“All we do is count bodies” – Day 62

“All we do is count bodies” – Day 62

Worsening humanitarian disaster, bombing of northern Gaza approaching scale of WWII, Israel bombs 800-year-old mosque, UN chief hits “panic button,” more guns in Israeli civilian hands, West Bank struggles, US fails to acknowledge Israel’s baby abandonment a “war crime”, another exposé on Israel’s atrocity claims

Humanitarian update

All we do is count bodies’, Gaza health official says: Munir al-Bursh, director-general of the Health Ministry in Gaza, who has just lost a number of his relatives in an Israeli army attack, has a grim message to pass along.

The Israeli occupation wants to kill hope, it wants to kill our youths, our children, and women…[they] do not differentiate between a child and the elderly…Today, those wounded in Gaza die of bleeding … We cannot do anything for them. They [Israeli forces] emptied hospitals of their supplies and left them as morgues to large numbers of bodies.

All we do is count bodies.

The Health Ministry has said that about 800,000 people in northern Gaza are now left without any form of medical care.

Aid trucks: The Palestine Red Crescent Society says it received 80 trucks full of humanitarian aid through the Rafah border crossing Wednesday. The trucks contained food, water, humanitarian aid, medicine and medical supplies. Since October 7, the border crossing has href=”https://aje.io/c7j3ki?update=2540613″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>seen 3,313 trucks of food, fuel and relief supplies entering to the Gaza Strip, and the evacuation of 11,670 foreign nationals and 682 wounded Palestinians.

Severely limited aid distribution: On 6 December, for the fourth consecutive day, Rafah was the only governorate in Gaza where limited aid distributions took place. In the adjacent Khan Younis governorate, aid distribution largely stopped due to the intensity of hostilities. The Middle Area was largely disconnected from the south, following Israeli forces’ restrictions of movement along the main roads. Access from the south to areas north of Wadi Gaza (hereafter: the north) came to a halt on 1 December, with the resumption of hostilities.

Gaza facing “alarming” levels of hunger: The United Nations World Food Program has published a report highlighting food insecurity in the Gaza Strip, pointing out that households in northern Gaza are “experiencing alarming levels of hunger”.

At least 97 percent of households in northern Gaza have “inadequate food consumption”, with nine out of 10 people going one full day and night without food. In the southern governorates, a third of the households have reported high levels of severe or very severe hunger, with 53 percent experiencing moderate hunger.

Since October 7, 1,249 trucks carrying food assistance have reached Gaza. Before the war, about 500 trucks would enter the Gaza Strip on a daily basis.

“Health and environmental catastrophe”: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society says that 60 percent of the wounded in the Gaza Strip require urgent medical treatment abroad, pointing to the collapse of the health sector in the territory. “The occupation forces are deliberately arresting and abusing the sick and wounded, including paramedics from our crews, and we are on the cusp of a health and environmental catastrophe in the Strip,” a statement said.

‘Deliberately razing’: Israel destroys Gaza municipality archive: West Bank-based Birzeit University says the archive contained thousands of valuable documents, effectively erasing Gaza city’s history. “It is worth noting the archive holds documents more than 100 years old,” the university said in a post on X, accusing Israel of “deliberately razing all forms of life.”

Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip set up a tent camp in Rafah
Palestinians displaced by the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip set up a tent camp in Rafah (photo)

Red Crescent: Ambulance services in northern Gaza halted: The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) has announced that its ambulance services in northern Gaza have come to a standstill as a result of the exhaustion of fuel supplies and the closure of functional hospitals there. In a statement, the Red Crescent said this makes the evacuation of the wounded and killed impossible.

Red Crescent: We only receive 10% of needed aid in Gaza: Nebal Farsakh, spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society, tells Al Jazeera that “being a Palestinian now means you have to choose between the bad and the worse”. For those in Gaza, she described a constant struggle for safety and basic needs, such as food and water, as places to shelter from Israeli army bombing dwindle. If Palestinians manage to steer clear of Israeli bombs, she said, every day brings a constant struggle for food.

“Most Palestinians are struggling to have one meal with very basic things. It’s a miracle to have food for your family,” Farsakh said. She added the Red Crescent fears hunger and starvation will become as big a threat to Palestinians as the fighting in Gaza, and while it is working to distribute aid, what people are receiving is “barely scratching the surface”

Israel approves ‘minimal addition’ to fuel delivery to Gaza: Israel’s security cabinet has agreed to allow more fuel into Gaza “to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of disease”, while saying the additional amount would be “minimal”, according to the prime minister’s office.

