Gazans in Rafah: ‘We’re waiting to be martyred’ – Day 125

Gazans in Rafah: ‘We’re waiting to be martyred’ – Day 125

Stories of wanton Israeli violence, devastation, hopelessness emerge from Gaza; Israeli forces detain two American citizens in Gaza; another Palestinian journalist killed; Israel’s planned “buffer zone” is a war crime; UN committee calls for massive psychosocial support for children; 13 million tons of debris from war in Gaza; Palestinian administrative detainee dies in prison; Hulu broadcasts pro-Israel propaganda; Texas stabbing labeled a hate crime, and more

For breaking news go here

By IAK staff, from reports

Al Jazeera reports: Seham al-Najjar and her family have nowhere else to run if Israel intensifies its assault on Rafah, a town in southernmost Gaza. She is living in fear that the world is going to allow Israel to commit massacres in Rafah.

“We are waiting to be martyred,” she said. “We know that wherever we go and whatever we do, we’ll be killed.”

Omar Shaki, the Israel-Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, said, “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth, and Rafah is now the most densely populated place in Gaza. Any sort of military campaign or air strike would amplify risks of disproportionate attacks.”

Even if Israel delays its offensive on Rafah, thousands of civilians could die of starvation in Gaza. Most have little access to food or clean water due to Israel’s policy of blocking the delivery of aid.

Israel has also razed farm areas as part of what Human Rights Watch said is a broader policy of using starvation as a weapon of war – a war crime.

Related: Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered Israeli troops to “prepare to operate” in Rafah saying “total victory” over Hamas is just months away.

CNN reports: Two American citizens were detained by the Israel Defense Forces during a raid of a home in Gaza early Thursday morning local time, according to a family member in the United States.

Hashem Alagha, 20, and Borak Alagha, 18, were among a group of roughly 20 men detained by IDF soldiers during the raid, according to Yasmeen Elagha, who identified herself as their cousin.

She said both men are American citizens, born in the suburbs of Chicago.

Elagha told CNN that she spoke over the phone with Hashem’s mother — her aunt — who was present during the raid and claims IDF broke through the door while the group was sleeping, tied up the women and children inside the home, and took the men into custody. They do not know where the men have been taken at this point.

Elagha says the home belongs to her uncle and her family has no ties to Hamas.

On Monday, Israeli forces arrested American citizen Samaher Esmail from her home in the West Bank. Israeli military said Esmail was arrested for incitement on social media and taken away for questioning.


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CAIR: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the nation, today called the Biden administration to demand the release of two U.S. citizens reportedly kidnapped overnight in Gaza by Israeli forces and to save other Americans trapped or held hostage in Gaza by securing a ceasefire.

In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said:

“When the Biden administration provides political and material support for the far-right Israeli government’s indiscriminate campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing, it is endangering the Americans who are trapped or held captive in Gaza, as well as the two U.S. citizens who were just kidnapped by Israeli forces. We call on our government to protect all endangered American citizens in Gaza by demanding and securing an immediate ceasefire.”

CAIR also sent a letter to the State Department and the American embassy in Jerusalem requesting that they demand the immediate release of American citizen and New Orleans grandmother Samaher Esmail, who was kidnapped by Israeli forces on Monday. 

Andalou Agency reports: Another Palestinian journalist was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, taking the tally to 124 since Oct. 7, according to the government media office.

Nafez Abdel Jawad, a reporter for the official Palestine Television station, was killed in the central Gaza Strip, the media office said in a statement.

Around 10 Palestinian journalists have also been arrested by Israeli forces in Gaza, according to an earlier statement by the office.

Electronic Intifada reports: Israeli troops deliberately targeted a Palestine Red Crescent Society convoy, killing a paramedic and wounding two others, the humanitarian group said on Thursday.

The convoy was attempting to transfer patients from al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City to facilities in the south when it was attacked on Wednesday. The mission had been coordinated with the Israeli military, the humanitarian group said.

Red Crescent paramedic Mohammed al-Omari, father to three children aged between 8 and 14, was killed. He and the rest of the crew were trapped for more than an hour while bleeding, according to the Red Crescent.

The Red Crescent said that al-Omari was the 12th employee to be “killed while carrying out their humanitarian work since the beginning of the war.”

Al Jazeera reports: Palestinian journalist Mohammed Akram Al Helo reports that the doctor, Dr Nusseib, sustained a gunshot wound to his chest and is currently in critical condition.

