Israel was one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists in 2023 – Day 104

Israel was one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists in 2023 – Day 104

Israel kills yet another journalist, destroys yet another university; Bosnian genocide survivors take up Gaza cause at ICJ; communication still down in Gaza after almost a week; deadly raids in West Bank kill 11; calls to ban Israel from the Olympics; Houthis’ message goes unheard by US; Ben Gvir declares open season on Palestinian “terrorists”; Biden, Netanyahu can’t agree on a Gaza plan; and more

Israel has emerged as one of the world’s leading jailers of journalists in 2023, according to a report by press freedom watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). In its annual snapshot of jailed journalists, Israel ranked sixth – tied with Iran. 

Palestinian journalists are being imprisoned by Israel in record numbers

The steep increase underscores just how dangerous the Israel-Gaza war is for journalists across the Palestinian territories. Gaza, where Israel has maintained a strict military blockade since 2007, is by far the most perilous place to be a journalist, with many dozens killed in Israel’s airstrikes and invasion following Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. But all of the journalists imprisoned in the war in CPJ’s census are from the West Bank, territory Israel has occupied since 1967.

Israeli air strikes killed another journalist, Wael Fanouneh, the director of Al-Quds Al-Yaoum TV network, in Gaza on Thursday, as the death toll increases significantly in the territory with each passing day. He was reportedly killed by a strike in central Gaza. Fanouneh is the ninth employee of the channel to be killed in Israeli attacks.

More than 100 Palestinian journalists have been killed over the past three and a half months – an unprecedented rate in modern warfare history.

In “Why is the real story of October 7 off-limits to western, but not Israeli, media?” Jonathan Cook writes:

Efforts to re-examine the Israeli government’s October 7 narrative are all over the Israeli media. Many of the families of the Israelis killed on October 7 are demanding an investigation.

So how is it possible that the BBC and the rest of the western media keep revisiting the horrors of October 7 but never to raise these issues , even though they have been so prominent in the Israeli public space for many weeks?

The only possible answer is that western media outlets are consciously censoring this story because it directly conflicts with the West’s ideological and strategic agenda. It raises disturbing questions about western complicity in genocide.

Once again, the establishment media’s unwillingness to report the real story starkly gives the lie to their claim to be ‘free and fearless’. (Read the full article here.)

A number of investigations have disproven Israeli claims about October 7th. A number of those fallacies are exposed here.

UNICEF global Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban says that humanitarian conditions in Gaza are creating “stories we should not be seeing in this day and age” as displaced people live in deeply unsanitary conditions.

“The first thing that strikes you is the level of displacement. This time as I went into Rafah, you go into the first crossing and you’ve got tents upon tents, plastic sheeting upon plastic sheeting, as far as the eye can see,” Chaiban told Al Jazeera.

“The second point is that the conditions under which they’ve moved are unsanitary. There’s simply not enough latrines, sometimes one latrine for 50 people, sometimes people using a bucket to relieve themselves.”

IMEMC reports: Israa University, along with its under-construction medical center, has become the latest casualty of the 103-day long Israeli genocide in Gaza, after every other university has already been bombed and destroyed by Israeli forces during this ongoing onslaught of every part of the Gaza Strip.

The bombing spree includes many historical, cultural, and educational institutions – from the oldest church in Gaza, to the oldest mosque, to the National Archives, museums, galleries and libraries. All of these have been targeted by Israeli bombardment – despite having zero connections to the Hamas political party, which Israel continues to claim is the target of its massive and ongoing bombardment.

The Israa University was detonated with 315 mines places by the Israeli military – clearly undermining any claim that there was any military threat or reason for detonating it. WATCH VIDEO:

The BDS Movement announced: More than 300 Palestinian sports clubs and dozens of major Palestinian civil society organizations are launching a call to #BanIsrael from the Olympics, starting with the games in Paris this summer.

The Palestinian clubs, which include men’s and women’s football, basketball, and volleyball teams, and those whose players have been killed by Israeli bullets, are calling on the IOC to “apply its principles and fulfill its obligations by banning Israel from the next Olympic Games to be held in Paris in July 2024, until it ends its grave violations of international law, particularly its system of apartheid and its ongoing genocide in Gaza.”

Among the many professional and aspiring athletes and coaches killed by Israel is the Palestinian Olympic football team coach, Captain Hani Al Masdar. Israel’s bombings also destroyed the office of the Palestinian Olympic committee in Gaza. 

Al Jazeera reports: Bosnian genocide and war survivors have written an open letter to the International Court of Justice urging it to “implement necessary provisional measures swiftly to protect Palestinians in Gaza”.

