Israel will kill Palestinians just fine without US heavy payload weapons; humanitarian crisis spirals – Day 216

Israel will kill Palestinians just fine without US heavy payload weapons; humanitarian crisis spirals – Day 216

Hunger, danger deepen all over Gaza; refugees streaming out of Rafah with nowhere safe to go; deadly airdrops have killed over 20; Israeli leaders will keep war going “with God’s help”; Israeli settlers torch UNRWA office for a second time; 300 Palestinian Bedouin face homelessness after militarized Israeli police bulldoze village; more

By IAK staff, from reports

‘Deep humanitarian’ crisis grows worse after Rafah crossing takeover

Al Jazeera reports: Gaza’s Government Media Office has reiterated its warning about the ramifications of Israel’s attacks on eastern Rafah and the closure of the vital Rafah border crossing with Egypt as well as the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing.

It warned of a “deep humanitarian catastrophe” unfolding in the overcrowded southern Gaza city, where more than 1.4 million displaced and hungry Palestinians have sought shelter.

The halt of aid and humanitarian supplies entering Gaza as well as the tens of thousands of sick and wounded who desperately need to leave the enclave for treatment will only worsen the already dire situation, it said.

Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up at the Rafah crossing near Gaza’s border with Egypt
Trucks carrying humanitarian aid line up at the Rafah crossing near Gaza’s border with Egypt (photo)

In the past 48 hours, Israeli forces banned the entry of more than 400 aid trucks, the office said. People will have no food or water within the next few days across the southern governorates of Gaza, it warned, adding that famine would soon take hold in the south. Famine has already gripped the territory’s north.

MIDDLE EAST EYE ADDS: Reportedly, no aid has entered the Gaza Strip since Tuesday, and aid operations could shut within days due to dwindling food and fuel stocks, United Nations aid agencies said on Friday.

A spokesperson for UNICEF said at a virtual briefing: “we are scraping the bottom of the barrel…in a matter of days, if not corrected, the lack of fuel could grind humanitarian operations to a halt.”

The administration of al-Aqsa Martyrs hospital said it would cease operations within 48 hours if it doesn’t receive more fuel.

The hospital in central Gaza’s Deir al-Balah is the last remaining big medical facility in the Gaza Strip after al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals were destroyed by Israel.

HA’ARETZ ADDS: About 150 protesters blocked a road for hours Thursday in order to stop a convoy of humanitarian aid trucks from Jordan bound for Gaza.

The protesters, mostly far-right religious Israelis, were from Tzav 9 – a movement whose mission is to block aid to Gaza until the last hostage returns. The group blocked the entrance from 8 A.M., and were only dispersed at 4 P.M. after police fired a water cannon toward them. Among the protesters was mayor of Mitzpe Ramon, Elia Winter.

There have been regular demonstrations at Kerem Shalom in an effort to disrupt the aid shipments, primarily organized by Tzav 9. It bills itself as a group comprised of hostages’ families, army reservists and residents of the south. But in practice, most of the protesters are well-known far-right activists from West Bank settlements who arrive either by bus or by car. And they have succeeded in disrupting a significant portion of the aid shipments.

NOTE: Thousands of aid trucks are reportedly waiting at the southern border of Gaza, where Israel has made it extremely difficult to pass, employing complicated and arbitrary procedures. Israel has on multiple occasions fired at individuals waiting for food aid (recently killing over 100 at one time), at least once allegedly sending fake text messages to Gazans, telling them to assemble and then shooting at them when they did; Israel has also attacked food aid convoys and those who accompanied them several times. Additionally, Israeli citizens have blocked a border crossing for weeks with no meaningful attempt by Israel to reopen it. 
In mid-March, Israel promised to “flood” Gaza with aid, but has failed to do so.
Palestinians queue up to buy bread from recently reopened Ajour Bakery in Gaza City
Palestinians queue up to buy bread from recently reopened Ajour Bakery in Gaza City (photo)


As of the early hours of Wednesday evening, Israeli airstrikes expanded beyond the eastern part of Rafah – where Israel had announced it would attack – to the central and western part of Rafah city forcing more people – an estimate of close to 400,000 – to head to the evacuation zone.

Now they are forced to take dangerous routes to central Gaza.

The vast majority of the people are taking either the coastal road where Israeli gunboats keep firing at them, or Salah al-Din Street – that is a very dangerous area right now given that the entire eastern part of Rafah, Khan Younis and the central area have been targeted repeatedly.

Palestinian children sit on a hill next to tents housing the displaced in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 30 March, 2024
Palestinian children sit on a hill next to tents housing the displaced in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on 30 March, 2024 (photo)

Hamas urges halt to airdrops of aid in Gaza after two killed

AFP reports: Hamas on Thursday called for an end to airdrops of aid after two Palestinians were killed in northern Gaza when an aid pallet crashed into a warehouse after its parachute failed to open.

