spoke to Refaat during the 2021 Israeli assault on Gaza, he also accused the Biden administration of enabling the massacre of Palestinians.

REFAAT ALAREER: I think it was Biden that gave Netanyahu the green light to start it. When they tweeted that America supports Israel’s right to defend itself two days after the aggression started, I quickly said that this is going to be a long war against civilians, because Israel is killing us using American weapons, using American technology, using American planes. America has — the American administration — all American administrations have blood, Palestinian blood, on their hands. The massacre that is going on is on Biden.

AMY GOODMAN: Again, the words of the late Palestinian academic and activist Refaat Alareer, speaking on Democracy Now! in 2021, months after he had written an op-ed for The New York Times headlined “My Child Asks, 'Can Israel Destroy Our Building If the Power Is Out?'”


“If I Must Die”: IDF Strike Kills Gaza Scholar Refaat Alareer; Friend Pays Tribute & Reads His Poem
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/8/ ... transcript

Scholar and policy analyst Jehad Abusalim remembers his friend Refaat Alareer, the acclaimed Palestinian academic and activist who was killed by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City earlier this week. “Refaat Alareer was a towering figure in Palestinian society, especially in Gaza,” who used education and “language as a weapon against oppression,” says Abusalim, who speaks about the widespread destruction of schools and educators in Gaza by Israel’s renewed bombardment, siege and invasion. “The tragedy that has befallen the academic, scholarly and intellectual community in Gaza and in Palestine is unprecedented. Israel is destroying the foundations of society in the Gaza Strip.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re joined right now by Jehad Abusalim, scholar and policy analyst from Gaza, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund. He was a student and close friend of Refaat Alareer.

Jehad, thank you so much for joining us. Our deepest condolences on the loss of your friend, who you’ve known for some 17, 18 years. Can you talk about how you learned of Refaat’s death, and tell us the story of his life?

JEHAD ABUSALIM: Thank you for having me.

I was at work when my wife called me asking me if I heard something about Refaat and if the news about him were true. I opened my phone. I looked at my social media apps, and that was the moment I realized that he was gone.

Refaat Alareer was a towering figure in Palestinian society, especially in Gaza. He transcended the role of a mere educator and a teacher. He was a mentor, a beacon of wisdom and guidance, a loving father and husband, and a compassionate son. Refaat’s presence enriched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of students. His influence extended far beyond the confines of the classroom. Refaat wasn’t just a teacher. He was a friend, a confidant. He was someone who loved to support his students and who believed strongly in the potential of each student, offering them personal advice and guidance. Refaat will be missed.

It is really hard to sum up Refaat’s story in a few words. But one thing I can say, Amy, is that Refaat’s life was not without its share of many, many challenges. Despite personal tragedies and the harsh realities of life in Gaza, Refaat remained unwavering, using his pen and his voice to fight back and to write back. His resilience was an inspiration to us all, his students and friends and members of the cultural, intellectual and literary community in Gaza. In a place like Gaza, where educational resources are scarce, Refaat’s mastery of the English language was more than a skill. It was a mission. He saw English as a key, a tool to liberation and a means to defy the siege and intellectual and academic restrictions that Israel imposed on Gaza and other Palestinian communities. So, for him, his teaching wasn’t just about imparting knowledge or conducting exams. It was about empowerment, about using language as a weapon against oppression.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you know, Jehad, how he was killed?

JEHAD ABUSALIM: From what we hear in the media and based on reports by his friends, neighbors, he was sheltering at a school, and he received a phone call from the Israeli intelligence informing him that his location — that they located his place, that they identified his location. And whether this was a call from an official arm of the Israeli intelligence or a mere troll, we don’t know. He decided that it’s probably not safe for him to remain at the school where he was sheltering, so he went probably to see family — his sister, his brother. And at that moment, the place where he was was bombed, which led to killing him, his sister, his brother and his four nieces.

Many of the details remain unknown, given the fact that the part of Gaza where he was killed, in Shuja’iyya, is cut off from the rest of the Gaza Strip. It is under heavy bombardment. And it is the site of many atrocities that are still being committed by Israeli forces. So, without having journalists and investigators and workers with international organizations access these areas, we can’t really fully grasp all the details of Refaat’s death, and, of course, the tragedies that have befell many, many other Palestinians there.

AMY GOODMAN: Jehad Abusalim, he taught at Islamic University, is that right? You know, before the well-known human rights attorney Raji Sourani ultimately left Gaza, we were interviewing him at his home in Gaza City, and the house shook. And we learned then that Islamic University had been hit. Now, in the last days, we’ve learned that the president of Islamic University was killed with his family, professor Sofyan Taya. That occurred just recently. He was a well-known mathematician and physicist. Did you know him?

JEHAD ABUSALIM: I did not know Professor Taya. But as someone who went to both Al-Azhar University in Gaza, which was destroyed, the Islamic University in Gaza, which was destroyed, I can tell you that the scale of loss, the tragedy that has befallen the academic, scholarly and intellectual community in Gaza and in Palestine, is unprecedented. Israel is destroying the foundations of society in the Gaza Strip. Israel is systematically destroying our educational system, our cultural institutions. And today we saw footage of the Grand Omari Mosque in Gaza, a structure that dates back to thousands of years, also in ruins. This is a genocidal war of erasure, of uprooting and of mass destruction.

We mourn our teachers, our educators, our doctors, our nurses, our friends, our neighbors. And we also are mourning the loss of a society as we knew it, that no longer exists. And this is all happening while the world is watching, leaving Palestinians in Gaza endure one of the largest bombardment campaigns in the 21st century. How is this acceptable? How is this allowed to happen?

AMY GOODMAN: Jehad Abusalim, Refaat edited two volumes. Can you talk about those books, like Gaza Writes Back? He was a poet, a writer, an author, an activist.

JEHAD ABUSALIM: In Gaza Writes Back, Refaat says — and I quote — “Writing is a testimony, a memory that outlives any human experience, and an obligation to communicate with ourselves and the world. We lived for a reason, to tell the tales of loss, of survival, and of hope,” end-quote.

Refaat Alareer understood the power of English. He understood that in a place like Gaza, where educational resources are scarce and where educational institutions are cut off from the rest of the world, he realized that his mastery of the English language was more than a skill. It was a mission. So he saw English as a key to liberation, a means to defy the siege and the intellectual and academic blockade that Israel has imposed and continues to impose in Gaza. And as I said, Refaat’s teaching wasn’t just about imparting knowledge. It was about empowerment and about using language as a weapon against oppression.

So, when Refaat was teaching those hundreds and thousands of students, including myself, he said to us that we are living in a world that is refusing to hear us, is refusing to listen to us and is refusing to listen to our stories. And he warned — he warned that the world will continue to perceive Palestinians as numbers and to perceive their pain as abstract statistics mentioned in the reports of human rights organizations that come out every year and then are rendered unimportant. So he told us that we have to write our stories, we have to talk about our stories, and we have to make sure that our stories are communicated in every language and in every way possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Jehad, I’m wondering if, as we wrap up, you can read the poem that Refaat had pinned to his Twitter page, the top, “If I Must Die.”

JEHAD ABUSALIM: I will, and it’s a great honor to do so. Refaat wrote:

If I must die,
you must live
to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child, somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven in the eye
awaiting his dad who left in a blaze—
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh
not even to himself—
sees the kite, my kite you made, flying up
and thinks for a moment an angel is there
bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale.

AMY GOODMAN: Jehad Abusalim, I want to thank you for being with us. Again, deepest condolences on the loss of your friend and mentor. Jehad is a scholar and policy analyst from Gaza, the executive director of the Jerusalem Fund. Refaat Alareer was the editor of two volumes, Gaza Unsilenced and Gaza Writes Back. We’ll also link to his op-ed piece in The New York Times he wrote several years ago.


COP28 Activists Say Palestine Solidarity Protests Calling for Ceasefire Face Severe Restrictions
by Amy Goodman
December 08, 2023

At COP28 in Dubai, protests in solidarity with Palestine have faced severe restrictions. Asad Rehman, the lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition, joined with human rights groups at an unofficial media briefing to explain how climate summit officials have threatened to debadge participants for even wearing Palestinian colors or sporting visual depictions calling for a ceasefire. “This is probably the most restrictive we’ve seen,” Rehman said. “Everything we have tried to do has been within the U.N. rules, … but the rules are being changed on a day-by-day basis.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman. Meanwhile, here at COP28 in Dubai, protests in solidarity with Palestine have faced severe restrictions. Earlier today, Asad Rehman, the lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition, joined with other leaders of human rights groups in a media huddle to talk at an unofficial media briefing.

ASAD REHMAN: There’s a deep irony that we have the secretary-general invoking Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, and we still — and in this U.N. space, where you have countless U.N. institutions calling for a ceasefire, even uttering the word “ceasefire” has been something that we were blocked from saying. And it has taken us a week of negotiating before we were allowed to say that sentence in there. But still today, any visual depictions of that, including badges, etc., I mean, people have been told they are not allowed to wear that. People have been told they will be debadged if they don’t take off those badges or take off keffiyehs or take off these lanyards.

I have to say, as some — both of us, who have been involved in this U.N. space for many, many years, this is probably the most restrictive we’ve seen, way more restrictive than Egypt last year. And deep irony there, where we were promised that our rights as civil society would be protected here.

And everything we have tried to do has been within the U.N. rules. Everything. We are well versed in the U.N. rules about what is acceptable and not acceptable. But the rules are being changed on a day-by-day basis. They’re being interpreted by somebody else to determine what is acceptable and not acceptable. We were told that was called by the COP presidency. We went and saw the COP presidency, and the COP presidency said, both privately and then publicly, it is not the COP28 presidency which is pushing for these restrictions.

Then, the question is: Who is pressuring the U.N. and the U.N. institution and U.N. agency that we are not allowed to raise what is a question that is, of course, the uppermost in everybody’s minds, both what’s taking place in Gaza, the fact that international law and humanitarian law lies in shreds, and what that implication means for us as organizations deeply committed to both the multilateral space and also, of course, international law?

AMY GOODMAN: Asad Rehman, the lead spokesperson for the Climate Justice Coalition, speaking earlier today here at COP28 in Dubai.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

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by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023

Displacement, Disease and Death Plague Gazans as Israel Continues Its Genocidal Assault
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023

Israel’s unrelenting assault on the Gaza Strip continues as the death toll has reached 18,000 Palestinians killed in just over two months. Airstrikes rocked the Nuseirat and Maghazi refugee camps in central Gaza overnight. At least 23 people were killed in Maghazi. Airstrikes also struck at least two residential homes in Rafah. Meanwhile, the ground battle is pushing ahead in Khan Younis, which is under heavy bombardment.

Gazan women say Israeli soldiers forced them to leave their husbands and sons behind and flee their Gaza City homes. They spoke from the Al-Aqsa Hospital in central Deir al-Balah where they were taking refuge.

Amnah Abu Zor: “They made us go to the south. They did not let us wait for our husbands. They said, 'Go to the south from here, and that is it,' and they made us leave. They lied to us, saying the road is safe, but they were shooting us throughout the way.”

Dina Abu Zor: “We asked the Israeli interrogator, 'Where are our male relatives?' He said, 'They are gone. No one is left.' We asked about the children. He said all of them are gone. Palestine is gone. Gaza is gone.”

The mass displacement and war on the besieged territory has led to a public health disaster. The U.N.'s World Food Programme warns half of Gaza's population of over 2 million people is starving and that nine out of 10 people are not able to eat every day. As clean water becomes more scarce, diarrhea, skin infections, acute viral hepatitis, scabies and measles are multiplying. Earlier today, the World Health Organization passed a resolution calling for immediate humanitarian aid access and an end to fighting in Gaza.

In the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, usually busy streets and commercial areas are empty today in observance of a general strike for Gaza. Global actions are also taking place today, including marches and calls to refrain from buying anything.

Meanwhile, a U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon is warning the likelihood of a “wider conflict” is increasing amid escalating cross-border violence between Israel and Hezbollah.

UNGA to Convene on Gaza Ceasefire After U.S. Vetoes Security Council Resolution
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023

The U.N. General Assembly will hold a special session Tuesday after Egypt and Mauritania invoked Resolution 377, known as “Uniting for Peace.” The move came in response to the U.S. on Friday again vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza. Resolution 377 is designed to be deployed when the Security Council fails to “exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called for the U.N. body to be reformed Saturday following the U.S. veto.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “With the torment in Gaza, we believe that this helpless and dysfunctional structure of the United Nations will be questioned all over the world. Look, I am saying very openly: Nothing can continue as business as usual after Gaza.”

