Israel faces possible embargo, war crime accusation, threats from Biden and Iran – Day 180

Israel faces possible embargo, war crime accusation, threats from Biden and Iran – Day 180

Times have been rough for Israel, thanks to a UN vote to halt arms sales, a Human Rights Watch war crime report, an angrier than usual Biden, a shake-up in the military ranks, and global scrutiny of AI targeting of people in Gaza. Meanwhile, Israel killing of Gazans and West Bank Palestinians continues, released Gaza captives show signs of torture – and another October 7th “friendly fire” incident is identified

By IAK staff, from reports

Israel will temporarily open up Ashdod Port for humanitarian deliveries and will open Erez Crossing in the northern Gaza Strip for the first time since it was significantly damaged during the Hamas-led October 7 terror onslaught that sparked the ongoing war.

Israel will also increase the amount of aid from Jordan moving through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

“The increased aid will prevent a humanitarian crisis,” said the PMO, “and is critical for ensuring the continuation of the fighting and achieving the war aims.”

Middle East Eye adds: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed Israel’s moves to reopen the Erez crossing and using the Ashdod port to allow aid into Gaza, but seemed to remain cautious.

“Really the proof is in the results, and we will see those unfold in the coming days, in the coming weeks,” he said, speaking alongside EU leaders in Belgium.

NOTE: Until now, Israel has insisted that it is doing all it can to bring aid into Gaza, and blamed the UN for delays in delivering humanitarian aid. Israel has recently banned UNRWA from delivering aid to the north of Gaza where the situation is most dire. Additionally, Israel’s targeting of aid workers, including the World Central Kitchen convoy, have forced aid groups to suspend their services.

A destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen near Deir el-Balah
A destroyed car of the NGO World Central Kitchen near Deir el-Balah (photo)

Also from Times of Israel: Two senior officers were to be dismissed and several other top commanders in the Israel Defense Forces were formally censured for their involvement in a deadly drone strike against a group of aid workers with the World Central Kitchen organization in the central Gaza Strip earlier this week, the military said Friday.

Palestine Chronicle adds: The global food aid organization World Central Kitchen (WCK) has called for an independent investigation into the killing of seven of its aid workers in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza as “the only way to determine the truth of what happened.”

“We have asked the governments of Australia, Canada, the United States of America, Poland, and the United Kingdom to join us in demanding an independent, third-party investigation into these attacks, including whether they were carried out intentionally or otherwise violated international law,” the US-based NGO said in a statement on Thursday.

Middle East Eye adds: Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben Gvir, has said that the dismissal of officers responsible for Monday’s attack on the World Food Kitchen convoy is a “serious mistake” and accused the Israeli military leadership of “abandoning” its soldiers.

AFP reports: Aid deliveries to the starving people of Gaza have largely been halted after the deadly Israeli attack on foreign charity workers.

The threat to Gaza’s aid lifeline comes as all of its 2.3 million people are already struggling to get enough to eat with famine projected to soon hit the north. In Gaza City, Palestinians sleeping near an aid delivery spot hoped to secure a bag of flour.

“We wait all night for this flour. We sleep on the streets, in the cold, on the sand, enduring hardship to secure food for our families, especially our young children,” one man told AFP news agency.

“I don’t know what else to do or how our lives have come to this.”

NOTE: Oxfam International reported Wednesday that people in northern Gaza have been forced to survive on an average of 245 calories a day – less than a can of fava beans – since January, as Israeli forces continue their military onslaught. Over 300,000 people are believed to still be trapped there, unable to leave. 
Save the Children reports that more than 10 children on average have lost one or both of their legs every day in Gaza since October 7, with many amputations performed without anesthesia
Save the Children reports that more than 10 children on average have lost one or both of their legs every day in Gaza since October 7, with many amputations performed without anesthesia (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: Israeli authorities have released 101 Palestinian prisoners who are from the Gaza Strip back into the besieged and bombarded territory, according to Gaza’s General Administration of Crossings and Borders.

Many of those released were taken to medical facilities in Rafah, where they are being treated for fractures or other injuries they suffered from being beaten while in custody, according to a medical source cited by Al Jazeera Arabic.

