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

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

Postby admin » Wed Feb 14, 2024 6:56 am

Ex-UNRWA Official: Funding Cuts Make Donor Countries Complicit in Starvation of Gaza
by Amy Goodman
February 08, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/8/u ... transcript

As Israel’s assault on Gaza has displaced the majority of Palestinians in Gaza, more than half are sheltering in facilities run by UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees. Despite being the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza, UNRWA says it may run out of funds by the end of the month, after at least 18 states or institutions, including many of the agency’s biggest funders, announced they were suspending their donations in January. The cuts came after the Israeli government accused several UNRWA employees of participating in the Hamas attack on October 7. Israel made the allegations in a document it provided to foreign governments which apparently contained no direct evidence of the claims. “As of now, the evidence simply does not exist” outside of this “dodgy Israeli dossier,” says Chris Gunness, former chief spokesperson for UNRWA. He slams donors who have pulled their funding as “doing Israel’s political bidding” in its “scheme to dismantle UNRWA” and further dispossess Palestinians in Gaza.


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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Fears are growing in Rafah over an imminent Israeli ground invasion after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal for a ceasefire on Wednesday and ordered the military to attack the southernmost city in the territory. Over 1.2 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah after being displaced in the Israeli assault. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said a ground invasion of Rafah would, quote, “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences,” he said.

Aid agencies are warning of famine amid profound food shortages, with a quarter of a million people in Gaza already starving. The healthcare system has collapsed, and the lack of water and sanitation has prompted outbreaks of illness and disease. Most of the residents in Gaza have been internally displaced, with more than half the population sheltering in facilities run by UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees.

Despite being the largest humanitarian agency in Gaza, UNRWA says it may run out of funds by the end of the month, after at least 18 states or institutions, including many of the agency’s biggest funders, announced they were suspending their donations last month. The cuts came after the Israeli government accused several UNRWA employees of participating in the Hamas attack on October 7th. Israel made the allegations in a document it provided to foreign governments, which apparently contain no direct evidence of the claims. Several news outlets, including Britain’s Channel 4, the Financial Times and Sky News, have all reported the document provided no evidence to support the conclusions that the agency’s staff were involved in the October 7th attacks. Meanwhile, Australia’s foreign minister said today she did not have all the evidence about the allegations and that she was working to bring an end to the suspension of funds. The government of Canada has also not seen any evidence to back up Israel’s claim, according to CBC News. UNRWA is set to lose $65 million in funding by the end of February as a result of the cuts, according to The New York Times. The agency relies on government contributions to fund its operations in occupied Palestine, as well as in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

For more, we’re joined in London by the former spokesperson for UNRWA, Chris Gunness. He’s now the director of the Myanmar Accountability Project.

Chirs Gunness, welcome back to Democracy Now! If you could begin by responding to this news about UNRWA possibly running out of funds by the end of this month, losing $65 million?

CHRIS GUNNESS: It’s extremely sad, and it’s extremely regrettable, because UNRWA wants nothing more than to work, as it’s done for decades, with its donors in a very cooperative relationship to restore funding. UNRWA has taken robust and resolute action. The commissioner-general, Philippe Lazzarini, sacked these workers, even before the external investigation and the internal, the OIOS report in New York, even before that had barely started. This was resolute action as part of a zero-tolerance policy.

And it’s with regret I say that I hope that the donors get onto the right side of history and get onto the right side of humanitarian principles and international humanitarian law. And I say with regret that it’s possible, at least, that even the Genocide Convention, which calls on state parties, including most of these defunders, to prevent genocide. And what is happening is that this starvation, which the U.N. correctly says is breaking out, the U.N. assesses that it’s possible that more people will die of starvation than the actual military assault. So, it’s with great regret I say that donors need to come back into the fold.

And just if I can give you just one example. We’re seeing in The New York Times these appalling pictures of these Abu Ghraib-style humiliating actions by individual Israeli soldiers. Will American officials, will American audiences judge the Israeli army by the action of a few? No, it will judge the Israeli army by the response of the Israeli army to these appalling, appalling images. And I say that is the basis upon which UNRWA should be judged, not the actions, which remain entirely unproven, as we now stand, against a few bad apples; it must judge the agency by how it responds. How has the agency responded? With robust and resolute and swift action as part of a zero-tolerance policy that is inculcated in the agency. And it’s been done in partnership with the donors. This is a failure not of UNRWA. If it’s a failure, it’s a failure of the donor community, as well, that’s been working so closely.

And even Mr. Blinken, the [U.S.] secretary of state, has said that the Americans have not been able independently to corroborate this evidence, the — what I’m calling, and what is now established in the international discourse, the “dodgy dossier.” That’s a reference to the dossier, the intelligence dossier, upon which Mr. Blair, former British prime minister, took Britain to war in Iraq. It was the dodgy dossier.

Do the donors want to be judged by history as potentially adding to a starvation, complicity potentially with the genocide against the crime of — the crime of crimes, genocide? No. They need to come back onto the right side of history and of the law and of humanitarian principles and immediately resume the funding of UNRWA. That’s the logical, that’s the humane, that’s the compassionate thing for the donors to do.

AMY GOODMAN: Chris Gunness, can you talk about what UNRWA does, how large it is? And, I mean, you talk about this Israeli dossier. We just saw CBC said the Canadian government hasn’t seen the evidence of this. The U.S. government says they haven’t seen actually the evidence, where they’re talking about something like nine or 12 UNRWA employees, of, what, 13,000 in Gaza, over 30,000 overall. Talk about the history of UNRWA.

CHRIS GUNNESS: I think it’s important, in conceiving of UNRWA, both historically and its activities today, to think of it not as an aid agency, but as a government. So, UNRWA runs, in Syria, Jordan, West Bank, Gaza and Lebanon, schools, 550 schools, so schools for 550,000 students. UNRWA’s primary health clinics have 7 million patient visits a year. UNRWA has nearly 2 million food recipients across the region. That’s the core budget. That’s the education, relief and social services, and the primary health. As well as that, UNRWA has emergency programs. So, UNRWA does these core services — education, health, relief and social services — for as many as 6 million Palestine refugees across the region, in some of the most vulnerable, isolated, fragile communities. But when emergencies happen — for example, the Gaza war — UNRWA has to keep these life-saving, regionally stabilizing services ticking over, while it turns to the emergency.

And that’s what it’s done historically. It became operational on the ground in May 1950. And as its title suggests, it did relief, humanitarian relief, for the 750,000 people who fled or were forced from their homes fleeing in the 1948 War. And it also did works. It did job creation programs, if you like. But when it became apparent that the Israeli government was not going to grant them what the Universal Declaration grants all people, which is the right to return home, UNRWA then realized that it had a huge refugee population whose children needed education, that needed primary health, that needed all sorts of services. So UNRWA gradually grew in response to the humanitarian need of the refugees that UNRWA was serving.

Cut to today, huge education program — that’s the biggest program — and, by the way, offering children around the Middle East an escape from the drudgery and the isolation, the vulnerability, the fragility, the marginalization, and offering them the chance to be citizens of the world, to put their refugee status behind them, rather than perpetuating this refugee status, which, you know, that’s an accusation that’s often thoughtlessly thrown at UNRWA. UNRWA offers refugees an escape from that narrative and that kind of life, which is why it is such a tragedy that based on a dodgy Israeli dossier, this huge existential crisis has been triggered within UNRWA, perhaps the worst in its history, and the donors have become complicit.

As Penny Wong, the Australian foreign minister, has said, as you’ve just quoted in the news, she hasn’t seen the evidence. No donor has seen the evidence, because, as of now, the evidence simply does not exist. There’s nothing that links these dozen or so former UNRWA workers — I stress the word “former” — with the alleged crimes.

So, let’s get the funding resumed. Let’s avoid a mass starvation. And to be clear, starvation is a massacre in slow motion. And that slow-motion massacre has already begun. The donors need to realize the enormity of what they have unleashed, and come back immediately into the fold, where UNRWA will embrace them and will work with them to deal with these issues, as it has always done throughout its history.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to the news conference that Secretary of State Tony Blinken held yesterday in Tel Aviv. A few journalists got to ask questions, and this was the question on UNRWA.

SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN: On UNRWA, look, we were deeply concerned by the allegations that were made about the participation or involvement of some of its employees in the – in October 7th. And it’s imperative that, as the U.N. has said it’s doing, that there be a thorough investigation, that there be clear accountability, and that there be clear measures put in place to make sure that this can’t happen again, that personnel working for it were not in any way involved in terrorism or the events of October 7th. We know that the work that UNRWA performs, the functions that it performs, have to be preserved, because so many lives are depending on it.

AMY GOODMAN: And I wanted to go back to Washington, D.C., where Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press spokesperson, was asked about the fact that Channel 4, Sky News and the Financial Times found no evidence of UNRWA involvement in the October 7th Hamas attack.

NADIA BILBASSY-CHARTERS: One more question on Gaza: Did the White House receive an ironclad evidence that, actually, the UNRWA staff members, 12 of them, were involved in the October 7 attack? Because four news organizations, including Financial Times, Channel 4 and Sky News, found no evidence to support the Israeli claim. They said, actually, what they provided was just cellphone messages and cards that had been found after Israel went to the —




NADIA BILBASSY-CHARTERS: So, where are you in the process of reviewing that? And second, considering the disaster humanitarian situation in Gaza, what’s the alternative, if you’re waiting for the results to come out or the review to come out?

PRESS SECRETARY KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: As you know, there’s an investigation happening, so we’re going to let that investigation move forward. And look, you know, funding for Palestinian civilians is a team effort. And so, for example, while we continue to provide funding to organizations like WFP, other countries may continue to fund UNRWA, which is their own sovereign decision. That is their right.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Karine Jean-Pierre saying that they think that they’re continuing the investigation, yet they’ve already cut the funding. Meanwhile, Australia, who did also defund, says they are now reevaluating. Chris Gunness, you have called the cutting of aid to UNRWA — the U.S. most important, overwhelmingly gives the more than any other country — immoral and illegal. Why illegal?

CHRIS GUNNESS: Because it’s very clear that international humanitarian law, which expressly prohibits the use of humanitarian aid, food aid, as a political weapon. And the Genocide Convention makes it an obligation on state parties to prevent genocide. And if you don’t prevent genocide, then you are guilty of violating the convention. And the fact that mass starvation is already breaking out suggests that the Genocide Convention is being violated.

But if I may, Amy, just return to some of the things Mr. Blinken said, notice — I mean, let’s be forensic about this. He used the word “allegation,” not “evidence.” Now, there is a vast, gaping gap between allegations, which anyone can make, frankly, and evidence, which needs to be corroborated. And the fact that the American intelligence services, the best, allegedly — certainly the best resourced, I should say — in the world, has not been able independently to corroborate this information, which has triggered this huge crisis, that is, I think, very, very revealing. It’s also revealing, incidentally, at the end of that soundbite you heard Mr. Blinken saying UNRWA’s work is indispensable. And I think we can talk about this whole idea of replacing UNRWA.

But you heard the spokeswoman talking about accountability. Well, let’s look at what UNRWA has done. Even before the internal U.N., at the highest level, investigation had barely started, and certainly before the external investigation had barely started, UNRWA took robust action against this. It has in place — and it’s worked for years with the donors — accountability frameworks and mechanisms. Staff are screened. The very fact the Israelis know these names is because UNRWA, as part of the zero-tolerance policy and its commitment to neutrality, passed on to the Israelis last May — let’s be precise — the entire staff list of UNRWA in Gaza and the West Bank in digital form to the Israelis. It had already been run through the Security Council’s terrorism list. And Israel didn’t come back with a single complaint. It was only until after the ICJ ruling, the day after the ICJ ruling, accusing Israel of plausible genocide, and the headlines were — we all saw them — that the Israelis leaked this.

So, what I would say is the news management is unraveling. It’s been exposed. And what we’re now seeing is the spotlight turning to the donors. And I would like to see some proper investigation into the frameworks that are there for the donors who are accusing UNRWA of politicization. I would like to say: What are the donors doing, in a way which is accountable and which is transparent, to show to the world how they ring-fenced their humanitarian decision-making process and to keep it immune from politics? Because they’re accusing UNRWA of politicizing, weaponizing. You know, there’s all this accusations around UNRWA’s neutrality. What about the donor neutrality? Because it looks increasingly as if the donor community, based on a very dodgy dossier, was doing Israel’s political bidding. We heard Mr. Netanyahu — we’ve heard him say several times that he would like to see UNRWA destroyed, dismantled. And it looks horribly — and I say this with deep regret — that the donors are, on the face of it, going along with that Israeli scheme to dismantle UNRWA, which is why I say they can reverse that.

They can reverse that this moment, by coming back and saying, “It was a dodgy dossier. We don’t have the facts.” They’re now openly saying they don’t have the facts. They need to come back and acknowledge what is actually happening. It was a piece of news management. Treachery happens in wars. It happens. You know, that’s what goes on: misinformation, lies. The truth is the first casualty of war. All of that. That’s what’s happened here. The truth appears to have been the first casualty.

The donors have made this precipitous, regrettable, I would say, illegal and disproportionate decision to defund UNRWA. That can be reversed immediately by the donors coming back. And I would urge them to do this, because, you know, judge UNRWA by its response. Just as I say judge the IDF — I say to American audiences, judge the IDF by its response to these Abu Ghraib pictures, judge UNRWA by its response. Commissioner-General Lazzarini has been swift and resolute as part of a zero-tolerance policy, which, by the way, has worked throughout the region. Do you really think that 33,000 UNRWA workers could be actively doing this humanitarian, human development work across the region if it weren’t implementing policies which were absolutely impartial? There’s no question that UNRWA would very quickly lose the trust of the communities and the donors if they weren’t implementing this zero-tolerance policy. And that has to be recognized. It’s the response of UNRWA that donors need to respond to, not a few bad apples who we don’t even know.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Chris Gunness, I’m afraid we’re going to have to leave it there. Thank you so much for joining us.

CHRIS GUNNESS: My pleasure.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Chris Gunness, the former spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. He’s now the director of the Myanmar Accountability Project.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Feb 14, 2024 6:58 am

“We Cannot Trust Biden” on Gaza: Michigan House Dem Majority Leader Meets White House Officials
by Amy Goodman
February 09, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/9/b ... transcript

Senior Biden administration officials traveled to Michigan on Thursday to meet with Arab American and Muslim leaders amid growing opposition to Biden’s candidacy over his support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Michigan is an important election battleground state and home to the largest percentage of Arab Americans in the United States. Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash, the state’s highest-ranking Arab and Muslim leader, joined the meeting to demand a ceasefire in Gaza, restrictions on military aid to Israel, and recommitting humanitarian aid to Palestinians. “Now the question is: Are they going to heed the call of their constituents and do something that a majority of Americans and Democrats support in demanding for a ceasefire and an end to the violence?” demands Aiyash, who has signed on to the “Listen to Michigan” campaign and pledged to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s primary on February 27. “We’re focused on ending a war and stopping the military funding that supports genocide,” says Layla Elabed, Palestinian American community organizer who is spearheading the “Listen to Michigan” campaign. “Until that happens, we cannot trust Biden and we cannot commit our votes to him.”


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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Senior Biden administration officials traveled to Michigan on Thursday to meet with Arab American and Muslim leaders amid growing opposition to Biden’s candidacy over his support for Israel’s assault on Gaza. Michigan, which is an important swing state, is also home to the largest percentage of Arab Americans in the United States. Biden’s campaign manager traveled to Detroit last month, but a number of Arab American leaders and elected officials declined to meet with her over the war in Gaza. Last week, Biden traveled to Michigan himself to meet with members of the United Auto Workers union, who endorsed him, but he did not meet with any Arab American leaders.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to a question about the meetings in Michigan at a news conference yesterday.

PRESS SECRETARY KARINE JEAN-PIERRE: Senior officials traveled to Michigan — and they are obviously traveling today — to hear directly from the community, to hear directly from community leaders on a range of issues that are important to them, obviously, as well, and not just them, but their families, including the conflict that we’re currently seeing in Israel and Gaza. This is a private meeting. We want to give them the space to have a meeting that certainly has candor, certainly where both — where we can hear directly from them. So, don’t want to get too far into what’s going to be discussed. But we want to hear directly from them. We want to hear their concerns. We believe it’s important for these leaders to be — to be able to speak directly to officials in the White House.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Among the people who met with Biden administration officials yesterday was Michigan House Majority Floor Leader Abraham Aiyash. He’s the state’s highest-ranking Arab or Muslim leader. Representative Aiyash is among over 30 elected officials in Michigan who have signed on to a “Listen to Michigan” campaign and pledged to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s primary on February 27th. Representative Aiyash joins us now from Detroit.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Representative Aiyash. If you could tell us who was present in this meeting, and what were your demands to them?

REP. ABRAHAM AIYASH: Thank you for having me.

There were several meetings throughout the day. We had folks from the National Security Council. Samantha Power was present, as well as other folks from the Biden administration and State Department. And the conversations were very frank. I know many of us did not spare any time or word in terms of discussing what we need.

And the conditions that we laid out are simple. We are expecting a permanent ceasefire. We want to see restrictions and conditions on the military aid that Israel continues to receive right now without any conditions and without any restrictions or parameters. And we want to see a serious commitment for the humanitarian aid to be sent to Gaza, as well as reinstating the funding for UNRWA.

So, we were clear that unless these demands are going to be initiated, then we have no interest in continuing the conversation with the White House, because now is not the time for posturing. I would be remiss to not mention that this meeting happened 19 days before the presidential primary here in Michigan.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s talk about that, state Representative Aiyash. And you’re extremely significant as the number two person in the House in Michigan and, again, as Nermeen said, the highest-ranking Arab American and Muslim leader in Michigan. This meeting where — original meeting with the campaign manager for President Biden, you chose not to meet with her. He has sent out a whole group, including Samantha Power, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, now head of USAID, and Tom Perez, former labor secretary. This clearly has shaken the White House, the level of protest. When he was getting the endorsement of the UAW, UAW workers holding up signs calling for a ceasefire. Talk about why you decided to have this meeting and not boycott the invite, and also what they had to say to you about where President Biden stands on a ceasefire.

REP. ABRAHAM AIYASH: So, there was no direct commitment on the ceasefire. But what I will say is, when they invited us to meet with the campaign manager, we rejected it because this is not the time to engage in electoral politics, particularly when you see 30,000 innocent folks that have been murdered at the hands of weaponry that our U.S. taxpayer money has unfortunately funded. So the conversation was very clear that we need to have a serious framework for us to say the United States should lead with moral clarity and fight for peace and that we are not going to engage about this in any sense through electoral politics. Palestinian life should not be measured simply in poll numbers, but on the basis of their humanity. And that’s what we reiterated to them. And anytime there’s an opportunity to engage to help shift policy, we’re going to try to do that. And that was what yesterday’s attempt was.

And now the ball is in the president’s court and the White House’s court to see what they will do after hearing our concern. They could no longer say, “Well, we didn’t know.” We had very robust, very frank discussions with them, and they know where we stand. And now the question is: Are they going to heed the call of their constituents and do something that a majority of Americans and Democrats support in demanding for a ceasefire and an end to the violence?