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department bypassed congressional review to approve the emergency sale of over $100 million in tank ammunition to Israel.

UPenn President Steps Down Amid Right-Wing Firestorm over Pro-Palestinian Movement on Campuses
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023

The president of the University of Pennsylvania has stepped down following intense Republican-led backlash over her handling of antisemitism on campus and her contentious testimony before Congress last week. Liz Magill’s resignation Saturday, followed by that of UPenn Board of Trustees Chair Scott Bok, came amid a mounting attack on students calling for Palestinian rights on campus. Right-wing Congressmember Elise Stefanik, who grilled Magill during her congressional testimony, wrote on social media, “One down. Two to go,” as Stefanik also seeks the ouster of Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth, who also testified.


Peter Beinart & Omer Bartov on UPenn President Resignation, Gaza & the Weaponization of Antisemitism
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/11 ... transcript

University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill voluntarily resigned her position Saturday after a House Education Committee hearing last Tuesday on how colleges have handled antisemitism. Magill has faced demands to resign since September, when she refused to bow to pressure to cancel the Palestine Writes Literature Festival on campus. More universities face accusations that they have failed to protect Jewish students since the October 7 Hamas incursion into southern Israel amid a broader effort to restrict pro-Palestinian speech on campus. We speak with Peter Beinart, professor of journalism at the City University of New York and the editor-at-large of Jewish Currents, and with Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University. “This whole discussion seems to me to be the least important issue,” says Bartov. “What is most important now is that Israel now has been conducting a war for weeks and weeks in which it has killed thousands and thousands of Palestinians.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show looking at allegations that universities have failed to address threats of violence against Jewish students following a contentious congressional hearing on antisemitism and a broader effort to restrict pro-Palestinian speech on campus.

On Saturday, the University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned her position over fallout from last Tuesday’s House Education Committee hearing. UPenn board chair Scott Bok, who announced her resignation, he also resigned soon after.

Magill was questioned along with Harvard President Claudine Gay and MIT President Sally Kornbluth by the right-wing Republican New York congressmember and Trump ally Elise Stefanik.
This is Stefanik questioning Harvard President Gay first, then UPenn President Magill.

CLAUDINE GAY: … free speech extends —

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: It’s a yes-or-no question. Let me ask you this. You are president of Harvard, so I assume you’re familiar with the term “intifada,” correct?

CLAUDINE GAY: I have heard that term, yes.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: And you understand that the use of the term “intifada” in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews. Are you aware of that?

CLAUDINE GAY: That type of hateful speech is personally abhorrent to me. …

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: Well, let me ask you this: Will admissions offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say “from the river to the sea” or “intifada,” advocating for the murder of Jews.

CLAUDINE GAY: As I have said, that type of hateful, reckless, offensive speech is personally abhorrent to me. …

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: Ms. Magill, at Penn, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn’s rules or code of conduct? Yes or no?

LIZ MAGILL: If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment, yes.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: I am asking, specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?

LIZ MAGILL: If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK: So the answer is yes.

LIZ MAGILL: It is a context-dependent decision, Congresswoman.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill. She announced her resignation Saturday and will remain a tenured law professor at UPenn. Major donors to the University of Pennsylvania had demanded Magill’s resignation since September, after she refused to cancel the Palestine Writes Literature Festival on campus.

New York Republican Congressmember Elise Stefanik herself faced scrutiny for a campaign ad she ran last year that echoed Donald Trump and appeared to promote the white supremacist “great replacement” theory that Jews want to replace and disempower white Americans. She made similar comments after the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, that was inspired by the “great replacement” theory. After news of Magill’s resignation, Stefanik called for the ouster of the Harvard and MIT presidents, writing on social media, “One down. Two to go.” She was echoed by Trump.

DONALD TRUMP: Thank you, Elise. What a job she’s done. You know, I watched the way — she’s very smart. I watched the way she was asking the questions, and they were asked in a very complex way. And these women, who I guess are smart, but, boy, that was — they were really dumb answers, weren’t they? But they were asked in a very complex way, and these people had no idea what the hell they were doing. I said, “You know, I think she’s got to lose her job.” I guess they’re all going to be losing their job within the next day or two, but one down, two to go.

AMY GOODMAN: This comes as Harvard President Claudine Gay has growing support. Some 600 professors signed a petition against calls for her to step down this weekend. The school’s board of directors met Sunday.

Congressmember Stefanik is a Harvard alumna and was removed from a Harvard advisory board in 2021 over her comments about voter fraud in the 2020 election that had, quote, “no basis in evidence.”

For more, we’re joined by Peter Beinart, editor-at-large of Jewish Currents and, as well, an MSNBC contributor, and Omer Bartov, a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, the Israeli American author of numerous books. His books include, recently, Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis. He has been described by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum as one of the world’s leading specialists on the subject of genocide.

Peter Beinart, let’s begin with you. Your response to the congressional hearing and the grilling of the three women presidents of MIT, Harvard and UPenn, and the resignation then of UPenn President Magill, as well as the chair of the board of trustees, Scott Bok, who announced her resignation, then resigned himself?

PETER BEINART: This really isn’t about those individual presidents. It’s about the fact that given the extraordinary slaughter that’s happening in Gaza, there is a movement on college campuses and across America for a ceasefire and to end American complicity in that slaughter. And in response to that, the effort is now to try to limit the ability of people who want to protest U.S. policy and support Palestinian rights from being able to organize on college campuses. So the reason that you’re going after these presidents is to try to set a precedent and bring in people who will be much tougher on restricting the ability of students and faculty and others who want to organize politically against this war in Gaza. This is what this is about.

AMY GOODMAN: And if you can talk about exactly what happened, for people who missed it this past week? We just played an excerpt of the questioning by Stefanik. I mean, it went on for hours, the overall congressional testimony, but it came down to these points. And this is the critical point. She said, “It’s a yes-or-no question. Let me ask you this. You are president of Harvard, so I assume you’re familiar with the term 'intifada,' correct?” And President Gay says, “I’ve heard that term.” Congressmember Stefanik says, “You understand the use of the term 'intifada' in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict is indeed a call for violent armed resistance against the state of Israel, including violence against civilians and the genocide of Jews.” This was the question they were asked. Elaborate on that, Peter Beinart, and talk about their responses.

PETER BEINART: Right. The premise of the question was just nonsense, right? The premise of the question is that “intifada,” which essentially means “uprising,” is the equivalent of an attempt at genocide at Jews. “Intifada” is actually a term that has been used even in uprising against Arab governments. Intifada can take nonviolent forms. The First Intifada had a lot of nonviolence. The Second Intifada, tragically, involved suicide bombings, which were horrifying and totally immoral. But these were uprisings in the context of oppression. It’s like saying a Ukrainian uprising against Russians that also killed Russian civilians would be an attempt at Russian genocide. It makes no sense.

But the problem was that these presidents, because they were not willing to contest the premise, because they were so lawyered up and defensive in their answers, that they basically accepted the premise and then were put in this ridiculous position where they didn’t — when they didn’t say it would be unacceptable for people to call for the genocide of Jews. Of course it would be unacceptable for people to call in mass protest for the genocide of Jews, but that’s not what was happening.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Omer Bartov into this discussion — you’re considered by the Holocaust Museum one of the leading scholars on genocide — and go to this second point. Congressmember Stefanik was asking the college presidents, she said, “Well, let me ask you this: Will admission offers be rescinded or any disciplinary action be taken against students or applicants who say 'from the river to the sea' or 'intifada,' advocating the murder of Jews?” equating “from the river to the sea” and “intifada” with the murder of Jews. Can you respond to this? And also explain that term and how it’s been used by both Hamas but also protesters and the Likud party in Israel.

OMER BARTOV: Well, hi, and thank you for having me.

First of all, I want to agree with what Peter was saying. I think that this whole debate is so off-kilter, that the terms that are being used are being misused and are not being challenged by these three presidents, who should have been better prepared, not by their lawyers, but actually to have studied the issue itself and to have spoken about how they think about it. Using the term “intifada” is, of course, wrong, as Peter was saying. It means “uprising.” And uprising against oppression, one should support it.

Using the term “from the river to the sea” can mean all kinds of things. There are 7 million Jews living between the river and the sea, and 7 million Palestinians. Historically, speaking about “from the river to the sea,” or, in fact, both banks of the river in the traditional Zionist revisionist ideology, meant that the Jews should be in control of Eretz Yisrael, of the — sorry, of the land of Israel.
I apologize.



AMY GOODMAN: Repeat that point.

OMER BARTOV: Yeah, sorry. So, the term “from the river to the sea,” or Greater Israel, which means Eretz Yisrael, the land of Israel, that land stretches between the Jordan —

AMY GOODMAN: We’re hearing you fine.

OMER BARTOV: Yeah. I’m sorry. I’m getting interruption here. Means the land between the Jordan and the sea, and, in fact, for some of the traditional revisionist movement, the right wing of the Zionist party, meant also across the river, even east of the river, into what is now known as Jordan, Transjordan at the time. So, to say that that is an antisemitic term or that it calls for the genocide of the Jews is nonsense. It can mean, if you look at it from the point of view of the Israeli right, that Jews have the right to rule over all the land of Israel. And many of the people who are now in Netanyahu’s government, the settler right-wing Jewish supremacists, such as Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, they would like to rule over all the land, and they would like the Palestinians to go away or to agree to be ruled over by the Jews. Now, it can also mean the opposite. If you look at what Hamas has been saying, it can mean exactly the opposite. Hamas indeed wants to create an Islamic Palestinian state where Jews would either have no room or would have to be living there in much smaller numbers and be tolerated.

And so, it does not mean what people say, unless you ask them what do they mean. And in that sense, putting these three presidents to answer these questions, to my mind, A, they should have said, “Look, if you speak about genocide, no one should condone genocide, not of Jews and not of anyone else. If you’re speaking about intifada or about political slogans, you have to explain what they are, how we understand them.”

But beyond that, I have to say that this whole discussion seems to me to be the least important issue. What is most important is that Israel now is — has been conducting a war for weeks and weeks in which it has killed thousands and thousands of Palestinians. It has moved them to a very small part of the Gaza Strip. It has destroyed their property and has not even made a commitment to allow them to return. And it’s been doing that with enormous amounts of American-supplied munitions, not only rockets, but also tank shells, artillery shells and anti-rocket rockets. And that has to stop, and there has to be a political plan as to how to move to the next day, which is what Netanyahu is refusing to do. This is the main issue, not how we talk about politics on American campuses. That’s useful to talk about it, but it’s not the main emergency issue right now to my mind.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you two questions. You’re in Paris, France, now, but you’re generally in Cambridge, and you’re a professor at Brown University in Providence. What should Claudine Gay, the president of Harvard, do you feel, at this point, should she do? Hundreds of Harvard professors have rallied around her. And I also wanted to ask about Hisham Awartani, who is the Brown University student, a student at your school, who was shot with two other Palestinian students in Burlington, could well be paralyzed, a horrifying situation. I mean, I think there’s no question that antisemitism is increasing around the country, and that is very serious, and also Islamophobia.

OMER BARTOV: Yes. I mean, both are, of course, increasing, and we should do everything we can against them. And what happened with Hisham and the other two Palestinian students is horrible. In some ways, I would say, it reflects both the heated discussion that we have about Israel-Palestine and also the kind of gun culture and violence that we have in America, quite separately from what is happening in the Middle East.

As for resignations of presidents, I think this is — this would be terrible. I totally support those — I’m not a Harvard faculty. My wife is. But I totally support those people who have come out against her resignation. I think it would give completely the wrong signal, because the pressure is coming in large part from donors. That will create an impression that there is pressure from moneyed people, that there’s pressure from often people identified with Jewish interests, with right-wing Israelis, with the Israeli government, to control speech. And just as there has been, I must say — and that was reflected in the responses by these presidents — great sort of timidity in saying anything that is not correct speech, to correct it the other way, to try and control it in a way that does not allow criticism of Israel, presents criticism of Israel as antisemitism. And to do it by firing, for instance, at Harvard, the first African American president of Harvard would be an absolute disaster, and I would totally oppose it.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to end by asking Peter Beinart about Democratic Congressmember — Republican Congressmember Stefanik and her history. This is Democratic Congressmember Jamie Raskin of Maryland speaking on MSNBC.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN: With lax Republican gun laws across the country, we’ve got to take very seriously anybody who’s making any kind of violent threats, especially genocidal threats. Having said that, where does Elise Stefanik get off lecturing anybody about antisemitism, when she is the hugest supporter of Donald Trump, who traffics in antisemitism all the time? She didn’t utter a peep of protest when he had Kanye West and Nick Fuentes over for dinner — Nick Fuentes, who doubts whether October 7th even took place, because he thinks it was some kind of suspicious propaganda move by the Israelis. And the Republican Party is filled with people who are entangled with antisemitism like that, and yet somehow she gets on her high horse and lectures a Jewish college president from MIT.

