Israel burns Rafah crossing: no exits left for Gazans; US arms sales continue – Day 255

Israel burns Rafah crossing: no exits left for Gazans; US arms sales continue – Day 255

Israel seals Gaza off from the world; Israel kills aid seekers again; aid delivery is too risky; White House/Lobby event pushes false mass rape narrative again; Pentagon blows $1 billion on Houthi naval campaign; Israel running low on military manpower; Israel has detained 640 children since October 7th; Israel lobby news’ more

By IAK staff, from reports.

Israel destroys Rafah crossing arrival and departure halls

Middle East Eye reports: Israeli forces have torched and destroyed facilities at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, including halls used for travelers’ arrival and departure, according to local officials and media reports.

Pictures shared online showed what appeared to be the exterior of the departure hall damaged and blackened. Middle East Eye could not independently verify the authority of the photo.

However, the report was confirmed by some media outlets and the Gaza-based government media office, which called for the urgent opening of crossings to alleviate the worsening starvation crisis.

It also said “talk of a tactical pause was an Israeli lie,” referring to an announcement on Sunday by the Israeli military that it would hold temporary pauses in fighting along a key road in Rafah to facilitate aid delivery.

This is a new crime committed by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians by besieging them and preventing the sick and wounded from their last hope of traveling and receiving treatment abroad,” the government’s media office in Gaza said in a press statement.

NOTE: This is contrary to Israel’s pledge last month not to harm the crossing’s facilities to ensure it’s continued operation, as reported to Haaretz. On May 7th, Ha’aretz reported, “Israel has committed to the United States and Egypt to restrict its operation in Rafah, which started on Monday, aiming only to deny Hamas authority over the border crossing that connects Gaza with Egypt…Israel has also pledged not to damage the crossing’s facilities to ensure its continuous operation.”

At least 8 killed in Israeli strikes while waiting for aid trucks in Rafah

Al Jazeera reports: At least eight Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire as merchants and civil guards waited for commercial trucks along the main eastern road of the Gaza Strip.

An unknown number of people were wounded in the attack and taken to European Gaza Hospital.

The strikes come a day after Israel’s military said it would “pause” operations on the main aid route in southern Gaza for 11 hours each day to facilitate the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian relief for thousands of starving people.

Scene from Nuseirat, Gaza Saturday, June 15
Scene from Nuseirat, Gaza Saturday, June 15 (screenshot)

Aid Trucks Pile Up Inside Gaza Despite Pause in Fighting

Wall Street Journal reports: More than 1,000 truckloads of aid were piled up at the Gazan side of an Israeli border crossing on Monday, a day after Israel implemented a humanitarian pause in fighting to help increase the flow of aid into the war-torn enclave.

Officials from the United Nations, the largest distributor of aid in Gaza, say that people are looting trucks when they reach Gaza, making it unsafe for their employees to deliver aid. By midafternoon on Monday, no U.N. trucks arrived to pick up aid from the Kerem Shalom crossing, where on Sunday Israel began a daily pause to fighting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. along a key north-south road used to deliver aid throughout much of Gaza. The Israeli military said 21 other trucks picked up supplies on Sunday.

“We need to keep people safe,” said Scott Anderson, the Gaza-based director of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a key group tasked with managing aid distribution in the Strip.

An official with the World Food Program, another U.N. agency that delivers aid to Gaza, also cited looting en route to WFP warehouses as hindering deliveries.

NOTE Thousands of aid trucks reportedly waited just outside Gaza for months, while Israel was making it extremely difficult to pass, employing complicated and arbitrary procedures. Now that it is finally entering Gaza, the people are desperate – and might also be reluctant to wait at meeting points, where Israel has on multiple occasions fired into the hungry crowds (once killing over 100); Israel has also attacked food aid convoys. In fact, an Israeli airstrike hit a group of Palestinians waiting for aid on June 17, killing at least 8.
Additionally, Israeli citizens have blocked a border crossing for weeks, and attacked and looted trucks they believed were heading to Gaza – all with no meaningful attempt by Israel to stop them. 
In mid-March, Israel promised to “flood” Gaza with aid, but has failed to do so.
The US has for months expressed its desire to see appropriate amounts of humanitarian aid reaching Gaza on one hand, while undermining Gaza’s largest aid organization on the other. 
Meanwhile, the US has built a “temporary pier” off the Gaza coast to receive aid by sea – at a cost of at least $320 million (which has so far been ineffective) – and has, along with other countries, airdropped packages of aid into Gaza – causing over 20 Palestinian deaths due to malfunction.
The Biden administration has so far not used its leverage as the provider of billions of dollars in military aid to and for Israel (with one exception), a move that could potentially end the war in short order.
Scenes from Rafah, June 7
Scenes from Rafah, June 7 (screenshot)