AMY GOODMAN: Michigan is a key swing state, and the Arab American and Muslim community is key to the votes for President Biden. You’re part of a larger effort to vote “uncommitted” in the February primary in Michigan. Can you explain why you’ve made that decision, and if you addressed this yesterday with Biden administration officials?

REP. ABRAHAM AIYASH: So, we made it very clear with them that there would be no engagement on electoral politics at this moment, and we were not going to entertain that. But as far as February 29th — 27th, rather, for the Michigan presidential primary, we are going to remain uncommitted. And the reason why we’re doing that is because we need to let the White House know that they have an opportunity in this moment to earn the votes. As an elected official, I can tell you, when I run for office, I don’t say, “Well, the other guy is worse than me.” I give them a message and a platform for why I’m running. And we expect the White House and President Biden to do the same. And the expectation is, we are letting him know from now — it’s February; the election is November, but we are letting him know now — that we are uncommitted to his presidency until we see some changes in the policies that have affected both Americans here and so many abroad, as well as their families in the Gaza Strip.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I’d like to bring in Layla Elabed, a Palestinian American community organizer from Dearborn, Michigan, and a leader of the “Listen to Michigan” campaign, which is urging constituents to cast a vote for “uncommitted” on Michigan’s February 27th primary election in protest against President Biden’s ongoing support for Israel’s war on Gaza. Elabed is also the younger sister of Congressmember Rashida Tlaib, the only Palestinian American member of Congress.

Layla Elabed, welcome to Democracy Now! If you could begin by explaining why you decided to lead this campaign?

LAYLA ELABED: Well, personally, as a Palestinian American and somebody who, from the age of 12, saw the power of electoral politics within our Arab American and Muslim community, I knew that I wanted to be part of something that could possibly effect change. And the “uncommitted” campaign in Michigan is part of a larger anti movement, antiwar movement, across the country. And we’re focused on ending a war and stopping the military funding that supports genocide.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I’d like to turn to comments that President Biden made while speaking at the White House last night. After he addressed the special counsel’s report on his handling of classified information, Biden responded to a question on Israel’s assault on Gaza.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Layla Elabed, if you could respond to what President Biden said, and what you hope will come out of this campaign?

LAYLA ELABED: That was — his comments were still not a call for a ceasefire or for the reevaluation of military aid to Israel, that is committing a genocide and an ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza. And until that happens, we cannot trust Biden, and we cannot commit our votes to him.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s put the question to state Representative Abraham Aiyash. If you can respond to what the Biden administration is now saying? President Biden, Tony Blinken, just back from his Mideast trip, are not calling for a ceasefire, but Blinken is talking about a pause. But they are warning Netanyahu about a ground assault on Rafah. Can you talk about the significance of this? I mean, the area you come from in Michigan, and Layla coming from Dearborn, one of the largest Arab American communities in the United States, you represent, state Representative Aiyash, so many people who have family in Gaza right now. What that kind of ground assault would mean?

REP. ABRAHAM AIYASH: It would be devastating, one, for the people, but I think, more — more importantly, I think the broader conversation is we need to make sure that if this happens, that the American people are very aware of what is going to be the message in November. But we are going to keep having that conversation and letting them know. But at this point, it’s clear to them that we have made it our mission and our message that where we stand on this is very clear. We are a community that is demanding peace, and we expect it to be that way.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Representative Abraham Aiyash, second-ranking Democrat in the Michigan House, thank you so much for joining us, and Layla Elabed, Palestinian American community organizer from Dearborn, Michigan.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Feb 14, 2024 7:02 am

“Our Children Deserve to Live”: Mother in Rafah Desperate to Escape as Israel Prepares Ground Invasion
by Amy Goodman
February 12, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/12/ ... transcript

As Palestinian health officials say overnight Israeli strikes killed dozens in Rafah, where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge, we speak with a teacher trying to evacuate Rafah with her young children, who urges the U.S. government to stop the bloodshed. “My message to President Biden: We are innocent civilians, and we have no fault in what is happening,” says Duha Latif. “Our children deserve to live a normal life like the rest of the world’s children.” Latif is fundraising to gather the money she needs to enter Egypt. The latest Israeli bombardment was conducted as part of an operation to free two Israeli hostages and came amid warnings from U.S. President Joe Biden and other world leaders against Israel’s expected ground invasion of Rafah. Aid agencies fear the offensive would cause massive casualties.


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

AMY GOODMAN: Palestinian health officials say overnight Israeli strikes on Rafah in southern Gaza have killed at least 67 people as concern grows Israel will soon launch a full-scale ground invasion. Over a million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah, which borders Egypt, after Israel claimed it was a safe zone. Palestinians in Rafah say a mosque and several houses were hit by the overnight Israeli strikes.

KHALED AL-TAWEEL: [translated] It was an Apache firing with a really loud noise. The F-16s fired, the Cobra, the drone, all kinds of aircraft. Terror, terror, so much terror. They wiped out mosques, people, and displaced people. They kept saying, “Go to Rafah. Go to Rafah.” And people came here. And then you target them?

AMY GOODMAN: Over the weekend, Israel carried out numerous airstrikes on Rafah, including one that leveled a five-story home, killing at least eight people.

ENAS AMER: [translated] My sister and her husband are sleeping in the room, and my mother and my other sister with her children in the living room, me and my father in the room over here. Suddenly, a rocket fell on us. My sister, her husband and their children, including my niece, who is 2 months old, all gone.

AMY GOODMAN: The overnight airstrikes came as Israeli forces carried out an operation in Rafah to free two Israeli Argentine hostages, who were found to be in good condition. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces increasing pressure at home to secure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza. Earlier today, a relative of the two men freed in Rafah called for Israel to reach a deal now.

EDAN BEGERANO: And we know about the discussions in Cairo, or in Paris, in others, between the Hamas and between Israel, with the mediators. Please, be serious and strike a deal. The Israeli people need the deal done — not yesterday, not tomorrow, today. We want it done as soon as possible in order for to give us some breath. We must breathe a little bit here.

AMY GOODMAN: On Sunday, President Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warning against Israel launching a ground invasion of Rafah. Aid agencies fear the offensive would cause massive casualties, while UNICEF has warned an escalation of Israel’s attacks in Rafah will cause hunger and disease to skyrocket. Hamas cautioned an Israeli invasion of Rafah will torpedo ongoing negotiations for a truce. Authorities in Egypt have also threatened to suspend a key peace treaty with Israel if Rafah is invaded.

For more, we’re going directly to Rafah to speak with Duha Latif. She’s a 29-year-old teacher from Gaza trying to evacuate Rafah with her young children, 6-year-old Ameer and 1-and-a-half-year-old Kareem.

Duha, welcome to Democracy Now! Especially under these difficult circumstances, we appreciate you being with us. You are a native of Rafah. Can you describe the situation there now?

DUHA LATIF: Hello, Amy. Thanks for hosting.

I’m sure most of you saw the news yesterday. And what happened in Rafah, it was the worst night in my life, and I really cannot believe that I am still alive. And actually, situation here is very terrible. Rafah is a small city, and now 1.5 million people in Rafah, and Rafah is just 55 square kilometers, which means that per square kilometers in Rafah, there are around 24,000 Palestinians. Just imagine this, Amy. Therefore, it is very difficult to get food, water or medicine, in addition to the spread of diseases, because of a large population. Also, Rafah is a city with no hospital, no electricity, no bakeries since four months. This is the situation here.

AMY GOODMAN: You are 29 years old. You’re a teacher, Duha, in Rafah?

DUHA LATIF: Yes, that’s right.

AMY GOODMAN: The city has swelled to four times the population. Can you talk about your attempts to get out with your two little ones, your 1-and-a-half-year-old and your 6-year-old?

DUHA LATIF: The issue of leaving Rafah and evacuation to Egypt is very complicated, and it’s very, very expensive, because we need the approval of the Egyptian side to grant us exit arrangements, which costs a large amount of money. And this is what we don’t have at the present time. And this is what got me created a GoFundMe account, because we don’t have money to get out from Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: What do you mean? How much money does it cost to leave Gaza? What are you raising money for?

DUHA LATIF: In fact, I can’t determine that exactly, but I can tell you that’s the amount required to be paid to exit Gaza. It’s considered somewhat high, very high, especially in our current case. This amount includes the travel cost and the expensive coordination, in addition to what is required when we arrive in Egypt side — of course, if we’re still alive — such as renting a place to stay and buy clothes and food and children needs. Actually, we don’t know to whom this money goes, and I cannot mention specific site. But what I know, it’s that we have to pay this amount for one of Egyptian offices.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about your little ones and how they are processing what’s happening right now? Do you hear bombing, shelling around you?

DUHA LATIF: Yes, yes. Last night, maybe you see this in the news. And it was terrible. And we are all — that my children was scared all the night, and they’re crying. And maybe you see what’s happened in the news. And what’s happened, really, is very, very hard and difficult.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering if you heard the relative of the two Israeli Argentine hostages who the Israeli military freed in Rafah. Their relative said, “Please, have a truce now. It is not enough that you have freed our two loved ones.”

DUHA LATIF: Yes. No, I don’t hear of this. And I am like you: I hear this just from the news.

AMY GOODMAN: So, if you can talk about, at this point, what message you have for President Biden? You may have heard that his aides are saying that he’s made mistakes in dealing with the Middle East. What message do you have for President Biden?

DUHA LATIF: I will send a message. I have two children, and they are always nervous and afraid from the voices they hear around us, and always ask me questions I don’t have the answers for it: “Mom, when can we get out? Mom, when we will eat burger? Mom, when we can go back to school?” And it’s difficult to calm children while the mother needs somebody to calm her. So, my message to President Biden: We are innocent civilians, and we have no fault in what is happening. Our children deserve to live a normal life like the rest of the world’s children. Just one word, President Biden: ceasefire now. You have the power to make it happen right now.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Duha, do you have access to clean water? Also, have you taken in refugees from other parts of Gaza at this point into your own home?

DUHA LATIF: And actually, Amy, yes, I have, but there is only canned foods, beans and tuna, for four months. My children are in a growing stage and need healthy and useful food, like an egg, milk, fruits. And all of this doesn’t exist at the present time. There is no clean water. Because of this, my young son Kareem, 1-and-a-half years, suffered intestinal khatar. And also, there is also no medicine for this. Also, about the refugees, yes, our situation like the situation of thousands people here in Rafah. Yes, I have many refugees in my home. They are my relatives from Gaza, in northern Gaza. Every home in Rafah is full of refugees.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I thank you so much for taking this time, speaking to us from Rafah.

DUHA LATIF: Amy, I want just to say a word. Can I?


DUHA LATIF: We are urgently trying to leave Rafah, but we need money to leave. We have a GoFundMe account, if people want to support us by donating or sharing or help my family. We need to leave to keep my family safe.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Duha Latif, I thank you so much for being with us, 29-year-old teacher from Rafah, trying to evacuate there with her young children, her 6-year-old Ameer and her 1-and-a-half-year-old Kareem.

When we come back, we’ll speak with Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat, as the U.S., the European Union, countries around the world warn Israel against a ground invasion of Rafah. Stay with us.


“Worst-Case Scenario”: Noura Erakat on Israel’s Looming Invasion of Rafah
by Amy Goodman
February 12, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/12/ ... transcript

As the United States, the European Union and countries around the world are warning Israel against a ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, we speak with Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat. “This is disproportionate, excessive force that is meant to terrorize a population,” says Erakat. “Israel must stop its genocidal campaign now.” Erakat also responds to news that one of President Biden’s top foreign policy aides has admitted the administration has made “missteps” in the Middle East, and discusses calls to stop arms transfers under international law to prevent war crimes.


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, the European Union, countries around the world are warning Israel against a ground invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge from the rest of Gaza. One top EU official said it could lead to a, quote, “unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.” Authorities in Egypt have threatened to suspend a key peace treaty with Israel if Rafah is invaded. Hamas has also warned an Israeli invasion of Rafah will torpedo ongoing truce talks.

For more, we’re joined by Palestinian human rights attorney Noura Erakat, an associate professor at Rutgers University, author of the book Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Noura. If you can start off by responding to this threat over the weekend that plans are being readied to invade — for Israel to invade Rafah, and the world, countries around the world, warning Israel not to do this, apparently President Biden doing that in a phone call with Netanyahu, as well? Your response and what this would mean?

NOURA ERAKAT: Good morning, Amy.

It might be a bit refreshing to hear these warnings sound off from across the world in various capitals, but they are completely and wholly inadequate, given that we know that this is a plausible genocide, given that we know what Israel has said. Despite multiple warnings, it created a ground invasion on October 27th. It has destroyed all of the hospitals. It has blown up all of the universities. It has created a situation of starvation, of a lack of even water. There is a humanitarian crisis that, even without another bomb falling, will lead to sure death of thousands of Palestinians.

These capitals, these states have an arsenal of diplomatic options available to them to stop a genocide. First and foremost is a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire. Short of that is the cutting of weapons transfers, as has the Netherlands high court demanded this morning of stopping the transfer of F-35 jet parts to Israel. Belgium has stopped weapons transfers. Japan has cut military contracts. Short of that, these states can cut diplomatic ties.

What is it? What is it to the population of Rafah, now basically bracing themselves for more massacre, for warnings to a state that is responsible under international law and accountable? And if it is not responsible or accountable, it is either a complete rogue state that must be isolated by everybody, or it means that all these other countries are complicit and basically covering responsibility for themselves by issuing empty warnings.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go to that issue of the Netherlands court ordering the Dutch government to stop exporting — these are U.S.-made F-35 jet parts being stored in the Netherlands — to Israel. In the ruling, one of the judges wrote, quote, “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk that the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.” In November, Oxfam and Amnesty International sued the Dutch government, saying the arms transfers violate Netherlands’ obligations under international law to prevent war crimes. Are you seeing this escalating around the world and other countries doing the same? Certainly, Germany gives even more weapons, and, of course, the United States, the most.

NOURA ERAKAT: I am seeing a surge. We have seen for the five — past five months, the only thing that has kept humanity together is the surge of civil society, which has waged lawsuits, which has risen in protest, to do the work that states have failed to do. We see in the United States the Center for Constitutional Rights bring a lawsuit in the Northern District of California, where the judge agreed that the ICJ was correct that this is undeniable, a case of genocide, but he doesn’t have the jurisdiction in order to stop the Biden administration. We saw the highest court in the world say the same thing, that this is plausibly genocide. We are seeing a series of judicial decisions that are coming to the same conclusion, but none of them can be enforced without political will, which is being impeded in the Security Council by the United States.

Let’s be clear: The ICJ, on January 26th, when it issued its provisional orders, said that the international community has a duty and a responsibility, according to its responsibility under the Genocide Convention, not to perpetuate Israel’s genocidal campaign. We see Israel directly violating those provisional orders. Nearly 2,000 Palestinians have been killed since January 26th. We know for a fact that they have impeded the access to humanitarian aid, going so far as the Israeli Navy shooting, lobbing at U.N. humanitarian convoys from the Mediterranean Sea. We also see very clearly a continuing incitement to genocide, most recently in the convening of a far-right coalition of, I think, 11 ministers in government under the banner of “Settlements Bring Security and Victory.” There is an explicit campaign to depopulate the Gaza Strip, to resettle it. No one is mincing words. Everybody is watching, covering themselves with these empty promises and warnings as Israel continues with its campaign. And this is a warning to the world. This is a warning to the world that we are watching, that this is very blatant and being exposed.

In this situation that we have right now, in the worst-case scenario, Israel will continue with its campaign. Egypt, which is trying to prevent this from happening, will likely create a buffer zone in the Sinai. If Israel is actually successful in pushing out the Palestinians, they will be stuck in that buffer zone, as have refugees from Syria been stuck at the buffer zone with Jordan and Iraq. That is the worst-case scenario. Israel — or, Netanyahu telling the world that they’re going to evacuate the Palestinians up north mean nothing when the north has been decimated. Rafah is the last standing city. They should not be taken — there’s nowhere to go north.

Israel must stop its genocidal campaign now. If it wants to offer refuge to Palestinians, it must offer refuge to Palestinians within its — within what is historic Palestine, Palestine 1948, where they can actually be housed safely and where we know Israel does not want them and will return them to Gaza. There are many options at our disposal, and yet none of them are being accessed in this moment.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask your thoughts on this latest development, the overnight airstrikes in Rafah coming as Israeli forces carried out an operation to free two Israeli Argentine hostages, who were found to be in good condition, Fernando Simon Merman, age 60, and Luis Har, age 70. Earlier today, a relative of the two Israeli hostages freed in Rafah called for Israel to reach a deal now.

EDAN BEGERANO: And we know about the discussions in Cairo, or in Paris, in others, between the Hamas and between Israel, with the mediators. Please, be serious and strike a deal. The Israeli people need the deal done — not yesterday, not tomorrow, today. We want it done as soon as possible in order for to give us some breath. We must breathe a little bit here.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is very interesting, because this is a man whose beloved ones have been held since October 7th, but he’s saying we cannot rest unless all the hostages are freed, and he’s calling for a truce. But that is not what Netanyahu is calling for. Are you concerned that finding these hostages in an apartment building in Rafah will lead to more bombing and attacks in Rafah or to justify a full-scale assault?

NOURA ERAKAT: Amy, Israel is not concerned — the Israeli government is not concerned with its hostages. If they were, they would have engaged in good-faith negotiations. The diplomatic negotiations led to the release of 136 hostages. That wasn’t any military operations. After five months, they’ve only extracted two hostages. We know that the families want a truce. We know that the government is opposing a truce. We know that the concern is not the hostages. Israel shot to kill two of them, two of their own, who were raising white flags and speaking in Hebrew — giving us an idea that this is not a legitimate war. This is a genocidal campaign of extermination.

Last night, last night, the images that came out of Rafah are horrifying. There was a young girl, her legs cut off, hanging off of a wire by her shirt. This is disproportionate, excessive force that is meant to terrorize a population, that is telling them, “You have no life here. There is no future here. You must leave.” That is the message that is being sent. We’re seeing young children who are forced to be far older than their age, a young boy who escaped bombing, having his head and the blood cleaned off of it, telling the world, “[in Arabic],” “I am not scared.” How can he not be scared in this situation? How are all of us not terrified? We have taken away life for these children. We are decimating their future, even if we do survive. Images of babies who are being removed from the rubble with only two limbs, with no family members left. What is their future?

And yet we’re obscuring these atrocities. We’re obscuring these genocidal campaigns with words of distraction. We’re taking it and abstracting it to warfare and strategy, hostages and the negotiations, when the humanitarian situation speaks for itself, when tribunals have told us repeatedly this is a genocide. It must be ended, unequivocally. And that is incumbent upon us now, before we see the last city in Gaza, the one that is normally home to 220,000 Palestinians, now housing 1-and-a-half million Palestinians, 80% of the population, in tents and in dire humanitarian situation. We should be rushing in to treat them with medicine, with food, with water, with adequate care, rather than now preparing massacres for them, like the speaker before you, Duha, who has created a GoFundMe to save herself and her children. This is our responsibility.