AMY GOODMAN: So, last year, Republican Congressmember Elise Stefanik of New York was criticized for seeming to endorse the racist “great replacement” conspiracy theory, the white supremacist theory maintaining white people are being replaced by people of color and that Democrats are deliberately trying to deluge the U.S. with immigrants in order to gain an electoral advantage. We all know what happened in Charlottesville, the mass protest where the Trump-supporting white supremacists kept repeating “Jews will not replace us.” Peter Beinart, can you respond to the woman who’s taking these women presidents, at least attempting to, and succeeded in the case of UPenn President Magill, down?

PETER BEINART: First of all, there’s a tremendous irony in the fact that Elise Stefanik is supposedly so upset about people saying Palestine will be free from the river to the sea, because Elise Stefanik supports the existence of one country which denies Palestinians basic rights between the river and the sea. And as for the idea that she has some great concern for Jews, as you said, she’s actually trafficked in the same “great replacement” theory that is what motivated the Pittsburgh shooter because of this insane idea that Jews are bringing in Black and Brown immigrants into the United States to replace white people. Elise Stefanik doesn’t actually care about Jews. What she believes in is ethnonationalism. She believes in a white Christian state in the United States. And she’s sympathetic to forces in Israel that believe in a Jewish supremacist state, because fundamentally she’s hostile to the basic principle that people should be treated equally under the law irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. She’s hostile to it in Israel-Palestine. She’s hostile to it in the United States. That’s what motivates her.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us. We’ll continue, of course, to cover this issue. Peter Beinart, editor-at-large of Jewish Currents, and Omer Bartov, professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University, author of a number of books, including, most recently, Genocide, the Holocaust and Israel-Palestine: First-Person History in Times of Crisis.

Next up, the State Department’s bypassing Congress to send nearly 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel. We’ll speak to Josh Paul, who resigned from the State Department to protest the Biden administration’s push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its siege on Gaza. Back in 20 seconds.


State Dept. Whistleblower Blasts Blinken for Bypassing Congress to Send 14K Tank Munitions to Israel
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023

The Biden administration has bypassed Congress to approve an “emergency” sale of over $100 million of tank ammunition to Israel. Congress was notified just hours after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza ceasefire. We get response from Josh Paul, former director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, which oversees arms transfers to Israel and other nations. Paul resigned from the State Department in October to protest the Biden administration’s push to increase arms sales to Israel amid its ongoing siege on Gaza.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman.

As the death toll in Gaza reaches 18,000, the Biden administration is bypassing Congress to approve the sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel. The sale is valued at more than $106 million. Secretary of State Tony Blinken informed Congress of the plan Friday night, saying, quote, “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale.” Congress was notified just hours after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland criticized the State Department’s decision to bypass Congress. He told The New York Times, quote, “The administration’s decision to short-circuit what is already a quick time frame for congressional review undermines transparency and weakens accountability.”

Well, we’re joined right now by Josh Paul. In October, he resigned from the State Department to protest the Biden administration’s push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst its siege on Gaza. Josh Paul had served as director of congressional and public affairs for the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in the State Department, which oversees arms transfers to Israel and other nations around the world.

Josh Paul, your response to this move Friday night?

JOSH PAUL: First of all, thank you very much for having me. It’s good to join you. I’m sorry it’s in such circumstances.

I think what this move demonstrates is that nothing has changed in U.S. policy. Two months into this awful conflict, almost 20,000 deaths later, so much suffering later, U.S. policy remains that we will continue to flow arms to Israel and to support its operation in Gaza. I think we have heard Secretary Blinken and others speaking up and saying that there needs to be a reduction in civilian casualties, but I think actions speak louder than words. You know, I’ve been thinking a lot these past weeks of Lewis Carroll’s “Walrus and the Carpenter.” When you see the U.S. bemoaning Palestinian civilian deaths and yet continuing to provide the arms that are consuming the people of Gaza, it’s extremely distressing and problematic.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let’s see. Secretary of State Pompeo, under Trump, previously used the emergency provision in 2019 for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Can you talk about the financial scale of over $1.8 billion and the types of weaponry purchased during that time and how that relates to now?

JOSH PAUL: Yes. I think that’s an interesting counterpart to what’s happening now, because, of course, at that time, Secretary Pompeo, under President Trump, was supporting the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. And in that conflict, many thousands of civilians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, died, as well, many of them, again, through the use of U.S. arms. In fact, the first thing that President Biden did upon coming to office in this space was to suspend arms transfers to the Saudi-led coalition of precision-guided munitions precisely because he cared about the civilian casualties who were being harmed. And yet here he is using the same authority as President Trump, as Secretary Pompeo to override congressional will, to override congressional oversight.

I think one thing that we need to keep an eye on is that in the wake of the decision to use the emergency authority under President Trump, that Congress actually moved forward with 27 — the Senate passed 27 joint resolutions of disapproval to block these arms transfers, after a ruling by the Senate parliamentarian that they could do so. Will Congress act in a similar way in this effort? I doubt it, but we will have to see.

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, can you talk specifically about the 120-millimeter M830A1 high-explosive anti-tank, multipurpose with tracer, MPAT, tank cartridges that are part of this deal? I probably said some part of that wrong.

JOSH PAUL: No, I think you got it right. Those are essentially standard-issue tank shells that will be used by Israel’s Merkava main battle tanks. These are the tanks that are currently pushing through Khan Younis in the south of Gaza. These are the same tanks and same sort of shells that on October 13th killed civilians in Lebanon, including a Reuters reporter, in an incident that both Amnesty and Human Rights Watch have described as intentional and targeted by the IDF. You know, part of the arms transfer review process is to ask whether or not such weapons that we are providing will be used to commit human rights abuses. I think we now see a clear record of these precise weapons having been used to commit human rights abuses in this conflict, and yet here we are, still flowing them to Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: I just have to ask before we go, Josh Paul. We spoke to you soon after you resigned from the State Department in October. This was, of course, in the midst of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which came after the October 7th surprise attack on Israel that killed 1,200. Can you talk about the response of your colleagues at the State Department? Have others resigned in other parts of the government?

JOSH PAUL: So, we have seen, certainly from the U.N., a U.N. senior official, Craig Mokhiber, resign. We have not seen, to my knowledge, significant resignations within the U.S. government. But I have heard, and continue to hear, from many of my former colleagues who are really trying to find what mechanisms they can use to slow this down, to change the policy. I fear that their efforts at this point continue to be in vain. I think we need to see a policy change from the top. But I know a lot of good people are continuing to make the argument.

AMY GOODMAN: My last question to you goes back to 2021. In a recent CNN interview, you discussed a disturbing story of a 13-year-old Palestinian child raped by Israeli forces. Can you outline what you understand happened?

JOSH PAUL: Yes. There was a report by a charity called Defense of Children International-Palestine — that’s the Palestine branch of this global charity — in which this child had been taken into Israeli custody — which is, of course, itself a question we should be asking: why there are children in Israeli custody, without charge, in the Moskobiyyeh Prison in Jerusalem — who was raped by his prison guards as part of his interrogation. This report came to the State Department’s attention. We looked at it. We considered it valid. We raised it with the government of Israel. And the next day after it was raised by the State Department, actually by Embassy Jerusalem, with the government of Israel, the IDF, the Israeli security forces, went into the charity’s office, into Defense of Children International-Palestine’s offices, and ransacked it, and several months later declared them and several other Palestinian NGOs a terrorist organization. I think sexual violence is such a horrific event, and we need to condemn it wherever it happens, whether it happens in the kibbutzes of Israel or whether it happens in the prisons of Israel.

AMY GOODMAN: Josh Paul, veteran State Department official who worked on arms deals and resigned in protest of a push to increase arms sales to Israel amidst the Gaza bombardment.


U.S. Vetoes U.N. Gaza Ceasefire Again as Biden Veers Far from Global Consensus, Death Toll Tops 18,000
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/11 ... transcript

To discuss the shocking United States veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution requesting a Gaza ceasefire, we’re joined by Shibley Telhami, who says President Biden’s refusal to engage with popular calls for ceasefire is a shocking “personal decision” that will have negative consequences for U.S. foreign policy and “American standing” around the world. Members of the Israeli government clearly want “more than self-defense,” adds Telhami, and have created human rights needs in Gaza “so massive that you need a ceasefire to deal with that.” Telhami is professor of peace and development at the University of Maryland.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we turn now to look at how the Biden administration is facing widespread condemnation around the world for vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution Friday calling for a Gaza ceasefire. The Palestinian U.N. envoy, Riyad Mansour, criticized the U.S. veto.

RIYAD MANSOUR: It is disastrous that the Security Council was again prevented from rising to this moment to uphold its clear responsibilities in the face of this grave crisis threatening human lives and threatening regional and international peace and security.

AMY GOODMAN: The U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations Robert Wood defended the U.S. decision to veto the ceasefire resolution.

ROBERT WOOD: The United States engaged in good faith on this text. We proposed language with an eye toward a constructive resolution that would have reinforced the life-saving diplomacy we have undertaken since October 7, increased opportunities for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, encouraged the release of hostages and the resumption of humanitarian pauses, and laid a foundation for a durable peace. Unfortunately, nearly all of our recommendations were ignored. And the result of this rush process was an imbalanced resolution that was divorced from reality, that would not move the needle forward on the ground in any concrete way. And so we regretfully could not support it.

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations General Assembly will hold an emergency session on a Gaza ceasefire Tuesday.

To talk more about the U.S. veto of the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, we’re joined by Shibley Telhami, professor of peace and development, University of Maryland, also senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy. He’s co-editor of the book The One State Reality: What Is Israel/Palestine?

Professor Telhami, thanks for rejoining us. Talk about the significance and the reaction to the U.S. veto of the Gaza ceasefire resolution.

SHIBLEY TELHAMI: Well, it’s an extraordinary act. I mean, think about it this way. Whatever the representative of the U.S. says, there were 13 members, including pro-U.S. members, like France, who voted for the resolution. Only one other country did not vote for it. It abstained. That’s the U.K., sticking with U.S. So, think about that. This is the U.S. trying to take a leadership role globally on many issues, including Ukraine, and it goes against a global consensus on an issue that is humanitarian.

This resolution didn’t call for an end to the fighting and a ceasefire that ends the fighting. It called for a humanitarian ceasefire. Every international human rights organization and aid organization — I talked to two heads of aid organizations just last week. They said it’s impossible to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza without a ceasefire. You can’t just trickle it in. The needs are so massive that you need a ceasefire to deal with that.

If you look at it also from the point of view, even American, of public opinion, you have a majority of Americans, according to polls, who support a ceasefire. You have, from the president’s point of view, two-thirds of Democrats who do not approve of the Israeli military action in Gaza. And it’s not just Democrats. You have, essentially, two-thirds of people of color, as Gallup polls them, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans. You have a majority, two-thirds, of young people of all types, not just Democrats, who disapprove the operations. You have a majority of women. Essentially, every major constituency of the Democratic Party, the president’s Democratic Party, who wants this. And the president goes against it in the international community. Think about what that does to America’s standing in the world, let alone, obviously, to continuation of the death and destruction in Gaza.

And I want to say here that it is the puzzle for me, as somebody who has known the president before he became president, as somebody who’s been watching — and I’m a realist in terms of how politics take place — I’m still shocked by the degree to which this decision that has been taken vis-à-vis this particular crisis after October 7 has been a personal decision by the president of United States. It was really acting on his preferences, his beliefs, rather, it seems to me, than the consequences for American foreign policy and for America’s national interest, which have been huge from the beginning.

It could have been anticipated that his massive support and even the backing of this vague idea of destroying Hamas was going to lead inevitably to mass destruction in Gaza, and it was going to, therefore, also bring possible blowback on the U.S., because the U.S. now is seen as a sponsor of this war, as a party to this war. There’s a danger of blowback that would be unfortunate, devastating across much of the Arab and Muslim world that we see now. There’s also, of course, the chance of escalation that we see in Lebanon, and perhaps even bringing Iran in, in a way that would be hugely detrimental to American interests and draw the U.S. in.

