Gaza is “a population that is starving to death” – Day 117

Gaza is “a population that is starving to death” – Day 117

Gaza at 80% unemployment; arrests and humiliation in Khan Younis; possible truce & prisoner exchange; more on Tuesday’s discovery of 30 Palestinian corpses; more on UNRWA controversy; West Bank administrative detentions through the roof; destruction of childhood; ethnic cleansing of Bedouin; university demolition; Brian Mast – babies aren’t innocent; US court on Israeli genocide; Chicago latest major city to call for ceasefire; Iraq-based militia statement; and more

By IAK staff, from reports

AFP reports: The World Health Organization’s emergencies director Michael Ryan has said that Gaza is suffering under constraints on humanitarian aid. Israel has consistently stymied aid delivery efforts in Gaza, where severe hunger is widespread and the risk of famine continues to grow.

“This is a population that is starving to death,” Ryan said at a press conference on Wednesday. “This is a population that is being pushed to the brink and they are not parties to this conflict.”

A report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has found that Israel’s campaign in Gaza precipitated a 24 percent contraction in gross domestic product (GDP) and has made the strip “uninhabitable”. Unemployment in December rose to 79.3 percent.

The UNCTAD report states that, even if the war ends immediately and Gaza returns to previous growth trends of 0.4 percent each year, pre-war GDP levels will not be restored until 2092.

Report: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s medical teams and the displaced people performed funeral prayer at Al-Amal Hospital for a 75-year-old woman and a 45-day-old girl, who died after the lack of oxygen for several days in the hospital, and they were buried in the hospital yard in Khan Younis.

The Intercept reports: A January US Air Force personnel memo obtained by The Intercept describes military orders to be “on standby to forward deploy to support troops in the case of on ground US involvement in the Israel Hamas war.” According to a separate personnel document, the standby order related to personnel deployed last year to Iraq.

While the documents do not suggest that U.S. military ground involvement in the war is forthcoming, the January memo is the latest intimation of the Pentagon’s preparations to support Israel. Days after the attack, the U.S. military reportedlyOpens in a new tab put 2,000 troops on prepare-to-deploy orders for potential support to Israel, though from neighboring countries — orders that were confirmed by a procurement document obtained by The Intercept. (Read the full story here.)

Middle East Monitor reports: Israel’s Channel 12 reported yesterday that Mossad Director David Barnea revealed a “document of principles” to the Israeli War Cabinet for a possible prisoner exchange deal with Hamas, which includes the release of 35 Israeli prisoners of war held in the Gaza Strip in the first phase, in exchange for a 35-day truce.

The channel said that the deal “includes the release of 35 kidnapped survivors, including women, the wounded, and the elderly, in exchange for a truce lasting 35 days, meaning one day of truce for each captive.”

“It is possible after that to extend the truce for an additional week, in order to hold negotiations on the possibility of completing the second phase of the deal, which includes the release of the youth, and all those whom Hamas describes as soldiers,” it added.

“The discussion in Israel is not only concerned with the issue of the number of [Palestinian] prisoners who would be released, but which prisoners would be released. This is a very important matter and will affect its acceptance of the deal.”

(Read the full article here.)

An Israeli soldier in Khan Younis in Gaza on January 27, 2024
An Israeli soldier in Khan Younis in Gaza on January 27, 2024 (photo)

Al Jazeera reports after speaking to eyewitness who discovered the bodies of 30 or so Palestinian bodies yesterday that had been dumped inside a schoolyard in northern Gaza.

“As we were cleaning, we came across a pile of rubble inside the schoolyard. We were shocked to find out that the dozens of dead bodies were buried under this pile,” a man said.

“The moment we opened the black plastic bags, we found the bodies, already decomposed. They were blindfolded, legs and hands tied. The plastic cuffs were used on their hands and legs and cloths straps around their eyes and heads.”

Al Jazeera reports: The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called for the formation of an international investigation team to look into accusations that Israeli forces executed prisoners.

“According to testimonies of Palestinian citizens, more than 30 decomposing bodies of Palestinian martyrs were discovered buried in the northern Gaza Strip,” the ministry said in a statement. “They were killed while blindfolded and with their hands tied, as clear evidence that they were executed… in the most horrific forms.”