Last word on this. There is a concept in international law known as state responsibility, where a state can — must deal with the consequences of its actions. It cannot — Israel cannot say — cannot say — that it is now fighting a war of self-defense, which it doesn’t have a right to under international law, against territory that it occupies. But if those actions are illegal, it must bear the consequences for them. Israel has imposed a siege against international law for 17 years, imposed a military — a prolonged military operation for 56 years, imposed an apartheid regime, which is a crime against humanity, that the international community has said is an apartheid regime, and still asking the world for an exception and blaming the Palestinians as the assailants as it is committing a genocide, and now asking the world to let it commit genocide as a form of exception, that somehow it is like any other situation. And rather than meet that with the full force of diplomatic and international will to rebuff it, instead we’re allowing Israel to create that exception, which will make none of the world safe, when other powerful countries and nuclear powers decide that they want to decimate an inconvenient population, a native population, as in this case, in order to fulfill its national interests. It defies all of the logic of international legal institutions and international law, which are set up to regulate things like this in this very moment.

AMY GOODMAN: We just have 10 seconds, but you have a top aide to President Biden admitting that the Biden administration has made many missteps since the beginning of this. What do you think they could do, a single action that could make the greatest difference when it comes to what Israel does in Gaza, Noura Erakat?

NOURA ERAKAT: They can abstain in the Security Council and allow an immediate ceasefire to take place. Biden can pick up the phone and tell Netanyahu to stop. They can actually stop the weapons transfers or even revoke this supplemental budget, which plans to resettle Palestinians in what will be an ethnic cleansing campaign and complicity in genocide. There are so many things to be done. These are empty words aimed at the 2024 elections, as opposed to aimed at compliance with international law to meet our duty and responsibility under the Genocide Convention.

AMY GOODMAN: Noura Erakat, we want to thank you for being with us, Palestinian human rights attorney, associate professor at Rutgers University, author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Wed Feb 14, 2024 7:04 am

Bombs, Disease, Starvation: Canadian Doctor Describes the Desperate Situation Inside Gaza
by Amy Goodman
February 13, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/13/ ... transcript

As Israel continues to threaten to invade Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have sought refuge, we speak to a surgeon who recently returned from a humanitarian mission at the European Hospital in Khan Younis in Gaza. “What I saw in Khan Younis were the most horrific scenes in my entire life,” says Canadian ophthalmologist Dr. Yasser Khan. He describes the dire conditions of injured civilians in Gaza, the majority of whom are children. “The genocidal intent of Israeli politicians, the Israeli army, is really clear. What is really bizarre is that they haven’t hid it,” says Khan. “The killing machine that Israel has unleashed on the healthcare system, I think, is unprecedented. … If the bombings are not going to get you, then disease will surely get you.”


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.

We turn now to Gaza, to Israel threatening to launch a ground invasion of Rafah, where over a million displaced Palestinians have sought refuge. On Monday, President Biden hosted King Abdullah of Jordan at the White House. During public remarks, Biden initially described Israel’s operation in Rafah as, quote, “our operation.”

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: As I said yesterday, our military operation in Rafah — the major military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan, a credible plan for ensuring the safety and support of more than 1 million people sheltering there.

AMY GOODMAN: Jordan’s King Abdullah condemned Israel’s plan to attack Rafah and called for a ceasefire and the creation of a Palestinian state.

KING ABDULLAH II: We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah. It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe. The situation is already unbearable for over a million people who have been pushed into Rafah since the war started. We cannot stand by and let this continue. We need a lasting ceasefire now. This war must end. … Seven decades of occupation, death and destruction have proven beyond any doubt that there can be no peace without a political horizon. Military and security installations are not the answer. They can never bring peace. Civilians on both sides continue to pay for this protracted conflict with their lives.

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Toronto, where we’re joined by Dr. Yasser Khan. He’s a Canadian ophthalmologist and eye surgeon who recently returned from a humanitarian surgical mission at the European Hospital in Khan Younis in Gaza.

Dr. Khan, welcome to Democracy Now! If you can describe what you saw there in Khan Younis, the level of the injuries, how crowded the European Hospital was, the threats people were facing there?

DR. YASSER KHAN: Thank you very much for having me.

Well, you know, I look at the impending invasion of Rafah and the attacks on Rafah, and I know, because I’ve seen it — I know what’s going to happen. I know the casualties, and I know how much worse it’s going to get.

When I was in Khan Younis a few weeks ago — I’ve been to over 40 different countries, you know, doing humanitarian work, anywhere from in Africa, Asia and South America. And what I saw in Khan Younis were the most horrific scenes in my entire life, and I hope I never see them again. It was just — you know, the bombings were going on every few hours at that point in time. The Israeli forces were about a kilometer away. And the mass casualties kept on coming in.

And it was mostly — I mean, the majority of the patients that I treated were children, anywhere from the age of 2 to 17. I mean, I saw horrific eye and facial injuries that I’ve never seen before, eyes shattered in two 6-year-old children with shrapnel that I had to take out, eyes with shrapnel stuck inside, facial injuries. I saw orthopedic injuries where — you know, limbs just cut off and dangling. I saw abdominal injuries that were just horrific. And it was just mass chaos. There was children on the floor, unattended to, with head trauma, people suturing patients without anesthesia on the ground. It was just mass chaos and really horrific, horrific scenes.

And I know that now with the bombing going on in Rafah and scenes of children hanging exploded and, you know, half their bodies cut off and hanging on a wall because they’ve been exploded — I mean, those are scenes going on now. So I know exactly what my colleagues are going through right now in Rafah and in Gaza, basically.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Doctor, you were working shifts of 12-, 13-hour days. Can you talk about the conditions of the medical staff and the doctors you worked alongside with? Where did you sleep? Were you able to eat? Could you talk about those conditions you faced?

DR. YASSER KHAN: Well, the doctors were amazing. I mean, the Palestinian doctors were amazing. Their dedication and their will to resist dying and staying alive was amazing. They’re talented. But they have nothing. There’s no antibiotics. There’s no painkillers. On the last day I was leaving, we ran out of morphine, which is very important in a lot of orthopedic injuries.

So, patients were — I mean, the whole European Gaza Hospital was, at the time — now everything I’m saying and — everything I saw is much worse now. But, basically, it was overcrowded, about 300, 400% over capacity. There was patients and bodies lying all over the hospital floor, inside and outside. They had orthopedic devices coming from their legs or their arms. They were getting infected, they were in pain, because they were on the floor, so the conditions weren’t very sterile. And if they survived amputation the first time, the infection would get them, because then they’d have to be amputated after.

A lot of the kids that I saw — and more than 60% of the patients I saw were children — they’re thin. They had no fat on them. They’re starving, because, as you know, Israel has had a food blockade since this war on Gaza started. And so, they’re all thin, with no fat, starving. And they were coming in, and, you know, it was just — and we didn’t have enough supplies, enough gauze, enough antibiotics, enough instruments even — the instruments are rusting — to kind of, you know, deal with the mass trauma.


DR. YASSER KHAN: I stayed in the hospital — yes, please.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Khan, this is Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland speaking Monday ahead of a vote on the $95 billion aid package to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan.

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Madam President, I want that to sink in. Kids in Gaza are now dying from the deliberate withholding of food. In addition to the horror of that news, one other thing is true: That is a war crime. It is a textbook war crime. … And that makes those who orchestrate it war criminals.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen on the floor of the U.S. Senate. Dr. Khan, you’re talking about the thinness of the children, of the whole population.

DR. YASSER KHAN: Yeah. Well, you know, Amy, it’s — you know, from what I saw and what I experienced when I was on the ground, speaking to officials, speaking to the doctors there, and this whole — you know, one of the whole aspects of this war on Gaza, you know, the genocidal intent of Israeli politicians, the Israeli army has been clear. What is really bizarre is they haven’t hid it. They have openly called for it. They have openly called for epidemics.

And so, as a healthcare professional, the attack on the healthcare system has been unprecedented. I mean, the viciousness of it, the killing machine that Israel has unleashed on the healthcare system, I think, is unprecedented. Hospitals have been bombed. When the doctors have tried to repopulate them, they’ve been — you know, sniper fire with drones has prevented them from going in.

They’ve attacked the sewage system, the water system, so the sewage mixes with the drinking water. And you get diarrheal diseases, bacterial diseases. You know, cholera, typhoid is not far away. Hepatitis A is epidemic there now. They’re living in cramped spaces.

They have killed over 300 or 400 healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, paramedics. Ambulances have been bombed. This has all been a systematic sort of — you know, by destroying the healthcare system, you’re contributing to the genocide.

What’s going on is now there’s 10,000 to 15,000 bodies that are decomposing. So, it’s raining season right now in Gaza. So all the rainwater mixes with the decomposing bodies, and that bacteria mixes with the drinking water supply, and you get further disease.

They have kidnapped about 40, 45 doctors, that have been specifically targeted. They have targeted specifically specialists who are, you know, one-offs. So, like, the one nephrologist in the Gaza Strip was targeted. The pathologists, hospital chiefs and directors have all been targeted through drones or targeted missile strikes.

And, you know, so the whole thing is that if the bombings are not going to get you, then disease will surely get you, because they’re all malnourished. So, as you know, if you’re malnourished, your immune system is weaker, so you’re more susceptible to disease. But there’s no antibiotics.

You know, the amount of amputations I saw in children, for example — both arms, one arm, one leg, both eyes gone, you know, both eyes amputated, basically, out of their eye socket — you know, it’s amazing. I mean, it takes about — you know, if this was done properly in a nonwar scenario, one amputation in a child, a child will need about nine to 12 surgeries by the time they’re an adult, you know, for prosthetic fitting and whatnot. Now, in this case, first of all, it’s a war situation. They have not been done properly, fair enough, because you have to rush it. But secondly, who is going to take care of these children? Most of them mostly children. Because their parents are gone. Their uncles are dead. Their grandfathers and grandmothers are dead.

And so, you know, the Israeli killing machine has been vicious. I mean, they’ve used drones. When I was there, I was speaking to doctors who were there, and they told me that they’ve used drones like the Hellfire drone, that is an explosive drone. It fires off these discs once it implodes or explodes. And these discs are very unique, and they cause unique amputations. Most amputations occur at the weak points, like the elbow or the knee. But they cause, you know, mid-thigh, mid-arm amputations, which are much more complicated. And they fire off this shrapnel.

And, you know, from what the doctors are telling me, that what I believe is that they’re using weapons on the civilian population that have never been used before, because from what I heard, based on my experience, you know, Israel has a very strong defense industry, and buyers like weapons that are battle-tested. So, if you can put a label to your new weapon that it’s battle-tested, that increases the value of it. And they’re experimenting with these weapons, from what I’ve heard and from what I saw, in a civilian-dense population. So, it’s just — it’s been vicious, really, really vicious.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Yasser Khan, I want to thank you for being with us, Canadian ophthalmologist, eye surgeon, based in Toronto, Canada, just recently returned from a humanitarian surgical mission at the European Hospital in Khan Younis in Gaza.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Feb 27, 2024 7:38 am

Jon Stewart on Israel - Palestine
The Daily Show
Feb 26, 2024 #DailyShow #JonStewart #MiddleEast
Jon Stewart weighs in on the war in Gaza and offers up a solution for ending the conflict.


Welcome to The Daily Show.
I am your host, Jon Stewart.
This is number three.
The third episode.
This is my third episode.
The first two, very controversial.
A lot of discourse around it.
A lot of carping back and forth.
A lot of anger.
A lot of commentary.
Tonight, I'm done with it.
Tonight is perhaps an amuse-bouche, a trifle.
Something light.
Tonight, we discuss Israel, Palestine.
Are we?
Who wrote this?
Well, I legally have to read what's in the prompter,
so here we go.
We're going to take a look in our new
and probably never-ending segment.
Somehow, the audience knew, but tonight
we discuss Israel, Palestine.
Well, folks, this is an awful situation.
We're coming up on five months of a brutal bombing campaign
brought on by a horrific massacre and hostage-taking,
and we seem no closer to ending anything
but the reigns of a couple of Ivy League presidents.
Well, this weekend, Israeli Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally
laid out his plan for peace.
Benjamin Netanyahu is calling for complete demilitarization
of Gaza, as well as Israel taking
over security and controlling entry and exit points to Gaza.
So your peace plan is a siege, a military siege.
You really think a military solution ends this cycle?
Victory is within reach, and you can't have victory
until you eliminate Hamas.
But, oh, OK.
But your plan to eliminate Hamas
by destroying all of Gaza, uh, doesn't
that just make more Hamases?
Is that the plural of Hamas?
I mean, it's an idea.
Palestinian liberation is an idea.
Unless you have a bomb that kills ideas.
Do you have a bomb that kills ideas?
I mean, how long would it even take to bomb the shit out
of an idea?
The intense phase of the fighting
is weeks away from completion.
Not months, weeks away from completion.
Oh, dear God.
If you insist on this plan, if you think that ends Hamas,
I believe we in the United States
have a banner you can use.
It's a little wind-damaged, but equally delusional.
Look, the United States is Israel's closest ally.
Israel's big brother in the fraternity of nations.
Israel's work emergency contact.
Maybe it's time for the US to give
Israel some tough moral love.
This is shameful.
There has to be accountability for these war crimes.
No targeting civilians in war.
Stop the war crimes and the atrocities and end
the war today.
It could happen right now.
Right now!
Thank you.
These atrocities must be--
I'm sorry, I'm being told the administration was talking
about Russia bombing Ukraine.
I apologize.
Also, a war crime.
But I'm sure they're giving equally
stern advice to Israel.
The Biden administration is urging Israel to be much more
careful, to be more cautious.
How Israel does this, matters.
Israel must do more to protect innocent civilians.
We want to see the government of Israel
take steps to minimize civilian harm.
Be more surgical and more precise.
Be more careful.
Hey, Israel, take it down a notch.
Could you please be more careful with your bombing?
It's good advice.
But really, could the United States
have told Israel that when we gave them all the bombs?
They're our bombs.
These-- this is like your coke dealer
coming in with an eight ball and going,
don't stay up all night.
Don't, sleep is very important.
You got to sleep.
You don't want to--
And breakfast is an important part of the day, so.
Look, the Israeli position doesn't seem so tenable.
Perhaps I can find some diplomatic leeway
in the Hamas position.
Israel is a country that has no place on our land.
We must remove that country.
Does that mean the annihilation of Israel?
Yes, of course.
I cannot find diplomatic leeway in the Hamas position.
[BLEEP] Well, this is when we need
the world, the civilized world of nations
to come together and stop this madness.
A resolution calling for an immediate cease fire in Gaza
has just failed to pass.
A UN Security Council draft resolution to allow
aid delivery has been vetoed.
Russia and China used their veto
against an American resolution condemning Hamas.
Immediate cease fire in Gaza has failed.
Western nations voted against it.
It was delayed four times this week.
Draft resolution has not been adopted.
Why do you even have a [BLEEP] building?
Why do you, we could use that!
We have a housing crisis.
Give us back our [BLEEP] building!
It's just not right.
What is-- what is the United Nations even?
What are you?
Just a support system for a diverse and pleasing
food court?
What are you?
That cannot be the UN's food court, by the way.
That is, that is clearly just a mall in Long Island.
Doesn't anyone care about the suffering of all
these civilians?
What about a good neighbor, Saudi Arabia?
The Palestinian cause is the Arab world's
most important cause.
I want to see really a good life for the Palestinians.
Thank you, Saudi Arabia, thank you.
And while Saudi Arabia does not accept Palestinian refugees,
and Egypt doesn't either, for that matter,
the Saudis are the richest country in the region.
And they've given, this can't be right,
on average, about $200 million a year to the Palestinians.
Are you [BLEEP] kidding me?
The Saudis have given just as much money to Phil Mickelson.
Is that true?
I assume, I assume to promote the equally important cause
of the Mickelsonian people.
So Israel, the United States, the United Nations,
the Arab nations, no one seems to be
incentivized to stop the suffering
of the innocent people in this region.
And I didn't want to bring this up,
but there is another player.
Small religious startup out of Bethlehem.
I think it might have began as a carpenters union,
but has gotten big.
Do they have a plan for the Middle East?
There, will be the battle of Armageddon.
Jesus Christ is going to sweep over that battlefield
and to annihilate that army of 200 million people.
The blood will flow to the bridle of a horse.
So, that's the plan for the Prince of Peace?
Is that so?
I am not an equestrian expert, but if the blood goes all
the way to the bridle, that's an enormous amount
of blood, no?
Unless, are we talking about the mini horses?
Because that's still, it's a lot of blood,
but more manageable.
And adorable.
Look, I think--
--I think we have to get real here.
The status quo cycle of provocation and retribution
is predicated on some idea that one of these groups
is going to go away.
And they are not.
If we want a safe and free Israel,
and a safe and free Palestine, we have
to recognize that reality.
And I know that there is a twisted and much
contested history in the region that
has brought us to this point.
But we are at this point.
And anything we do from here has to look forward.
So tonight, lucky you, I'm going
to do that with not one, not two,
but three solutions for peace.
Number one.
Along the shores of pleasant lake in Maine,
95 Israeli and Palestinian teens
are trading rockets for rackets.
The goal of Seeds of Peace is to open these young minds.
OK, that one hasn't been scaled up yet.
And may take longer than we have.
Unless we just bring the whole [BLEEP] region to Maine.
How fast can we make 14 million rackets?
But that's just my opening offer.
That was just one piece plan, people.
Don't abandon me yet.
Number two.
Let's just ask God.
It's his house.
He's the one who started all this.
Just ask God.
He could tell us who is right.
Is it the Jews?
Is it the Muslims?
Is it the Zoroastrians?
If it's the scientologists, a lot of us
are going to have egg on our faces.
But given God's lack of communication over this past,
let's say millennia.
All right, here's another one.
And heaven forbid, I actually think
this last one could work.
Starting now, no preconditions, no earned trust, no partners
for peace, Israel stops bombing,
Hamas releases the hostages, the Arab countries
who claim Palestine is their top priority come in and form
a demilitarized zone between Israel
and a free Palestinian state.
The Saudis, Egypt, UAE, Qatar, Jordan, they
all form like a NATO arrangement
guaranteeing security for both sides.
Obviously, they won't call it NATO.
It's the Middle East Treaty Organization, it's METO,
it's let's tweet it out.
Tonight, people, let's get this region METO'd!
Now, obviously, I have not worked out the exact verbiage,
but anything is better than the cluster [BLEEP]
cycle we have now.
Because honestly, what is the alternative?
The trumpet of God sounds and the rapture happens.
We're gone, in the twinkling of an eye.
We're just simply not here.
Poof, indeed, sir.
Poof, indeed.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Mar 05, 2024 4:25 am

“A War Against Palestinian Americans”: Jailed, Attacked, Killed in West Bank and U.S.
by Amy Goodman
February 14, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/14/ ... transcript

We look at the killing, arrests and attacks on Palestinian Americans both in the Occupied Territories and in the United States. We speak with the son of Palestinian American Samaher Esmail, who was detained in the West Bank by the Israeli military last week, beaten in custody and denied medication, according to her family. “They came in the middle of the night, raided our home, dragged her out of the house in her pajamas, didn’t even give her a chance to wear her hijab,” says Suliman Hamed, who says Israeli forces are persecuting Palestinians like Esmail for social media posts. We also speak with Edward Ahmed Mitchell, civil rights attorney and national deputy director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, about other cases, including 17-year-old Palestinian American teenager Mohammad Ahmed Mohammad Khdour, who was shot dead on Saturday in the town of Biddu in the occupied West Bank; 17-year-old Palestinian American Tawfiq Ajjaq, who was fatally shot in the head in January in the West Bank; and the stabbing of Zacharia Doar, a 23-year-old Palestinian American in Texas. “There is a war happening against Palestinian Americans, a war on their right to free speech, a war on their culture,” says Mitchell.