And the idea that you give — you know, you support Israel’s right to self-defense, of course. Israel has a right to defend itself. Every country does. But to give that government to define what is right of self-defense, when you know there are members of this government who want a lot more than self-defense, including things that are at odds with American interests, that are at odds with American values, and to give them license to do so, including the possibility of drawing the U.S. into war with Iran, that’s the thing that seems to be shocking to me as an analyst viewing this episode in American foreign policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Shibley Telhami, we want to thank you so much for spending this time with us, professor of peace and development at the University of Maryland, senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy.

Next up, we speak to a doctor in Gaza. Stay with us.


“Please Stop This War Against Us”: Gaza Doctor Begs for World’s Help as Hunger & Disease Spread
by Amy Goodman
December 11, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/11 ... transcript

We get an update from one of the few hospitals still operating in southern Gaza from Ahmed Moghrabi, a doctor at Nasser Hospital, who describes horrific conditions. “I’ve developed [a] psychological disorder,” says Moghrabi, who himself is barely surviving on little food and clean water. “Please stop this genocide against us. Stop this war. Please, please, I beg you.” We also speak with Dr. Tarek Loubani, an emergency room medical doctor shot by the Israeli military in Gaza in 2018, about the arrests, killings and torture of his fellow medical workers by the Israeli military, and the enormous risk of disease as a consequence of the lack of essential aid and supplies available in the region. He predicts tens of thousands of deaths from starvation, dehydration and infectious disease will soon hit Gaza as Israel’s assault continues in the coming weeks.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: United Nations Palestinian aid agency UNRWA is warning society in Gaza is, quote, “on the brink of full-blown collapse” as Israel continues its devastating assault that’s killed 18,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including over 7,000 children.

We turn now to a doctor in Gaza, Ahmed Moghrabi. He works at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, one of few hospitals still functioning in southern Gaza. We reached him yesterday.

DR. AHMED MOGHRABI: Hello, Deena. Yeah, I am talking to you from the Nasser Hospital — it’s in Khan Younis, south of Gaza — where I’m working as a head of plastic and burn department. It’s been 64 days since the aggression actually started against Gaza. I can tell you here, actually, I’m working since the beginning of this war. Actually, I’m so exhausted. So exhausted. Forty percent of the injured people from explosions are children. They are seriously injured. Actually, this morning — actually, I’m working since early morning 'til midnight every day. Every day we are here at the hospital, actually, it's like a siege, all troops around us.

What is going on here actually is real massacres all over around. If you see the pictures and the videos, actually, you will be shocked. There is no words — no words can describe what is going here. What is going here actually is a real genocide. You know, hundreds and thousands of people, actually, are passing away every day because of these attacks. They’re attacking schools. They’re attacking church, mosques, civilians’ areas, everywhere. Everywhere, they’re attacking. Oh my god, I can’t describe what is going here. It’s massacres. Massacres, what is going here. The entire families are wiped out, actually. I don’t know, really. Actually, I became — I developed like psychological disorder to see these children actually are, you know — how to say it? — like — how to say? — I don’t know how. They are burned 'til bone. They are burned ’til bone, children. If you see my [inaudible], you will see all these, you know, horrible — it's horror, horror, horror, what is going here. My god, I hope this will end soon.

I don’t know if anybody could help us. If you hear me — actually, I thought we are alone here in this world. We are living in big prison under siege, actually, and nobody listen to us. Nobody want actually to — how to — to adopt our Palestinian narrative, actually. Everybody listens to the Israeli narrative. Just listen to Palestinian narratives. We are here living under siege in a big prison. We are human being. Me, like you, I’m a human being. I’m a human being. I want to live in peace. I want a better future for my children. Really, this I want. This I want.

You know, actually, Israel is supported by the whole world. You give Israel these mass destruction weapons. But on the other hand, nobody gives us even food. Here, I can’t find food, clean water. Me as a surgeon, I can’t find clean water to drink. I can’t find food. I eat only once a day, Deena. Yes, once a day. I can’t afford my children food. I can’t see my children, because I can’t provide simple, simple, you know, food for living. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t provide this food to my children. We eat once a day, simple rice. You know, my little daughter yesterday, 2 years old, she asked me — you know, she asked me apple, an apple. There’s nothing here. Nothing here.

We are dying from starvation. From everything, we are dying now. All over, actually, they send these rockets over our heads everywhere, every time. Please, please stop this war against us. Please stop the genocide against us. Stop this war. Please, please, I beg you.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi, who works in Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which is one of the few hospitals still functioning in southern Gaza.

We end today’s show with Dr. Tarek Loubani, emergency room medical doctor who works at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada. In 2018, Dr. Loubani was among 19 medics shot by the Israeli military in Gaza. In October, he was arrested for nonviolently protesting for a ceasefire. He’s a Palestinian refugee, a member of the Glia Project, creating open-source medical devices for low-resource settings.

You hear your colleague in Nasser Hospital talking about not being able to feed his own children, not to mention what’s happening in the hospital, Dr. Loubani. You’re in constant contact with medical staff in Gaza. Tell us what you understand at this point.

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: What Dr. Ahmed is saying is exactly what we’re hearing all across the Gaza Strip from the hospitals there. Really, the situation, it’s not teetering on verging on collapse; it has — the medical system has fully collapsed. And the only reason we are using these words to mitigate the devastation and the absolute collapse is because the absolute bravery and incredible resourcefulness of the Palestinian doctors, who have done just an amazing job trying to provide care for their patients. These are people — these are doctors who themselves, like you said, are starving, literally starving. They themselves are getting killed, are being arrested, are having their families harmed, and still they show up to work every day, like Dr. Ahmed does, bravely and to face a new day of horrors.

AMY GOODMAN: [inaudible] are telling doctors to leave their patients, particularly in northern Gaza, and move south. Also, doctors, like the head of a hospital in northern Gaza, are being arrested. Can you talk about what you understand at this point?

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: The arrests are a new dimension here. We’ve always been used to a doctor here and there being killed. However, we’ve had over 250 — I think it might even be up to 300 now — healthcare workers who have been killed during this war on Gaza. As well, Dr. Muhammad Abu Salmiya was one of the first arrested.

But I can tell you the story of one of my students, a young doctor who graduated only a couple of years ago, who I’ve been teaching throughout his residency. He was an emergency medicine doctor. And he was, in fact, the valedictorian, Saleh Eleiwa, the highest-ranking student in his medical class, a delightful human being who had never stopped smiling, and then was arrested because he wouldn’t leave his patients until it was too late. He was at the Al-Shifa Hospital.

That’s the story — his story is one of 41 stories that we have so far.
Only a few of them have been released since. What the people who have been released tell us is that they are being tortured right now. They are being, quote, “interrogated.” And I know this because I’ve been in Israeli jails, I’ve been interrogated in those ways, I’ve been tortured, I’ve been beaten. And so I know what they’re experiencing. And that was for me as a young Canadian. Now, what, mind you, these people who the Israelis want to see confessions from, who the Israelis are convinced are doing bad things, despite the fact that all they have done throughout this war and ever is take care of their patients.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Tarek Loubani, if you can talk about the warnings that the death toll could be dwarfed by those who die of diseases now, with the lack of clean water, the close proximity of everyone now being pushed south, diseases like diarrhea, scabies, measles, meningitis, acute viral hepatitis? What do you understand?

DR. TAREK LOUBANI: Before this war, the hospitals in Gaza were full, because things happen to people day by day. And now those chronic diseases, the people with those chronic diseases, like diabetes or diseases that need medications or cancers, those patients are all starting to die. It’s been two, going on three months now that they haven’t been able to receive proper care. And that means proper medical care.

Now, the foundations of life aren’t proper medical care; they’re water, they’re food, they’re psychological safety. And so people are starting to die from those things, as well. We’ve already had our first starvation deaths. Predictably, they’re in the very young and the very old. And as time goes on, we will see these deaths start to come in from the margins, come in from people who are sick and vulnerable, to everybody,
because right now the normal Palestinian has not — in Gaza, has not been able to eat or drink for weeks, if not months. When we’re talking about the treatment of many of these problems that they’re facing right now, the treatment is proper food, it’s rest, it’s clean water. And those things are not available. So, yes, the predictions right now is that in the next few weeks it will be like falling from a cliff, and we will see 20,000, 30,000 people dying.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Tarek Loubani, I want to thank you for being with us, Canadian Palestinian emergency room doctor, joining us from London, Ontario, spent years traveling to and working in Gaza.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 13, 2023 4:02 am

by Amy Goodman
December 12, 2023

Israeli Troops Storm Kamal Adwan Hospital as Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Deepens
by Amy Goodman
December 12, 2023

Israeli troops backed by tanks and heavy artillery have stormed the besieged Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, where 3,000 displaced people are sheltering from Israeli’s unrelenting assault. Al Jazeera reports medical staff inside the hospital were among those shot and killed, as were two mothers killed Monday when Israel’s military bombarded the hospital’s maternity ward. The hospital’s remaining patients include a dozen children in an intensive care unit and six newborns in incubators. Palestinian health officials say Israeli soldiers were rounding up men in the hospital courtyard, stripping them, blindfolding them and taking them away for interrogation. A Human Rights Watch official said such treatment “amounts to a war crime.”

The assault on the Kamal Adwan Hospital came as Israel’s military continued to bombard the southern Gaza Strip, including Rafah on the Egyptian border, where thousands of Palestinians expelled from northern Gaza face dire shortages of food, water, medicine, fuel and shelter. This is Fatma Soliman Al-Malihy, who was displaced along with her family from northern Gaza.

Fatma Soliman Al-Malihy: “There is no food or drink. The house is destroyed. There is nothing. There is no money. Please stop the war on us, for God’s sake. We are innocent people. We have nothing. We own nothing. We are unarmed people, for God’s sake. Look at us. Muslims, foreigners, the U.S. itself, stop the war, for God’s sake. We are destroyed. Where would we go? You moved us from the north to Rafah. We don’t know where to go. We don’t sleep. By God, we don’t sleep. We are depressed. We are scared, dead scared about our sons and children. We have children with disabilities, paralyzed ones. Where would we go?”

Protesters Hold Global Strike to Demand Ceasefire in Gaza
by Amy Goodman
December 12, 2023

Palestinians and their supporters around the world joined a global strike Monday demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The action, which saw businesses closed and other activities suspended for the day, came in response to the United States’ veto of a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an urgent ceasefire in Gaza.

In Washington, D.C., over a dozen Jewish elders chained themselves to the fence in front of the White House, urging President Biden to end his opposition to a ceasefire. The 18 women who participated in the act of civil disobedience read the names of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since Hamas’s October 7 attack. They also chanted, “Biden, Biden, pick a side, ceasefire not genocide!”

Also on Capitol Hill, over 100 protesters occupied the Senate atrium Monday, urging lawmakers and the Biden administration to cease all military aid to Israel, and instead divest funds for affordable housing, healthcare and other needs. Many protesters wore black shirts with the words “Invest in life.” Dozens were arrested.

Harvard Rejects Calls to Fire President Claudine Gay Amid Crackdown on Pro-Palestinian Speech
by Amy Goodman
December 12, 2023

The Harvard Corporation, Harvard University’s highest governing body, has rejected calls to fire President Claudine Gay following a contentious congressional hearing on antisemitism and a broader effort to restrict pro-Palestinian speech on college campuses. That’s according to The Harvard Crimson, which reports the decision came after more than 700 faculty members signed an open letter calling on the Harvard Corporation to “defend the independence of the university and to resist political pressures that are at odds with Harvard’s commitment to academic freedom, including calls for the removal of President Claudine Gay.” The letter continues, “The critical work of defending a culture of free inquiry in our diverse community cannot proceed if we let its shape be dictated by outside forces.” Claudine Gay also won the backing of Harvard’s alumni association and more than 70 Black faculty members who called attacks on her “specious and politically motivated.” Gay was inaugurated in October as the first African American and second woman to lead Harvard University. She’s the daughter of Haitian immigrants. Efforts to unseat her came as University of Pennsylvania President Elizabeth Magill resigned her position following intense Republican-led backlash and a Capitol Hill grilling by far-right Republican Congressmember Elise Stefanik.


Diplomacy, Not War: Daughter of Released Hostage Urges Israel to Reach Deal to Free More Captives
by Amy Goodman
December 12, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/12 ... transcript

As relatives of hostages held in Gaza urge Israeli lawmakers to use diplomacy, not war, to free their loved ones, we speak to an Israeli peace activist whose 84-year-old mother was released by Hamas in late November as part of an Israel-Hamas hostage swap during the weeklong pause in fighting. “We are demanding to release all the hostages,” says Neta Heiman Mina, a member of Women Wage Peace. She says Israeli leaders must “put a deal on the table” even if it comes with a “painful price” that includes freeing more Palestinian prisoners, including some accused of violence. “We must bring them home now. There is no time.”