“The Ministry believes that the discovery of this mass grave in this brutal form reflects the scale of the tragedy to which Palestinian civilians are exposed, the mass massacres and executions of even detainees, in flagrant and gross violation of all relevant international norms and laws.”

Israel has committed massacres of Palestinians throughout its history. For example, read this and this and this.
Palestinians migrate to safer areas due to Israeli attacks that continue in Khan Yunis, Gaza on January 30, 2024
Palestinians migrate to safer areas due to Israeli attacks that continue in Khan Yunis, Gaza on January 30, 2024 (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: Tamara Alrifai, a spokeswoman of the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, discussed the dismissal of nine of 12 UNRWA employees accused by Israel of taking part in the October 7 attacks, and Israel’s knowledge of all UNRWA employees.

“They were dismissed upon allegations preemptively. These now-former employees have the right of recourse in case the findings are in their favor,” Alrifai told Al Jazeera.

She noted Israel is aware of the identities of all its 13,000-member staff, emphasizng the “sturdy recruitment” process and security checks carried out on each one.

“UNRWA shares the full list of names of its staff in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem with Israel every year. So the list of our staff is known to the government of Israel. Host governments, including Israel, may come back to us with concerns over staff. We have not received concerns from the state of Israel upon their receiving these lists on an annual basis.”

The New Arab reports: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a broad statement Wednesday about UNRWA, after several countries suspended funding over Israeli claims some UNRWA staffers participated in the October 7 attack.

“UNRWA is totally infiltrated with Hamas,” Netanyahu told a meeting of UN ambassadors in Jerusalem on Wednesday, adding that “we need to get other UN agencies and other aid agencies replacing UNRWA”.

Israel has long tried to dismantle UNWRA’s humanitarian support of Palestinian refugees.
RECOMMENDED READING: Palestinians in Gaza see UNRWA funding cuts as ‘death sentence’

WEST BANK: Al Jazeera reports: Israeli forces and settlers have been pushing bedouins in Area C of the occupied West Bank – which is under full Palestinian administrative and security control – out of their homes at a faster pace since October 7, says Hassan Mleihat, a Bedouin community rights activist.

“In 2023, the Bedouin communities in Area C were subjected to 1,124 attacks, and settler gangs, with the support of the occupation army, forced 28 Bedouin communities in which 3,600 citizens lived, to be displaced,” he told Al Jazeera.

“Twenty-four of the 28 were pushed out after October 7, and this is a very dangerous event that marks the beginning of the forced displacement of all the remaining communities,” he said.

“The Palestinian communities in Area C are waging an existential war with the settlers, who carry out daily attacks, vandalism and destruction, theft of livestock, imposing heavy fines on sheepherders, confiscating property, and torch their tents and shacks,” Mleihat added.

NOTE: Israeli settlement on Palestinian land is a war crime. Read about rampant settler violence here, Israel’s history of ethnically cleansing Bedouin here, and more recent efforts here.
Kids play under a tree at the Bedouin encampment of al-Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank
Kids play under a tree at the Bedouin encampment of al-Khan al-Ahmar in the West Bank (photo)

OCHA reports: So far in 2024 (as of 31 January), Israeli forces and/or settlers have killed 61 Palestinians, including at least 13 children.

Ha’aretz Hebrew reports: Israeli officers operating in the Gaza Strip are ordering their troops to set fire to Palestinian homes without any legal approval. According to information obtained by Haaretz, soldiers have destroyed “several hundred” buildings in this way over the past month.

In response to the reports, the army said that the destruction of buildings in Gaza was always done with official approval, and that claims of unauthorized destruction would be investigated.

An Israeli army commanding officer told Haaretz he did not know why some buildings were set alight.

Israel has destroyed every university in Gaza

During a State Department briefing Wednesday, the spokesperson was questioned on the reason for the recent controlled demolition of Israa University. It had been previously used as a military barracks by Israeli forces, and later, into a temporary detention facility – and therefore could not be considered a threat.

The spokesperson responded, “It is an issue that we raised with the Israeli Government…they have reported to us they have conducted – they have undertaken only when they were sites from which terrorist activities were launched or plotted or being planned.”