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, with Juan González.

A Palestinian American detained in the West Bank by the Israeli military last week was beaten in custody and denied medication. This is according to her family. Samaher Esmail was detained near the Silwad village area in the West Bank February 5th. The family said she was dragged from her home by Israeli soldiers and badly beaten. They also said her home was destroyed in the raid. The Israeli military confirmed Esmail’s detention, saying she was arrested for, quote, “incitement on social media,” but did not respond to the allegations of mistreatment raised by the family.

The family is calling on the State Department to gain consular access to her and to secure her release. At a press briefing, the State Department said it could not address any specifics about the case.

Samaher Esmail’s case is just one of a number of Palestinian Americans detained, attacked or killed, both in the occupied West Bank and in the United States. And we’re going to go through some of those cases.

We’re joined now by Samaher Esmail’s son, Suliman Hamed. He’s joining us from New Orleans. And we’re joined from Atlanta by Edward Ahmed Mitchell, a civil rights attorney and national deputy director of CAIR. That’s the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Suliman, can you tell us about your mother? Where was she when she was detained? What’s exactly happened to her? Have you been able to communicate with her in the Israeli jail that she’s being held?

SULIMAN HAMED: Hi. Yes. So, I’m Suliman Hamed. I can give you a little bit of insight on that.

So, it was Monday morning, February 5th, Jerusalem time. They came in the middle of the night, raided our home, dragged her out of the house in her pajamas, didn’t even give her a chance to wear her hijab. They broke stuff all inside the house. They came in with muddy shoes on purpose. And long story short, they came and took her, and ever since, we have not had any communication with her. It’s been very traumatic, very anxiety-inducing. Yeah, so that’s what happened.

And, you know, we’re hearing there’s not even a formal charge. On Monday, the judge ruled that she’s not a security threat, and there was no charge, so he allowed her to get put out on bail. And I’m not sure exactly who, either the IDF or the Israeli military commissions, somebody appealed it, and they have an automatic appeal process. So, once that happened, she had to be in detention for what I believe is at least another four days, maybe up to another week. And from there, we’ll what — they’re just trying to find a charge now to charge her with, even though she’s been in custody for a week. And this past week, she’s been, you know, questioned, interrogated, all that. You know, it seems like they’re just trying to find something to pin her, just because they’re annoyed with her for speaking her mind. So, yeah.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, when they came into your home, there was no explanation whatever why they were there? Or were they specifically looking for her, or were they seeking other people when they came into your home?

SULIMAN HAMED: No, no. I mean, apparently, they were looking for her, but we had no knowledge. Like, she would have been fine with coming in. And, like, if they had something against her, she would have definitely, like, came in and handled the situation. But, no, we had no idea she was wanted or they were looking for her. They did come into my village that day, and they took multiple people, all for, what it appears to be, like, social media, just something that they may have liked that they don’t like, you know, something just supporting Palestine. So, that’s all I know about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s bring in Edward Ahmed Mitchell to talk about Samaher Esmail’s case. And then we’re going to talk about the other cases. Another young man from your community itself, from Gretna, a Palestinian American, was just killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank. But first, let’s continue with Samaher’s arrest. Edward Ahmed Mitchell, you and Suliman and others held a news conference on Monday in Washington, D.C., demanding the State Department deal with these Palestinian Americans. Can you talk about what they’re saying about Samaher Esmail?

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL: Thanks for having me, Amy.

So, the Israeli government is completely out of control. They’re not only committing a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, but they are targeting, kidnapping, even killing Palestinian Americans in Gaza and the West Bank. This attack on Samaher is just the latest example of that.

And our State Department is, to be frank, not doing enough. They claim they are working behind the scenes to look into the issue. They made general statements about the importance of protecting American citizens abroad. But the reality is they are not publicly condemning or taking any concrete action to hold the Israeli government accountable for abusing American citizens. And if even Palestinian Americans are not safe, you can imagine that Palestinians are not safe at all.

And so, that’s the condition we’re in. The State Department is just making general vague statements, you know, that they could say about anything, boilerplate statements, but they’re not using any concrete action to protect American citizens who are being attacked by the Israeli government.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to go to break and then come back to this discussion and talk about a young man from Gretna, Louisiana, just like Samaher Esmail is from Gretna, Louisiana, but this teen was killed. We’re talking to Edward Ahmed Mitchell, civil rights attorney and national deputy director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations. And we’re speaking with Samaher’s son, Suliman Hamed. Stay with us.


AMY GOODMAN: “That Moment When” by Adnan Joubran. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

The family of — we’re looking at calls for the U.S. State Department to address the killing, the arrests and attacks on Palestinian Americans, both in the Occupied Territories and here at home. We just spoke about the case of Samaher Esmail, a Palestinian American woman from Gretna, Louisiana, forcibly taken by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the family of two Palestinian American brothers say the pair, their Canadian father and three other relatives have been detained after an Israeli raid on their home in Gaza. The brothers, Borak and Hashem Alagha, are aged 18 and 20. National security spokesperson John Kirby said the U.S. will talk to Israel about the detention of the brothers, as well as Samaher Esmail.

We also learned about the stabbing in Texas, the Sunday stabbing in Austin, of 23-year-old Palestinian American Zacharia Doar, which is being called a hate crime.

For more, we continue with Edward Ahmed Mitchell, civil rights attorney and national deputy director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Suliman Hamed, Samaher Esmail’s son. If you can talk about this arrest, killing and detention and attacks on Palestinian Americans, what the State Department is saying in each case? We’ve also learned about the killing of two Palestinian American teens, one in Biddu — the State Department is just saying they’re looking into this — as well as another young man from Gretna.

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL: Amy, sadly, you have described what the State Department is saying, and it’s what they say every time this happens — “We’re looking into it. We care about American citizens abroad” — and that’s about all you get from them, no condemnations of the Israeli government, no concrete action, nothing. And so, whether it’s the shooting of the young man from New Orleans, who was shot in the head while driving in a car with his family, whether it’s the kidnapping of the two Palestinian Americans from Gaza, one of them who already had a broken leg and whose home had been destroyed twice by Israeli bombing, you don’t get much from the State Department other than “We’re looking into it, and we care about the safety of American citizens abroad.”

What they need to be doing is very clearly and explicitly condemning the Israeli government for attacking not only American citizens who are in Palestine, but also Palestinians in general. And as long as the Israeli government feels that the American government will not hold them accountable for even targeting American citizens, then, of course, they’re going to target everyone, without any sort of — with impunity, sadly. And that’s what we’re seeing happen.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I wanted to ask Suliman — the efforts by — all the attention so far in world press coverage has been on Gaza, for the most part, not on what is happening to Palestinians in the West Bank. You mentioned that when your mother was taken, was arrested, there were others in your same town that were arrested by the IDF. Can you talk about what life is like for those living in the West Bank today?

SULIMAN HAMED: Yeah, of course. It’s filled with just humiliation, harassment by Israeli forces. They come in — they come in in the middle of the night and take your little boy, take your little girl, take your mom, take your dad. They have no respect for us. They have said on record multiple times that they see us as animals. And that’s how it feels, like we’re second-class, even third-class citizens to them. And like you said, like, this was all in the West Bank. This isn’t a war zone. There’s no Hamas. There’s nothing like that over there. So, it’s just — again, they treat us poorly.

And I want to actually add something, because I forgot to mention this. But, you know, about my mom’s condition, her lawyer had said that she had been beaten in prison. She witnessed and wrote an official statement, that we got, to the U.S. Embassy that said that she had bruises, black and blue all over her body, specifically on her hands and back. She was shaking from lack of, like, I guess, medication and the abuse she’s received. They’ve had her medication for over seven days now — now it’s like day nine — and they still have yet to administer it. You know, they’re just cruel. They’re cruel. And, you know, it’s not a way to treat a person, first of all, and not a way to treat a U.S. citizen. And I want to see the embassy, you know, speak up about that and —

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go —

SULIMAN HAMED: — go see my mom.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller addressing reporters on Tuesday.

MATTHEW MILLER: When we see reports of U.S. citizens that have been detained, have been arrested, that have been killed, have been in any way potentially mistreated, we first gather information. If it’s appropriate, we ask for a full investigation. If that investigation shows that there ought to be accountability, we call for accountability measures. I will also state that when it comes to activity in Israel, we — the United States has shown that it is willing to impose its own accountability measures when we think it’s appropriate.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s Matthew Miller. And I want to address this to the lawyer, looking also at the case of Tawfic Abdel Jabbar, the 17-year-old Palestinian American shot and killed in the occupied West Bank last week. Tawfic was born, again, in Gretna, Louisiana, across the river from New Orleans. He and his family returned frequently to their ancestral home in the village of al-Mazra’a ash-Sharqiya in the occupied West Bank. On January 19, Tawfic and a friend were driving in a pickup truck on a dirt road near the village when they came under fire from at least 10 shots hitting the truck. One of the bullets struck the Tawfic in the head. The car skidded off the road, flipped several times before coming to a stop. He was pronounced dead when he was brought to the hospital in Ramallah. Israeli police didn’t identify who fired the shots, but described incident as, quote, “ostensibly involving an off-duty law enforcement officer, a soldier and a civilian.” The White House has called for a transparent investigation into the killing. Edward Ahmed Mitchell, if you can tell us more about this case? And then we’ll talk about just what happened outside Austin, Texas, a case you’re representing, as well.

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL: Right. So, it’s been almost a month since that young man was shot in the head and killed. Has the State Department done anything more? Has the Israeli government announced charges against those responsible? No, because they’re not going to do it. You don’t ask the abuser to investigate himself. What the State Department is doing is releasing boilerplate statements after these incidents occur, and then nothing happens.

And you know this because you can go back even further. We all remember the assassination of Shireen Abu Akleh, what, a few years ago. Has anyone been charged with killing her? Has the Israeli government held anyone accountable? No. In fact, the Israeli government has said they’re not going to charge anyone with killing her, even though it was a sniper who did it, she was wearing a press vest, and even the people who tried to save her were then shot at. The Israeli government is not going to hold itself accountable. Only the American government can do that, but the American government is refusing to do so.

And so, whether it’s, again, the young man who was shot in the head, the two people who were kidnapped in Gaza, or Samaher, who was kidnapped in the West Bank, you see the same pattern over and over and over again. The State Department says something very basic and generic, and then they don’t do anything about it, and they wait for the story to fade away. And that sends the message to Israel: You can do whatever you want, even to American citizens, and no one will hold you accountable.

AMY GOODMAN: And how significant is it that the Austin police have declared a hate crime of the attack on Zacharia Doar and his friends in Austin? Explain what happened. You are involved with this case, Edward?

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL: Yeah. So, this is a case I’ve been helping with. So, on February 4th, there was a pro-ceasefire protest held in Austin. After this event, Zacharia and three of his friends were traveling home in a car. They had the keffiyeh, a keffiyeh flag hanging out of their car, with “Free Palestine” written on it. They had other signs of Palestine on the car. When they got to a stop sign, a man named Bert Baker approached their car, attempted to rip the flag off the car, and then attacked them, opened the back door, pulled Zacharia out of the car. A fight ensued. His three friends jumped out and tried to help him. They subdued the guy, the attacker, and then he pulled out a knife. And Zacharia actually jumped in the way of one of his friends and saved them, but was stabbed in the process. So, the police department, relatively quickly, confirmed what we knew and what we had said and we asked them to say, which is that it was a hate crime.

And this is just the latest example of an anti-Palestinian or anti-Muslim hate crime in the United States. We all know about the 6-year-old boy, Wadea, who was stabbed and killed outside of Chicago back in October by his anti-Muslim landlord. We know about the shooting of the three Palestinian college kids in Burlington, Vermont, who were, again, wearing the keffiyeh in public and just shot on the street.

This is happening again and again because, Amy, there is not only a war happening against Palestinians in Gaza, there is a war happening against Palestinian Americans, a war on their right to free speech, a war on their culture. And that is designed to silence them. And you can’t weaponize anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Palestinian racism against people in Gaza without it having blowback here in America on people right here at home. And that’s what we’ve been seeing over the past four months.

AMY GOODMAN: Suliman, your final comment, as we wrap up this segment? If you can talk about your mother?

SULIMAN HAMED: Yeah, sure. My mom, I mean, she’s the sweetest lady. Everybody knows her in our community. She’s a teacher — she was a teacher, a businesswoman, a mother of four. She raised us with good morals. She raised us to be good kids, professionals. Again, just the sweetest woman, a helper. She just — again, she expresses her opinion, and sometimes she demands justice. And, you know, I applaud her for that. She’s my hero for that. I don’t think it’s anything for her to be in prison about.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Suliman Hamed, we want to thank you for being with us. We’ll continue to follow your mother’s case. And Edward Ahmed Mitchell, civil rights attorney and national deputy director of CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Mar 05, 2024 4:31 am

Doctor Reports on Bombing of Nasser Hospital Just Before Israeli Troops Storm Complex
by Amy Goodman
February 15, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/15/ ... transcript

Israeli troops stormed Nasser Hospital, the largest hospital in southern Gaza, on Thursday after days of besieging the complex, where thousands of displaced Palestinians have been taking shelter among hundreds of wounded. Israeli forces reportedly demolished the southern wall of the hospital before storming inside. Troops also targeted ambulances, tents of the displaced, and bulldozed mass graves inside the hospital. The assault came hours after Israeli forces bombed a wing of the hospital, killing one patient and wounding several others. Democracy Now! reached Dr. Khaled Alserr, one of the last remaining surgeons inside Nasser Hospital, shortly before the Israeli raid as he described desperate conditions inside. “The situation here is getting worse every time and every minute,” Alserr said, describing sniper, drone and tank attacks on the hospital.


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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Israeli troops stormed the main hospital in southern Gaza today after a dayslong siege. Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis was the largest functional hospital in Gaza. Thousands of displaced Palestinians have been taking shelter there among hundreds of wounded.

Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesperson, Ashraf al-Qidra, said in a statement that Israeli forces demolished the southern wall of the complex and stormed the hospital, adding that they turned it into a military barracks. He said troops targeted ambulances, tents of the displaced, and bulldozed mass graves inside the hospital. Israeli troops have also ordered medical staff to transfer all patients to another wing of the complex, including patients in the intensive care unit and the nursery. Hours earlier, Israeli forces bombed a wing of the hospital, killing one patient and wounding several others.

AMY GOODMAN: Democracy Now! was able to receive updates from inside Nasser Hospital several hours before Israeli troops stormed inside. Dr. Khaled Alserr is one of the last remaining surgeons inside the hospital. He described the bombing of the hospital, as well as an incident when a quadcopter drone opened fire on doctors inside. You can hear the bombs falling in the background as he speaks.

DR. KHALED ALSERR: There was a direct bombing to the hospital. They forced people inside the hospital, including patients, relatives — oh, Allah — patients, relatives and healthcare workers, to evacuate immediately. And you can hear in the background the continuous bombing in the hospital.

Every minute and every hour, we have a new update. Just one hour ago — now the time here is 3 a.m., after midnight. At 2 a.m., Israeli army bombed the hospital directly with a rocket, which hit directly into the patient wards. Six patients were injured again, and one of the patients died on his bed.

Israeli army is trying to communicate with the people inside the hospital every time to warn them and threaten them to evacuate immediately, even if it’s after midnight. The speakers on the drone shouting on people that they have to go out the hospital immediately, or they will bomb the hospital. And unfortunately, they have committed their warning and bombed the hospital directly just one hour ago.

The situation here is getting worse every time and every minute. Yesterday I tried to evacuate my parents from the hospital, because I have them here with me inside the hospital, but through a secure passage, as they claim that it’s a secure passage for people and refugees to be evacuated through, in front of tanks and snipers and soldiers. The bulldozer and a tank tried to approach the people, so they were afraid and came back to the hospital here, as a lot of the refugees.

Actually, the situation here in the hospital at this moment is in chaos. All of the patients, all the relatives, refugees and also the medical staff are afraid because of what happened. We could not imagine that at any time the Israeli army will bomb the hospital directly, and they will kill patients and medical personnel directly by bombing the hospital building. Yesterday also, Israeli snipers and Israeli quadcopters, which is a drone, carry on it an AR, and with a sniper, they shot all over the building. And they shot my colleague, Dr. Karam. He has a shrapnel inside his head. I can upload for you a CT for him. You can see, alhamdulillah, it was superficial, nothing serious. But a lot of bullets inside their bedroom and the restroom.

Because I’m not easily getting internet access, you can share my voices or edit them to spread the news and spread the truth and what’s happening to us right now.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Dr. Khaled Alserr, one of the last remaining surgeons inside Nasser Hospital. Israeli troops stormed the hospital a few hours after he sent in those reports.


“I Always Imagine Myself Being Blown Up”: Journalist in Rafah on Dire Situation as Invasion Looms
by Amy Goodman
February 15, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/15/ ... transcript

We speak with journalist Akram al-Satarri, reporting from Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza bordering Egypt, where more than a million Palestinians are now packed together following forced relocations from elsewhere in the territory. Israel is threatening to launch a ground invasion of Rafah, which Israel had previously designated as a safe zone. Al-Satarri describes how hunger, thirst and other pressures are impacting the displaced population as the death toll continues to rise from Israel’s assault. “Every single time I walk one step in Gaza, I always imagine myself being blown up,” he says. “The killing is massive. The killing is thorough. And I think no one in Gaza is protected, no safe haven.”


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

NERMEEN SHAIKH: The raid on Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis comes as fears are mounting that Israel will act on its plans to launch a ground invasion into Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza that Israel had previously declared a safe zone.

Over half of Gaza’s population, some 1.4 million people, including over 600,00 children, are crammed into Rafah after being displaced from their homes and driven south during Israel’s brutal assault. There are now massive tent encampments pushing up to the Egyptian border.

International pressure is mounting for Israel to call off its ground invasion. The U.N.’s top humanitarian official, Martin Griffiths, said that an assault on Rafah, quote, “could lead to a slaughter.”

AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Rafah, where we’re joined by journalist Akram al-Satari.

Akram, welcome back to Democracy Now! We have just heard these chilling reports from inside Nasser Hospital right before Israel occupied it and the bombing of it. You’ve sent out a picture of some of the ammunition used by the Israeli military. Explain what happened inside and also what’s happening around you in Rafah.

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, the situation continues to be extremely dire in the vicinity and inside Nasser medical complex. The Israeli occupation forces have been targeting the vicinity of the area, including some of the UNRWA shelters not far away from the hospital. They are destroying and they were destroying the walls of the hospital, the exterior wall of the hospital. They targeted the wards of the hospital. They’re in wards of the hospital. They targeted the surgery department in the hospital and injured at least one surgeon while he was inside the surgery department.

They asked people to leave the hospital, and when they were leaving the hospital, they shot them dead. They asked one guy, whose hands were tied, and he was sent to the people inside the hospital, to the internally displaced people, asking them to leave the hospital. And then, when he ended up speaking to the people and returning to the Israelis, because he was fearful from death, he was killed, and he was left on the ground.

