As it defends its planned genocidal Rafah invasion before ICJ, Israel vows to “intensify” raids – Day 223

As it defends its planned genocidal Rafah invasion before ICJ, Israel vows to “intensify” raids – Day 223

Israel prepares a large-scale attack on Rafah, after massive destruction in the north and massive loss of life; aid orgs running out of medical supplies, food; West Bank also under attack; HRW reports on Israel’s failure to follow ICJ’s orders – as Israel is hauled up before the court yet again; multiple countries (not including US) pressure Israel to comply with int’l law; Japan calls out Lindsay Graham’s bad taste; US-built pier is operational; Texas governor Greg Abbott sued; more

By IAK staff, from reports

Israel vows to ‘intensify’ raids on Rafah, as more troops enter southern Gaza

Israeli army’s destruction of more schools and health centers in Gaza is additional manifestation of genocide

Euro-Med reports: As part of its genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army has intentionally destroyed schools and medical facilities during its ground invasion of Gaza City’s southern Al-Zaytoun neighborhood and Jabalia in Strip’s north.

Seven days after the start of its latest ground incursion in the area, Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza City’s Al-Zaytoun neighborhood. The Wednesday 15 May withdrawal revealed the destruction of three schools—Ain Jalut, Atta Al-Shawa, and Hassan Al-Nakhalah—as well as the Zaytoun Medical Clinic, which had provided healthcare to the neighborhood’s roughly 80,000 residents.

The Israeli army launched, last Thursday, its third military operation in the Zaytoun neighborhood since the start of its aggression on the Gaza Strip. The most recent operation included heavy air and artillery raids, a ground incursion with military vehicles, and the destruction of more residential buildings, turning the neighborhood into a pile of rubble and forcing hundreds of families to evacuate.

(Read the full report here.)

Nuseirat Preparatory Boys’ school at Nuseirat refugee camp, Deir al-Balah, April 2024.
Nuseirat Preparatory Boys’ school at Nuseirat refugee camp, Deir al-Balah, April 2024. (photo)

More than 100 academics killed by Israeli assault: Gaza media office

Al Jazeera reports: The Government Media Office has published a list of the names of scholars, academics, university professors and researchers killed since Israel began its war on Gaza last October.

“In addition, the occupation completely destroyed more than 103 universities and schools, in addition to partially destroying 311 universities and schools,” a statement from the office adds.

The statement calls on “All universities and educational sectors in all countries of the world to condemn this crime, which comes within the framework of the crime of genocide”.

4 journalists killed in Gaza as death toll hits 147

Middle East Monitor reports: The Gaza Media Office mourned the deaths of four additional journalists Thursday who were killed in Israeli airstrikes on the enclave.

“Four journalists were martyred, including a woman,” it said.

“Hail al-Najjar, a video editor at the Al-Aqsa Media Network, Mahmoud Jahjouh, a photojournalist at the Palestine Post website, Moath Mustafa al-Ghefari, a photojournalist at the Kanaan Land website and the Palestinian Media Foundation, and Amina Mahmoud Hameed, a program presenter and editor at several media outlets” all “fell in the genocide war on the Gaza Strip,” it said.

The Office announced that the death toll since Oct. 7 for journalists in Gaza hit 147.

WHO: no medical supplies entered Gaza since 6 May

Middle East Eye reports: The World Health Organization (WHO) says that it has not been able to get medical aid into Gaza since 6 May.

“The last medical supplies that we got in Gaza was before 6 May,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said at a UN press briefing today.

“We don’t have fuel. We have hospitals under evacuation order. We have a situation where we cannot move physically,” he said.

This comes after Israel said at the ICJ earlier today that it had been facilitating the entry of aid into Gaza.

Deir al-Balah is among the most densely populated places on earth.
Deir al-Balah in central Gaza is among the most densely populated places on earth. (photo)

West Bank: Israeli forces kill man, injure child in raids near Tulkarm

WAFA reports: Israeli occupation forces killed a Palestinian youth and injured a child in confrontations in raids in the Bal’a and Anabta towns, northeast and east of Tulkarm, according to local sources.