NOTE: Ha’aretz reported on Thursday: A doctor at the field hospital set up at the Sde Teiman detention center to hold arrested Gazans described conditions that he said could compromise the inmates’ health and put the government at risk of violating the law, in a letter sent last week to Israel’s defense minister, health minister, and attorney general. Read more in IAK’s daily update.

Middle East Monitor reports: More than 200 Palestinian children are currently incarcerated in Israeli prisons, including at least 23 children from the Gaza Strip detained in the Megiddo Prison, where they have been subjected to enforced disappearance, prisoner advocacy groups said yesterday.

Statistics and documented testimonies from child prisoners indicate that the majority of detained children have been subjected to one or more forms of physical and psychological torture.

Israeli soldiers hold Palestinian children under arrest in the West Bank city of Hebron in August 2011.

Al Jazeera reports: At least four people, including a paramedic, have been killed in an Israeli air strike that hit a rescue team in Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, a health official says.

The emergency director at Kamal Adwan Hospital, Fares Afaneh, said the attack targeted a medical team rescuing injured people.

“Our crew moved to rescue [people] wounded by Israeli shelling, and upon its arrival, it was subjected to another bombardment. Our crew was bombed while working,” Afaneh said.

Middle East Eye reports: One Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli forces during their raid on the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarem, in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli police say the man, 31-year-old Saed Abu Alawi, was “hurling an explosive device at troops” while Al Jazeera reports that he was filming the raid before an Israeli sniper shot him in the chin and neck.

At least 457 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since 7 October. Abu Alawi was reportedly married and expecting his second child.

Israeli soldiers walk through a destroyed neighborhood in Gaza.
Israeli soldiers walk through a destroyed neighborhood in Gaza. (photo)

The Guardian reports: Israel has suspended leave for combat units and heightened its air defense command to deal with possible missile or drone attack from Iran following the killing this week in an airstrike on the Iranian embassy in Syria

The Israeli military is also considering reopening shelters in Tel Aviv as a precaution against a possible attack, according to Mehr News Agency.

“In accordance with the situational assessment, it has been decided that leave will be temporarily paused for all IDF (Israel Defense Forces) combat units. The IDF is at war and the deployment of forces is under continuous assessment according to requirements,” the military said in a statement.

Iran has vowed revenge after an airstrike destroyed the Iranian consulate in Damascus, killing at least 11 people, including a senior commander in the al-Quds force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).

Some top US analysts suspect that Israel perpetrated the attack specifically to provoke an Iranian response

Smoke rises after what the Iranian media said was an Israeli strike on a building close to the Iranian embassy in Damascus, Syria April 1, 2024.

Washington Post reports: The Biden administration approved the transfer of thousands more bombs to Israel on the same day Israeli airstrikes in Gaza killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen, three U.S. officials told The Washington Post this week after the incident elicited global condemnation.

A State Department spokesperson confirmed the approval and said it occurred sometime “prior” to when the Israeli aircraft struck the aid convoy.

The State Department approved the transfer of more than 1,000 MK82 500-pound bombs, more than 1,000 small-diameter bombs, and fuses for MK80 bombs, all from authorizations granted by Congress several years before the latest hostilities between Israel and Gaza began, said the U.S. officials, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive arms deals.

The U.S. government has the authority to suspend an arms package anytime before delivery, which the spokesperson said probably would not occur until 2025 or later. It has not done so in this case.

When asked why the Biden administration did not at least pause the process after the incident or until the Israelis’ investigation was completed, the spokesperson did not provide comment.

Israel has one of the world's most powerful militaries; their soldiers are equipped with advanced armor and weapons (Pictured: 2022, Israeli forces take up a position during clashes with Palestinians following a deadly Israeli raid in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank)
Israel has one of the world’s most powerful militaries; their soldiers are equipped with advanced armor and weapons (Pictured: 2022, Israeli forces take up a position during clashes with Palestinians following a deadly Israeli raid in Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank) (photo)

Reuters reports: The Doctors Without Borders medical charity (MSF) said on Thursday it rejected Israel’s position that an airstrike which killed seven aid workers was a “regrettable incident”, saying many humanitarian personnel have been attacked previously.

Christopher Lockyear, Secretary General of MSF International, said at a press conference in Geneva, “We do not accept it because what has happened to World Central Kitchen and MSF’s convoys and shelters is part of the same pattern of deliberate attacks on humanitarians, health workers, journalists, U.N. personnel, schools and homes.