The shooting, which Al Helo says was a deliberate targeting, occurred while the doctor was at work in the operating room at the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis.

“Even doctors are now the target of the occupation forces while carrying out their responsibilities in operating rooms. How much longer will this silence last?” he wrote.

The Nasser Hospital has been under a state of siege for over two weeks.

Some of the stories from IMEMC today:

A Palestinian child, Lana Shmoukhi, said the army fired a missile at her parent’s home, killing her mother, father, and her only brother, and added that her three sisters were injured (video). 

Palestinian medics also retrieved the corpses of two fishermen who were killed by Israeli Navy boats near the Rafah shore, after they couldn’t find food for their families and decided to fish despite the serious risks.

In addition, the army killed two Palestinians, including an elderly man, and wounded many others after the soldiers fired live rounds into Nasser Hospital. It is worth mentioning that Israeli army sharpshooters killed at least twelve Palestinians in the hospital and surrounding areas.

Israeli media sources said the army took the corpses of about 350 persons, to examine them and determine whether Israeli captives, including soldiers, are among the dead.

You can find more daily news from the Palestinian territories from International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC)

Al Jazeera reports: At least 13 Palestinians who were fetching water for their families have been killed by Israeli air strikes in the al-Thalatheni and al-Maghribi residential neighborhoods of Gaza City.

The bodies of those killed and injured were taken to Gaza City’s Ahli Arab Hospital.

Watch the full report below:

Statement from UN human rights chief Volker Turk:

“Destructions carried out to create a ‘buffer zone’ for general security purposes do not appear consistent with the narrow ‘military operations’ exception set out in international humanitarian law.”

Further, extensive destruction of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, amounts to a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and a war crime.

Since late October 2023, my office has recorded widespread destruction and demolition by the Israeli army of civilian and other infrastructure, including residential buildings, schools and universities in areas where fighting is not taking place or is no longer taking place.

This destruction of homes and other basic civilian infrastructure also leads to the permanent displacement of communities that were living in these areas before the war, and it appears that this destruction aims to make returning to those areas impossible.

I remind the [Israeli] authorities that the forcible transfer of civilians may constitute a war crime.

NOTE: The United States has said that it does not support the creation of a buffer zone that would physically diminish the territory of Gaza. However, the US has taken no steps to pressure Israel to stop the demolitions, some of which have been posted on social media by Israeli soldiers.
Palestinians wait to receive food rations in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip
Palestinians wait to receive food rations in Rafah, the southern Gaza Strip (photo)

Reuters reports: “The rights of children living under the state of Israel’s effective control are being gravely violated at a level that has rarely been seen in recent history,” said Ann Skelton, chair of the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC).

“We call for massive psychosocial support for children and families to relieve the traumatic and long-lasting impact of war, including Israeli children who were victims of, or witnesses to, the (Oct. 7) attacks and those whose family members have been taken hostage,” she told a news conference.

UNICEF said last week that nearly all children in Gaza were thought to require mental health support.

RECOMMENDED READING (Palestine Chronicle): Killing Palestinians through useless debate is the international community’s tactic

OCHA reports that there are an estimated 13 million tons of debris from Israel’s destruction of residential houses in the Palestinian territory that will take more than four years to clear, given Gaza’s current capabilities. 

Over 650,000 people are estimated to have no home to return to.  Many more will be unable to return home due to infrastructure damage, and risks posed by explosive remnants of war.

RECOMMENDED READING (Al Jazeera): The Nakba did not start or end in 1948 – Key facts and figures on the ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Mohammed Ahmad Al-Sabar
Mohammed Ahmad Al-Sabar (photo)

WEST BANK: WAFA reports: Mohammed Ahmad Al-Sabar, a 21-year-old Palestinian detainee in Israeli jails, was pronounced dead this evening as a result of medical negligence practiced by the Israeli occupation authorities.

The Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs Authority and the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society confirmed the news of Al-Sabar’s death.

He had been in detention without charges or trial since May 2022, with the latest administrative order issued against him last November for a four-month period.

Al-Sabar, who hails from the town of ad-Dhahiriya, south of Hebron, is the eighth Palestinian to die in Israeli occupation prisons since the onset of the Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people on October 7th.  

According to WAFA correspondent, Al-Sabar died in the Hadassah Medical Center in occupied Jerusalem after his transfer from the Ofer prison. He suffered from complications related to a congenital intestinal condition, requiring specific medication that Israeli authorities denied him access to.