Around 80 bodies are laid right in front of the outer gate of the Nasser Hospital, up to some 200 meters away from the hospital. Fear, death and shock are enclaving and encircling the people in that area. The Israeli occupation forces continue their operation, continue targeting Nasser Hospital, continue to ask people to leave, and then when they are leaving, they snipe them. There are some disturbing images and footage of the people — of the bodies of the people being eaten and devoured by the dogs and by the stray cats. People who were just communicating with their relatives were describing the horrors, and they were also documenting those horrors.

Israel continues to target the hospitals. They target Nasser Hospital, and they are still targeting Al-Amal Hospital not far away from Nasser Hospital, around one, 1.5, two, 2.5 kilometers, in Al-Amal neighborhood. And they continue the very same policy, the policy of targeting the medical complexes, targeting the medical personnel, targeting the patients, targeting the escorts, and spreading the fear and destruction in that area. Some of the people who were inside Khan Younis were rushing, were pulling the beds of their dears, some of them in the orthopedic department that was targeted, some of them in the general surgery department. And they were carrying or pulling the beds for around five or six or seven kilometers to reach Rafah.

As you can see, now the Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital, where I am located now, has been receiving numbers of the people who were inside Nasser Hospital and Al-Amal Hospital. They received them. They are trying to expand the bed capacity of the hospital. They are trying to accommodate to the influx of people who are fleeing from Nasser Hospital, who are fleeing for their safety, who are fleeing for their life. And they end up staying in tents like those, where sanitation is at question, where the quality of the medical care provision is at question, too, where the large number of people who are already staying inside the hospital prevent them from absorbing or accommodating any other additional number of people injured. The health system at large has been struggling.

The infrastructure of the whole city of Rafah cannot absorb or accommodate the large number of Palestinians inside Rafah. Around 1.2 million Palestinians were staying in Rafah. Now tens of thousands of them are leaving Rafah and heading towards Khan Younis and towards Gaza’s central area, with doubts of the continuous and with fear of the looming ground invasion that is likely to be a replication of everything that was done in Gaza in the north and everything that was done in Khan Younis.

People were hopeful that the ICJ, International Court of Justice, would bring them justice or would at least make Israel reconsider its tactics when it comes to protected objects, human objects, and health facilities, also journalists. But it looks like Israel is continuing the very same approach. It’s continuing the very same way of targeting. We were hopeful, as journalists, that Israel wouldn’t be targeting Nasser Hospital or Al-Amal Hospital. But, unfortunately, the targeting is still continuous.

And a large number of people, tens of thousands of people, who were stuck in Khan Younis, are now being targeted, either by the artillery fire or by the quadcopters or by the F-16 or by all the other means, and they are being killed, and they are being left — even the ones who are injured are being left to die on the ground. People were describing the atrocities they have been seeing. People have been crying over their dears, who were screaming for help, but they couldn’t help them. People are now crying over their dears who are still waiting in Khan Younis and cannot be reached, cannot be rescued, cannot be saved, and they are likely to lose their life, like many others who lost their life the very same way.

As to Rafah, Rafah is the place now for around, as I said, 1.2 million Palestinians. The area is underserved, no good infrastructure, no organized camping, no organized tents, no organized service of provision. And the pressure resulting from this massive number of people is overburdening the municipalities, is overburdening the civil defense, is overburdening the Ministry of Health and is overburdening the international organizations. The concern has been voiced by the UNRWA, by the World Food Programme, by the UNICEF, by the United Nations Development Programme. And they are all warning that any ground offensive targeting Rafah is going to result in a catastrophe, a catastrophe that is bigger and much, much more bigger than the one that took place in Gaza in the north and the one that is taking place right now in Khan Younis.

People in Gaza believe that no single international power is able now to bring an end to the ongoing misery that has been caused by the ongoing occupation and the indiscriminate — this indiscriminate targeting, as described by some of the Palestinians. Some of them are already on the beds recovering. Some of them are struggling for their life. And some of them are deprived from the very basic humanitarian need to food and water. Water is missing in Gaza. Food is missing in Gaza. And people have been struggling, not for their own food need, but, rather, for their children’s food need, for the elderly people’s food need. So, the situation is dire. And it continues to aggravate into something that is extremely life-threatening, that needs an imminent — that needs an imminent intervention for the sake of stopping any atrocities that are likely to happen and stopping the atrocities that are taking place now.

And I’m quoting many of the Gazans that I spoke to, many of the ones who are worried about their dears, many of the ones who are worried also about their own safety, many of the ones who are worried about the future and what it holds for them. They think it is about time that something happens. They think they have suffered enough. They think they have died enough. They think they have been hungry enough. They think they have been thirsty enough. They think they have been homeless enough. And this is the outcry not only of the 1.2 million Gazans who are staying in Rafah, but also of [inaudible] million Gazans who are in Gaza in the north, who are in [inaudible] in Khan Younis, and who are in Rafah. People have been deprived from the access to very basic, essential food supplies and water supplies. They have been struggling. They have been facing famine. They have been seeing children who are dying from the hunger. And this is an outcry from them to the whole world that this needs to stop. And the madness that is taking place in Gaza — and I’m again quoting the people who are talking to me — the madness needs to come to an end.

As I’m talking to you, the unmanned drones are hovering all around the Gaza Strip, day and night, continuous bombardment in different parts of Rafah, in different parts of Gaza Strip at large, and they continue to take the lives and hopes of the Palestinians. Palestinians who are living in Rafah and who are living in Gaza alike have been exhausting all the negative and positive coping mechanisms. The number of people who are injured is unconceivable. The number of people killed, and the way they are being killed, is also unconceivable. And people continue to suffer. And they expect that more suffering is coming, if the international community fails once again to protect them.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Akram al-Satarri, if you could — you, yourself, right now are standing outside a hospital. We can hear possibly a drone overhead. If you could describe the situation there? And you mentioned how people, Palestinians, there are lacking even the most basic essentials — food, water. Tell us what humanitarian aid is getting in, if any.

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, I can describe the situation. I will have to describe the way I’m feeling about things and how things are unfolding. Every single time I walk one step in Gaza, I always imagine myself being blown up by an unmanned drone or by F-16 missile or by a quadcopter or by whatever weapon that is used by Israel. Every time I’m walking and every single home I pass by, I feel that this home might be targeted, and I might be ending up dying and killed under the rubble of that house, every single place I stay. I moved from my home six times. So I am homeless and displaced six times now. And I’m waiting what would happen in Rafah.

People in Rafah, as I told you, people are deprived from everything, even the very basic, essential things, the very essential things that are needed to lead a normal life or a seminormal life or a life of internally displaced people. Even the internally displaced people in Gaza are unique and different than any other internally displaced people all over the world. All over the world, people are receiving and accessing food and water supplies, according to the Sphere book. The Sphere book is a book that has been developed for the sake of just identifying the quantities that are needed and the calories that are needed for the people to stay alive at a time of famine or at a time of conflict, man-made or natural disaster. So, people are not even accessing that very limited — the threshold of food that is needed for the people in Gaza is not met, because the U.N. agencies that have been helping the Gazans are now tarnished, are now assaulted, are now attacked, and now the funding that is going to them is suspended.

So, people in Rafah and other areas have to do what they — what would they have to do to survive? Some of the people in the Gaza in the north had to do to use to food — to feed, of the animals, to ground it, the corn, to ground it, to make sure that they can bake some bread for their families. They don’t have rice. They don’t have water. They don’t have canned food. They don’t have anything.

And they have been calling for the world to stop that. And they have been even — the very emotional thing about that is that everything that is happening, including the most and profoundly shocking things, are happening live on air. People are just documenting their death. People are documenting their suffering. People are documenting their hunger. People are documenting their thirst. People are documenting their injury. People even documenting the hospitals when they are being raided and stormed in by the Israeli occupation forces. And the whole world — they have a feeling that the whole world is watching and that it’s not doing anything. And that feeling of helplessness is another way to kill the Palestinians. So, if they’re killed once, they are killed twice — once by the ongoing bombardment that has been taking place, that has been documented, and the second time by not offering the fitting homage for those people by serving justice and by stopping aggression, like was said by the many people that I talked to.

The situation is extremely dire. You will never be able to imagine the things that are happening, when you’re walking down the streets; when you see small children out crying for food; when you see lining up hundreds of people for a very limited one pot of rice or one pot of food, and they are struggling to get some of that to bring back to their families; when you see small children staying unaccompanied because they lost their whole family; when you see one man who buried his whole family and who’s walking down the street, like, losing his mind because he lost all that he dreamt would grow up with him, which is his children — he lost his wife, he lost his father, he lost his mother, he lost his house, he lost any hope in life that he can clutch to. I saw many people talking to themselves down the streets. I saw many people crying because they have no one to cry to. They have no shoulder to cry over. They have no one to look after them. They have no one to console them. They have no one even to offer them some kind word to look after them. And they are going to — and they are driven insane because of that. Situation is unconceivable. It has affected all aspects of life of Gazans. And it continues to affect them. And it has destroyed many lives, and it continues to destroy life. And it is likely to destroy any hope that Gaza would survive. And I think this is the plan, to break Gaza and to make Gaza uninhabitable and to destroy any possibility for Gazans to relive or to rebuild or to just retake their life again.

AMY GOODMAN: Gaza now has the highest percentage of people facing acute food insecurity anywhere in the world. Finally, Akram al-Satarri, as we watch you on the ground there in Rafah — and we thank you and your cameraman — we understand the very serious risks you face. I’m wondering if you question whether even to wear the vest you are wearing that says “press,” in light of the latest news just this week, bringing to possibly over 120 the number of Gaza-based journalists killed. The Israeli drones struck a pair of Al Jazeera journalists on Tuesday, seriously injuring correspondent Ismail Abu Omar — he’s had his leg amputated — and his cameraman, Ahmad Matar. They’re in European Hospital. Then you have yesterday, Palestinian journalist Mutaz Al-Ghafari killed in Gaza City in an Israeli airstrike that also killed his wife and his child. Did you know these reporters? How are you protecting yourself?

AKRAM AL-SATARRI: Well, as a matter fact, Ahmad Matar is a friend of mine. The last time I shook hands with him was three days ago. He shook my hand. But, unfortunately, he has no hand now, because his hand and his arm was amputated, and he’s struggling for his life right now. He’s one of my neighbors. He’s one of my friends. I know him very well. He’s such a very nice and kind person. I know also Ismail Abu Omar, the one who’s struggling for his life now because of unexpected hemorrhage because of his injury. I know many other journalists who were targeted and killed because of the Israeli ongoing bombardment. I know they have lives. I know they have families. I know they have a career that should be protected, according to Geneva Conventions. And I know they were targeted and killed despite the fact that they are protected.

And I know also that it’s not only the journalists who were killed. There are also some humanitarian aid people who were killed. There were also some UNRWA people who were working to serve the population that is displaced, and they were killed also. I know many other people who were caring for other people, and they ended up being killed. The killing is massive. The killing is thorough. And I think no one in Gaza is protected, no safe haven. And I think there is — every single person in Gaza now lacks that sense of safety and security. And we all understand that we are going to be suspended killed people, and we know it’s just a matter of time when Israel will reach any one of us and would kill any one of us, either our dreams or ourselves or our families or our friends or our acquaintances.

This is the situation. It is as dire as it sounds. But it’s different when it’s felt. It’s different when it’s about the people you know. It’s different when about the people you love. It’s different when about the people who shake their hands, smile — shake your hands, smile at your face, say “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” or even “Good night.” It’s the personal stories of the people that makes us sometimes at the verge of collapse and breaking.

But we understand that we have a mission to fulfill, which is to communicate the voice of the voiceless in Gaza, which is to show the real suffering the people has been enduring — they have been enduring, without no guilt that have been committed by them. It’s a story of a whole population. It’s not just Ismail or Ahmad. It’s not just Akram or any other one. It’s a story of a whole nation that has been under considerable fear and horror because of discriminate fire. And it’s the duty of the world to continue to work towards ceasing the fire and ending this atrocity now, because I think the consciousness of the world has been stained by the ongoing atrocities. And I think the ones who were killed, the ones who were guiltless, the ones who were hoping that they would survive and build their life and continue growing and loving their friends, and ended up killing, I think they deserve a fitting homage, which is serving justice and ending this ongoing aggression and enhancing and bringing about a ceasefire.

AMY GOODMAN: Akram al-Satarri, I want to thank you so much for being with us. I can’t believe what we are talking about now, as you’re risking your life to bring us this report. Akram is a Gaza-based journalist, joining us from Rafah in southern Gaza.


Kenneth Roth: Only Joe Biden Has Power to Stop “Massive Bloodshed” of a Rafah Invasion
by Amy Goodman
February 15, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/15/ ... transcript

South Africa has urgently requested the International Court of Justice to intervene if Israel proceeds with its planned ground invasion of Rafah. The South African government says Israel’s actions in Rafah could lead to significant loss of life, harm and destruction, potentially violating international law and the top U.N. court’s January order that Israel must take measures to prevent genocide in Gaza. “The person who, frankly, does have the most power to stop all of this bloodshed is Joe Biden,” says Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, now a visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. Roth also discusses Israel’s “ideological vendetta against UNRWA” and possible war crimes charges against top Hamas and Israeli leaders at the International Criminal Court.


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 Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: South Africa has urged the International Court of Justice to take action if Israel goes ahead with its planned ground invasion of Rafah. In a statement, the South African government said it’s concerned Israel’s actions in Rafah will result in, quote, “further large-scale killing, harm and destruction” and breach the Genocide Convention. This is South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor speaking Wednesday outside the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

NALEDI PANDOR: South Africa is totally horrified at what is happening, continuing to happen, to the people of Gaza and the West Bank, and now Rafah. We believe this confirms the allegation we’ve tabled before the ICJ that genocide is underway in the Palestinian territories, in the Occupied Territories. And clearly, the actions of the Israeli government prove that what we have said is actually accurate.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined in Geneva, Switzerland, by Ken Roth, visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, served for nearly three decades as the executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Ken, welcome to Democracy Now! We just heard this devastating report on the ground from a journalist in Rafah, in Gaza, and then we hear the South African foreign affairs minister talking about the renewed appeal they’re making to the International Court of Justice. Can you explain what’s happening and what this imminent ground invasion, if that’s what’s about to happen, in Rafah means, and if you think international law can deal with this?

KENNETH ROTH: Well, Amy, I think, as everybody knows, the Israeli military has gradually been moving from northern to southern Gaza. And the last place left, the supposed safe place, where at this point, as we’ve heard, 1.2 million Palestinians have congregated, is Rafah. There’s no place else to go within Gaza. And, you know, not surprisingly, there undoubtedly are some Hamas people there, too, and so Netanyahu is saying, “We want to invade Rafah.”

Now, there’s this problem: There would be massive bloodshed if that happened. So, even the Biden administration is saying, “Don’t do it, until you evacuate the civilian population.” Now, Netanyahu has said, “Yes, I’ll evacuate,” but there have been no plans whatsoever. And indeed, if you listen to the far-right ministers in his Cabinet, people like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, you know, people whose votes Netanyahu depends on to stay in power and to stay out of prison on corruption charges, they’re saying the only evacuation that they want is into Egypt, out of Gaza — a forced deportation, probably another Nakba, with little prospect that anybody who leaves Gaza would get to come back. And so, that’s the stake. Everybody is telling Netanyahu, “Move people someplace else within Gaza,” but there’s no place else that’s safe. Netanyahu is determined to move forward, because he needs to keep this war going. Once the war ends, his political reckoning for the intelligence failure of October 7th starts, and he’s likely to be out of a job. And we’re sort of in this dilemma.

Now, the International Court of Justice could intervene. The order that it issued last month had basically three elements to it. One was, you know, take far greater care not to kill civilians. Two was to allow in humanitarian aid. And three was for Israeli government officials to stop their incitement of genocide. And as far as we can tell, it was only the statements that have stopped. The aid has not come in in any greater amount. The killing doesn’t seem to have stopped. And so, in any event, Israel has to report back to the International Court of Justice on February 23rd. I have no idea what they’re going to say, because they basically have just like ignored the order. But now there is a possibility that even before the 23rd, the court will hear this emergency application from South Africa.

And I think it’s worth noting that in the original case, South Africa sought a ceasefire, but I never thought that was in the cards, because only the Israeli government, only states, frankly, are before the International Court of Justice. Hamas wasn’t there. So the court wasn’t going to order a ceasefire of just one side. But Rafah is different, because there’s not a lot of fighting by Hamas from Rafah, but rather this is just a proposed invasion by Israeli forces. And it is conceivable that the International Court of Justice would order a halt to that.

That, of course, begs the question: Who enforces that? The U.N. Security Council has that power, but that requires contending with the U.S. veto, contending with Biden. The person who, frankly, does have the most power to stop all of this bloodshed is Joe Biden. But so far, while he’s been outspoken, he has not been willing to put any teeth in his words. Most significantly, he’s not been willing to stop or even to condition the $3.8 billion in annual U.S. military aid or the massive arms sales to Israel. Those are the kinds of steps that, if taken, Netanyahu would be forced to listen to. But so far, Biden’s words are just empty, and Netanyahu ignores them.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And, Ken Roth, if you could say a little bit more about this enforcement or lack of enforcement mechanism of the International Court of Justice? You wrote a “piece”: last month in The Guardian suggesting that the political pressure — despite the lack of an enforcement mechanism, that the political pressure on Israel would be such that they would have to, in some sense, comply. So, a couple of questions. First, what would happen — for instance, February 23rd, as you said, Israel is supposed to report back. Is it possible that they do not report back? And then, the International Criminal Court, which takes, of course, individuals to court — who are the people — you’ve just mentioned senior Israeli officials Ben-Gvir and Smotrich — who are the people that the ICC could prosecute? And your response to what Karim Khan so far has said?

KENNETH ROTH: Well, in terms of, you know, what is the pressure on Israel, I think it can be broken down into three elements. You know, one is just the utter embarrassment of having been found to be plausibly committing genocide — that’s what the court found. Now, most governments, that would be sufficient to force them to step back. But this is Netanyahu. And as I mentioned, Netanyahu’s political future and, frankly, his personal liberty are at stake. And Netanyahu has always prioritized himself. And so, ending the war means, you know, this political reckoning, this investigation into what happened, what intelligence failure allowed October 7th to take place. He doesn’t want that to go forward, so he keeps fighting and fighting, hoping somehow to survive, somehow to stay out of prison. So, the shaming isn’t working.

The economic pressure that Joe Biden could exert on Israel would be very powerful. You know, to stop the billions of U.S. military aid, to stop the arms sales, that would be incredibly powerful as a statement. Joe Biden is nowhere near that. He’s, you know, speaking nice words. He’s saying, “Take greater care for civilians. Let in more humanitarian aid. Don’t invade Rafah without an evacuation plan.” But there’s nothing backing that up. And Netanyahu basically is just, you know, thumbing his nose at Joe Biden, because there’s no clout behind these nice words.