They said that a convoy of Israeli army vehicles stormed Bal’a, triggering confrontations during which the soldiers opened live fire towards local youths and teens who attempted to block their entry, critically injuring 23-year-old Karim Rayeq Abdul-Raouf I‘mair.

I‘mair was rushed to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.

The soldiers shot and injured another youth and prevented paramedics from reaching the scene, leaving him to bleed on the ground.

West Bank: Over $1 million seized in Israeli raids on Palestinian exchange shops

Al Jazeera reports: It’s been another busy night in the occupied West Bank. What stands out is the raids on all 11 branches of one exchange company where four people were also detained. Israel says the exchange company is dealing with “terrorist groups”.

The company estimates that their losses are about 4 million shekels, or more than $1m. In December, the Israeli military carried out similar raids on exchange branches of various companies, including this one. Last time, they said they lost 1 million shekels, close to $300,000.

In the latest raids, computers were confiscated. They even took safes and everything inside them.

There were no legal proceedings before these raids. The Israeli forces made accusations and left flyers saying that any sort of association with any armed group makes them guilty of being terrorists.

This has the hallmarks of a heist more than any sort of police action. It has made people more afraid and paranoid. It is yet another example of a kind of collective punishment where Israel accuses civilian businesses of being affiliated with so-called terror groups or armed groups, without providing evidence.

The aftermath of an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp, located near the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, on April 21, 2024. The Israeli army dug up the roads in the camp, damaging infrastructure and Palestinian property.
The aftermath of an Israeli raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp, located near the city of Tulkarem in the northern West Bank, on April 21, 2024. The Israeli army dug up the roads in the camp, damaging infrastructure and Palestinian property. (Photo)

West Bank: Israeli colonists attacked 25 trucks in 2 days, thinking they were Gaza-bound

WAFA reports: Israeli colonist mobs blocked and vandalized over 25 trucks on Thursday and Wednesday, assuming that they were delivering desperately needed humanitarian aid meant for the starving population of Gaza.

They said that dozens of colonists from the Israeli colony of Kochav Ha’shachar, east of Ramallah, intercepted a Palestinian truck driver and attacked him before setting the truck on fire.

Israeli colonists Thursday night assaulted a Palestinian truck driver and torched his vehicle to the east of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, according to local sources.

HA’ARETZ ADDS: Israeli settlers also set an Israeli truck on fire.

Human Rights Watch: Israel Flouts World Court Orders

Human Rights Watch reports: Israel is contravening the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) legally binding orders by obstructing the entry of lifesaving aid and services into Gaza, Human Rights Watch said last week. Since January 2024, the court has twice ordered provisional measures requiring Israel to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance as part of South Africa’s case alleging that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention of 1948.

On May 5, Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing after a Hamas rocket attack, and on May 7, they seized the Rafah crossing as part of its incursion in the area, thus blocking aid from entering and people from leaving Gaza via the primary crossings used in recent months.

While Israeli authorities had allowed more aid trucks to enter in the preceding weeks and opened an additional crossing and a port for aid entry, the increase has been modest and nowhere near enough to meet the overwhelming need, according to UN and NGOs. The groups said Israel continued to block critical aid items, and only a small proportion of the limited aid has been reaching northern Gaza, where it’s vitally needed.

“Despite children dying from starvation and famine in Gaza, the Israeli authorities are still blocking aid critical for the survival of Gaza’s population in defiance of the World Court,” said Omar Shakir, Israel and Palestine director at Human Rights Watch. “With each day that Israeli authorities block lifesaving aid, more Palestinians are at risk of dying.”

On January 26, the ICJ ordered Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian aid.” In light of the “spread of famine and starvation,” the court imposed additional measures on March 28, ordering Israel to ensure the unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance, in full cooperation with the UN, including by opening new land crossing points.

The court’s March order required Israel to report to the ICJ on the implementation of the court’s measures within one month. However, as of May 2, Israeli authorities continued to obstruct basic services and entry of fuel and lifesaving aid, acts that amount to war crimes and include the use of starvation of civilians as a weapon of war.

(Read the full report here.)