Neighborhoods ‘completely razed’ in eastern Rafah

Al Jazeera reports: On the second day of Eid, the situation remains quite difficult.

Overnight, attacks took place across the Gaza Strip – from the northern city of Beit Hanoun all the way to Rafah city, coupled with heavy artillery strikes along the eastern border.

That includes heavy strikes on central and eastern parts of Rafah. Israeli forces also continued systematically demolishing homes in the east and near the Philadelphi Corridor [southern Rafah]. These areas are completely razed, with no remaining residential buildings and no agricultural land left.

In a separate wave, the Israeli military carried out heavy artillery strikes in central Gaza, including on Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps and the southeastern part of Deir el-Balah city.

Everything seems to be contributing to one thing: making Gaza uninhabitable.

Israeli tank destroys a building in Rafah
Israeli tank destroys a building in Rafah (screenshot)

Blinken reportedly promised Netanyahu US will drop limits on arms shipments to Israel

Times of Israel reports: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly promised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Washington will remove all restrictions on weapons transfers to Israel in the coming days.

An unsourced report — published Monday in Hebrew by Channel 12 and in German by the Bild daily — said that during their meeting last week in Jerusalem, Netanyahu demanded that the frequency of US arm shipments return to the level they were at after October 7, lamenting that the US has in practice halted its military support for the war against Hamas.

Netanyahu reportedly argued that the slowing of aid plays into the hands of Iran and its proxies in the region, including Hamas and Hezbollah, extends the war and increases the risk of it broadening to new fronts.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 16, 2023.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 16, 2023. (photo)


Washington Post reports: Two key Democratic holdouts in the House and Senate signed off on a major arms sale to Israel, including 50 F-15 fighter jets worth more than $18 billion, after facing intense pressure from the Biden administration and pro-Israel advocates to allow the transaction to move forward, said three US officials familiar with the matter.

The decision, which has not been previously reported, underscores the substantial appetite [appetite to please AIPAC] in Washington to continue the flow of arms to Israel despite concerns from younger members of Congress that the United States should use its leverage to pressure Israel to reduce the intensity of the war and allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza.

After months of holding up the arms sale, Gregory Meeks (N.Y.) and Sen. Ben Cardin (Md.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, signed off on the transaction several weeks ago, according to U.S. officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss arms transfers.

If ultimately approved, the transaction would be one of the largest arms sales to Israel since the war began. The weaponry, often paid over many years, is largely financed by the more than $3.3 billion in U.S. taxpayer funds Washington provides Israel every year.

Meeks told The Washington Post that he has been in “close touch” with the White House about the package and “repeatedly urged the administration to continue pushing Israel to make significant and concrete improvements on all fronts when it comes to humanitarian efforts and limiting civilian casualties.”

Progressive critics of the Biden administration say it has not used U.S. leverage effectively in the eight-month-old war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected U.S. requests to avoid a ground incursion into Rafah or expedite the delivery of aid to overland routes.

Republicans have categorized any holdup of weapons to Israel as a “reprehensible” betrayal. “The United States must stand with Israel. Period,” said Rep. Russell Fry (R-S.C.). Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has referred to the pause of one shipment as an “arms embargo on Israel” despite the administration’s rapid and continued shipment of weaponry since Oct. 7.

Fighter jets of the F-15D model from the 106th squadron in a close formation flight over Jerusalem, April 2021
Fighter jets of the F-15D model from the 106th squadron in a close formation flight over Jerusalem, April 2021 (photo)

White House screens Palestinian torture “confessions” to push mass rape lie:

Electronic Intifada reports: Vice President Kamala Harris is to host a White House screening of Sheryl Sandberg’s Screams Before Silence on Monday, a film which includes “confession” footage of Palestinians who were almost certainly tortured by Israel, to support Tel Aviv’s 7 October mass rapes lie.