Now, the final source of pressure, which you mention, is the International Criminal Court. And for viewers, just to make clear, there are two tribunals in The Hague, just to confuse people. One is the International Court of Justice, which is a civil tribunal that hears complaints between states. That’s where South Africa brought its genocide case. That’s the court that made the ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide, and issued the three basic orders that I outlined. The separate tribunal is the International Criminal Court. This, as the name implies, is a criminal court. It prosecutes individuals, not governments. It tends to focus on the most senior responsible officials. And that means it’s going to look at the chain of command. And it’s quite clear that in this case, the orders with respect to dropping these 2,000-pound bombs that are causing such devastation in Gaza, the orders to allow in only drips and drabs of humanitarian or medical aid, you know, these are orders that are coming from the top. So I think the people who are most vulnerable would be Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, and Yoav Gallant, the defense minister.

Now, is Karim Khan, the chief prosecutor, going to act? We don’t know. You know, he has had an open investigation into what’s called the Palestine case since he took office in January 2021. But he has gone very, very slowly. And so far, all we’ve gotten from him is a couple of nice, eloquent statements before the media, one on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border, another from Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. And so, you know, he’s a barrister. He’s very eloquent, and these are nice statements — but nothing else. So, we’re all waiting for the war crimes charges. Clearly, Hamas is going to be charged. You know, what it did on October 7th is horrendous, you know, killing civilians, abducting civilians — blatant war crimes. So Hamas leadership is very vulnerable. I don’t see Karim Khan only charging Hamas, given 28,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza, given the pervasive starvation in Gaza. So he’s going to have to look at both sides, and he’s not moving quickly. If he were to move quickly, that would wake people up. You know, if Netanyahu suddenly faced war crimes charges, that would be a very different factor in the calculation that leads him to keep killing and besieging Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

AMY GOODMAN: In terms of crimes against humanity, the cutting of aid to UNRWA, the U.S. the largest contributor to the U.N. Palestine relief agency, can you talk about the significance of this, and the Senate bill that was passed by Democrats and Republicans, not only giving $14 billion, much of it in military aid, to Israel, but cutting aid to UNRWA, that runs the hospitals, the schools, to millions of Palestinians in Gaza and in other places, as well, Ken, and Israel particularly targeting hospitals?

KENNETH ROTH: Well, Amy, as you note, the treatment of UNRWA has been absolutely despicable. The Israeli government claims — they haven’t put forth evidence, but they claim — that 12 UNRWA employees, out of 12,000 in Gaza, that 12 took part in Hamas’s October 7th attack. We don’t know whether that was true or not, but UNRWA did everything that Israel conceivably could have imagined. It fired the staff members who were still on the staff — a couple of them had apparently died already. It immediately launched an investigation. It did everything you would want.

But Israel’s attack on UNRWA is really not about those 12 staff members. Israel has wanted to get rid of UNRWA forever. Now, this was, I think, accentuated by the fact that the International Court of Justice actually relied repeatedly on descriptions by UNRWA of the awful reality in Gaza — the utter lack of humanitarian aid, the starvation, the attacks on hospitals and the like. But Israel hates UNRWA because it believes that UNRWA is responsible for the Palestinian refugee problem. This is utterly naive. UNRWA is a humanitarian agency. It does, you know, as you noted, run schools and clinics not only in Gaza and the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but also in Lebanon, in Syria, in Jordan — you know, wherever Palestinian refugees are. And the Israeli government view is, if UNRWA were to disappear tomorrow, Palestinian refugees would somehow forget that they’re Palestinian refugees, and this desire to return to their ancestral homes in Israel would just evaporate. Now, this is a way of just whitewashing history. You know, suddenly we don’t have to talk about 1948. We don’t have to talk about the fact that there were 600,000 Palestinians who were forcibly displaced by Israeli forces and have never been permitted back to Israel. That just disappears. You know, that was the original sin, but we’re going to forget about that. We’re just going to get rid of UNRWA. Now, this is naive, but that is the Israeli government line.

And what’s particularly despicable is that Joe Biden fell for this and suspended aid to UNRWA, followed then by 18, 19 other governments around the world. And, you know, it would be one thing to believe this kind of propaganda in ordinary times, but this is in the middle of a war. This is in the middle of a situation where there is, by all accounts, widespread starvation in Gaza. There is impending famine for a significant part of the population. And UNRWA is the main vehicle to deliver what drips and drabs of aid get into Gaza. You know, now, some of the governments, like Germany, said, “Oh, well, other groups can deliver the aid.” But the other groups got together and issued a collective statement and said, “There is no way we can even come close to replicating UNRWA’s staff. UNRWA alone has this capacity to deliver aid in the midst of this war.” So, if you devastate UNRWA, which is what this funding suspension does — UNRWA has said it will have to shut down by mid-March if the funds are not renewed — to get rid of UNRWA is to condemn the Palestinian population in Gaza to death by starvation. And that — we should be clear: That’s what’s going on right now, because Israel has this ideological vendetta against UNRWA in its hope that it can somehow disappear the Palestinian refugee problem.

AMY GOODMAN: Ken Roth, we’re going to have to leave it there, visiting professor at the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, served for nearly three decades as the executive director of Human Rights Watch, speaking to us from Geneva, Switzerland.


“Obscene”: Biden Pushes House to Approve Bill with $14B in Military Aid to Israel, Cuts UNRWA Funding
by Amy Goodman
February 15, 2024

The U.S. Senate has approved a $95 billion foreign aid package that includes $14 billion in military funding to Israel, despite the finding by the International Court of Justice that it is plausible Israel has committed acts of genocide in Gaza. The Senate bill passed on a 70-29 vote, though its fate remains uncertain in the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Mike Johnson is demanding the inclusion of new anti-immigrant and border enforcement measures before scheduling a vote. William Hartung, a national security and foreign policy expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, says the massive spending package’s main effect would be “to ship weapons overseas into war zones,” noting that lawmakers rarely show the same urgency when it comes to issues like poverty or the climate crisis. “We’re putting the bulk of our resources into implements of war.”


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

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Here in the United States, President Biden is urging the House to vote to approve a $95 billion foreign aid bill passed by the Senate Tuesday that includes $14 billion for Israel’s war on Gaza, along with $60 billion for Ukraine and $8 billion for Indo-Pacific allies like Taiwan. It also strips U.S. funding for UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders opposed the measure, joined by two Democratic senators who broke ranks with their party, Jeff Merkley and Peter Welch. This is Welch.

SEN. PETER WELCH: I voted against the supplemental for one key reason: I cannot in good conscience support sending billions of additional taxpayer dollars for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s military campaign in Gaza. It’s a campaign that has killed and wounded a shocking number of civilians. It’s created a massive humanitarian crisis with no end in sight. It’s inflamed tensions in the Middle East, eroding support among Arab states that had been aligned with Israel. And, of course, it has severely compromised any remaining hope, almost all remaining hope, for the two-state solution that we all know is ultimately essential for peace in the Middle East.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Vermont Senator Peter Welch. The foreign aid package now faces an uncertain future in the Republican-controlled House, where Speaker Mike Johnson is refusing to schedule a vote without first adding new anti-immigrant and border enforcement measures, and may propose an alternative package today.

For more, we are here in New York with William Hartung, national security, foreign policy expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His new piece for Forbes is headlined “Senate Aid Package Underscores Washington’s Skewed Priorities.”

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Bill. Talk about what this bill represents, which is largely supported by Democrats.

WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, the first thing that stuck out to me is $95 billion, most of it to ship weapons overseas into war zones. You know, this Senate would never do an emergency bill to stop record homelessness, stop hunger, you know, deal with the climate crisis. The United States has the worst record of life expectancy of any industrialized country, and yet we’re putting the bulk of our resources into implements of war.

And, of course, to give Israel more money to continue the slaughter in Gaza that we’ve seen laid out in this program is obscene. And I think the members who voted for it should be ashamed of themselves. But I think the real point is to stop the killing. There’s got to be a ceasefire. And President Biden, through cutting off conditioning U.S. military aid, has the strongest hand to try to do that. So, there’s got to be more pressure. I know there’s been a lot at the grassroots level, some within the government, but it’s got to continue, because I think the goal here has to be to stop the slaughter.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: And the Senate vote came just hours after the EU’s foreign policy chief urged the United States and other countries to stop providing arms to Israel. So, if you could respond to that? How common is it, first of all, for the EU foreign policy chief to make such a pronouncement? And whether this kind of pressure will affect the Biden administration’s policy?

WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, it’s very unusual to see that kind of statement from an ally. But this is a very unprecedented and devastating situation. So, you know, I don’t know what exactly is going to move the president. It’s clear it’s going to hurt him electorally. It’s clear that it’s running the risk of a wider Middle East war. You know, there’s really no — from a realistic point of view, there’s no reason to be doing this. It’s basically kind of an ideological kind of issue that seems to be embedded in the president’s consciousness, that has to be dislodged.

AMY GOODMAN: Bill Hartung, you’ve talked about how the Pentagon and military contractors are exploiting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to get special favors to push arms out the door without proper vetting, building more factories without oversight. Can you explain?

WILLIAM HARTUNG: Yes. Well, the industry has had this long-standing list of things they wanted: as you pointed out, push arms quickly, less human rights vetting, more subsidies to build factories. And, of course, this reduced scrutiny will also make it easier for them to engage in price gouging. So they’ve sort of wrapped themselves in the flag with respect to Ukraine. You know, the president has called them the “arsenal of democracy,” I think which would be a surprise to the people of Yemen and other places where the U.S. is arming dictatorships.

So, they’re trying to run with this and really change the whole argument about whether we should be spending more on the military, at a time when the budget is soaring towards a trillion dollars a year. U.S. accounts for 40% of the world military spending, more than the next 15 countries combined. So, there’s got to be strong pushback against this, because, essentially, it’s kind of a new Cold War atmosphere in its attempt to kind of whitewash the negative consequences of what these companies do. And, of course, contractors get about half of that close to a trillion dollars a year that we spend on the military.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, if President Biden says he’s warning Israel, for example, against a ground invasion of Rafah, but then increasing funding to Israel and military funding, what message is that sending?

WILLIAM HARTUNG: Well, I think anything this administration says about human rights, the rule of law, the rules-based international order, rings hollow in the face of what’s happening with respect to supporting Israel in this war. And I think it will reverberate well beyond this conflict. I think, you know, the U.S. will not be taken as seriously when they raise these kinds of issues in the future. So, not only is it horrific for the people of Gaza, but I think it undermines the role of the United States in the world in any cases where they actually would want to play a constructive role. So it’s hard to imagine a more damaging foreign policy decision.

AMY GOODMAN: William Hartung, we want to thank you so much for being with us, national security and foreign policy expert at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. We’ll link to your piece in Forbes, “Senate Aid Package Underscores Washington’s Skewed Priorities.”
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Mar 05, 2024 4:33 am

“They Were So Close”: Israel Kills Medics Trying to Save Dying 6-Year-Old Hind Rajab
by Amy Goodman
February 16, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/16/ ... transcript

We look at the case of Hind Rajab, the 6-year-old Palestinian girl in Gaza whose case reverberated around the world when audio of her pleading for emergency workers to save her was published online. Her body was found two weeks later alongside those of her aunt, uncle and three cousins. The bodies of two Palestine Red Crescent paramedics, also missing since they had been dispatched to rescue her, were located in their ambulance just yards away. All had been killed by Israeli fire. “She was killed alone and scared, and our rescue teams were only meters away from her,” said Palestine Red Crescent Society spokesperson Nebal Farsakh, who adds that more than a dozen PRCS aid workers have been intentionally targeted during Israel’s assault on Gaza. Farsakh also discusses the kidnapping and assault of healthcare workers by Israeli forces laying siege upon Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.


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 turn to Gaza, to a case that’s reverberated around the world. Two weeks ago, January 29th, 6-year-old Hind Rajab climbed into a car with her aunt, her uncle and her cousins in Gaza City as they prepared to flee to the southern part of Gaza. But as they were in the car, an Israeli tank approached them and opened fire. Hind’s 15-year-old cousin Layan called the Red Crescent for help. These were her last words, recorded on the call with a Red Crescent dispatcher.

LAYAN HAMADEH: [translated] Hello?

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Hello, dear?

LAYAN HAMADEH: [translated] They are shooting at us.

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Hello?

LAYAN HAMADEH: [translated] They are shooting at us. The tank is next to me.

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Are you hiding?

LAYAN HAMADEH: [translated] Yes, in the car. We’re next to the tank.

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Are you inside the car?

LAYAN HAMADEH: [translated] [screaming]

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Hello? Hello?

AMY GOODMAN: That was 15-year-old Layan’s last words, killed along with the rest of her family. The only one who remained alive was 6-year-old Hind. Wounded, she called the Red Crescent back, pleading with the dispatcher to be rescued.

HIND RAJAB: [translated] Come take me. You will come and take me?

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] Do you want me to come and take you?

HIND RAJAB: [translated] I’m so scared. Please come. Please call someone to come and take me.

RED CRESCENT DISPATCHER: [translated] OK, dear, I will come and take you.

AMY GOODMAN: After seeking approval from the Israeli military, two emergency workers with the Palestine Red Crescent, Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun, went to try to rescue 6-year-old Hind. But dispatchers lost contact with the medics.

Nearly two weeks later, Israeli forces finally withdrew from the area, and on Saturday Hind’s surviving family ventured back to the neighborhood. They found Hind dead inside the car alongside the bodies of five of her family members. The car riddled with bullet holes. The bodies of the two emergency workers were also found in an ambulance nearby, appear to have been killed by Israeli fire just yards away from the car. This is Hind’s mother, Wissam Hamadah, after she learned of her daughter’s killing.

WISSAM HAMADAH: [translated] My heart is completely destroyed over my daughter. Two weeks! They killed them. Two weeks, they were in that car! I’ve told the world from day one, “Please go get Hind.” God is the only one sufficient for us. Everyone failed us. I will tell God on the day of judgment about my daughter. I swear I will never forgive you or any human involved or any human rights organization.

AMY GOODMAN: For more on this case, we’re joined now by Nebal Farsakh, spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society, joining us from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Nebal, thank you so much for joining us. Tell us everything you know about this case.

NEBAL FARSAKH: Good evening. Thanks for having me.

We at the Palestine Red Crescent were heartbroken and devastated again after learning the fate of our colleagues, Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun. The ambulance was found bombed just meters away from the car where Hind was trapped.

The story began after we have received a call from the uncles of Hind and Layan, who live overseas, reporting that there’s two little girls are still survived after their family car was targeted by the Israeli tanks. He gave us a phone number. We called, and then Layan picked up the phone. And this is the call which you just previewed. Layan was killed while she was over the phone with our dispatch center.

And then we have called the number again, and Hind picked up the phone. Hind was supposed to turn into 6 years in May, and now she has lost her life. Over three hours, Hind was over the phone with our dispatch center. She was repeatedly seeking help, repeatedly appealing for our teams to come and pick her up.

It took us all of this time, over three hours, in order to coordinate safe access for our ambulances. And once the green light was given, the ambulance headed to the location. And upon its arrival, they have reported that there is a green laser on them, that the Israeli occupation force is pointing a laser on them. And then we have heard a sound of gunfire or a bombardment. It wasn’t that much clear. And the connection was lost.

For over 12 days, we were uncertain regarding the fate of our colleagues, Yusuf and Ahmed, and the little girl, Hind. We were thinking that they might be arrested. There was so many questions, like if they were succeeded to rescue Hind or not, because, basically, also they have confirmed that they can see the car of Hind and they were so close to Hind. I was just devastated to learn that Hind passed away alone. She was killed alone and scared, and our rescue teams were only meters away from her.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you explain the weapon found by the ambulance?

NEBAL FARSAKH: We’re not sure regarding the weapon found next to the ambulance. According to reports, it is an artillery shelling, U.S.-made, was found next to the ambulance, which was bombed by the Israeli occupation forces while they were trying to save 6-year-old Hind.

It’s just so much sad to see paramedics losing their life while they are trying to save people’s life. What was the fault of Yusuf and Ahmed? Their fault was they went in a rescue mission to save a 6-year-old girl. It was a coordinated mission, and the green light was given, and the Israeli occupation forces intentionally bombed the Palestine Red Crescent ambulance, which has clearly the Red Crescent emblem on top of the ambulance and from all the sides. There was no way or no option to be by mistake. It is an intentional targeting. Since the beginning of the war, we have lost 14 PRCS members. All of them were killed while they were on duty trying to save people’s life.

AMY GOODMAN: And what has the Israeli military explained to you, given that you got permission for your rescue workers to go rescue Hind, as the world heard her 6-year-old pleas for help?

NEBAL FARSAKH: Up to this moment, the Israeli military didn’t comment or reply at what happened. And even during the 12 days, we have tried repeatedly, even through the ICRC, to ask the Israeli occupation forces regarding what happened to Hind and the rescue team. And all the time they were mentioning they don’t have info regarding this incident. To turn out, after 12 days, they have bombed the ambulance, and still they don’t have info regarding the incident.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn to another case. The Palestine Red Crescent has just posted new video online as evidence that their ambulance was shot at and its staff were, quote, “brutally assaulted” by Israeli forces. PRCS said the video was taken around a week ago and shows a Red Crescent paramedic with two black eyes sitting in an ambulance that is pockmarked by bullet holes. The organization says the attack happened as the ambulance crew was delivering oxygen cylinders to Al-Amal Hospital in Gaza. It also stated that Israel had claimed they had transferred the oxygen cylinders to Al-Amal Hospital. Can you explain what took place here in this video that we’re watching?

NEBAL FARSAKH: Yes. For over a week, Al-Amal Hospital was run out of oxygen. This has resulted to three of our patients died because of the lack of oxygen. After we managed to coordinate getting oxygen cylinders to the hospital via the ICRC, our ambulance had to bring the oxygen cylinders from Nasser Hospital and transport them to Al-Amal Hospital. On its way, the ambulance — Israeli occupation forces opened fire at the hospital, and they insult and beat our paramedic, who was trying to move and transport this oxygen cylinder, which is life-saving, for our patients.

This is not the first attack, because at that moment, also a week ago, the Israeli occupation forces raided Al-Amal Hospital. They have destroyed medical equipment, and they dehumanized the medical staff, patients and their companions. They arrested nine of the Palestine Red Crescent members from Al-Amal Hospital, including four doctors and a nurse. They have beaten the staff, denied them — not allowing them to drink water or even to go use the toilet, and they tie their hands on their backs. The situation is extremely dangerous inside Al-Amal Hospital. We are still extremely worried regarding the safety of our teams who were arrested from Al-Amal Hospital. Today, two of them were released, but seven of our PRCS members are still detained up to this moment who were arrested from inside Al-Amal Hospital. Al-Amal Hospital is under besiege and continuous attack for the 25th day. Today, Israeli occupation forces targeted the second floor of the hospital with artillery shelling. Gladly, it only damaged for two of the nursing rooms, but there was no injuries among the staff or the patients. But the situation remains very dangerous, with Israeli tanks are in front of the hospital, besieging the hospital, continuous gunfire and bombardment surrounding the hospital. No one is able to go in or go out of the hospital. There is no food, no water, extreme shortage of medicine and medical supplies inside the hospital. The situation is beyond dire.