Several countries, including the United States, Britain and France, have resorted to regular aid airdrops in northern Gaza, where humanitarian agencies have warned of a looming famine.

On Tuesday, two people died when an aid parachute fell on the roof of a warehouse where residents had gathered to collect relief supplies.

The latest fatalities take to at least 21 the number of people killed when airdrops of aid have gone disastrously wrong, according to the Hamas authorities.

“We reiterate that airdrops pose a real danger to the lives of citizens and do not provide a real solution to alleviate the food crisis plaguing northern Gaza,” Salama Marouf, head of the government’s media office in Gaza, said in a statement.

“We call for an immediate halt to the delivery of aid in this ineffective and erroneous manner, and we call for the full activation of the land crossings to deliver humanitarian aid to northern Gaza.”

With only a trickle of aid reaching the starving north and the United Nations warning of “imminent famine”, foreign governments have turned to airdrops to get aid into the territory.

Aid agencies say the situation has deteriorated this week after Israeli forces closed the Rafah border crossing with Egypt after taking control of it.

A Palestinian child looks on while waiting to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food, as Israel's war on Gaza continues, in Rafah on February 20, 2024
A Palestinian child looks on while waiting to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages of food, as Israel’s war on Gaza continues, in Rafah on February 20, 2024 (photo)

Israeli forces attack ‘middle, western parts’ of Rafah

Al Jazeera reports: While the Israeli military claims it is carrying out only a limited operation in the eastern part of Gaza’s southern city of Rafah, Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum reports that attacks have expanded to other parts of the overcrowded city.

“What we have been experiencing is mass destruction, lethal force being used on the ground against not only the eastern areas but also … in the middle and western parts [of Rafah],” including al-Mawasi, said Abu Azzoum, reporting from central Gaza’s Deir el-Balah.

Israeli forces had told Palestinians to flee to al-Mawasi, currently home to some 400,000 people, according to the UN.

“Bombardment there continued without any kind of letup,” Abu Azzoum said, adding that witnesses describe the streets in Rafah as “empty”.

Israeli leaders express confidence in Rafah mission, in spite of halt in US large bombs

Netanyahu appears to rebuff a move by Biden to halt some weapons supplies to Israel if it launches a full-scale military offensive in Rafah, saying the country is prepared to move ahead without support.

“If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone. If we need to, we will fight with our fingernails,” Netanyahu said in a video statement.

“But we have much more than fingernails, and with that strength of spirit, with God’s help, together we shall be victorious.”

Biden said the US wouldn’t supply large bombs and artillery shells for an all-out invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, the latest escalation of tensions between the two allies.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces, expressed his military’s gratitude for the arms supplied by the U.S., and said they had enough weapons to carry out an incursion into Rafah.

“The IDF has armaments for the missions it plans, and we also have what we need for the missions in Rafah,” Hagari said.

Hagari spoke after Biden said he won’t supply offensive weapons that Israel could use to launch an all-out assault on Rafah over safety concerns for hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians there.

RECOMMENDED READING (Al Jazeera): What weapons has the US delivered to Israel since October 7?
Children sit on a truck as Palestinians with their packed belongings continue to depart from the eastern neighbourhoods of the city due to ongoing Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza, on May 8
Children sit on a truck as Palestinians with their packed belongings continue to depart from the eastern neighborhoods of the city due to ongoing Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza, on May 8 (photo)

UN aid agency says Israelis set fire to its East Jerusalem headquarters

Axios reports: The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency announced Thursday that Israelis had twice set fire to the perimeter of the agency’s headquarters in East Jerusalem.

Although there were no casualties among UN staff, the fires resulted in “extensive damage” to the compound’s outdoor areas, Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, said the compound will be closed “until proper security is restored.”

“This is an outrageous development,” he said. “Once again, the lives of UN staff were at a serious risk.” He noted both UNRWA and other UN staff were at the headquarters at the time of the fires.

Lazzarini added that “Israeli extremists” had been regularly staging protests outside the UNRWA compound over the past two months and staff have been harassed, intimidated and even threatened with guns.

A crowd of Israelis had gathered in front of the compound Thursday and chanted, “burn down the United Nations,” he added.

PALESTINE CHRONICLE ADDS that the culprits were Israeli settlers.

NOTE: Israeli extremists (especially settlers) have a history of violence against Palestinians, often with the assistance of Israeli military forces.