A smoke plume rises during Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, May 14
A smoke plume rises during Israel’s bombardment of Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday, May 14 (photo)

South Africa returns to the ICJ to demand a stop to the Israeli genocide in Gaza

Mondoweiss reports: Thursday afternoon, at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, lawyers for South Africa took another crack at obtaining a court-ordered halt to Israel’s military assault on Rafah and its entire genocidal war on Gaza.

The situation couldn’t be more urgent, South Africa stated in its May 10 application to the top UN court, triggering two days of hearings, that began today.

Israel will present counter arguments Friday.

“The onslaught on the Palestinians in Gaza is of a nature that can only be intended to result in the genocidal destruction of that group,” South Africa’s application states.

“In attacking Rafah, Israel is attacking the “last refuge” in Gaza, and the only remaining area of the Strip which has not yet been substantially destroyed by Israel. With Rafah’s destruction, the destruction of Gaza itself will be complete.”

Standing before the court’s fifteen judges this afternoon, British attorney Vaughan Lowe delivered a withering and impassioned case for a strict, court-ordered halt to Israel’s war on Gaza.

“[The] evidence has to be faced,” Vaughan said – “evidence of continued bombings, attacks on people in so-called safe areas to which they’ve been directed by Israel, attacks on aid convoys and of mass graves and the horrors of which the corpses speak.”

“[It] has become increasingly clear that Israel’s actions in Rafah are part of the endgame in which Gaza is utterly destroyed as an area capable of human habitation,” Lowe said. “This is the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people.”

(Read the full article here.)

Mr. Vusimuzi Madonsela presents on behalf of South Africa at the public hearings in the case South Africa v. Israel at the International Court of Justice, May 16, 2024.
Mr. Vusimuzi Madonsela presents on behalf of South Africa at the public hearings in the case South Africa v. Israel at the International Court of Justice, May 16, 2024. (photo)

Western nations urge Israel to comply with international law in Gaza

Reuters reports: Israel must comply with international law in Gaza and address the devastating humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave, a group of Western nations wrote in a letter to the Israeli government seen by Reuters on Friday.

All countries belonging to the Group of Seven (G7) major democracies, apart from the United States, signed the letter, along with Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

Spain denies port of call to ship carrying arms to Israel

The Guardian reports: Spain has refused permission for a ship carrying arms to Israel to dock at a Spanish port, its foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, said on Thursday.

“This is the first time we have done this because it is the first time we have detected a ship carrying a shipment of arms to Israel that wants to call at a Spanish port,” he told reporters in Brussels.

“This will be a consistent policy with any ship carrying arms to Israel that wants to call at Spanish ports. The foreign ministry will systematically reject such stopovers for one obvious reason: the Middle East does not need more weapons, it needs more peace.”

The ship is carrying nearly 27 tonnes of explosive material from Madras, India, the El Pais newspaper reported.

Japan slams US senator over Israel’s arms support and reference to ‘atomic bombs’

Andalou Agency reports: Japan on Wednesday reacted to US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham’s call for continued arms support to Israel, referencing the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Japanese Foreign Minister Kamikawa Yoko expressed her disapproval of Senator Graham’s comparison made over the weekend, regarding the obligation of [the US] to supply weapons to Israel.

“Given the current situation in the Middle East, it is absolutely unacceptable to bring up a discussion that cites the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as examples,” said Kamikawa.

The Japanese minister criticized Graham’s assessment, stating that the “Hiroshima and Nagasaki disasters should never be repeated” and Japan aimed to promote a “proper understanding of nuclear weapons’ destructive reality.”

First aid shipment driven across new Gaza pier

The Hill reports: The U.S. military said the first aid shipment was driven across the new U.S.-built Gaza pier on Friday, ramping up the delivery of humanitarian assistance for Palestinians who are facing deprivation and hunger in Gaza.

U.S. Central Command said trucks hauling humanitarian aid began moving onto the land utilizing the temporary pier at around 9 a.m. local time, adding that no U.S. troops entered the enclave.

“This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature, and will involve aid commodities donated by a number of countries and humanitarian organizations,” officials said in a statement released.