AMY GOODMAN: Nebal, I asked you about Israeli response. I want to ask you about the U.S. government response and how important it is. This is a clip of State Department spokesperson Matt Miller at a news conference on Wednesday. He was questioned about the killing of 6-year-old Hind and her family by a reporter from The Intercept, Prem Thakker.

PREM THAKKER: It’s been over two weeks since Israeli forces attacked Hind Rajab’s family, killing her aunt, uncle and cousins, leaving her trapped alone in her vehicle. We heard her pleas to the Red Crescent Society. Two medics were sent, all to be blown up, allegedly, by Israeli forces. I wanted to ask about the status of the inquiry into this, just because it seems if the Israeli government, you know, which seemingly does have a pretty sophisticated operation, is prioritizing this — if they don’t already know which soldiers to interview, for instance, they have Red Crescent calls, timestamps, the location of the Red Crescent staff to, you know, question and rely on — plenty of material to figure out who exactly to inquire with and to figure out who to hold accountable. So I want to first ask about the status of this investigation.

MATTHEW MILLER: Sure. So, I think that question is appropriately directed to the government of Israel. I will say, on behalf of the United States, we have made clear to them that we want that incident to be investigated. They have told us they are investigating it. It’s our understanding that investigation is not yet complete. You should direct questions to them about where it stands. But we want to see it completed as soon as possible. And as I said from this podium several days ago, if accountability is appropriate, we want to be — we want to see accountability put in place.

AMY GOODMAN: Nebal Farsakh, we just have 30 seconds. That’s the State Department spokesperson. How important is pressure from the United States on Israel, as you talked about a U.S. weapon being found near the shelled ambulance?

NEBAL FARSAKH: It is extremely important. The life and the story of Hind should not be end in this way. We’re talking about 6-years-old girl. She was trapped in her family car for hours, after everyone was killed and targeted by Israeli occupation forces. During this, even two paramedics who went to rescue the 6-year-old girl was also targeted, and their ambulance was found. We need to see actions happen and to put Israel accountable for committing such crime against a 6-year-old girl and civilians who were trapped in their car, along with targeting our ambulance.

AMY GOODMAN: Nebal Farsakh, we thank you so much for joining us,
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

Postby admin » Tue Mar 05, 2024 4:36 am

“Like Horror Movies”: Forced to Evacuate Nasser Hospital, Surgeon Describes Israeli Raid & Arrests
by Amy Goodman
February 19, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/19/ ... transcript

As the death toll in Gaza tops 29,000, we get an update on one of the largest hospitals in southern Gaza, Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which is no longer functional amid a dayslong raid on the facility by Israeli forces. About 200 patients remain trapped there, with Israel preventing the WHO and the U.N. from delivering aid or evacuating the patients. The Gaza Health Ministry says at least eight people died in the hospital after Israel cut off electricity and oxygen supplies, and that soldiers also arrested many hospital staff. Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi, a surgeon who worked at Nasser, sent Democracy Now! a video on Sunday describing what happened when it was stormed by Israeli troops. “They arrested all the medical team who remained at Nasser Hospital. We don’t know the fate of my colleagues,” said Moghrabi, who had to walk for miles with his family in the night. “Nothing remains in Khan Younis. Nothing. It’s like horror movies. No streets, no buildings are there. Only dead bodies.”


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.

Israel’s unrelenting assault on the Gaza Strip has killed over 29,000 Palestinians and injured another 69,000 since October 7th. We begin today’s show in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, where the Gaza Health Ministry is reporting one of Gaza’s largest hospitals, Al-Nasser Hospital, is no longer functional amidst a dayslong Israeli raid on the facility over the weekend. At least eight people at the hospital have reportedly died since Israeli soldiers cut off electricity and oxygen supplies.

The head of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, posted on X Sunday, quote, “Nasser hospital in #Gaza is not functional anymore, after a weeklong siege followed by the ongoing raid. Both yesterday and the day before, the @WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners. There are still about 200 patients in the hospital. At least 20 need to be urgently referred to other hospitals to receive health care. Medical referral is every patient’s right. The cost of delays will be paid by patients’ lives. Access to the patients and hospital should be facilitated,” end-quote. The World Health Organization says it’s still trying to evacuate the remaining patients in the hospital in Khan Younis to other facilities.

On Friday, the Gaza Health Ministry said an aid convoy led by the United Nations was detained for seven hours and prevented from reaching the hospital. The ministry said Saturday Israeli forces, quote, “arrested a large number of the directors and staff” of the hospital while they were tending to the wounded. Up to 100 people were reportedly arrested.

On Sunday, Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi at Nasser Hospital sent Democracy Now! a video describing what happened when the hospital was stormed by Israeli troops.

DR. AHMED MOGHRABI: At 1:30, I was at the third floor with my family at the surgical building. We heard lots of quadcopters over our heads at the hospital. They were asking us by megaphone actually to evacuate the hospital immediately. Immediately. And after like five, 10 minutes, I heard a very big explosion. Actually, they bombed and shelling the third floor, where I’m staying. Exactly, they targeted the orthopedic department. And I took my phone. I recorded some couple of videos, and I posted on my Instagram how did people as a result of this explosion. It was like chaos, everybody running there and there.

So, I realized that it is invasion of IDF as I started hearing some dogs at the hospital yards. And actually, yeah, they destroyed the back wall of the hospital and released their dogs. I changed my scrub immediately, and I took this, my clothes. Actually, I brought this, my clothes. And I ran away from the hospital with my family, with many of patients, many of people, some of my medical staff there. And can you guess? It was like 2 a.m., early morning. It was cold.

And there was a checkpoint away from the main gate of the hospital, about like 50 meters only. There was tanks, soldiers, dogs. And they started checking everybody there. Everybody. So, it’s not allowed to cross the checkpoint without checking you. So, when my turn comes, I — actually, they asked me to go forward or to come to the checkpoint, me and other four people. Actually, I told my wife, my children that I might be arrested, so don’t worry. Maybe it will take two weeks, one month. So, I’ll be fine, blah, blah, blah. And they asked us — they asked us to look at the camera, big camera, in front for 30 minutes. It’s not one camera; it’s lots of cameras are there. You have to look forward for 30 minutes, half-minute. During this time, actually, they told us actually to move and leave my nurse. My nurse was standing next to me or beside me. And they took my nurse. They asked him to take off all his clothes — all his clothes — at this cold. And they took him inside. And they ordered me and others actually to go and to keep moving, just keep moving.

And I walked with my family about 10 kilometers that night. Ten kilometers, nothing remain in Khan Younis. Nothing. It’s like horror movies. No streets, no buildings are there. Only dead bodies all over around. Only dead bodies.

By the way, I was hearing my friend Rami was screaming. They were beating him, not only him, many, many, many. They took many.

I managed to get to Rafah early morning, and I spent that day on the street. On the street. Who remained of medical staff, actually, all of them are arrested. They arrested all the medical team who remained at Nasser Hospital. We don’t know the fate of my colleagues. Actually, from my department, from my department, they took one GP doctor, my assistant, Dr. Mahmoud. They took two nurses from my department, Rami and Mohammed. They took, I think, around 100. Around a hundred of medical staff already have been arrested by IDF.

Now I’m at Rafah. I came here actually to IJH hospital — EJH hospital in Rafah to say hello to my friends, actually. And this is the situation here. I built a tent, by the way, for my family. I went to the MSF shelter with my wife and my children. I’ll keep you updated. Thank you.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi, speaking Sunday from Rafah. He was forced to leave Al-Nasser Hospital with the Israeli raid. He was the head of plastic surgery there.

Last week, Democracy Now! was able to receive updates from one of the last remaining surgeons inside Al-Nasser Hospital, Dr. Khaled Alserr. This is the last video Dr. Alserr posted on his Instagram page from Friday evening.

DR. KHALED ALSERR: This ICU patient have just died because they cut all electricity at Nasser Medical Hospital. And aother six patients is awaiting the same fate.

AMY GOODMAN: We are looking at a dead patient. During the dayslong Israeli raid on Al-Nasser Hospital this weekend, people were unable to reach Dr. Khaled Alserr, raising concerns he had possibly been abducted. This morning Democracy Now! was able to reach Dr. Khaled Alserr’s cousin, Dr. Osaid Alser. He’s a Palestinian refugee from Gaza and a surgeon resident in training in Lubbock, Texas. We asked him if he’s heard anything from his cousin at Al-Nasser. This is what he shared with us.

DR. OSAID ALSER: Hi. This is Dr. Alser. This is just an update about Dr. Khaled Alserr, who’s my cousin. So, yesterday he texted in our group chat, where we have a telemedicine group to discuss trauma cases. And he reported that he is relatively OK, and he was not abducted, which is amazing. But it sounds like some of his colleagues were abducted, and some of the patients, as well. But he is still in Nasser Hospital taking care of the remaining patients in the orthopedic and burn units.

AMY GOODMAN: That is Dr. Osaid Alser, cousin of Dr. Khaled Alserr, still in Gaza.


“3 Days of Hell”: Israel Raids Nasser Hospital, Arrests Staff in Latest Assault on Gaza Medical System
by Amy Goodman
February 19, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/19/ ... transcript

As Israeli forces raid Nasser Hospital in Gaza, trapping hundreds of patients there and arresting medical staff, we speak with emergency room physician Dr. Thaer Ahmad, who just recently returned to the United States after three weeks volunteering at the hospital. “We’re just asking that hospitals not be targeted, that they not be bombed, and that doctors and nurses can provide for their patients without being worried that they may be killed, that they may be abducted or arrested,” says Ahmad. “We need a ceasefire now. Hospitals need to be protected and functioning.” He also criticizes the American Medical Association for speaking out against Russian attacks on hospitals in Ukraine but staying silent on much more widespread attacks on medical facilities and personnel in Gaza.


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

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined in Chicago by Dr. Thaer Ahmad, an emergency room physician who spent three weeks in Gaza volunteering at Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. He’s a board member for MedGlobal, which has an office in Gaza, and is working with the World Health Organization. Dr. Ahmad just returned to Chicago, where he’s the global health director of his hospital and also an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Thanks for joining us again, Dr. Ahmad. If you can give us the latest on what took place? The hospital where you volunteered, Al-Nasser Hospital, one of the largest in southern Gaza, the World Health Organization has called it now nonfunctional. The Israeli raid took place this weekend. Explain what you understand is taking place.

DR. THAER AHMAD: Well, this all really started just about a month ago. While I was there in Khan Younis at Nasser Hospital, the Israeli tanks and the military was inching closer and closer to the hospital and had made its way around the complex of the hospital. And many of the staff then had told me that this was going to unfold. What we’re seeing happening now over the course of a week, they had predicted this is exactly what would happen. And they knew that because many of them had been displaced from other hospitals throughout the Gaza Strip. Many of them had come from Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al-Balah. Many of them had come from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.

And so, they had predicted that what would happen is people would be forced to be displaced from around the compound, where thousands of people were sheltering, that there would be very intense bombing and shelling, there would be demands for them to leave, there would be threats, just like we saw happen all of last week, and then, finally, there would be an assault on the hospital, a raid with troops, and many people would be abducted. And they even said what would happen during the abduction. They said Israeli troops would clear the hospital floor by floor, and whoever they felt like detaining and abducting, they would take them, and they would be gone anywhere from two weeks to four weeks, and they’d be subjected to humiliation and torture. And they predicted that many people would unnecessarily die. And that’s exactly what we heard.

I was also able to get an update from Dr. Khaled, the trauma surgeon that you just mentioned. And one of the things that he said in that message was that there was — it was three days of hell for patients and for doctors and for staff. He had mentioned that they were essentially asking many of the staff and the patients to keep moving from building to building within the medical complex. He mentioned that, you know, they had to move 65 patients that were bedbound, using one elevator, to the smallest and oldest building in the compound. And it was him and 20 of the medical staff members that remained, while there were 200 patients.

And the other thing is, yes, electricity was cut off, and ICU patients died, but I just kind of want to give the details of how that happens. When you cut off electricity, especially for ICU patients, many of whom are dependent on ventilators to breathe, once you cut off that electricity, they suffocate to death, and they die. And that’s what happens to them. And we know two of the patients in the ICU died that way. We also know, from Dr. Khaled and many of the other physicians and staff members that are there, that a missile struck one of the patient wards in the hospital, and it instantly killed a person, injuring six others.

And just like the World Health Organization mentioned that this hospital is not functioning, but there’s pandemonium. It’s total chaos. These patients, many of whom are either amputees or they have been injured or they’re even just sick from some sort of bacterial infection, they’re not able to move around. And there is no staff to check on them or to give them the antibiotics that they need or to deliver the care. And so there is a true level of uncertainty taking place here. They are all at risk. I believe you mentioned how the WHO said that there are 20 who need urgent referral. If that doesn’t happen in the next two to three days, those people will die. They will be killed in this process.

And I think what we’re seeing is an assault, overall, on the healthcare system. It’s already devastated, and you’re talking about the largest hospital in southern Gaza, one of two referral hospitals that remain in all of the Gaza Strip, and one that was able to handle multiple operating room cases at one time. And so, it’s not operable. It’s not functioning. And that is absolutely devastating. It’s a public health nightmare. And it’s horrifying to think what will happen to all of the people who need care in the Gaza Strip for an already overwhelmed system.

AMY GOODMAN: Have you heard anything, Dr. Ahmad, of Atef al-Hout, the director of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis? We’re seeing tweets that he was abducted by the Israeli military.

DR. THAER AHMAD: Yeah, I know him. I mean, he is the director there. He was somebody that said that he was going to remain in the hospital as long as there were patients there, even back when I was there and it was clear that there was an imminent siege that was going to take place. And the last that I saw was a picture of him speaking to an Israeli soldier. Nobody has heard from him since. Nobody knows what has happened to him. And again, this is very much part and parcel for what we’ve seen happen to healthcare workers and the healthcare system in Gaza. We know that the director of Shifa Hospital suffered a similar fate in terms of being abducted and detained and being subjected to torture and humiliation.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the reports of the patients who died? We have reports of eight patients who died. We see Dr. Alserr, who filed these video reports standing next to a dead patient. He said he died after the electricity was cut off.

DR. THAER AHMAD: Yeah. I mean, this is the problem, is when we are talking about a hospital system, we’re talking about the largest hospital, you’re going to have very sick patients, because the assumption is that this hospital has the capabilities to be able to take care of those patients. And Nasser Hospital, if it’s fully functional, is a phenomenal hospital with incredible physicians, Dr. Khaled being one of those physicians. We’re talking about probably the best and brightest clinicians in all of the world. And I can say that I’ve witnessed that firsthand.

When you are not able to deliver any sort of supplies or care to this hospital, when the electricity cuts off and these people are on ventilators or they can’t get an X-ray or a CT scan, or you can’t work a pump that can deliver antibiotics or fluid into an IV, we’re putting them at risk. We’re putting them at danger.

But I think people need to also recognize we’re causing an incredible amount of suffering to take place. You know, the ICU is on the fourth floor of the hospital at Nasser, as well as the operating rooms. They’re all on the fourth floor. Dr. Khaled shared with us around seven days ago that an operating room nurse was walking through the hallway and was hit by a sniper. And so he became one of the patients at Nasser Hospital. He needed to have emergency surgery. He needed to have a tube placed because his lung had collapsed from the sniper bullet that hit him. And he was walking on the fourth floor. I mean, that’s where all of us stayed. That’s where we slept when we were working at Nasser Hospital. And any of these patients, if you are to just walk through any of the floors at Nasser Hospital, you’ll see they’re lined up all next to each other. There is no space. Before any sort of siege, Nasser Hospital was 300% over capacity. There were over a thousand patients there. And there was not a single inch or space that you could walk without running into a patient.

And so, it’s exceptionally dangerous to leave these patients unattended, without medical staff being able to deliver the care that they need. It’s very dangerous when you’re not able to deliver supplies to restock the hospital. And then, when you cut off electricity and then raid the hospital and you hear reports of gunfire in the hospital, like we did, take place at Nasser Hospital, it becomes a bloodbath. It’s a massacre.

And that’s something that I think every single healthcare provider in the world should stand up against. I mean, that’s not something that’s acceptable. Hospitals cannot become targets. There has to be a different way to accomplish whatever military objective there is. These hospitals are lifelines regardless of what city they’re in, but especially in Gaza and especially in Khan Younis. A place like Nasser is the last place — is literally the last place of refuge, not just for patients and doctors, but for the many internally displaced people who thought that it would be safe there.

And so, when we’re talking about electricity being cut off, or maybe there’s shrapnel flying through the window, or any of these workers not being able to leave, it’s not just an inconvenience. It’s not just another incident. It is horrifying, and it becomes a bloodbath. It’s very, very concerning, what’s happened at Nasser Hospital, but it fits with what we’ve seen happen to all of the other hospitals in the Gaza Strip. And it started all the way in the north, and it seems to be heading towards the south. And that’s something that should concern every single person who wants some sort of ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, who want hostages to be released, and who wants the people of Gaza to get the desperately needed aid that they deserve and are in need of right now.

AMY GOODMAN: The significance of Dr. Ahmed Moghrabi leaving Nasser, who has stayed there all this time, the head of plastic surgery, but feeling at this point of the raid, to protect his family, he had to go south to Rafah?

DR. THAER AHMAD: Yeah. I mean, that’s the tragedy in all of this. This is what we’re forcing healthcare workers to do. This is what is happening to the healthcare system. I mean, as a result of that, people will die. People will suffer. And we cannot expect these healthcare workers to just be subjected to this sort of violence. That doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world.

And just as an American doctor who works in the United States, I remember when Ukraine had hospitals that were targeted, that the American Medical Association came out very strongly, and appropriately, saying hospitals and healthcare workers can never be targeted. For some reason, that is not happening in the Gaza Strip. We’re not hearing voices as loud. We’re not hearing professional societies like the American Medical Association come out against it.

And so that’s what happens. You have people like Dr. Ahmed, whose patients totally depend on him, but he’s at risk of death. He can be killed. And that’s not an overreaction. It has happened. Over 300 healthcare workers have died. Your show, your program reported on Hind, the 6-year-old, who was stuck in Gaza City, who was talking for three hours to the dispatcher from the Palestinian Red Crescent. She was waiting for somebody to rescue her. And then, when an ambulance with two paramedics were trying to reach her and were given the green light and coordinated with Israeli authorities, they were bombed and killed, and Hind was left to die. She had died. And this is just another chapter in the assault on the healthcare infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. And so, every way you look at this, it’s an absolute tragedy. And people will suffer as a result of this.

AMY GOODMAN: What has the American Medical Association said?

DR. THAER AHMAD: Nothing. I mean, nothing. And they’re not the only ones. Most of these professional societies, especially when it comes to the healthcare professions, have been silent on the Gaza Strip. And if you try to broach this subject, what we’re being told is that this is a very politically charged and polarizing topic. I reject that totally. That’s unacceptable. It’s not political or polarizing when you’re talking about children who are hungry, just like you reported early in the show. It is not political or polarizing when you’re talking about being able to treat patients, people getting dialysis, making sure that somebody doesn’t bleed to death. It’s not political or polarizing when you’re asking for antibiotics. We’re just asking that hospitals not be targeted, that they not be bombed, and that doctors and nurses can provide for their patients without being worried that they may be killed or that they may be abducted or arrested or whatever it is. They should be able to practice with that sort of peace of mind.