Over 300 Palestinian-Bedouin face forced evictions following mass home demolitions in Negev/Naqab

Amnesty International reports: The Israeli authorities’ demolition on 8 May 2024 of 47 homes in Wadi al-Khalil, an unrecognized Palestinian/Bedouin village in the Negev/Naqab, without proper consultation or compensation underscores the urgency to dismantle Israel’s apartheid system, said Amnesty International today.

The demolition orders against the Abu Assa neighborhood in Wadi al-Khalil were issued by Israeli planning authorities in 2019 to make way for the extension of the route of Highway 6 southwards. The demolitions, the highest in a single day since the demolitions of Al-Araqib in 2010, amount to the forced eviction of over 300 residents of Wadi al-Khalil, one of nine unrecognized villages at risk of forced eviction under the guise of urban development.

“The scenes of hyper-militarized police units, including the notorious Yoav and border police units, storming Wadi al-Khalil to bulldoze homes and confiscate residents’ belongings are yet another chilling demonstration of the cruelty and ongoing injustices and human rights violations meted by Israeli authorities upon Palestinian citizens of Israel, especially those living in the Negev/Naqab,” said Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Instead of meaningfully consulting with the local communities in an inclusive decision-making process on planning, infrastructure development and access to land, Israeli authorities, particularly the Bedouin Authority for Development and Settlement, continue to use urban development as a tool to displace Bedouins, disenfranchise them and force them into smaller and smaller pockets of land, in a clear illustration of Israel’s apartheid system. They must immediately stop all forced evictions and ensure those affected have access to effective remedy and those made homeless are granted adequate housing.”

RECOMMENDED READING (Amnesty Int’l): Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians
Israeli bulldozers, backed by Israeli police, demolish Palestinian homes near the Umm Butin village in the Negev region on 8 May 2024
Israeli bulldozers, backed by Israeli police, demolish Palestinian homes near the Umm Butin village in the Negev region on 8 May 2024 (photo)

Israel withholding $46m in Palestinian Authority tax revenues: report

Middle East Eye reports: Israel’s Channel 12 says that Israeli Finance Minster Bezalel Smotrich is reportedly withholding some 170 million shekels ($46m) in tax revenue for the Palestinian Authority.

Quoting anonymous sources, the channel says the funds have been withheld for nine days in response to the PA’s attempt to get the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials over alleged war crimes in the war on Gaza.

Israel collects tax revenues on behalf of the PA, and had previously threatened to take actions that would lead to the PA’s collapse should the ICC ever issue arrest warrants.

Ben Gvir speaks out in Israeli security cabinet meeting

Middle East Eye reports: Israel’s Hebrew language Yedioth Ahronoth leaked comments from Thursday night’s security cabinet meeting, in which ministers reportedly discussed far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir’s “Hamas loves Biden” post on X.

Ben Gvir defended his post, saying that he was “gentle, relative to what most Israelis think”.

“We need to talk to the Americans with respect — but make it clear that if there are sanctions on us then there will be less humanitarian aid” to Palestinians in Gaza, he was quoted saying.

Spanish universities to break ties with Israeli institutions ‘not committed to peace’

Andalou Agency reports: The confederation of Spanish universities (CRUE), which represents 76 private and public universities in Spain, announced on Thursday that it will cut ties with Israeli universities and research centers “that have not expressed a firm commitment to peace and compliance with international humanitarian law.”

The decision came as students across Spain began camping out on university campuses this week, as part of a wider global wave of pro-Palestine student protests.

In a nod to the protests, CRUE also vowed to intensify cooperation with Palestinian research and higher learning institutions and expand cooperation, volunteer and refugee aid programs.

The announcement comes a day after the University of Barcelona voted to cut all ties with Israel and the University of the Basque Country made a similar move in April.

Slovenia starts process of recognizing Palestinian statehood

The step comes after the prime ministers of Slovenia, Spain, Ireland and Malta adopted on the margins of an EU summit in March a joint declaration expressing their readiness to recognize Palestine when this can be done effectively and when the circumstances are right.

A poll carried by the newspaper Dnevnik in April showed 57% of those questioned supporting recognition of Palestinian statehood, against 20% who opposed the move. The public pressure for the step has been mounting too.

In addition to student protests, a group of more than 350 public figures has addressed a petition to the prime minister and the foreign minister, urging them to recognize Palestine, or resign.

“Slovenia must recognize Palestine … within weeks, by the end of May at the latest, which is as long as relevant procedures would take,” write the group, involving a number of university professors, scholars, journalists, writers, poets and other figures

Since 1988, an overwhelming majority of 142 out of 193 UN member states have recognized Palestinian statehood.

Netherlands joins Germany, France in banning British-Palestinian surgeon from entry

Middle East Monitor reports: The Netherlands banned British-Palestinian surgeon, Ghassan Abu-Sittah, from entering the country due to a Schengen-wide ban introduced by Germany, a prominent Dutch rights group announced yesterday.

Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah speaks to reporters outside Al-Ahli Hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah speaks to reporters outside Al-Ahli Hospital in the Gaza Strip. (photo)

“While Minister of Foreign Affairs Hanke Bruins Slot shakes hands with one Israeli official after another involved in serious crimes in Gaza, the Dutch government prohibits British Palestinian doctor Ghassan Abu-Sittah from entering the country. The surgeon, also rector of the University of Glasgow, witnessed the Israeli massacre in Gaza during the first months of Israel’s offensive,” said the Rights Forum, which had invited Abu-Sittah to speak at an event on 17 May in Amsterdam.

“Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah has seen first-hand the atrocities taking place in Gaza,” said UK Director of Human Rights Watch, Yasmine Ahmed. “Germany should immediately explain why it has denied him entry and imposed this far-reaching ban on a leading health professional to speak in Berlin, Paris, and The Hague about what he witnessed in Gaza.”

Abu-Sittah travelled to Gaza on 9 October 2023 after Israel launched its genocidal war on the enclave and worked in the Strip’s hospitals for 43 days.

He was invited to a conference in the German capital, Berlin, in April to talk about his experiences in Gaza but was denied entry and deported.

On 4 May, Abu-Sittah was also denied entry to France where he was due to speak at a symposium in the Senate, he was informed that Germany had imposed a Schengen-wide “administrative ban” on him for one year.

UN General Assembly set to back Palestinian bid for membership

Reuters reports: The United Nations General Assembly on Friday is set to back a Palestinian bid to become a full U.N. member by recognizing it as qualified to join and sending the application back to the U.N. Security Council to “reconsider the matter favorably.”

The Palestinians are reviving their bid to become a full U.N. member – a move that would effectively recognize a Palestinian state – after the United States vetoed it in the 15-member U.N. Security Council last month.

The vote by the 193-member General Assembly on Friday will act as a global survey of support for the Palestinians. An application to become a full U.N. member first needs to be approved by the Security Council and then the General Assembly.

But while the General Assembly alone cannot grant full U.N. membership, the draft resolution being put to a vote on Friday will give the Palestinians some additional rights and privileges from September 2024 – like a seat among the U.N. members in the assembly hall – but it will not be granted a vote in the body.

Diplomats said the draft text is likely to get the support needed to be adopted.

The Palestinians are currently a non-member observer state, a de facto recognition of statehood that was granted by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012.

L-R: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after their meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, on Monday, January 30, 2023.
L-R: U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands after their meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on Monday, January 30, 2023. (photo)

Blinken report expected to criticize Israel, but say it isn’t breaking weapons terms

Axios reports: Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to submit to Congress as soon as Friday a highly critical report about Israel’s conduct in Gaza that stops short of concluding it has violated the terms for its use of U.S. weapons, three U.S. officials said.

The report assessing whether Israel complied with international law and restricted humanitarian aid to Gaza sparked the most contentious internal debate in the State Department since the Oct. 7 attack, U.S. officials said.

In recent months, the State Department has been engaged in an internal process to prepare the politically sensitive report required under a new national security memorandum issued in February by President Biden.

The State Department is reviewing the use of weapons by Israel and six other countries engaged in different armed conflicts.

If a country is determined to have violated international humanitarian law or impeded the delivery of U.S.-supported humanitarian aid, it could lead to suspension of U.S. military aid.

U.S. has not made a final decision on paused shipment of arms to Israel

Reuters reports: “We’ve been very clear… from the very beginning that Israel shouldn’t launch a major attack into Rafah without accounting for and protecting the civilians that are in that battlespace,” Austin told a Senate hearing.

“And again, as we have assessed the situation, we have paused one shipment of high payload munitions,” he told a Senate hearing. “We’ve not made a final determination on how to proceed with that shipment.”

The White House also said that President Joe Biden had instructed his team to “continue working with Israel in order to inflict an enduring defeat” on Hamas,” and that the United States had provided Israel with several alternatives for how to pursue the organization’s operatives.

Money talks

Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, a major donor to US President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, urged the White House to “reconsider” sending 2,000-pound bombs to Israel for its continuing invasion of Gaza:

More News

Middle East Eye: UK revokes visa of Palestinian student after protest speech
Middle East Eye: Israel has killed hundreds of imams offering message of hope and patience
IMEMC News Reports


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – May 9: at least 35,412* (34,904 in Gaza* (at least 14,690 children, 9,680 women), and at least 508 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 42,510 Palestinian deaths.

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 9: at least 83,514 (including at least 78,514 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 – May 9: ~1,421 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 271 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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