Bombing of northern Gaza approaching scale of WWII: The Financial Times reports on Israeli bombs and leaked statements by Netanyahu:

Benjamin Netanyahu, at least in private, has been blunt about what Israel needs most to destroy Hamas: a steady supply of more US bombs. “We need three things from the US: munitions, munitions, and munitions,” the Israeli prime minister told a group of local government officials, according to a recording obtained by the Israel Hayom newspaper.

“There are huge demonstrations in western capitals,” added Netanyahu, who is concerned political pressure overseas might threaten the US arms shipments. “We need to apply counter-pressure . . . There have been disagreements with the best of our friends.”

Citing estimates of damage to urban areas, military analysts say the destruction of northern Gaza in less than seven weeks has approached that caused by the years-long carpet-bombing of German cities during the second world war.

“By any measure, Gaza is already a high civilian punishment campaign,” said military historian Robert Pape. “It will go down in history as one of the heaviest ever undertaken with conventional weapons.”

Palestinians mourn relatives killed by Israeli strikes on Rafah
Palestinians mourn relatives killed by Israeli strikes on Rafah (photo)

More Israeli leaflets dropped over Gaza, this time quoting the Quran: Khan Younis residents say Israel has showered the area with leaflets quoting a verse in the Quran. Palestinians deciding whether to flee the city as Israeli tanks and troops move closer viewed the quoted verse – “The flood overtook them as they were wrongdoers” – as an ominous portent. Some residents are convinced the reference to the epic flood of Noah in the Quran and Bible “means something much worse is coming”.

Israel bombs 800-year-old mosque: The ancient archaeological Othman bin Qashqar Mosque in the old town of Gaza City was bombed Thursday by Israeli warplanes, which also caused casualties among people and damage to nearby homes. The mosque was built in the year 620 Hijra (1220 AD), and is one of the oldest mosques and archaeological sites in the Gaza Strip.

Since the start of the aggression on the Gaza Strip on October 7, the occupation warplanes have destroyed dozens of archaeological sites and ancient homes in a blatant deliberate attempt to target the Palestinian cultural heritage.

According to the Ministry of Culture, the occupation warplanes bombed eight museums, in addition to destroying most parts of the Old City of Gaza City, including dozens of historical buildings.

Nine publishing houses and libraries were also destroyed, in addition to complete or partial destruction of at least 21 cultural centers. Most parts of the old town of Gaza City were also destroyed, including 20 historical buildings, including churches, mosques, museums, and archaeological sites. Three studios and media and artistic production companies were also damaged.

Palestinians inspect the rubble of the Yassin Mosque, destroyed after it was hit by an Israeli air strike at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, early on Monday, October 9, 2023
Palestinians inspect the rubble of the Yassin Mosque, destroyed after it was hit by an Israeli air strike at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, early on Monday, October 9, 2023 (photo)

Gaza subjected to 10,000 Israeli airstrikes since October 7th, Israeli forces say: The UN Human Rights Office in the occupied Palestinian territories has said that this is tantamount to one strike per 220 Palestinians in Gaza. The office said the barrage of attacks on residential and other civilian infrastructure “raises serious concerns about Israel’s compliance with international humanitarian law and significantly raises the risk of atrocity crimes”.

RECOMMENDED READING: Israel criminalized group following report of raped Palestinian child – video here
Bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks are taken for burial from the morgue at Abu Youssef Al Najjar Hospital
Bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks are taken for burial from the morgue at Abu Youssef Al Najjar Hospital (photo)
RECOMMENDED READING: Israel has received 10,000 tons of US military equipment since start of Gaza war

United Nations efforts

UN chief ‘compelled’ to act on Gaza crisis, invokes UN Charter’s Article 99: The current crisis in Gaza was the impetus for UN boss Antonio Guterres to invoke Article 99 for the first time since taking office in 2017. The use of Article 99 – which has not been used since 1989 – is a “dramatic constitutional move” that Guterres hopes would put more pressure on the Security Council – and the international community at large – to demand a ceasefire. The article is a metaphorical panic button.

Anthony Arend of Georgetown University called the move “a very important action … to force a discussion” on the war in the Security Council; however, he pointed out, even with the decision, Guterres still “cannot force the Security Council to adopt a resolution”.

He can force a discussion, he can bring the parties together and encourage them to reach some kind of compromise. But because of the veto at the Security Council, the only way the Security Council can adopt a substantive resolution on this issue is for each of the five permanent members to choose not to veto it.

At the very least, the secretary-general would be able to bring up issues, present information, present data that needs to be presented, not just to the Security Council, but to the world as a whole.