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations General Assembly is voting today on a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and the immediate release of all hostages. The vote comes four days after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire to halt Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, which has killed over 18,000 Palestinians.

Israel says Hamas and other groups in Gaza are still holding 138 hostages. During the seven-day truce in late November, Hamas released 105 hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian women and children who were held in Israeli prisons.

On Monday, relatives of some of the remaining Israeli hostages met with Israeli lawmakers at the Knesset. The Times of Israel reports the families, quote, “called for the government to prioritize seeking an agreement for their release through diplomatic channels, rather than pressing on with the military offensive in Gaza against Hamas,” unquote. Family members are planning to hold a protest outside the Knesset today under the slogan “The hostages have no time.”

We’re joined right now by Neta Heiman Mina. Her 84-year-old mother, Ditza Heiman, was held hostage in Gaza and freed on November 28th. She had been kidnapped on October 7th from her home on the kibbutz Nir Oz near the border with Gaza by Hamas. Neta Heiman is joining us from Haifa. She’s a member of the Israeli chapter of Women Wage Peace.

Neta, welcome to Democracy Now! I’m so sorry under these circumstances. Can you talk about what you’re demanding?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: We are demanding to release all the hostages. We are demanding from the Israeli government to put a deal on the table, not — do not wait to Sinwar to offer a deal. We need the Israeli government to put a deal that will be — it will be a painful price. We will need to release lots of Palestinian prisoners. We will need to do a lot of days of stop the fire, fire stop. But the people that were taken on the 7th of October, the price is for them, and they deserve this price, because the country left them behind. It’s been 67 days, I think, since the 7th of October, and they’re still there. Yesterday, Amiram Cooper from kibbutz Nir Oz, it was his 85th birthday, a 85-years-old man that they’re keeping hostage in Gaza without medication, without enough food. Who can survive this?

AMY GOODMAN: There’s been some discussion of Israel flooding the tunnels with saltwater. Can you respond to this, and what was said to Israeli lawmakers?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: Yes, yes. Part of our people are in these tunnels. If you flood it with water, what will happen to the hostages? We know part of them is in the tunnels — are in the tunnels.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the day that your mother was released? This was during the truce, during the temporary ceasefire, when more than a hundred — Hamas released more than a hundred hostages. Where were you? How was your mother, Ditza Heiman?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: It was very exciting. We wait for this for 53 days. She was a hostage 53 days. And we wait for her to be in the list. Every day there was a list, who will be released the day after. And we wait. And she came back. We were very happy. She came back, and she’s OK. But there is a lot of people are still there. And this is what’s important, to bring them back home immediately, because they have no time. The bombing on Gaza can hurt them. My mother wasn’t in a tunnel. Every bomb that they fell on Gaza can hurt her, hurt the hostages. We must bring them home now. There is no time.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk more about how she was treated by Hamas, who she was held with, and also who your mom, 84 years old, Ditza is? And talk about her role in the kibbutz Nir Oz.

NETA HEIMAN MINA: I can’t — the story for 53 days, it’s her story, and I can’t tell her condition, because it’s going to be a danger for the people who left behind. She was 84 years old, that lived all her adult life in the kibbutz near the border with Gaza. She built the kibbutz. She was from the founders of the kibbutz. She was a very — she was a social worker for a long time. She worked until age of 80.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Neta, if you can talk about your organization, Women Wage Peace, an organization that the slain activist Vivian Silver was also a part of, who was killed on one of the kibbutzes? They thought she was being held hostage, but, ultimately, I guess, they found DNA of her on the kibbutz.

NETA HEIMAN MINA: Women Wage Peace is a movement, Israeli movement, of people from all of the rainbow, political rainbow. We are not a — sorry. And all we ask, since Tzuk Eitan, since 2014, to make an agreement with the Palestinians. We don’t tell what kind of agreement, but we believe that there is a possibility to talk with the Palestinians and to make an agreement that they will bring us a peaceful life. We have a sisterhood, a movement, a Palestinian sisterhood movement, that they call us — themselves Women of the Sun. There are people, women, from the West Bank and from Gaza, as well. And we all believe that we can live here in peace.

AMY GOODMAN: In your opinion piece for Haaretz back in October, you wrote, “I’m furious at the Israeli government, and the accursed members of the government who, because of them, the army was patrolling the West Bank village of Hawara over the Sukkot holiday, instead of guarding and protecting my mother. I’m furious at this government that has for almost a year been doing everything they can to escalate the situation in the Gaza border area. This colossal failure, this chaos, is on their shoulders, is their fault — as is the fact that even now, four days later, a government representative has still not visited most of the families of the hostages.” That was in October. If you can talk about what is happening now with the Israeli government, how they’re communicating with you? You gave a speech yesterday. Explain where you gave it and what your message was, Neta.

NETA HEIMAN MINA: The Israeli government contacted all the families, and all the hostage families had contact with the government and with the army, but it took too long. Part of the families, it took almost two weeks until someone called them. Yesterday we were — Women Wage Peace were lighting Hanukkah candles in the Hostages Square, the name of the Tel Aviv Museum. And we call for a release all the hostages, and they start a peace process after.

AMY GOODMAN: What would that peace process look like?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: I don’t know. I know that Hamas must go. They can’t control Gaza. But Israel can’t control Gaza, as well. It will be — I think it will be — it will need international involvement to establish something else in Gaza, that maybe the Palestinian — I don’t know how to tell it in —

AMY GOODMAN: Authority? The Palestinian Authority?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: Authority will take — yes, the Palestinian Authority will take Gaza, to establish something else to replace the Hamas control in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: Your final thoughts —

NETA HEIMAN MINA: And then maybe — what?

AMY GOODMAN: Your final thoughts on President Biden, on the United States vetoing the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for ceasefire?

NETA HEIMAN MINA: I think it must be a ceasefire for — that we can release all the hostages. And then, Israel has a right to protect herself. And what happened on the 7th of October came out from Gaza. But I don’t think we can destroy Gaza or erase Gaza. There are also innocent people in Gaza, not all of them from the Hamas.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Neta Heiman Mina, I want to thank you for being with us. Her 84-year-old mother, Ditza Heiman, was kidnapped by Hamas from her home on the kibbutz Nir Oz near the Gaza border, was released November 28th. Neta is a member of the Israeli chapter of Women Wage Peace.

Coming up, outrage is growing in Dubai after a call to phase out fossil fuels is dropped from the draft of the proposed climate deal at the U.N. climate summit. We’ll be in Dubai. Stay with us.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Dec 27, 2023 12:12 am

Palestinian Diplomat Who Went Viral for U.N. Speech Says Israel & U.S. Are Isolated on Gaza
by Amy Goodman
December 13, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/13 ... srael_gaza


The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza: 153 U.N. members approved the resolution, 23 abstained, and just 10, including the United States, voted “no.” The vote is nonbinding but adds to the mounting isolation faced by the U.S. for its ongoing support of Israel’s assault that has killed at least 18,000 Palestinians in just over two months. In an exclusive interview, Democracy Now! speaks with Palestinian diplomat Nada Tarbush, whose address to the U.N. went viral last month. “Only a handful of powerful states have been trying to get Palestine off the agenda and been blocking any avenue to push for the rights of the Palestinian people under international law,” says Tarbush. She also discusses how Zionists have disrupted Palestine’s history of diversity by trying to create an ethnocracy through ethnic cleansing and colonization.

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

The United Nations General Assembly has voted overwhelmingly for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. In Tuesday’s vote, 153 nations approved the resolution, 23 abstained, just 10, including the U.S. and Israel, voted “no.” Though nonbinding, the U.N. vote is another indication of the mounting isolation of the United States as it continues to support Israel’s assault, which has killed over 18,000 Palestinians in a little over two months. The vote came just days after the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire.

Meanwhile, President Biden has delivered his sharpest criticism yet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During a donor event in Washington, D.C., Biden criticized what he called Israel’s, quote, “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza.

In a moment, we’ll be joined by the Palestinian U.N. diplomat Nada Tarbush. But first, let’s turn to a speech she gave in November at the U.N. in Geneva. It went viral.

NADA TARBUSH: Israel said something that should make all of you shudder. It effectively said, “I can kill any and every person in Gaza. The 2.3 million people in Gaza are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers or human shields, and are therefore legitimate targets.” Every person, according to Israel, falls into one of these three categories — a child, a journalist, a doctor, a U.N. staff, a newborn baby in an incubator. And so, according to Israel, it can kill them and then have the audacity to come to this room and tell the world with a straight face, “We are acting in accordance with international law.”

The death of each of the over 11,350 people killed over the past month, be it children, journalists, U.N. staff, the sick, the elderly, according to Israel, was justified. Think about that for a moment, and let it give you pause. Anyone espousing this warped logic has no shred of humanity, no sense of morality and no knowledge of legality.

But guess what: Your carpet explanation for carpet bombing will not fly. People are not fools. The people in this room are seasoned diplomats, who are well read, have a knowledge of history, and many of whom have seen your government make the same arguments during your six previous military aggressions on Gaza in the past 15 years. They have seen you resort to collective punishment, targeting of Palestinian children, journalists, medical staff, aid workers before. They have seen you forcibly transfer our communities, colonize our lands, demolish our homes, and evict families from their own properties since the 7th of October and for the 75 years that preceded it.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Palestinian U.N. diplomat Nada Tarbush speaking November 17th, almost a month ago. At the time, the death toll in Gaza from Israel’s assault was about 11,000. Today it’s over 18,600.

Nada Tarbush joins us now in an exclusive interview from Geneva, where she serves as counselor to the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations in Geneva.

I’m wondering, Nada Tarbush, if you can start off by responding to the UNGA, the U.N. General Assembly’s overwhelming call, even if it is symbolic, for a Gaza ceasefire, in response to the U.S. vetoing in the U.N. Security Council on Friday the ceasefire call, at the same time that it looks like President Biden is intensifying his criticism of Netanyahu and the Israeli bombardment, criticizing indiscriminate bombing. If you can just take that on?

NADA TARBUSH: Absolutely. First of all, thank you so much for having me, Amy.

So, with regard to the UNGA vote, what I’d like to first say is, to put it in context for the audience, this resolution was brought to the General Assembly following the United States’s veto on a resolution at the Security Council last Friday which had called for an immediate ceasefire. And so states invoked tools that are available in the United Nations to — whenever the Security Council is deadlocked, to take the discussion to the General Assembly, and on a matter of international peace and security. So this is what happened. And the vote was, unsurprisingly, overwhelmingly for an immediate ceasefire.

Now, the significance this vote was that not only is it showing that the support that Israel had, from many Western states especially, for its military assault on Gaza is eroding, and even staunch supporters of Israel, like Australia and like Canada, are now saying we need a ceasefire. And so, what this shows is that Israel is isolated, the United States is isolated. The General Assembly, which is the world’s parliament and which is the most democratic organ in the United Nations, has said, “We overwhelmingly want an immediate ceasefire.”

Now, at the same time — and this is where sometimes you feel there’s a parallel reality — you hear the United States voting against that — you see the United States voting against that resolution, and at the same time words from the Biden administration about Israeli indiscriminate bombing. So, my comment on that would be that we believe in actions and not words when it comes to the U.S. government. I have heard words in the U.N. that anyone would have thought were a good thing for the Americans to say, like “We care about Palestinian civilians.” But this will not fly as long as we see the United States sending military aid, billions of dollars in military aid, using Americans’ taxpayer money, which it could have used on other things, like homelessness and healthcare, and sending that aid to help Israel commit a genocide. So I am not convinced that the Biden administration has changed course. It is still voting against a ceasefire, vetoing Security Council resolutions, sending aid and giving Israel all the diplomatic and political cover that it needs.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Nada Tarbush, I wanted to ask you — before October 7th, both Israel and the United States comfortably believed that the issue of Palestine had been forgotten by the rest of the world. I’m wondering your sense of how the world has rallied in the recent two months in support of the Palestinian cause.

NADA TARBUSH: I would say that the world has never forgotten Palestine, unless by “the world” we mean the powerful, militarized states like the United States and other European states or other states from the Global North, let’s say. The international community has, year after year, said — called for a solution, called for an end to occupation, for an end to apartheid, an end to the settlement colonization project that we see in the West Bank. And so, it is only a handful of powerful states that have been trying to get Palestine off the agenda and blocking any avenue to push for the rights of the Palestinian people under international law.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Could you talk, as well, about your own family history as it relates to Palestine? Your family fled in 1948. Because in your powerful speech, you also talked about how relations between Jews and Palestinians were before the creation of Israel.