The pier, which was put together first in Ashdod before being placed onto Gaza’s shore, was originally announced in March by the Pentagon.

graphic (graphic)

ASSOCIATED PRESS ADDS: Sabrina Singh, Pentagon spokeswoman, told reporters that the U.S. believes there will be no backups in the distribution of the aid, which is being coordinated by the United Nations.

The U.N., however, said fuel imports have all but stopped and this will make it extremely difficult to deliver the aid to Gaza’s people, all 2.3 million of whom are in acute need of food and other supplies after seven months of intense fighting between Israel and Hamas.

“We desperately need fuel,” U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said. “It doesn’t matter how the aid comes, whether it’s by sea or whether by land, without fuel, aid won’t get to the people.”

The pier project, expected to cost $320 million, was ordered more than two months ago by U.S. President Joe Biden to help starving Palestinians as Israeli restrictions on border crossings and heavy fighting hinder food and other supplies from making it into Gaza.

New York Times reports: The House on Thursday passed a bill that would rebuke President Biden for pausing an arms shipment to Israel and compel his administration to quickly deliver those weapons, in a largely symbolic vote engineered by the G.O.P. to spotlight the left’s divisions over Israel’s conduct of its offensive against Hamas.

The legislation has no chance of moving ahead. White House officials said the president would veto it, and Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the majority leader, said it was “not going anywhere” in the Senate.

But it had its intended effect of splintering Democrats: 16 of them joined Republicans in favor of legislation that condemned their own president’s administration. The measure passed 224 to 187.

The vote was the latest bid by congressional Republicans to portray themselves and their party as the true friends of the Jewish state and capitalize politically on the rift among Democrats about the war. 

Gov. Abbott "prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem that God will continue to bless Israel and that God continue to strengthen the bond between Texas and Israel," Jan. 2020
Gov. Abbott “prayed at the Western Wall in Jerusalem that God will continue to bless Israel and that God continue to strengthen the bond between Texas and Israel,” Jan. 2020 (photo)

CAIR Files Lawsuit Against Texas Governor to Defend Free Speech of Anti-Genocide Protesters

CAIR reports: The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Houston, Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of Texas at Dallas, and the Democratic Socialists of America challenging Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-44.

The executive order purports to combat antisemitism but targets students advocating for Palestinians in Gaza as they face a genocide at the hands of Israel. The executive order directs public universities to punish students for using the liberation slogan “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free” and for being critical of the state of Israel.

The executive order violates the First Amendment, which forbids state actors from restricting the speech of people based on content or viewpoint. The lawsuit is a pre-enforcement challenge that asks a federal court to enjoin both Greg Abbott and the respective Boards of Regents from ever enforcing the order due to its unconstitutionality.

Prior attempts to restrict the speech of Palestine advocates have been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional.

“This executive order shows us how powerful our voices truly are,” said the Executive Board of SJP at UH in a joint statement. “We must use our voices in every space we are in to call for an immediate ceasefire and a liberated Palestine.”

Demonstrators reinforce the barricade to their Gaza solidarity encampment as police storm the University of California, Irvine
Demonstrators reinforce the barricade to their Gaza solidarity encampment as police storm the University of California, Irvine (photo)

More News:

Al Jazeera: Rift in Israel war cabinet as defense chief opposes ‘military rule’ in Gaza
Al Jazeera: Does Israel’s Netanyahu have a plan for a ‘day after’ the war on Gaza?
Electronic Intifada: Gaza genocide cements Israel’s status as a pariah
IMEMC Reports

Palestinian death toll from October 7 – May 16: at least 35,742* (35,303 in Gaza* – 4,959 women (20%), 7,797 children (32%) identified – and at least 510 in the West Bank (117 children). This does not include an estimated 10,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 43,640 Palestinian deaths. (Information on Gaza statistics here.)

At least 42 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank).

At least 31 Palestinian children and several adults 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 – May 16: at least 84,245 (including at least 79,205 in Gaza and 5,040 in the West Bank).

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

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – May 16: ~1,433 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 278 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza; 16 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

Times of Israel reports: The IDF also 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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