By invoking Article 99, UN chief Guterres is using the most powerful tool at his disposal – and bringing a threat to international peace and security to the Security Council’s attention. “Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the Council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe [and] appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared,” Guterres said on Wednesday.

The council has additional powers at its disposal if it chooses to act on Guterres’s advice.

If it does adopt a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, the UN’s most powerful body has the powers to compel Israel, Hamas and their allies to comply: It can impose sanctions, and it can go even further and authorise an international force.

Israel denounces the move: Israeli ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan struck out at the UN chief over Article 99. In a post on X, Erdan called Guterres’s move “more proof” of his “moral distortion and his bias against Israel,” adding, “The Secretary-General’s call for a ceasefire is actually a call to keep Hamas’s reign of terror in Gaza.” He also said that Gueterres “acts according to the script written by Hamas”.

Pressure on US not to use veto on ceasefire motion at UN: Kenneth Roth, the former head of Human Rights Watch, said President Biden “knows that the incessant bombing of Gaza is not going to ‘destroy Hamas.” “How many more dead Palestinian civilians are needed to make that point,” he asked.

The US used that veto on October 18 against a resolution that would have condemned Hamas’s attack on Israel while calling for a pause in the fighting to allow humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

RECOMMENDED READING: Can Guterres’ use of UN’s Article 99 bring peace?

Israel news

Israel approves new settlement in occupied East Jerusalem: Israeli authorities have approved the construction of more than 1,700 new homes, according to Israeli NGO Peace Now. Half the “new neighbourhood” comprising 1,738 housing units will be in East Jerusalem.

“If it weren’t for the [Gaza] war, there would be a lot of noise. It’s a highly problematic project for the continuity of a Palestinian state between the southern West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran told the AFP news agency.

Israeli settlements in occupied territories are illegal under international law. In 2016, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution condemning Israeli settlement building, saying it has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”.

Israeli police established 100 armed civilian squads: The Association for Civil Rights in Israel says so-called Community Security Squads received M16 rifles from Israeli authorities “after an accelerated training process of seven hours, lacking proper oversight”. The rights group said testimonies have emerged that members of the units “conduct armed patrols throughout the cities and detain [Palestinian] citizens [of Israel] for identity checks”.

ACRI said in a statement: “Rather than fostering the reconstruction of trust and security among the populace, the government has facilitated the arming of individuals, exacerbating divisions between vulnerable and majority populations.”

Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends an event to deliver weapons to local volunteer security group members in Ashkelon, Israel
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir attends an event to deliver weapons to local volunteer security group members in Ashkelon, Israel (photo)

Israel has not responded to requests for access to probe rape allegations: Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, says that for weeks he has “asked the Israeli authorities … to deploy a team, my team, to monitor, document, investigate the issues of the horrific attacks on Israelis”. He added, “I’ve repeated this call and I hope it will be heard but so far, I haven’t received a response.”

An extremist Israeli group founded by a serial rapist known as the Haredi Jeffrey Epstein, “is responsible for some of the most obscene post-October 7 atrocity fabrications, from beheaded babies to “mass rape” to a fetus cut from its mother.”

Hamas has flatly rejected accusations of rape and sexual violence perpetrated on October 7 as “unfounded lies”.

RECOMMENDED READING: How Israel has grown up as the spoiled boy of the world

The firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups towards Israeli population centers has continued over the past 24 hours, with no reported fatalities. (Information on rocket attacks is here.) It appears that the last time a rocket killed an Israeli was October 7-8, as reported by Ha’aretz and the Times of Israel. 15 Israelis were killed – 10 of them Palestinian Israelis who reportedly had no access to bomb shelters.  Rockets have killed a total of 35 Israelis over the 22 years they’ve been fired,.

Latest from West Bank, Jerusalem

West Bank deaths from Israeli violence:

  • Abdul Nasser Mustafa Riyahi, 24, who was shot in the head Wednesday by Israeli forces in Balata refugee camp, has succumbed to his wounds.
  • 16-year-old Omar Mahmoud Abu Baker was fatally shot in the chest by Israeli forces’ live fire in Yabad, southwest of Jenin.
  • Awad Tayeh Anbar, 47, who was critically injured by Israeli army gunfire in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm three weeks ago, succumbed to his wounds.

610 settler attacks against Palestinians since October 7: Amir Daoud, from the PA’s wall and settlements commission, says that at least 10 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers since the war started.