“We have been saying it for weeks now: this pattern of attacks is either intentional or indicative of reckless incompetence.”

Israeli NGO +972 reports that Israel has been using the Lavender system, an AI-powered database, to identify tens of thousands of Gazans as suspects for assassination

One of the automated systems called “Where’s Daddy?” specifically bombed individuals when they had entered their family’s residences — usually at night while their whole families were present

The result is that thousands of Palestinians — most of them women and children or people who were not involved in the fighting — were wiped out by Israeli airstrikes because of the AI program’s decisions

Al Jazeera reportsSai Bourothu, a researcher on the Automated Decision Research team at the Stop Killer Robots coalition, discussed Israel’s use of the Lavender system

She said the increasing use of such processing systems in conflict is “deeply concerning from a legal, moral and humanitarian perspective”.

“While the Habsora [or Gospel] system used AI to identify targets such as buildings and structures, the Lavender system generates human targets,” she said.

The use of such a system by Israel in the Gaza Strip, she said, raises “grave concerns over the increasing use of autonomy in conflict, digital dehumanization, artificial intelligence, automation bias and human control in the use of force”.

“The reduction of people to data points through the use of these systems has contributed to accelerating digital dehumanization in war,” she said.

In addition, Ben Saul, UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, said if details in a report on AI-assisted targeting in Gaza prove to be true, “many Israeli strikes in Gaza would constitute the war crimes of launching disproportionate attacks”.

FURTHER READING: ‘Lavender’: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza

Al Jazeera reports: Three former Supreme Court justices joined more than 600 members of the British legal profession in calling for the UK government to halt arms sales to Israel, saying it could make Britain complicit in genocide in Gaza.

Echoing the growing number of opposition politicians who have called for a halt to British arms sales, the three justices joined other barristers, former judges and legal academics in urging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to change policy.

“The provision of military assistance and material to Israel may render the UK complicit in genocide as well as serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law,” the judges and barristers said in a 17-page letter.

Ha’aretz reports: The IDF announced that Efrat Katz, a Nir Oz resident who was kidnapped from her home, was likely killed as a result of helicopter fire during Hamas’ attack on October 7.

According to the army, the helicopter targeted a vehicle carrying Hamas fighters and captives, including Katz. The IDF spokesperson stated that her family was informed with the details on Thursday.

The investigation team concluded that as far as Israeli captives were present, they could not be distinguished in the surveillance systems, and the shooting was designated as an attack on a terrorist vehicle.

OCHA reports: Since 7 October 2023 and as of 1 April, OCHA has recorded 704 Israeli settler attacks against Palestinians, with a daily average of four incidents, resulting in Palestinian casualties (69 incidents), damage to Palestinian-owned property (558 incidents), or both casualties and damage to property (77 incidents).

In total, 17 Palestinians have been killed and over 400 injured within this context, over 9,900 trees were damaged, and 40 houses were vandalized.

In comparison, around 560 settler incidents were documented between 7 October 2022 and 1 April 2023.

More news:

IMEMC: Army Uses Drones To Drop Gas Bombs in Al Aqsa Mosque, abducts 8
Andalou Agency: Western media uses photos to show ‘sanitized version’ of Israel’s war on Gaza: Veteran photojournalist
Mondoweiss: Netanyahu killed a top Iranian general in Syria to provoke a regional conflict — and the U.S. media is hiding his true motivation
Times of Israel: Shin Bet says it foiled plot by Palestinians to assassinate Ben Gvir
The New Arab: Gaza boycott forces McDonald’s to assume control of Israel franchise that gave free meals to Israeli soldiers The Elders call for suspension of arms transfers to Israel to end Gaza atrocities
IMEMC News Reports


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – April 4: at least 33,713* (33,249 in Gaza* (14,280 children, 9,340 women), and at least 464 in the West Bank (117 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 40,042 Palestinian deaths.

At least 41 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank)

At least 31 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition**

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

About 2.2 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Crisis, Emergency, or Catastrophic levels of food insecurity.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – April 4: at least 80,577 (including at least 75,577 in Gaza and 5,000 in the West Bank).

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

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – April 4: ~1,407 (~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); 255 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 16 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.

**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.

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

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