In promoting the event, Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz lied in a CNN interview that she had personally watched videos of a rape in progress, footage that Israeli and international investigators have determined does not exist.

The screening [which was held on June 17] is the result of a collaboration between the White House Gender Policy Council and several Israel lobby groups, according to Jewish Insider.

Invitations have been sent “to all the major feminist and women’s rights organizations,” the publication says. The Israel lobby appears to be using the event as a litmus test to see which of these groups is falling into line behind Israel’s propaganda narrative.

Jewish Insider says that “keeping an eye on the audience of the event will be revealing.”

(Read the full article here.)

NOTE: While Israel has made allegations of “systematic sexual violence” against Hamas on October 7th, it has yet to provide forensic evidence or witnesses. The allegations persist apparently because American mainstream media continue to ignore the facts, though numerous websites have reported about the deficiencies in the coverage.

Pentagon blows $1bn in ‘unsustainable’ naval campaign against Yemen:

Wall Street Journal reports: Since Oct. 7, the Iran-aligned Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea region since November in solidarity with Palestinians in the war [sic – Israeli mass murder] between Israel and Hamas, lobbing missiles, drones and other weapons at commercial vessels and warships nearly every day.

Although most of the weapons have been shot down, at least 77 cargo ships have been hit, and one British-owned ship carrying 20,000 tons of fertilizer aboard was sunk.

The Iran-aligned Houthis have launched dozens of attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea region since November in solidarity with Palestinians in the war between Israel and Hamas.

The Navy says it has spent about $1 billion on munitions used in defending the Red Sea, conducting more than 450 strikes and intercepting more than 200 drones and missiles since November when the attacks began.

U.S. officials worry that the conflict is simply not sustainable for the U.S. defense industrial base, already strained by the demands for weaponry from Ukraine and Israel.

“Their supply of weapons from Iran is cheap and highly sustainable, but ours is expensive, our supply chains are crunched, and our logistics tails are long,” said Emily Harding of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “We are playing whack-a-mole, and they are playing a long game.”

Israeli army in ‘urgent need’ of troops as resistance deals heavy losses:

The Israeli army is facing significant difficulties in confronting the Palestinian resistance across the Gaza Strip, Hebrew news outlet Channel 12 reported on 16 June.

Hamas’ Qassam Brigades and other groups are “still waging war in the Gaza Strip, and are capable of harming Israeli army soldiers,” military sources told the outlet – particularly in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah. Tel Aviv may end the operation there without achieving its goals.

“Israeli hopes for the battle in Rafah are misleading the public … Hamas has succeeded in rebuilding itself in the Gaza Strip,” Israeli commentator on Palestinian affairs, Ohad Hamo, told Channel 12.

An Israeli army radio correspondent, Doron Kadosh, reported on Monday that the military is setting up a new division for reservists over the retirement age of 40 in order to meet the “urgent need for more troops.”

The new division is in “advance stages” and will call on Israelis who were previously exempt from serving, according to Kadosh.

The Israeli government has also supported a draft bill aimed at extending the reservist retirement age despite opposition from the public, due to “a very high volume of deaths and injuries as a result of the war, the IDF still needs a significant amount of manpower,” the draft bill reads.

Israel plans to punish West Bank for several countries’ recent recognition of Palestine:

The Cradle reports: Israel’s Security Cabinet is looking into proposals to boost Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank as a response to the recent recognition of Palestinian statehood by Spain, Ireland, Norway, and Slovenia.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement on 16 June saying that the proposals will be voted on at the next full meeting of the Security Cabinet.

The move is not only a response to the recognition of Palestinian statehood but to the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) “hostile” actions against Israel in international bodies, the premier’s office said, without elaborating further.

The PA requested earlier this month to join South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

NOTE: As of June 2024, the State of Palestine is recognized as a sovereign state by 144 of the 193 member states of the United Nations.