NADA TARBUSH: Yes, absolutely. My family are refugees from 1948. My father was from a village near Jerusalem which is one of the more than 450 villages that were completely destroyed during the Nakba, which is the catastrophic events that led to mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and to the most protracted refugee crisis in the world. And my mother also is from a city that became part of Israel after 1948.

The Palestine’s history is one of diversity. It is a multiethnic, multireligious land historically, which has hosted and welcomed all faiths, which has welcomed people of various ethnicities. It has always been a culturally diverse mosaic. And so, this is why it is not surprising to me that many people don’t see that this land can be transformed into an ethnocracy, into a state which is only for one people. And you have seen, even in the early days of Zionism, that you had many Jewish intellectuals, like Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt, Sigmund Freud and others, who were against the idea of an exclusively Jewish state in the historical land of Palestine. They saw that that would cause issues like ethnic cleansing, like not respecting and indeed violating the rights of the Indigenous inhabitants.

AMY GOODMAN: In your speech that you gave at the U.N. in Geneva, you referred to these remarks in March by Israel’s far-right West Bank settler, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

BEZALEL SMOTRICH: [translated] There is no such thing as a Palestinian. There is no such thing as a Palestinian people. … Do you know who is Palestinian? I am Palestinian.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that is the finance minister, part of Netanyahu’s government, Smotrich, saying, “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian,” and, for people, in case you had any trouble hearing this, “I am a Palestinian,” he said. I was wondering if you can respond.

NADA TARBUSH: Yes, I can. This is, again, not a surprising narrative. It is a narrative that we have been hearing for decades, which is that Israel does not want a Palestinian state. Golda Meir, a former Israeli prime minister, said that there is no such thing as the Palestinian people. Palestinians have been dehumanized since the creation of Israel, and even before, and, you know, in order to try and justify this settler colonial project. And there was the myth of a land without a people for a people without a land. But there were people on this land, and they are the Palestinian people.

And so, for us to hear these kind of racist and colonialist slogans is consistent with what Israel has been doing in terms of action throughout these years, which is to try and get rid of the maximum of Palestinian inhabitants from Palestine, from the West Bank, from Gaza, and to try and replace them with Israeli settlers. And so, you know, they’re just saying explicitly what they have been doing. And I think that in Gaza now, what we are seeing is the continuation of this policy of mass ethnic cleansing, of forced displacement, of trying to get rid of the Palestinian population in order to take over the land.

AMY GOODMAN: You also note in —

NADA TARBUSH: And so, you know, even the Biden — please.

AMY GOODMAN: You also note in your speech in September that Netanyahu held up a map on what he called the new Middle East, that did not show Palestine, during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It did not show the West Bank, East Jerusalem or Gaza. Explain what he’s putting forward, and then President Biden now saying to this group of donors that — he’s criticizing Netanyahu, saying that he is doing this in Gaza because he doesn’t want a Palestinian — a two-state solution.

NADA TARBUSH: Indeed, yes. So, again, this is not the first time that the Israelis have shown maps which completely delete the West Bank and Gaza and incorporate them into Israel and call them Israel. I mean, this has been done consistently. Jerusalem, East Jerusalem, as — West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem were annexed. There are annexationist policies happening in the West Bank with the construction of settlements and the wall and the whole settler colonial infrastructure. And in Gaza, this is — a similar project is underway. And Gaza and the West Bank have been occupied for 56 years. Palestinian dispossession has taken place for 75 years. It is an ongoing Nakba. It is a continuation of mass ethnic cleansing and annexationist policies.

Now, the problem with them formally annexing these lands is that they would have to give the right to vote to the Palestinians, whose land they would be annexing. So, instead, they try to get rid of the Palestinians before annexing the land. But the plan has been clear, and it is a plan to take over what remains of Palestine, which is very little, what remains of historic Palestine. The West Bank and Gaza constitute 22% of historic Palestine. With the settlements, this has reduced dramatically. And they’re trying to take over whatever little bits are left.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you for being with us, Nada Tarbush, counselor to the Permanent Observer Mission of the State of Palestine to the United Nations in Geneva. This is her first broadcast interview since the video went viral of her U.N. address on Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that she gave in Geneva.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

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Israel Accused of War Crimes for “Apparently Deliberate” Killing of Reuters Journalist in Lebanon
by Amy Goodman
December 14, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/14 ... transcript

Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for Israel to be officially investigated for committing war crimes in its targeting of journalists. This comes after an internal Reuters investigation conclusively found that its journalist Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli tank shell fired on him and a group of six other journalists in southern Lebanon on October 13. We speak with investigation co-author and Reuters Lebanon bureau chief Maya Gebeily, who says the group of journalists “did everything right,” including being clearly marked as press, yet were still fired upon in two successive strikes, meaning the attack is a clear violation of international humanitarian law against the military targeting of journalists.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are calling for Israel to be investigated for committing war crimes for targeting journalists. The groups have both called for an official investigation into an October 13th Israeli tank strike that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah while he was reporting in southern Lebanon with a group of six other journalists. One of the journalists who survived the attack, Christina Assi of Agence France-Presse, AFP, had to have her leg amputated. She’s still hospitalized. Human Rights Watch said it, quote, “found no evidence of a military target near the journalists’ location,” unquote. Reuters also conducted its own investigation and concluded that Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli tank shell.

This is an excerpt of a short video report produced by Agence France-Presse. It includes interviews with AFP reporters Christina Assi, in her hospital bed, and Dylan Collins.

ALESSANDRA GALLONI: Reuters video journalist Issam Abdallah was killed on Friday, October 13th, when a shell hit him.

NARRATOR: Six other journalists are wounded. Among them, AFP photographer Christina Assi, who suffers serious injuries, later needing an amputation of her right leg.

CHRISTINA ASSI: Everything gets white, and I lose sensation in my leg.

DYLAN COLLINS: I saw Christina on the ground, and I immediately ran to her, and we were hit the second time.

CHRISTINA ASSI: There was no Hamas around us, no Hezbollah around us.

DYLAN COLLINS: Seven journalists wearing flak jackets, wearing helmets, everyone with “press” written on their chest, there’s no way they didn’t know that we were press.

CHRISTINA ASSI: And we were attacked by Israel twice, not once.

AMY GOODMAN: That was AFP reporter Christina Assi, who lost her leg after being hit by an Israeli tank shell October 13th in the same attack that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah. And this is an excerpt from a video made by Amnesty International documenting how it determined that Issam Abdallah was killed by an Israeli tank shell.

MARIJA RISTIC: In many cases when we work on conflicts, the weapon can directly lead us to perpetrators. This is the key piece of evidence. My colleague, who’s our weapons analyst, knew immediately what this weapon is.

AYA MAJZOUB: It was a 120-millimeter tank round. And that confirmed that it was the Israeli military that fired on the journalists, because Hezbollah and the armed groups in south Lebanon don’t use those kinds of weapons.

MARIJA RISTIC: And more importantly, we did identify this weapon before being used by the Israeli forces in the context of different strikes on Gaza. So this is at least the third time where we are able to link this type of weapon with the Israeli forces.

AMY GOODMAN: An excerpt of a video by Amnesty International.

We’re joined now by Maya Gebeily. She is the Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon. She co-wrote the new Reuters special report, “Israeli tank fire killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon.”

Maya, welcome to Democracy Now! Our condolences to you and your colleagues on the loss of Issam. If you can talk about what exactly you found? Talk about that day, as we just heard these other reporters who survived the attack, one having lost her leg, discussing.

MAYA GEBEILY: Thank you, Amy, for having us on. And, of course, Issam’s loss is one that we continue to feel every single day in the Reuters bureau and across the media, the media teams across Lebanon.

That day, I mean, ironically and very sadly, it was Friday the 13th. And Issam had been in the south covering Israeli shelling on Lebanese territory for a few days by that point. And he’s a very seasoned journalist. So, as you have reported yourself, as well, on this show in the past, Issam had a lot of conflict experience. He did everything right, along with the colleagues with whom he was, on that day. They were wearing press helmets. They were wearing vests that had “press” written on them. They were in an open area in which they could be clearly identified by all of the, obviously, the Israeli drone activity above, the Israeli helicopter activity around them, that they could be clearly identified as press.

And that evening — it was really as the sun was setting — that team of journalists — there were seven of them there in total on that hilltop — were hit twice, 37 seconds apart, first by an Israeli tank shell that hit Issam and killed Issam immediately, and 37 seconds later by another tank shell that hit the vehicle that had been driven by the two Al Jazeera journalists that were also going live from that location. And really, it was the experts that we spoke to at the end of our investigation, after presenting them with the evidence that we had gathered, you know, noting that there were two strikes in such quick succession at a team of journalists that could be so clearly identified, that warrants, you know, calling this a violation of international humanitarian law and possibly amounting to a war crime.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about this. I mean, you’ve got Al Jazeera. You’ve got AFP, Agence France-Presse. You’ve got Reuters. Issam had just set up, what, like an hour before, this live feed, that people all over the world were watching. I talked to another Reuters journalist who said he was watching, and suddenly just this strike, trying to figure out what had taken place. So, in a sense, he actually filmed his own death, Issam.

MAYA GEBEILY: Yes. And I think that is the ultimate kind of — you know, he was really bearing witness everything that was happening in southern Lebanon. And Issam himself is from southern Lebanon. So, you know, it is such a testament to the power of his work and of his job that really it was him and the feeds of other journalists that were there in the area that provided such an important piece of evidence for us as we were investigating exactly what happened. I mean, in the immediate aftermath, you know, we were gathering the footage from different journalists who were there. We were also gathering what Issam had filmed himself on his camera and on his phone. And it was so difficult to go through that, that evidence, knowing that he had really documented such important evidence of what had taken place that day.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the tank shell — the two tank shells that injured and killed the journalists, and how you were able to identify them? We just heard clips from Amnesty and AFP.

MAYA GEBEILY: Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN: And how precise they were, as opposed to a dumb bomb that’s being used, for example, in Gaza in almost half the cases?

MAYA GEBEILY: Absolutely. So, what we did in the immediate aftermath — the attack was on a Friday. By Sunday, we were trying to gain access to the site where Issam was killed. There was ongoing shelling in the area, so it was very difficult for us to be able to go in and to collect evidence, but we were able to get to the site and to spend a few minutes there, essentially just picking up what we thought could be shrapnel, so that we could get it tested. We, later on, then also obtained another — the tail fin, which is the biggest piece of evidence that we had. And these were taken to a lab in The Hague. We had other analysts looking at them at the same time visually and being able to kind of identify the features of these different bits of shrapnel visually to tell us what they think it might be. The lab was able to test them from a chemical perspective, to test, you know, what chemical components were there.

And these independent analytical processes came to the same conclusion, which is that this is an Israeli-made tank, as you noted in the introduction, as well. It’s made by an Israeli weapons manufacturer. And it is fired from a weapon system that’s on top of the Merkava tank. And so that was really the conclusive kind of evidence, in addition to geolocation of the exact firing location from where these shells were fired, that could allow us to conclusively say that this was an Israeli tank using an Israeli weapon system, fired from an Israeli location, that hit those journalists on that day.

AMY GOODMAN: And what about the drones? One of the things the reporters described — well, they say there wasn’t gunfire; they weren’t, like, caught in the crossfire at that point; it was quiet — that there were drones. They were all wearing their press gear. You know, you could see “P-R-E-S-S.” They said I’m sure that they could see their faces that closely. Talk about the level of Israeli surveillance there.

MAYA GEBEILY: It’s a really important point, and not one that should be overlooked. Again, these journalists did everything right. In the interviews that we conducted, as well, with our own teams that were there — Thaer Al-Sudani, Reuters photographer; Maher Nazeh, Reuters video journalist, who were also wounded on that day — they said, “We chose that location specifically — not just because we had a clear view of the border area which we wanted to be filming, but also because there were different positions along the border that had a clear view of us. And so nobody could then accuse us of embedding with armed groups, doing something suspicious, you know, hiding behind a line of trees, anything like that. We were clearly visible from all sides.” And that was one of the key reasons they chose that location. So, that’s the kind of 360 on the ground.

But in all of the footage that we reviewed and in the eyewitness statements that we gathered, as well, from that day, everybody — everybody — could mention and remembered hearing the sound of Israeli drones, surveillance drones, overhead. That sound really has not left southern Lebanon over the past two months almost. There have been brief respites, but the residents of southern Lebanon are very, very accustomed to hearing that sound, hearing the sound of surveillance drones above. And so, what that tells us is, again, Israel had such a clear view of the journalists, either from the air or from the different surveillance points that they have along the border. And, you know, Merkava tanks, as well, have a very, very — have a very long distance at which they can see quite clearly through the scope. I believe it’s up to nine kilometers, if I’m not mistaken. But either way, those journalists were about 1.3 kilometers from the border. They were clearly within the visible range that you could have from that scope.

