Israel’s “Flour Massacres” are back; another damning UN report – Day 257

Israel’s “Flour Massacres” are back; another damning UN report – Day 257

“Safe zones” are death zones, aid seekers are bombed; “brutal torture”; farmland destroyed; UN reports on indiscriminate attacks; growing dissent in US military against Gaza War; Alison Weir on Mawasi; Biden admin reportedly delaying weapons transfer; Tucker & Greenwald discuss suppression of free speech on behalf of Israel; more.

By IAK staff, from reports.

Civilians killed, dozens injured in “safe zone” in southern Gaza:

WAFA reports: Several civilians were killed and dozens of others were injured after midnight on Tuesday in violent Israeli shelling that targeted Gaza City and the tent city of al-Mawasi area northwest of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, where thousands of internally displaced persons are seeking shelter.

According to local sources, the occupation warplanes bombed the tents of the displaced people in Mawasi, leading to the killing of at least 7 citizens and the injury of dozens more.

The shelling led to the outbreak of fires in the tents.

The Mawasi area was previously designated as a safe zone by the Israeli occupation.

Journalist Alison Weir described visiting Al Mawasi in February 2001, years before Hamas came to power, and before a single rocket had been fired from Gaza into Israel:

Yesterday I visited Mawasi, a lovely agricultural district along the beach that Israel has closed off and is steadily destroying. I saw 100 year-old palm trees they had bulldozed, acres and acres of palms, olive trees, vegetables, that Israel leveled. I talked to farmers whose families have worked on this land for untold generations, who now have no livehoods, their fields destroyed and confiscated.

I was lucky to even get in to Mawasi. It’s been closed off, and everyone warned me that it was dangerous. The grandmother where I was staying was so upset at the thought that she used what English she could: “No go! No go Mawasi!” But I managed to walk through the checkpoint, and the soldiers with their M-16s ever ready, let me pass. Some local people met me on the other side and took me to meet various families, farmers, the local officials. They all, as always, asked me to tell America what is happening to them, to protect them from Israel. This is a very poor place, the officials were wearing kafiyahs, thread-worn coats.

At one point we were driving next to the beach and they briefly stopped the car so I could walk down to the water and pick up a seashell. As I headed back to the car I saw an Israeli Military truck approach slowly. They saw me, and continued on. When I got in the car, the people said, “If you weren’t with us, we would be in too much trouble…”

You can feel the fear when we even see a soldier or a settler in the distance. These people are being terrorized …

At least nine killed in Israeli attack on aid seekers in Rafah:

Al Jazeera reports: At least nine people were killed when Israeli bombs struck a group of people near the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) aid crossing, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Our correspondent says that at least 30 were injured in the attack, and our cameras captured the arrival of dozens of wounded at the European Hospital in southern Gaza, which is heavily overcrowded.

The group of people were reportedly hit while awaiting the arrival of aid trucks through the crossing.

NOTE: On June 17, an Israeli strike killed 8 aid seekers; Israel has on multiple occasions fired at individuals waiting for food aid (once killing over 100); Israel has also attacked food aid convoys.
Devastation in Rafah, Gaza Strip June 20
Devastation in Rafah, Gaza Strip June 20 (screenshot)

95% of residents and refugees in Rafah have fled:

From Wednesday’s UN press briefing: Currently, the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, estimates that 65,000 people remain in the Rafah area, only 750 of them in the city proper, with the rest in the Al Mawasi area.  This is in stark contrast to six weeks ago, when Rafah hosted 1.4 million displaced people before the Israeli evacuation orders and military operations. Before the war, Rafah was home to 275,000.

UNRWA also tells us that for more than eight months now, 625,000 children have been out of school because of the hostilities.  Humanitarian partners are lending support by offering psychosocial activities, but children need to resume their schooling.

Torture ‘beyond imagination’ taking place in Israel detention facility – Lawyer:

Al Jazeera reports: Palestinian lawyer Khaled Mahajneh recently visited detained Palestinian journalist Muhammad Arab in Sde Teiman prison.

He says detainees there were subjected to “brutal methods of torture beyond imagination”.

“No human being can live under those conditions,” he told Al Jazeera. “Israel is making sure to keep them tortured and beaten.”

According to Mahajneh, Arab shared “many details” of his incarceration at the facility, which began more than 100 days ago.

“For example, he’s being handcuffed and blindfolded 24/7 for over 100 days non-stop,” Mahanej revealed.

“They are allowed to take a shower for one minute, and everyone who exceeds this will be subjected to torture in a very brutal manner… They are seated all the time. They are not allowed to stand up. They are not allowed to talk to the other prisoners,” he added.

“Are there any free people in the world who would accept such conditions?”