Israelis banned from major arms fair in Paris

Al Jazeera reports: Anti-Gaza war activists in France successfully convinced a court to ban employees and representatives of Israeli companies from the Eurosatory 2024 arms exhibition.

Seventy-four Israeli firms were set to attend the Eurosatory event from June 17 to 21 at fairgrounds close to Paris’s main international airport.

Watch the video below:

RECOMMENDED READING: Gaza Becomes Israel’s Testing Ground for US- and Israeli-made Military Robots

Prisoner’s Society: Israel has detained 640 Palestinian children since October 7th:

WAFA reports: The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) said the Israeli occupation detained 640 Palestinian children from the occupied West Bank, including those who were subjected to abuse, since the outbreak of its aggression on the Gaza Strip on October 7, 2023.

PPS in a statement said that since the start of the Israeli genocide, at least 640 detentions have been recorded among children. This total includes those who were later released by the occupation authorities and those who remain in Israeli custody.

The statement said that children in the occupation prisons, numbering currently about 250 children, are subjected to all kinds of reprisals, including abuse, torture and medical crimes.

UN human rights chief: situation in West Bank ‘drastically deteriorating’:

Reuters reports: Palestinians in the Israeli occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem are suffering a drastically worsening human rights environment, alongside “unconscionable death and suffering” in the Gaza Strip, the U.N. human rights chief said on Tuesday.

“The situation in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is dramatically deteriorating,” Volker Turk, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the opening session of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“Israel continues to detain arbitrarily thousands of Palestinians. This must not continue.”

Palestinians released from Sde Teiman back into Gaza describe their torture
Palestinians released from Sde Teiman back into Gaza describe their torture (screenshot)

Israel lobby news from Jewish Insider & JTA

  • Jewish Insider provides breakdown on Congressional races concerning Israel
  • Business leaders including Palantir CEO Alex Karp, Oracle CEO Safra Catz, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman will meet with a group of senators led by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to discuss continuing arms sales to Israel.
  • Westchester Jewish Community groomed then turned on Jamal Bowman… AIPAC’s super PAC has invested more than $11 Million against Bowman
  • Republican Jewish Coalition focus is on support for Israel… it’s taking aim at neo-isolationist trends in the party and has spent in races against Freedom Caucus members… An RJC endorsement functions as a spur to individual contributors to donate… RJC is worried about the growth of opposition to Israel aid… “In a Virginia primary between hardline candidates, the bottom line for Republican Jews is support for Israel”


Associated Press: The war in Gaza has wiped out entire Palestinian families. AP documents 60 who lost dozens or more.
Euro-Med Monitor: Israel escalates attacks against Palestinian journalists in Gaza.
The Cradle: Israeli lawmakers unite to push for Jewish colonization of Gaza.
Al Jazeera: Will South Africa’s new coalition gov’t change tack on Israel-Palestine?
Al Jazeera: Israel’s Netanyahu dissolved the war cabinet, does it matter?
IMEMC Reports.

Palestinian death toll from October 7 – June 17: at least 37,920* (37,372 in Gaza* – 4,959 women (20%), 7,797 children (32%). This is expected to be a significant undercount since thousands of those killed have yet to be identified – and at least 548 in the West Bank (~134 children). This does not include an estimated 10,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 45,223 Palestinian deaths. (Ralph Nader has estimated 200,000 Palestinians may have been killed in Gaza.)
At least 42 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank).
At least 40 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition**.
About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.
About 1.1 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Catastrophic levels of food insecurity.
Palestinian injuries from October 7 – June 17: at least 90,652 (including at least 85,452 in Gaza and 5,200 in the West Bank).
It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.
Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – June 17: ~1,466 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 311 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza; 16 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.
Times of Israel reports: The IDF listed 41 soldiers killed due to friendly fire in Gaza and other military-related accidents – nearly 16%.
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.
**Euro-Med Monitor reports that Gaza’s elderly are dying at an alarmingly high rate. The majority die at home and are buried either close to their residences or in makeshift graves dispersed across the Strip. There are currently more than 140 such cemeteries. Additionally, according to Euromed, thousands have died from starvation, malnourishment, and inadequate medical care; these are considered indirect victims as they were not registered in hospitals. 
Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

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