And it’s really unfortunate that, especially here in the States, we don’t have that sort of consensus. The entire international humanitarian community is in consensus. You need a ceasefire now. Hospitals need to be protected and functioning. The WHO says they want to be able to deliver supplies to Nasser Hospital. Why that sort of conversation is derailed in the United States is beyond me, but it’s something that’s no longer acceptable.

And it’s much too late now to come out and say something, so we need even stronger approaches now. We need efforts to deliver aid to the people of Gaza. One out of six children in the north of Gaza need immediate nutritional intervention. That just came out two days ago in a report by UNICEF. One out of six kids is starving, and we need to do something now. They need to be hospitalized so they can get the nutrition that they need. You’d think that that’s not something that’s very controversial, that any sort of organization anywhere in the world, regardless of the background or ethnicity or faith, should be able to call for that, should be able to say kids don’t need to go hungry.

AMY GOODMAN: I just checked. The American Public Health Association did urge President Biden and Congress to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza back in November, whether or not the American Medical Association did, which they didn’t. I want to thank you, Dr. Thaer Ahmad, an emergency room physician who spent three weeks in Gaza volunteering at Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, which was raided by the Israeli military this weekend. Dr. Ahmad is a board member for MedGlobal, which has an office in Gaza, is working with the World Health Organization.
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Re: U.S. Backing Has Given Israel License to Kill & Maim

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More Than 50 Countries Argue Before World Court Against Israeli Occupation of Palestine
by Amy Goodman
February 20, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/20/ ... transcript

Arguments are underway at the International Court of Justice, where more than 50 countries are asking the World Court to issue a nonbinding legal opinion against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza since 1967. The request is separate from South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the ICJ. “Israel has been instrumentalizing the rules of international humanitarian law … to further its settler-colonial project in Palestine,” says Ahmed Abofoul of the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, which submitted an advisory opinion on the case. “I have no doubt that the court will decide that Israel’s occupation is illegal,” he says. We also discuss what comes after the ruling and Israeli society’s reaction to the war.

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, with Juan González.

We go now to The Hague, where the International Court of Justice is holding a six-day hearing as over 50 countries are testifying against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. It’s the largest-ever participation in the World Court’s history.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Monday, quote, “The genocide underway in Gaza is a result of decades of impunity and inaction.” Riyad Mansour, Palestinian envoy to the U.N., delivered emotional testimony Monday.

RIYAD MANSOUR: The state of Palestine appeals to this court to guide the international community in upholding international law, ending injustice and achieving a just and lasting peace, to guide us towards a future in which Palestinian children are treated as children, not as demographic threat, in which the identity of the group to which we belong does not diminish the human rights to which we are all entitled, a future in which no Palestinian and no Israelis is killed, a future in which two states live side by side in peace and security. The Palestinian people only demand respect for their rights. They ask for nothing more. They cannot accept nothing less and nothing else. The future of freedom, justice and peace can begin here and now.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Palestine’s permanent representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, addressing the International Court of Justice Monday. Earlier today, South African Ambassador Vusi Madonsela addressed the court.

VUSI MADONSELA: The inordinate delay in achieving a fair and just settlement has resulted in an unending cycle of violence. A clear legal characterization of the nature of Israel’s regime over the Palestinian people can only assist in remedying the ongoing delay in achieving a just settlement. … We, as South Africans, sense, see, hear and feel to our core the inhumane discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli regime as an even more extreme form of the apartheid that was institutionalized against Black people in my country.

AMY GOODMAN: For more, we’re joined from The Hague, where the ICJ hearing is taking place, by Ahmed Abofoul, legal research and advocacy officer at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq. He contributed to their advisory opinion on the case.

Welcome back to Democracy Now! It’s great to have you with us. This is historic, what’s taking place right now, Ahmed, at the International Court of Justice. More than half the world’s countries are participating in this. Talk about the significance of this. And although we just played the South African envoy’s comments, this is not to be confused with that other case, the South Africa bringing the case around genocide against Israel in the court, that just happened a few weeks ago.

AHMED ABOFOUL: Sure. Well, first of all, thank you for having me again, Amy, and congratulations on Democracy Now!’s 28th anniversary. In this dystopian age of misinformation and biased media, especially in the West, we value your work, and we congratulate you and hope your viewers will continue to support your important work.

You’re absolutely right, Amy. This is a historical moment. For over 57 years, Israel has been perpetuating its occupation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, dominating every aspect of their lives and maintaining this occupation to further facilitate and impose this apartheid regime, imposed on the Palestinian people as a whole. One of the important features of this occupation is that it is colonial in nature. So, it’s combined with the continued, unabated building of settlements and the theft of land and the demographic manipulation and engineering of the Occupied Palestinian Territory in an attempt to empty it from its Indigenous people — a very common feature of colonial regimes and projects trying to steal the land without the people.

This is a historical moment, Amy, because this is, as you mentioned, the most — the case with the most interest by states in the history of the advisory opinion procedure before the court. And it shows you that the world has something to say about this occupation.

The whole body of occupation — of the law of occupation shows us that occupation was not intended to last that long. Occupation is temporary in nature. But the way Israel perpetuated the occupation shows that Israel is not interested in ending that occupation, but it actually needs that occupation to further implement its strategy to acquire more land by force with as least Palestinians as possible.

And therefore, the premise of this case, I think there are three main legal arguments that Israel is violating what we call international law, peremptory norms from which no derogation is permitted. So, the first norm that Israel is violating is the acquisition of territory by force or the threat of the use of force. The second is Israel’s violations of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, which is also a peremptory norm. And the imposition of regime of racial discrimination and demographic manipulation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and beyond, that is a regime of apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people as a whole, denying them their unalienable rights, including Palestinian refugees, who continue to be denied their right to return to their homes and villages.

So, this is an important moment, where for the first time we would have the principal organ of the United Nations telling us the legal consequences of Israel’s occupation. And it will be extremely difficult for Israel’s allies after that to justify Israel’s actions in any way possible. Israel has been instrumentalizing the rules of international humanitarian law, the body of law that governs the situation of occupation, to further its settler-colonial project in Palestine. I think after this decision, which I have no doubt that the court will decide that Israel’s occupation is illegal, it will be very difficult to support Israel and its policies by Israel’s allies, including the U.S. So, all eyes on the U.S. and how it will react to this important ruling.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Ahmed Abofoul, I wanted to ask you: For those who are not familiar with these international legal bodies, could you briefly summarize the difference between the International Court of Justice proceedings and the separate case that South Africa filed, the complaint of genocide at the International Criminal Court [sic] against Israel, especially in terms of the jurisdiction or the powers of the court to have any direct effect on Israel’s actions?

AHMED ABOFOUL: Yes, absolutely. I think you meant South Africa’s genocide case before the very same court, the International Court of Justice, and these are two different proceedings. The International Court of Justice can look into advisory proceedings, where any organ of the United Nations can ask the court to provide a legal opinion on what the court thinks of a certain matter. Usually such rulings are nonbinding for states, but they are of particular importance as they guide the whole United Nations and the member states in how to approach a certain matter or a certain question.

The other type of procedure is contentious cases, where states take each other to court when they have a disagreement on a matter of international law, so, for example, a disagreement on the interpretation of a particular convention to which both are parties and have accepted the court’s jurisdiction. And that’s exactly what South Africa did in the genocide case against Israel on the interpretation of the Genocide Convention, where it took Israel to court. So it’s a case between South Africa and Israel, while in the advisory opinion proceeding, there are no two parties. There is only the court that is deciding on the matter of question. And all states around the world are invited to provide their written statements, their oral interventions, to tell the court what is their position, what is their interpretation of the law on that particular matter, because international law is made by the practices of these states and what states around the world have accepted to be customary international law and have accepted to be the common interpretation of international law.

So, the law on occupation, as I said, is clear that occupation was not intended to last that long and is temporary in nature, but it didn’t set any time limit in which occupation has to end. So, that’s how Israel has been perpetuating this, often described as, prolonged occupation — it’s the longest occupation in modern history — claiming, under the mutual security pretext, that it needs to continue its control and needs to continue its domination of the Palestinian people and its violations of the peremptory norms.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And what is the role of the public in these cases? Is there any?

AHMED ABOFOUL: Of course, of course, absolutely. The public, you know, don’t have a standing in procedure, or, like, civil society organizations, for example, like the one I’m proudly associated with — that is, Al-Haq — can always submit to the court, but these submissions are not part of the proceedings. They are available at the seating of the court for states participating in the proceedings, but also for judges to read them and consult them. And we have already published a position paper outlining the key legal arguments in this case and our view on how the court should approach this case.

But if you’ll allow me, these rulings are usually of particular importance to be used after, so how, for example, the state in question will utilize this ruling in its diplomatic efforts, whether taking this ruling to the General Assembly to adopt a resolution to the same effect, or perhaps to the Security Council, although there will always be the U.S. veto. So, what comes after that decision, I think, is also of particular importance.

And historically, the ICJ cases have served in a way to provide guidance on what international law says and how states should behave. Obviously, not always the states have listened to such rulings, or they tried to disobey them. But, for example, in the situation in South Africa and the ruling on the illegal presence of South African apartheid in Namibia, it served and it created momentum for the mobilization on the ground which eventually led to the end of that regime. So, hopefully, this advisory opinion is also another step forward to ending Israel’s settler-colonial and apartheid regime imposed on the Palestinian people as a whole.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk, Ahmed Abofoul, about the response of the court? This is when it was run by Joan Donoghue, and important to point out. She came out of the State Department. She’s the head of the International Court of Justice. But she is no longer the head of the Court of Justice, but it was under her and it was her reading of the preliminary decision around South Africa bringing its genocide case to the court. If you can talk about who’s the new head of the court? And then I want to ask you about what just happened in Israel in the Knesset, voting not to expel Ofer Cassif, the lawmaker who’s a member of the Hadash party supporting the genocide case against Israel at the ICJ. I just wanted to play a clip of the Knesset member, Cassif, speaking to Democracy Now! about facing expulsion, which didn’t happen.

OFER CASSIF: They want me and my friends to shut up. They don’t want us to raise our voice against any kind of violence, because, as I said a million times, as someone who continuously for years object and oppose the Israeli occupation and siege against the Palestinian people, we said, I said, explicitly, that even the crimes of the siege and the occupation cannot and will never justify the massacre committed by Hamas. We added that the massacre, the criminal massacre by Hamas, cannot justify the massacre and assault of Israel on Gaza, in which around 30,000 people are already dead, were killed. The vast majority, more than 70%, are innocent civilians, around 10,000 children.

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s a member of the Knesset, who remains so because they lost the vote to expel him, Ofer Cassif. And if you can respond to the new president, Nawaf Salam, who’s replacing Joan Donoghue?

AHMED ABOFOUL: Yeah. Well, as you said, Judge Nawaf Salam, who’s a Lebanese judge, he has been a member of the court since February 2018 and newly elected as president of the court since 6th of February, 2024. He is now the president of the court.

But if you’ll allow me, whether him or the American judge, judges before the ICJ, they don’t serve as agents of their state of nationality. They serve as independent judges who provide their personal views about international law and the interpretation of international law, after hearing the positions of the states. So, it’s not — it is not, in a way, usual to presume that because of the nationality of the president of the court, that the position would be aligned with the foreign policy of the state of that judge. That is not the case, whether American or Lebanese or any other nationality of the president of the court. It is presumed, and the presumption is of their professional, you know, way of work and deliver on their mandate in accordance with the law.

As to the voting to expel Ofer, the member of Knesset, it also — in my view, it shows you how radicalized Israeli society has become. So, even the very tiny minority that you have, where Israeli Knesset members are calling for the end of the occupation, are calling for the bare minimum of human decency — that is, a ceasefire — the rest of Knesset members, from the Israeli members, are mostly against that, and such tiny minority of those who call for Palestinian rights are often attacked. And as you said, there was an attempt to even remove him from the Knesset.

And I think it’s very telling to see also how supportive Israeli society has been in the genocide against the Gaza Strip. Amy, we need not to forget that right before the war, the Israeli society mobilized hundreds of thousands in the streets because of Netanyahu’s plan to, you know, attack the judiciary or to minimize their authority in reviewing government’s decision. But when it comes to Palestinians who are being oppressed, who are only a few meters away, the Israeli society somehow is unable to mobilize or call for the end of the occupation. So, in a way, it seems that the Israeli society has been radicalized into believing that for them to enjoy the privileges of this apartheid regime, they don’t mind the Palestinians being oppressed.

And unfortunately, the foreign policy of states that claim to be friends to Israel, I think, have contributed profoundly to such radicalization, simply because they’ve been ensuring impunity for Israel and Israeli war criminals who have been committing crimes for the past decades. So, I think, in a way, the reason that we have such extreme government at the moment, one of the most extreme and right-wing in the history of Israel, which has ministers who are proudly self-described as Islamophobic and homophobes and fascists and racist ministers, like Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, is a result of — in my view, of the U.S. and European foreign policy ensuring that Israel enjoys an exceptional treatment, that Israel is untouchable. It enjoys prevailing impunity where Israel can commit crimes, but no one is held accountable.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed, I’m so sorry that, well, when we last spoke, you had already lost some 60 members of your family. Born and raised in Gaza, you are. And I wanted just to ask, in this 30 seconds, about Benny Gantz’s comments, part of the war council, saying if the hostages are not home by Ramadan, which is like March 10th, the fighting will continue everywhere, including Rafah.

AHMED ABOFOUL: Yeah, well, it shows you also the character and the behavior of Israel. Israel is behaving like a pariah, is behaving like a rogue state, is not listening to anyone, is not listening to its closest allies.

Israel needs to have the humility to understand that the Palestine people are a free people, are not colonial subjects. They’re entitled to their rights. And Israel at some point will need to sit and listen with seriousness and consideration to the aspiration of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian people, Amy, are not asking for a favor. They’re asking for their unalienable basic human rights. And I think the world for long has misunderstood the Palestinians. We’re not even asking. We’re demanding those rights. We’re entitled to those rights, regardless of what Israel think about that.

AMY GOODMAN: Ahmed Abofoul, we want to thank you for being with us, legal research and advocacy officer at the Palestinian human rights organization Al-Haq, speaking to us from The Hague.


“What I Saw Wasn’t War — It Was Annihilation,” Says U.S. Doctor Who Volunteered in Gaza Hospital
by Amy Goodman
February 20, 2024
https://www.democracynow.org/2024/2/20/ ... transcript

We speak with an American doctor just back from Gaza about the “unimaginable scale” of its humanitarian crisis. Irfan Galaria, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, recently wrote an op-ed for the L.A. Times describing Israel’s assault on Gaza’s civilians as “annihilation.” Dr. Galaria, who has worked in conflict zones around the world, says he and his team witnessed “a collateral humanitarian crisis of an unimaginable scale,” involving the “deliberate attempt” to both target civilians with military assault and to deprive them of aid. “I thought I was going to be prepared, but I was not prepared for what I saw,” he says.


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

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González.

We end today’s show on Gaza, where the death toll since October 7th is nearing 30,000. Amidst worsening hunger, UNICEF is warning that the war-torn territory is, quote, “poised to witness an explosion in preventable child deaths which would compound the already unbearable level of child deaths,” unquote. On Monday, Palestinians rushed to get sacks of flour from a U.N. distribution center in Gaza City. This is a displaced Palestinian named Abdullah Sawaf.

ABDULLAH SAWAF: [translated] Because we want to eat, we are dying of hunger. Why would someone put themself at risk of dying by coming here? It is in order to feed the children. We are dying of hunger, and there is no food or drink left in Gaza. There is a famine.

AMY GOODMAN: Meanwhile, Israeli forces reportedly opened fire again at crowds waiting for humanitarian aid.

We go now to Washington, D.C., where we’re joined by Dr. Irfan Galaria, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon just back from volunteering in Gaza with the humanitarian aid group MedGlobal, his L.A. Times op-ed headlined “I’m an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn’t war — it was annihilation.”

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Doctor. Explain what you saw, why you call it an “annihilation.”

DR. IRFAN GALARIA: Certainly. Amy and Juan, thank you so much for having me on the show, and congratulations on 28 years.

Look, I understand in war you’re going to have collateral civilian casualties. You’ll have displaced citizens. But what I saw when I was in Gaza, and what my team saw, was vastly different. What we saw was a collateral humanitarian crisis of an unimaginable scale, over 1 million civilians struggling to survive, struggling to find shelter, struggling to find food, struggling to find drinking water.

And what we also saw, what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to strangulate these civilians. We saw, while we were driving to Rafah, miles of trucks lining the road on the Egyptian side waiting to enter. You know, Amy and Juan, what’s a very telling statistic is, before this war began, almost 500 to 600 aid trucks would cross through the borders daily. It shows you how dependent this country was on aid even before the war. But now, after the war, or during the war, the need is even greater, and less than a hundred trucks are allowed to enter.

What I also saw and what our team also saw was a deliberate attempt to incapacitate the healthcare system. The healthcare system in Gaza has collapsed. Hospitals have been targeted. They no longer have the physical capacity or space to care for their patients. Physicians are being killed. Healthcare workers are being killed. They’re being targeted. They’re being imprisoned. There’s no medical aid or medical equipment that’s coming through. You know, we operated under unsterile conditions, and we had outcomes in procedures that we had to perform in Gaza, unfortunately, because we didn’t have access to basic medical equipment and aid.

And the last thing I would like to add is, while they’re facing this humanitarian crisis, they’re facing a relentless attack, bombs and missiles regularly. And to me and to my team, there did not seem to be a distinction between any military, soldier, terrorist targets versus civilian targets. The stories we heard over and over again were the same. We took care of patients and civilians that were sleeping in their homes. I’ll give you one example. There was a young child. He was 14 years old, a boy, who I had taken care of. He sustained what’s called an open fracture on his left leg. He lost so much flesh that his bone that was fractured was exposed. His story was that he lived in Khan Younis, and they went to a local school trying to seek shelter with other families. That school was bombed. And his entire family was killed, and he was orphaned. So, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to target civilians. And there doesn’t seem to be a very reasonable attempt to protect them in this conflict.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Dr. Galaria, you wrote in your L.A. Times piece, “I couldn’t help thinking that the lucky ones died instantaneously, either by the force of the explosion or being buried in the rubble. The survivors faced hours of surgery and multiple trips to the operating room.” Could you talk some more about the conditions under which you performed surgery while you were there?

DR. IRFAN GALARIA: Yeah, absolutely. So, I’ve been in war zones. I’ve operated in small hospitals in Africa. I was not — I thought I was going to be prepared, but I was not prepared for what I saw here, in terms of not only the equipment and materials I had had access to, but the patients that I was taking care of. We lacked, as surgeons in the hospital then, basic equipment and basic materials, such as sterile drapes, basic surgical equipment. There are a lot of procedures that we couldn’t perform because we didn’t have access to that equipment. And as a result, patients suffered, because we couldn’t provide them with procedures or services that we could have provided for them here in America.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Irfan Galaria, we have to end the conversation here, but we’re going to continue online at democracynow.org. People can hear and watch our web exclusive. Dr. Galaria is a plastic and reconstructive surgeon. He wrote an L.A. Times op-ed headlined “I’m an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn’t war — it was annihilation.”
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