‘Collective punishment’ in occupied East Jerusalem includes Al-Aqsa restrictions: Since October 7, Israeli forces have barred all Muslim worshippers except for Old City residents above the age of 50 from entering the compound, the Israeli group Ir Amim has said, calling the move “unprecedented and incomparable to any limitations imposed by Israeli police in past crises.” The group called it a severe violation of Muslim worship rights and a grave breach of the status quo.

Israel raids, closes orphan services office: Israeli occupation forces raided the headquarters of the Beit Ummar Association for Orphan Care, north of Hebron, on Thursday. They reportedly searched the office, tampered with its contents, and seized all of the association’s files, in addition to electrical appliances and computers, before closing the doors of some offices with metal sheets.

The association provides services to approximately 200 orphan children, in addition to 470 students who attend the association’s school.

Bethlehem faces severe economic hardship: Bethlehem Governorate has incurred economic losses estimated at millions of dollars in various sectors, especially the tourism sector, since the start of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip on October 7, due mainly to lack of tourism as well as closures and continuous military incursions.

The Ministry’s Directorate in Bethlehem said the tourism sector incurred 100% losses. There were also large losses in factory production, imports and exports, and the agricultural sector.

The Council of Churches decided to cancel Christmas celebrations this year due to the Israeli war of genocide in Gaza and limited them only to religious ceremonies in Bethlehem, Beit Jala, and Beit Sahour.

The Nativity Church in Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ was born, is empty of tourists.
The Nativity Church in Bethlehem, where Jesus Christ was born, is empty of tourists. (photo)

US and elsewhere

US official can’t say newborns left by Israel to die is a “war crime”: Matthew Miller, the State Department spokesperson, was questioned about video footage that showed four decomposing newborns in the abandoned Al Nassr Pediatric Hospital in northern Gaza. Hospital workers later told the Washington Post that they were forced to abandon the premature infants – who required incubators, oxygen and regular medical care – after receiving an ultimatum from Israel’s military to leave the hospital or face bombardment. Israel had guaranteed it would send an ambulance for the babies, but did not. Asked if the incident constitutes a war crime, Miller responded,

I would say that is a tragedy. It’s a tragedy for those babies. It’s tragedy for their family members. It’s a tragedy for the Palestinian people and it is a tragedy for the world. And this is why we have made clear that far too many Palestinians have been killed in this conflict, and that, of course, includes far too many Palestinian children and of course, Palestinian babies.

And it is why we have taken every measure we could to speak loudly and clearly to the government of Israel that it needs to do everything it can to minimize civilian harm.

RECOMMENDED READING: Two dangerous bills in Congress take aim at Palestine solidarity

US tells Israel war should end in weeks, not months: The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told officials in Israel’s war cabinet last week that the Biden administration believed the war should end in weeks, not months. Israeli officials, in turn, expressed an interest in a return to normalcy, especially in the interest of economic stability, but did not make any guarantees.

Elizabeth Warren comments: Elizabeth Warren has denounced the “right-wing” government of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, saying it has “demonstrated disregard for Palestinian civilians” as it expands its military operation in Gaza. She said in a Senate speech,

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing war cabinet have created a humanitarian catastrophe, killing thousands of Palestinian civilians and risking a wider war in the Middle East.

This level of civilian harm is a moral failure. It is why, for weeks, I have been calling on Israel to stop bombing Gaza.

Warren also called for the resumption of the Gaza truce and urged US military aid to Israeli be conditional instead of “a blank check”.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Nakba -The Palestinian catastrophe

Statistics as of Dec. 6:

Palestinian death toll: OCHA reports at least 15,688* (~15,777 in Gaza** (4,885 women and 7,112 children), and at least 260 in the West Bank). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble. Euro-Med Monitor reports 20,360 Palestinian deaths.

*IAK does not yet include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile is being disputed; although much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, experts are still looking into the incidentIsrael is blocking an international investigation. Israel killed more Palestinians in a little over a month after Oct. 7 than in all the previous 22 years combined.

Palestinian injuries: 44,595** (including at least 43,616 in Gaza** and 3,365 in the West Bank). **NOTE: it is impossible to offer an accurate number of injuries in Gaza due to the ongoing bombardment and communication disruption. 

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties. in Gaza**. About 1.93 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population).

Reported Israeli death toll ~1,200  (7 killed in West Bank, 88 in Gaza), including 32 Americans, and 5,431 injured, approximately 36 children ).

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel may have been caused by Israeli soldiers; additionally, since Israel has a policy of universal conscription, it is unknown how many of those attending the outdoor rave a few miles from Gaza on stolen Palestinian land were Israeli soldiers.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates hereFor more news, go here and here.**** Live broadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.
Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org


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