Earlier reports by CNN and others on Sde Teiman  say: “

Palestinian prisoners have been subjected, including being strapped down to beds while blindfolded and made to wear diapers, having unqualified medical trainees conduct procedures on them without anesthesia, having dogs set on them by prison guards, being regularly beaten or put into stress positions for offenses as minor as peeking beneath their blindfolds, and having zip-tie wounds fester to the point of requiring amputation…

Latest OCHA report: agricultural devastation, unbearable living conditions:

OCHA reports: The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that roughly 41 per cent of the Gaza Strip’s total area is covered by cropland (about 150 square kilometers), comprising field crops, vegetables and orchards, and other trees. As of May 2024, about 57 per cent of Gaza’s cropland is estimated to have been damaged due to razing, heavy vehicle movement, bombing, shelling and other conflict-related operations.

The situation in southern Gaza is quickly deteriorating as people have been crammed in a “highly congested area along the beach in the burning summer heat,” while active conflict and lawlessness have made it “near-impossible” for WFP and its partners to meet the soaring needs. A World Food Program (WFP) spokesperson noted that in northern Gaza, food deliveries have improved but people need more diverse, nutritious food.

He added, “Staff spend five to eight hours waiting at checkpoints every day. Missiles hit our premises, despite being deconflicted. The breakdown of law and order means we also face looting and violence amid a large security vacuum.” The WFP Deputy Executive Director described scenes of large-scale destruction, rivers of sewage, and how traumatized and exhausted people are “from the south to the northernmost tip of the Strip.”

UN Human Rights Council issues new report: Indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks during the conflict in Gaza (October – December 2023):

This thematic report documents concerns regarding Israel’s use of explosive weapons with wide area effects in densely populated areas during the escalation in hostilities in Gaza since 7 October 2023, and how this complies with international humanitarian law (IHL), particularly in relation to the principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack.

It details six individual incidents from 7 October to 2 December 2023 in the context of the ongoing escalation where Israel may have failed to adhere to these principles, leading to high civilian fatalities and injuries and destruction of civilian objects.

The report concludes: The pattern of Israeli strikes exemplified by the six incidents above indicates that the IDF may have systematically violated the principles of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack – fundamental principles of international humanitarian law on the conduct of hostilities – in the course of its attacks in Gaza since 7 October 2023.

Indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades and other Palestinian armed groups also raises concerns in this regard.

When committed intentionally, such violations may amount to war crimes. Unlawful targeting when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population, further to a State or organizational policy, may also implicate crimes against humanity.

(Read the full report here. Israel released a rebuttal, which can be found here.)

AL JAZEERA ADDS: This UN report could be used by the ICJ and the ICC in their investigations.

The International Court of Justice has a genocide case pending in front of it with South Africa and others.

This commission of inquiry report could be used to further that case. You have the International Criminal Court, where the prosecutors already recommend potential arrest warrants [for Israel and Hamas leaders].

This could be used as evidentiary material moving forward in both of those international justice systems or courts.

Beyond that, it may be used by civil society, but also potentially by governments that support Israel. This report could add political pressure to some of Israel’s allies that have backed Israel through this war so far.

WATCH: UN Israel-Gaza inquiry sends ‘7000 pieces of evidence’ to ICC:

Navi Pillay of the UN Commission of Inquiry told Al Jazeera that her team has submitted 7,000 pieces of evidence to the International Criminal Court (ICC) related to crimes committed by Israel and Hamas. “We have never seen anything like this,” Pillay told Al Jazeera’s James Bays.

RECOMMENDED READING (Al Jazeera): Israel’s actions in Gaza ‘intentional attack on civilians’: UN inquiry

Dissent against Gaza War is slowly spreading within US military:

From the Intercept: Sixteen years ago, Riley Livermore enlisted in the Air Force. His ensuing career as a flight test engineer took him to Israel, where he spent two years doing missile guidance research. And shortly after October 7, he decided he couldn’t continue anymore.

Livermore is “utterly dismayed” by how President Joe Biden and the Department of Defense “has been complicit in the genocide in Gaza,” he told The Intercept. So much so that he is in the final steps of separating from the Air Force, a monthslong process he initiated in late October. Once he officially exits the military, he said, he will never again work in what he describes as the military–industrial complex.

“I don’t want to be working on something that can turn around and be used to slaughter innocent people,” he said. “I think the dissonance just kind of continued to get louder and louder, it’s like ‘I can’t really do this anymore.’”

Livermore joins a burgeoning wave of dissent within the Biden administration and the military over U.S. support for Israel’s war on Gaza — including nine prominent resignations in recent months; 25-year-old Airman Aaron Bushnell’s self-immolation in February; and a new service member-led campaign to help soldiers speak out against elected officials’ support for Israel’s war.