NOTE: Since the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in 1967, more than 800,000 Palestinians have been detained under Israeli military orders –  approximately 20 percent of the total Palestinian population in the oPt and as much as 40 percent of the total male Palestinian population. It also includes approximately 10,000 women jailed since 1967, as well as 8,000 Palestinian children arrested since 2000.
At least six Palestinian prisoners have died in Israeli prisons in an ongoing Israeli campaign, coinciding with the Israeli aggression on Gaza since October 7, reports WAFA.
Nearly 6,000 Palestinians have been arrested in the West Bank since October 7.
Read more about administrative detention as it is used by Israel here; read about Palestinian prisoner deaths on Israel’s watch here.

16-year-old Palestinian Nida Abid, center, who was born with a walking disability, is seen with a wheelchair amid the makeshift tents in Rafah, Gaza on February 5. Abid and her family left their homes and took refuge in Rafah
16-year-old Palestinian Nida Abid, center, who was born with a walking disability, is seen with a wheelchair amid the makeshift tents in Rafah, Gaza on February 5. Abid and her family left their homes and took refuge in Rafah (photo)

IMEMC reports: On Thursday morning, Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian Mansour Jalal Mahmoud Jaber, 27, at the Deir Sharaf military roadblock, west of Nablus in the occupied West Bank.

Eyewitnesses said the soldiers fired at a young man’s car near the military roadblock, inflicting serious wounds before he bled to death.

The Israeli army claimed that the soldiers fatally shot the Palestinian after he opened fire at them when they stopped his car at the military roadblock.

An eyewitness denied the Israeli military allegation, and said the soldiers fired barrages of live rounds at the car when it approached the roadblock.

The Quds News Network said the soldiers also prevented Palestinian medics and journalists from approaching the area, and pushed them away.

An injured Palestinian child is brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for treatment following the Israeli attacks on a building in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on February 4, 2024.
An injured Palestinian child is brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital for treatment following the Israeli attacks on a building in Deir Al-Balah, Gaza on February 4, 2024. (photo)

Palestine Chronicle reports: US streaming service Hulu has been criticized for broadcasting an Israeli propaganda video that suggests that Gaza could have been a global tourist destination if not for the presence of Hamas.

The 38-second video, released by the National Public Diplomacy Directorate at the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office, highlights Gaza’s “stunning beaches” and tells viewers they can enjoy Middle Eastern food, culture, tradition and nightlife before adding, “this is what Gaza could have been like, without Hamas.”

As the advert’s message changes so too do the images, which turn from idyllic views of Gaza and smiling faces to darker clips of child poverty, Hamas Resistance fighters, and Hamas chief in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

“This is what Gaza could have been like if Hamas hadn’t built a nation of terror, instead of a nation of peace,” the video also claims.

Before ending with: “Free Gaza from Hamas now.”

Aside from broadcasting a propaganda video from a government that is actively engaged in a genocide in Gaza, the majority of all Gaza infrastructure was bombed, razed, and burned by the Israeli military in one of the greatest acts of destruction in modern warfare.

Go here to read more about pro-Israel bias in mainstream media.

Associated Press reports: The stabbing of a 23-year-old Palestinian American who advocates say was attacked near the University of Texas campus in Austin while riding in a truck displaying support for Palestine merits the label of a hate crime, Austin police announced Wednesday.

Bert James Baker, 36, was arrested following the Sunday evening attack on Zacharia Doar, who was hospitalized. Baker was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Doar was one of four Muslim Americans who were in the truck, according to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which said Baker allegedly tried to rip a flagpole with a keffiyeh scarf reading “Free Palestine” off of their vehicle. CAIR said the four had previously attended a pro-Palestinian protest.

If Americans knew received an anonymous voicemail on Feb. 7 in response to materials apparently distributed in Austin with the website on them.

The voicemail, which may contain a computer-generated voice, was reported to Austin police, but so far there has been no response.


Some Americans who listen to conservative talk radio and Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News are taken in by oft-repeated Israeli claims of alleged Hamas atrocities without being aware that most of these turned out to be false.

Many people are also taken in by propaganda ads sponsored by billionaire Israel partisans



Palestinian death toll from October 7 – February 8: at least 28,228* (27,840 in Gaza* (over 11,000 children, 7,500 women), and at least 388 in the West Bank (101 children). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble (70% women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 35,096 Palestinian deaths.

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – February 8: at least 71,767** (including at least 67,317 in Gaza and 4,450 in the West Bank).

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

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – February 8: ~1,374 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 225 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 10 in the West Bank) 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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