AMY GOODMAN: They had such a view of the area in three directions. I mean, this is a controversial question. Do you think Israel did not want them there? And what have they said? I mean, right afterwards, when there was tremendous outcry, they said they would look into it. They said they were sorry it happened. They didn’t take responsibility. What about now that the Reuters report is out, the Amnesty report is out, the Agence France-Presse report is out?

MAYA GEBEILY: We, at various points, Reuters, from the very first moment, you know, from that night of Friday, October 13th, sought more details and more information from the Israeli military. So, at various points, Reuters has gone back to the Israeli military and asked them, “Can you give us more information about what happened on that day? Can you tell us whether it was you that targeted them? If so, what were they suspected of doing, or what was the reasoning?” And we’ve gotten very little information. I mean, the IDF has told us, just in response to our findings, that they do not target journalists. And we have gotten nowhere else beyond that.

I mean, they have repeatedly said, obviously, when it comes to southern Lebanon, that this is a conflict area, that there is kind of crossfire happening all the time, that it’s very dangerous. But I think it’s really important to remember, again, that these journalists were not embedded with any armed actors. They were there on that hilltop, very, very far away, as Amnesty has really kind of meticulously laid out in its report, as well, and as the eyewitnesses told us, very far away from any armed activities and from any crossfire. It’s not like they were caught up between two sides shooting at each other. It was a very quiet day, and they were filming shelling at a distance.

And it’s important to note here, as well, that after our investigation was published, Reuters editor-in-chief Alessandra Galloni has escalated her calls to Israel, not just to carry out an investigation, but to carry out a criminal investigation and to determine who exactly was responsible for those two strikes. And, you know, that really goes to show that there’s something criminal that took place on that day.

AMY GOODMAN: According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 63 journalists and media workers have been killed since October 7th, including 56 Palestinian, four Israeli and three Lebanese journalists. Authorities in Gaza put the death toll higher, saying 86 Palestinian media workers have been killed in Gaza since October 7th, the Hamas attack. The Committee to Protect Journalists says no other war has taken so many journalist lives in such a short time span, this according to CPJ data that’s been gathered since 1992. Your final comments? And as we wrap up, Maya, you didn’t just do an investigation of people you didn’t know. You knew Issam Abdallah well. This is a close-knit community. And it goes beyond Reuters, journalists dealing with this all over the world, how many journalists are dying right now in Gaza and southern Lebanon. What do you want us to remember about Issam?

MAYA GEBEILY: Issam was someone who did everything with a lot of passion and integrity. And as we were carrying out this investigation, you know, I was trying to do it in the same way, just to carry — you know, to leave no stone unturned, to do this as right as we possibly could and go as far as we possibly can with that investigation. And even journalists within Reuters who never met Issam were so moved by learning about him as they worked on this investigation, in the way that he did his job, the care with which he approached every interview subject. He treated everybody with so much humanity and with so much love. He was really a model for us in the Beirut bureau, for people who had been journalists even for longer than him and for people who were just starting out. He just took the time to teach everyone, to teach our interns, to teach everybody who was in the office how to look for a story, how to do a story justice. And I think that’s something that — you know, we’re all trying to carry that with us every single day as we try to pick up the pieces in the office and keep covering what is continuing to be, you know, a very active and bloody conflict around the region.

AMY GOODMAN: I encourage people to go to our interview with Lama Al-Arian, who was a dear friend of Issam in Lebanon. She works with Vice News. Maya Gebeily, we want to thank you so much for being with us, Reuters bureau chief for Lebanon, co-wrote the new Reuters special report, “Israeli tank fire killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah in Lebanon.”


Jeremy Scahill: Gaza “Scorched-Earth Campaign” Is a “Joint U.S.-Israeli Operation”
by Amy Goodman
December14, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/14 ... transcript

We discuss President Joe Biden’s “full support for a scorched-earth campaign” in Gaza with The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill, who says the U.S. is providing “political cover and rushing weapons there and giving support to the most pernicious lies that Israel [is] telling.” Despite the Biden administration's recent assertions that it is helping to restrain Israel, Israel’s military and intelligence operation is significantly propped up by resources from the United States State and Defense departments, explains Scahill. “This is a joint U.S. operation militarily and politically.” Meanwhile, he says, Biden continues to repeat debunked falsehoods about pictures of beheaded babies from the October 7 Hamas attack.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

The United States is becoming increasingly isolated as it continues to oppose calls for a Gaza ceasefire while sending more munitions to Israel. On Tuesday, the United States was one of just 10 nations to vote against a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for a ceasefire. That vote came four days after the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution for a ceasefire. This comes as the Biden administration has bypassed Congress to approve the sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel, the sale valued at more than $106 million.

We’re joined now by the award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept. His new piece is just out this morning, headlined “Joe Biden Keeps Repeating His False Claim That He Saw Pictures of Beheaded Babies.” But we’re going to begin with your piece just before that, headlined “This Is Not a War Against Hamas.”

Jeremy, you write, “The events of the past week should obliterate any doubt that the war against the Palestinians of Gaza is a joint U.S.-Israeli operation.” Take it from there.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, you know, of course, it’s no secret that for many decades the United States has showered Israel with not just military and intelligence support, but, crucially, political and, I guess you could say, moral cover for the amoral, immoral activities that Israel engages in as it operates its apartheid state in the West Bank and its repeated attacks against the people of Gaza. And, you know, when we want to talk about Hamas and we want to talk about threats that Israel faces, that it says it faces from Gaza, we have to understand that this didn’t begin on October 7th. Yes, the events of October 7th were horrifying, and the facts as they exist, as we know them, are bad enough. And to have Joe Biden repeatedly making comments that are based on completely fictitious photos that he claims to have saw of, you know, 40 babies being beheaded, then we understand that this is part of a propaganda campaign aimed at dehumanizing the population of Gaza and implying very strongly — well, actually, Joe Biden has said that Israel is waging a war against animals. This is all part of a dehumanization campaign, and Joe Biden has elevated some of the most obscene lies that have been told about — not just about Palestinian people, in general, but even about what Hamas did on October 7th. What we know is true is already horrifying enough, so I don’t know what the motive is for Biden to continuously say this.

But to directly answer your question about it being a joint U.S. military operation, for decades the U.S. has done this, but in this particular war, on October 9th, you had the defense secretary, the defense minister of Israel, Yoav Gallant, say that there is going to be — that he had ordered a complete siege of the Gaza Strip. He said, “There will be no electricity. There will be no food, no fuel.” I’m quoting. “Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” This is a genocidal phrase from the minister of defense of the Israeli armed forces on October 9th. At that moment, the United States should have hit pause immediately on any support for Israel and said, “We want to clarify that this is not going to be a war waged against a civilian population.” Not only did the Biden administration not do that, they continued to offer political cover and rushing weapons there and giving support to the most pernicious lies that Israel was telling.

And what we saw in the past days is that on the day that the United States stands alone in the world and vetoes the extraordinary session of United Nations Security Council calling for a humanitarian ceasefire, Antony Blinken informs the Pentagon and Congress that he was circumventing congressional review processes to rush through 13,000 additional tank rounds that are part of a package of 45,000 rounds that the U.S. is slated to give Israel. While he’s doing that, he is in the middle of a PR tour around the world saying the United States cares about Palestinian civilians, cares about Palestinian lives, wants to make sure that innocent people are not being killed. So, you can take the words of the administration, on the one hand, where they portray themselves almost like a kind of friend trying to talk tough to another friend who’s doing something really wrong, and, on the other hand, you can look at their actions, which is full support for a scorched-earth campaign that has killed more than 18,000 people, 7,000 of whom are children, targets being — hospitals being targeted and bombed, children being massacred, sadistic videos emerging of IDF soldiers not just killing and mutilating Palestinian bodies, but also creating propaganda films, like we saw with the stripped-down prisoners.

And one, in particular, Amy, one of the famous incidents that occurred here, is that Israeli forces gathered together dozens of men, stripped them to their underwear, and then, bizarrely, filmed them laying down guns. These are almost completely naked men that somehow still have guns in their hands. And then they filmed them putting them down. And the man who was the main person that they filmed placing a rifle down has been identified as a civilian, not a member of Hamas. But in the video, too, there’s edits where in one cut he has the rifle in his right hand, in the other cut he has the rifle in his left hand. What is clear here is that Israel made a totally sick and twisted propaganda video where they forced Palestinian men at gunpoint to be actors in this propaganda film playing armed Hamas members.

The Biden administration is completely complicit in this. Joe Biden is co-signing pernicious lies about the people of Gaza. He is distorting the already devastating and horrifying facts of October 7th. And he’s keeping the spigot of military and intelligence support open for the Israelis. And by the way, the recent reporting — and you had the author of this on — from +972 Magazine in Israel that talked about “The Gospel,” this AI-fueled assassination program in Israel, and that they sometimes will kill hundreds of Palestinian civilians in pursuit of one alleged Hamas member, much of the intelligence that is being fed to the Israelis is coming from the United States to be used to wage this war. So, yes, this is a joint U.S. operation militarily and politically.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a recent White House press briefing, National Security Council coordinator Admiral John Kirby claiming the U.S. was doing more than any other nation to alleviate suffering in Gaza.

JOHN KIRBY: Tell me, name me one more nation, any other nation, that’s doing as much as the United States to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of Gaza. You can’t. You just can’t. … And name another nation that is doing more to urge the Israeli counterparts, our Israeli counterparts, to be as cautious and deliberate as they can be in the prosecution of their military operations. You can’t.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s John Kirby. Jeremy, your response?

JEREMY SCAHILL: OK. First of all, the United States has supplied an unending quantity of gasoline for Israel to pour on the fire that it has started in Gaza. It is an absolute obscenity for John Kirby to stand in front of the world and make such an audacious claim that the United States is doing more to help the Palestinian civilians than any other nation on Earth.

But I’ll give you a concrete list of some nation-states that are doing more than the United States. Ireland, which has opposed this from the beginning, has rightly termed what Israel is doing what it is. The government of Spain. The government of Belgium even has spoken out more forcefully than the United States. All of the nations that voted in the General Assembly for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, and the United States and only none other countries voted on Israel’s side, all of those nations are doing more than the United States to try to help the Palestinian people.

You know, you can send Samantha Power on a propaganda visit to bring 36,000 pounds of aid and have all the cameras around filming her talking about it, while at the same time you’re giving Israel 2,000-pound bombs, you’re giving them intelligence used for their scorched-earth campaign, you’re circumventing congressional processes to rush them new tank rounds. No, this is utterly obscene. And John Kirby should be entirely ashamed of himself for his conduct during this entire thing, Amy. The entire thing. John Kirby has been one of the most vicious propagandists for the worst excesses in crimes of the U.S.-backed Israeli scorched-earth campaign in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about a New York Times exposé that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention. Israel just canceled a planned trip to Qatar by the head of Mossad to resume hostage negotiations. Well, that’s the latest news. His name is David Barnea. But this comes as the Times has published an exposé headlined “'Buying Quiet': Inside the Israeli Plan That Propped Up Hamas.” It’s about Israel secretly sending billions of dollars to Hamas over roughly a decade. The piece begins, quote, “Just weeks before Hamas launched the deadly Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, the head of Mossad arrived in Doha, Qatar, for a meeting with Qatari officials. For years, the Qatari government had been sending millions of dollars a month into the Gaza Strip — money that helped prop up the Hamas government there. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel not only tolerated those payments, he [had] encouraged them.” And when the Qatari officials asked David Barnea, the head of Mossad, “Should we stop this?” he said, “No.” Jeremy Scahill, your response?

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, what we know is, at least going back to 2012, Netanyahu has embraced this strategy that Hamas should be propped up in Gaza — it probably goes back much before that, but if we want to talk about concrete, provable facts. And in 2019, there’s a quote where Netanyahu is addressing his comrades in the Likud party. This is in 2019, and he said the following, quote, “Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas.”

So, what’s going on here? Well, Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t want an Israeli [sic] state, and he wants to make sure that no alternative voices —

AMY GOODMAN: A Palestinian state, doesn’t want it.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Sorry, doesn’t want — yes. Well, he also seems to be working very hard in that regard, too, because he’s making it less safe in the world for Jewish people by his actions, and he is — you know, if you read the Israeli press, there’s an increasing amount of criticism that what Netanyahu is doing is actually going to make the citizens of Israel less safe in the world, not more safe.