NOTE: Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor points out:
The targeting of civilian objects by armed forces, particularly those that are historical or cultural artifacts protected by special laws, is not only a serious breach of international humanitarian law and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, but falls under the purview of the crime of genocide.
The Israeli army has killed 94 university professors, along with hundreds of teachers and thousands of students, as part of its genocidal war against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023. (Read more here.)

Middle East Monitor reports: Republican representative in the US Congress from Florida, Brian Mast, appeared to call for a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, saying there were no innocent children there.

In a video circulating on social media, two activists ask Mast, “You haven’t seen the pictures of all the babies being killed?” To which he replied: “These are not innocent Palestinian civilians.” (Read the full article here.)

Mast has received over half a million dollars from the Israel Lobby

US Congressman Brian Mast wears his Israeli military uniform to Capitol Hill. (photo)

The Center for constitutional rights reports: U.S. Court Concludes Israel’s Assault on Gaza Is Plausible Case of Genocide

While Dismissing Case on Jurisdictional Grounds, U.S. Judge “Implores” Biden Administration to Stop its “Unflagging Support” for Israel’s Ongoing Siege of the Palestinian People in Gaza

After a federal court heard arguments and testimony in the case Defense for Children International – Palestine v. Biden on Friday, January 26, charging the Biden administration with failing in its duty to prevent, and otherwise aiding and abetting, the unfolding genocide in Gaza, a federal judge found that Israel is plausibly engaging in genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza and that the United States is providing “unflagging support” for the massive attacks on Palestinian civilians in contravention of international law……

The court recognized the substantial role of the United States in furthering the genocide and noted that “as the ICJ has found, it is plausible that Israel’s conduct amounts to genocide” and, therefore, the “Court implores Defendants to examine the results of their unflagging support of the military siege against the Palestinians in Gaza.”

The court stated, “It is every individual’s obligation to confront the current siege in Gaza.”  Read more

Chicago Tribune reports: Chicago becomes the largest American city to call for a Gaza cease-fire after a months-long debate & a tense meeting where spectators were cleared out. Huge win for local pro-Palestine groups and progressive aldermen.

Reuters reports: Dozens of U.S. cities including Chicago and San Francisco have passed resolutions on the Israel-Gaza war with most calling for a ceasefire, a Reuters analysis of city data shows, placing more pressure on President Joe Biden ahead of November’s general election to help end the fighting.

Biden’s administration has rebuffed calls for a ceasefire, something supported by a majority of Americans, arguing that an Israeli halt would embolden Hamas.

At least 48 cities have passed symbolic resolutions calling for a halt to Israel’s Gaza bombardment, with six others passing resolutions advocating more broadly for peace. At least 20 have passed resolutions condemning Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, which sparked the current bloodshed.

The US military’s Central Command reports: “USCENTCOM forces struck and destroyed a Houthi surface-to-air missile prepared to launch. US forces identified the missile in Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen and determined that it presented an imminent threat to US aircraft.”

The Hill reports: The Iranian-backed militia group accused of carrying out a deadly attack on U.S. forces in Jordan over the weekend that killed three American troops announced Tuesday it was suspending military operations in Iraq.

Iraqi militia group Kata’ib Hezbollah said it would no longer target American troops in a campaign it and other Iranian-backed groups say has been waged in solidarity with the Palestinian people amid Israel’s war in Gaza.

In a statement carried on Iranian Telegram channels, the group said it would stop the fighting against U.S. forces “to avoid embarrassment for the Iraqi government.”

“We will continue to defend our people in Gaza in other ways and advise the fighters of [Kata’ib] Hezbollah, the brave and free, to adopt passive defense … if any hostile American action occurs against them,” the statement from the group’s leader reads.


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – January 31: at least 27,278* (26,900 in Gaza* (over 11,000 children, 7,500 women), and at least 378 in the West Bank (98 children). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble (70% women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 33,360 Palestinian deaths.

About 1.7 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population). 

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – January 31: at least 70,336** (including at least 65,949 in Gaza and 4,387 in the West Bank).

It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – January 31: ~1,705 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, 9 in West Bank, ~574 soldiers (373/337on October 7th, 224 since the ground invasion began) in Gaza; including ~32 Americans and approximately 36 children) and ~8,730 injured.)

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.

*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

For more news, go here and hereBroadcast news from the region is here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

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