The latter campaign comes in the wake of Jewish Maj. Harrison Mann’s public resignation from the U.S. Army, in protest of America’s “nearly unqualified support for the government of Israel, which has enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”

In the weeks since Mann’s resignation, The Intercept has heard from members of the armed forces who expressed emotions ranging from guilt and frustration to outrage and repudiation regarding the Biden administration’s unconditional support for Israel, which includes billions of dollars in military aid as well as political and diplomatic cover. Some comments:

    • “Every single one of my friends in the military agree that this is a genocide,” one seven-year member of the Army wrote in a message. “We’re all outraged by the repeated war crimes and depravity of Israel, as well [as] America’s complicity/enabling.”
    • “There’s also this sense of being an American, being in the American military — it’s like America owes Israel something. There’s a lot of things, dynamics I didn’t super like.”
    • “At some point — whatever the justification — we’re either advancing a policy that enables the mass killing and starvation of innocent people and children or we’re not,” he wrote. “We’re either advancing the destruction of schools, hospitals, and life-supporting infrastructure of 2+ million people or we’re not.”
    • “I’ve been at the edge of my limits pretty much since the conflict started,” they said. And the recent U.S.-supported Israeli operation to rescue four Israeli hostages that killed at least 274 Palestinians and injured hundreds of others felt like a “breaking point … one that feels too little too late, but better late than never I guess.”

‘End of free inquiry’: Jewish scholar has job offer rescinded for criticizing Israeli genocide:

Middle East Monitor reports: The University of Minnesota has withdrawn a job offer to Israeli- American Jewish scholar, Raz Segal after he characterised Israel’s assault on Gaza as a “textbook case of genocide“.  Segal was set to lead the University’s Centre for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, but his offer was revoked following a campaign led by pro-Israel groups and the resignation of two board members who opposed his selection.

Speaking on Democracy Now, Segal described the hiring process as “completely legitimate”, involving a public announcement, applications, interviews and community engagement. However, after being officially offered the position on 5 June, Segal faced what he called a “hateful campaign of lies and distortions” from the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), leading to the University’s decision to rescind the offer on 10 June.

Segal believes he has been “targeted because of [his] identity as a Jew who refuses the narrowing down of Jewish identity to Zionism” and sees the JCRC-led opposition as a “crude political intervention” in the hiring process. He emphasized that the JCRC does not speak for all Jews in the Twin Cities, citing hundreds of supportive emails from local Jewish community members.

Segal warned that this “crude political intervention” and its legitimization by the University is “extremely dangerous”, joining a broader attack on academic freedom in the wake of Israel’s military onslaught on Gaza. “It spells the end of this idea of free inquiry, of academic freedom, of research and teaching — and all in the service, of course, of supporting an extremely violent state,” Segal stated.

Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald discuss the suppression of free speech on behalf of Israel:

During a wide-ranging interview, they also describe the attacks on Tucker after he interviewed a Palestinian pastor.

Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald discuss the suppression of free speech on behalf of Israel in a wide-ranging program on the Carlson platform: (screenshot)

Biden Administration Delays Moving Forward With F-15 Sale to Israel:

Wall Street Journal reports: The Biden administration hasn’t moved forward with the sale of a fleet of F-15 jet fighters to Israel, even after congressional leaders agreed to allow the major weapons deal to proceed last month, U.S. officials said.

Two top congressional Democratic leaders on May 22 removed a hold they had placed on the deal over concerns about civilian deaths in the war in Gaza. Releasing the hold would allow the State Department to formally notify lawmakers of the sale—a requirement for a major weapons deal to proceed—but the administration hasn’t yet taken that step, according to administration and congressional officials.

The $18 billion sale of 50 warplanes is one of the largest arms deals with Israel in recent years, and comes as President Biden is facing calls from leaders in his own party to withhold American weapons to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept an end to the Gaza war. The administration also is urging Israel to de-escalate tensions along its northern border with Lebanon.

“There is no policy guidance to slow down transfers to Israel,” a State Department official told The Wall Street Journal. “We are looking tactically at the timing. It is not a question of whether,” the State Department official said. “It is a question of when.”

The White House declined to comment.


Al Jazeera: Action must be taken on alleged complicity of Israeli doctors in torture.
Al Jazeera: Shipping industry groups call for action after Houthis sink second vessel.
Mondoweiss podcast: Progressive organizations launch Reject AIPAC to counter the pro-Israel lobby.
IMEMC Reports.

Palestinian death toll from October 7 – June 19: at least 37,981* (37,431 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 550 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 19: at least 90,853 (including at least 85,653 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 19: ~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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