But what Netanyahu wants to do is make sure that no political forces rise in Gaza or elsewhere in Palestine that can garner more support from the world in pursuit of being recognized as human beings, being recognized as a fully independent nation. And so, of course he wants to keep the money flowing to Hamas. It’s very good for his business, for his agenda. It’s also very good for both the United States and the Israeli war agenda and war industries.

But the other part of this, Amy, is, when we talk about groups like Hamas, beyond the fact that there’s a documented history of Netanyahu, for his own reasons, supporting the flow of money and the grip on power of Hamas, you also have the reality that for 75 years Israel has operated a murderous campaign against the Palestinian people aimed at making sure they will never get an independent homeland. And when you do things, as occurred in 2018 and 2019, like gunning down, repeatedly gunning down, nonviolent protesters who participated in the weekly Friday marches on the Great March of Return, and you had a Haaretz exposé where IDF soldiers confessed that they were in a competition to see how many kneecaps they could shoot of these nonviolent protesters, it’s sickening. When you see how Palestinians are treated when they do what the world or what others say they should do — “Oh, protest nonviolently. Don’t take up arms” — they’re gunned down by Netanyahu’s forces. So, why is there a group like Hamas? Why was there a group like the African National Congress? Why was there a group like the Irish Republican Army? Why would people support vicious entities like Hamas? Well, because they’ve been stripped of every possible other means of resistance by their occupiers, by settler colonialist powers. So, if we want to talk about why is there a Hamas, part of it is people like Netanyahu, and Netanyahu personally supporting the rise of Hamas and sustaining Hamas. And the other part of it is 75 years of history of constantly massacring Palestinians and showing them that nonviolent protest also will not be tolerated.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy, we just have a minute, but I want to go to your new piece, out today, headlined “Joe Biden Keeps Repeating His False Claim That He Saw Pictures of Beheaded Babies.” I want to go back to President Biden, October 11th, four days after October 7th, when Hamas attacked Israel, when he was speaking to a group of Jewish community leaders.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I mean, I have been doing this a long time. I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children. I never thought I’d ever — anyway.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s President Biden. The White House was forced to walk this back somewhat. But explain what he’s talking about.

JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, in the immediate aftermath of the Hamas-led attacks on October 7th, when journalists — and at first it was primarily Israeli journalists — went to the scene of some of the kibbutzes where the massacres had taken place, they began to hear stories from Israeli soldiers that there were decapitated babies and babies who were burned alive. And so, i24NEWS in Israel, one of their reporters, we believe, was the first to report this and said that it was based on what Israeli soldiers had told her. And then that starts to spread like wildfire. CNN then picks up the report. CBS also did a report promoting the claim that there were beheaded babies. And then, as much more attention starts getting drawn to it, people start asking the Israeli government, and Netanyahu’s spokesperson then confirms that this happened.

And then, a few hours later, you have Joe Biden standing up and saying that he has personally seen photographs of it. Then, when U.S. reporters started pushing on this and saying, you know, “Is Biden saying that the U.S. has independent evidence of this?” then they had to say, “No, actually, Joe Biden and no one in the administration has seen any photos. He was just referring to the media reporting about it.”

And now the Israeli government doesn’t make this claim at all anymore. In fact, when Netanyahu has appeared alongside U.S. officials, or when Tony Blinken is shown photos by the Israeli government of the aftermath of the horrifying scene at the kibbutzes, he’s never mentioned beheaded babies. Netanyahu has said that they beheaded soldiers.

But what is really perplexing is that the established facts that we already understand are horrifying enough. Why would the most powerful individual in the world find the need to repeatedly — not just once, Amy. He said it in October, he said it in November, and he said it a few days ago. He keeps saying that he has seen photos, and then his advisers have to walk it back. Also, The Washington Post reported that before he first said that, in a meeting with his staffers, they warned him against including that in his speech because they said it’s not verified.

So, what you have here is Joe — this is the one of the most incendiary charges that has been made about those raids led by Hamas on October 7th, this idea of beheaded babies. But if you look at the actual figures that have been released by Israel — and I want to be very precise here, because it’s very, very important. If you look at the actual figures — and I’m going to read this for you, Amy. This is published in mainstream Israeli news outlets. They’ve said approximately 1,200 Israelis or Israeli residents were killed on October 7th: 274 of them were soldiers, 764 were civilians, 57 were police, 38 were local security guards. Among the civilians killed, there was a 9-month-old baby — she was the youngest — Mila Cohen. She was shot — and this is horrifying — she was shot as her mother carried her. Her mother survived, but her father and other relatives were killed. So you had a 9-month-old that was killed. Then you had 12 children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old, and you had 36 children between the ages of 10 and 19 years old.

Where does this story of 40 beheaded babies come from? Well, Israel has walked it back. The reporters have retracted it. Only Joe Biden is out there in the world continuing to insist that he somehow has seen photos of beheaded babies, when not even Benjamin Netanyahu, who absolutely would be screaming it every day if it was true, isn’t going that far.

AMY GOODMAN: Jeremy Scahill, I want to thank you for being with us, senior reporter and correspondent at The Intercept. We’ll link to your pieces.


Palestinian Student Shot in VT & Granddaughter of Holocaust Survivor Join Haverford Sit-In for Gaza
by Amy Goodman
December 14, 2023
https://www.democracynow.org/2023/12/14 ... transcript

We look at student protests nationwide calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, including 41 students at Brown University arrested Monday at a sit-in demanding the school divest its endowment from weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and United Technologies, and a weeklong sit-in at Haverford College. One of the students who joined the protest has just returned to campus: Kinnan Abdalhamid, a junior who was shot two weeks ago along with his two friends, who are also of Palestinian descent, by a white man in Burlington, Vermont. We speak with Abdalhamid and Ellie Baron, an organizer with Students for Peace at Haverford College who is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. “It’s very heartwarming to see a collective body of students stand against a blatant genocide of my people,” says Abdalhamid about support for Palestine at Haverford and other schools.


This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

We look now at student protests calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. In one of many actions nationwide, 41 students at Brown University were arrested Monday at a sit-in demanding the school divest its endowment from weapons manufacturers like Raytheon and United Technologies. The school charged the students with willful trespass within school buildings. Meanwhile, students at Haverford College just ended a peaceful weeklong sit-in yesterday of the school’s administrative offices.

PROTESTERS: Hey hey, ho ho! Militarism has got to go! Hey hey, ho ho! Militarism has got to go!

AMY GOODMAN: Some 100 Haverford students now face the threat of disciplinary action. One of the students who joined the protest has just returned to campus. Kinnan Abdalhamid is a junior at Haverford who was shot two weeks ago, along with his two friends, by a white man in Burlington, Vermont. All three are of Palestinian descent. Tahseen Ahmed was shot in the chest, and Hisham Awartani was paralyzed from the chest down after a bullet lodged in his spinal cord. He is a student at Brown University. The three grew up and went to school together in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

We are joined by Kinnan Abdalhamid at Haverford College and by his fellow student Ellie Baron, a Haverford College junior and organizer with Students for Peace who participated in the sit-in. She’s granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Kinnan, thank you so much for being with us. What you and your two close friends went through — I mean, you grew up in Ramallah, went to the Friends School there, visiting together at Thanksgiving Hisham’s grandmother and uncle. Tell us what happened then. And thank goodness you’re able to go back to school, having been shot yourself. But then talk about what you’re calling for. Why were you just walking? What? You had just — were going to dinner at Hisham’s family’s house?

KINNAN ABDALHAMID: We were originally going to go straight to dinner at Hisham’s family house, but before going in, we usually decide to go on a walk. And on the walk back, when we were going to have that delayed dinner, I guess, yeah, that’s when we saw.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did you see? What happened? Explain what happened to the three of you.

KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Well, he was standing on the porch of the house, and he turned around and saw us, immediately ran down the steps of the porch, pulled out a pistol and started shooting. Tahseen was the first to be wounded, then Hisham. And during that time, I was able to run, but he seems to have hit me while I was running.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is the latest? We talked to Hisham’s mother, someone you know well, Elizabeth Price, who had flown in to be with her son. At the time we talked, it looked like he would be paralyzed from the chest down. Do you have any latest information? He’s in rehab now?

KINNAN ABDALHAMID: I’m not willing to speak on his condition now. That’s him and his family’s decision.

AMY GOODMAN: So talk about you coming back to Haverford and what that’s meant and the level of activism. And we see now at Brown, where Hisham went to school — where he goes to school, 41 students have been arrested. Talk about what’s happening at Haverford.

KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Yes. What’s happening in Haverford, the student activism has been absolutely astounding and amazing. It’s very heartwarming to see a collective body of students stand against a blatant genocide of my people, and the humanity in that, as well as — I wouldn’t like to distinguish it being only students. There are different faculty members here that are, in fact, at least pro-Palestinian when it comes to this case. It’s overwhelming to see the humanity. I’m very happy it happened. And hopefully, sometime different people with different platforms will call for a ceasefire.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to bring Ellie Baron into the conversation. You’re a Haverford junior, granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. Talk about what you’re demanding at Haverford. You all just finished occupying the admin offices, threatened with arrest yesterday. Is that right?

ELLIE BARON: So, we occupied Founders Hall, which is the main administrative building. And if we didn’t leave by yesterday morning, we were threatened with a dean’s panel, which could include expulsion. We have been calling for a ceasefire, for specifically Haverford College President Wendy Raymond to release a public statement in support of a ceasefire. And this has precedent at Haverford College. President John Coleman in 1969 wrote a letter to President Nixon and galvanized the signatures of 79 other college presidents, demanding that President Nixon oppose the Vietnam War. And so we’re demanding that President Raymond follow in his footsteps in this tradition of activism and using leadership in order to create change in the world, which is very much in line with our Quaker values, and call for a ceasefire and call for our elected officials to support peace in Palestine.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the accusations that when you call for ceasefire now, when you hold a Palestinian flag, when you wear a keffiyeh, that you’re expressing antisemitism? Talk about your own family history and how you came to the views you have, Ellie.

ELLIE BARON: Absolutely. So, antisemitism has been something that’s weaponized. We have seen accusations of antisemitism on our campus that have delegitimatized Palestinian organizing. And I, frankly, find accusations of antisemitism to be horrific, considering what my family went through in the Holocaust. There is real antisemitism out there. There are real threats to Jewish people. These threats have been experienced by my family. So many members of my family died in the Holocaust. And it’s absolutely horrifying that claims of antisemitism are being attributed to criticism of Israel. And that just delegitimatizes antisemitism and — sorry, that delegitimatizes actual threats to Jewish people and actual antisemitism in this world.

AMY GOODMAN: So, today a rally is being held as we speak at Haverford?

ELLIE BARON: So, the rally was yesterday. And we had the rally to conclude our sit-in in the administrative building. And although the sit-in is over, the calls for Haverford College and so many other higher education institutions to take action and to leverage their power for change in the world and in order to have a ceasefire have not ended. So, just because the sit-in has ended, hundreds of students yesterday at the rally called for Haverford College to create change and to call for a ceasefire and leverage their power.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Kinnan, you started by talking about how moved you are by the Haverford protests. You’ve got the last word right now. What you want to see happen at Haverford? You also just spoke at Bryn Mawr, didn’t you? Another college nearby.

KINNAN ABDALHAMID: Yeah. This college is part of a system, Bi-Co, so Bryn Mawr and Haverford are quite linked together.

If there was a final message I’d like to say, it’s to kind of, I’d say, dismantle this “we know better” mentality with a lot of people I’ve interacted with. It’s important for both sides to have an open mind and to engage with students and faculty, to have pro-Palestinian views as just like other people. They’re not misinformed. They know what they’re talking about. Palestinians, in their own rights, a lot of them that were raised in Palestine, are experts about the history, the atrocities they’ve endured and seen in their lifetime, and what has led up to the events of October 7th. It’s important to underscore that. A lot of people that were born and raised here, God bless them, simply don’t know as much and should engage with an open mind and learn more, before stifling discourse regarding the Palestine-Israel conflict, especially Palestinians who are out crying for a ceasefire, who are generally witnessing their people being exterminated.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for doing this interview with us, Kinnan Abdalhamid, again, shot Thanksgiving weekend with his two friends, Tahseen and Hisham Awartani, who at this point is paralyzed from the chest down. You can go to democracynow.org and see our interview with Elizabeth Price, Hisham’s mother. And I also want to thank Ellie Baron, a junior at Haverford involved with calling for a ceasefire.
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