The international community failed in the past to protect the Bosniak population during the 1995 Srebrenica genocide, and the court should not repeat “this grievous mistake today”, the letter said.

More than 100,000 people were killed during Bosnia’s 1992-95 war, 8,000 of them Bosniak men and boys in a massacre in what was pronounced a “safe zone” in Srebrenica. More than 2.2 million people were forcibly displaced.


A Palestinian family in Gaza says they witnessed the summary execution of 15 men when Israeli soldiers raided their apartment last month. TW – this film clip shows images that may be distressing.

Al Jazeera reports: As Palestinians starve, Israeli military adds new dishes for soldiers in Gaza, which handily come with a self-heating bag that does not require electricity. 

“This way the soldiers can enjoy a hot meal for the winter even in field conditions and deep in the strip,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

Last week, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned that people in Gaza “are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded” with “famine is around the corner.” Gaza has been an a total electrical blackout since October 11.

Gaza has entered its seventh day of near-total telecoms blackout, according to NetBlocks, an NGO monitoring internet censorship. This is the ninth outage since the beginning of the war, and the longest.

Politico reports that the Biden administration has been “in touch with the government of Israel over this blackout and have urged them to turn telecoms back on,” one unnamed White House official said.

“Absence of telecommunications deprives people from accessing life-saving information, while also undermining first responders and other humanitarian actors’ ability to operate and to do so safely,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.

Children wade through puddles to fill bottles with water in Rafah
Children wade through puddles to fill bottles with water in Rafah (photo)

WEST BANK: A massive Israeli military raid on Tulkarm that reportedly lasted over 40 hours, has left at least 6 Palestinians dead. Israeli snipers shot at residents; other military forces blew up a house, who burned another, and severely beat a number of civilians, amid widespread destruction of the infrastructure.

Also in Tulkarm, Israeli occupation forces reportedly prevented Red Crescent ambulances and their medical teams from reaching the casualties, and subjected them to searches and detention for a long time.

In Nablus, Israeli raids killed at least 5 more Palestinians.

WEST BANK: Mahmoud Alsaadi of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Jenin says Israeli raids and movement restrictions make it impossible to provide timely care for injured and sick Palestinians.

“We do not only transport the injured and those wounded by bullets,” said Alsaadi. “There are many humanitarian cases and we receive calls from citizens with medical conditions – kidney patients, heart patients or cancer patients. All of these cases require transportation to hospitals.”

Because of lengthy Israeli inspections of Red Crescent ambulances and the “harassment of medical staff”, patients in need of urgent hospital treatment may be held up for more than an hour, putting their lives in jeopardy, he said.

Bodies are buried in a mass grave in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip
Bodies are buried in a mass grave in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip (photo)

WEST BANK: Times of Israel reports: Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir urged officers to shoot at any “terrorist” they see, even if they do not pose a threat — a violation of the rules of engagement in both the police and the IDF.

“You have complete backing from me. When your life is in danger or see a terrorist — even if he does not endanger you — shoot. I have your back,” Ben Gvir told officers from the Border Police’s elite Yasam undercover unit during a visit to a base in the West Bank.

In November, Jerusalem Post reported, Ben-Gvir announced the purchase of as many as 24,000 US-made M-16 assault rifles to arm settlers. After some in Congress objected, the Netanyahu government assured Washington that these would only go to first responders and not to settler groups.

The Post added, It is hard to take such assurances seriously when it involves a notorious senior minister in the Israeli government. Ben-Gvir, who has been handing out rifles to civilians, has a long history of anti-Arab incitement and support for settler extremists and was rejected by the IDF for military service because he was too extreme.

Ben-Gvir also made controversial statements In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13 news on Wednesday night, declaring, “There is no other way to restore security to the State of Israel” other than a full occupation of the Palestinian territory, adding, “Voluntary immigration of the residents of Gaza should be encouraged.” 

Notably, Itamar Ben-Gvir lives in one of the most radical settlements in the occupied West Bank (all settlements are illegal under international law). He has been convicted of incitement to racism, destroying property, possessing a “terror” organization’s propaganda material, and supporting a “terror” organization. Read more about “voluntary transfer” here; read about Ben-Gvir here.

A view of destroyed apartment buildings in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza City on January 17
A view of destroyed apartment buildings in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza City on January 17 (photo)

The New York Times reports: For the fifth time in a week, the United States on Thursday attacked Houthi anti-ship missiles in Yemen, two U.S. military officials said, underscoring the resilience of the Iran-backed militia’s arsenal and its goal of disrupting vital international shipping lanes.

The Houthis, who have portrayed their attacks on ships as a battle to force Israel to end its campaign in Gaza, have defied demands by the Biden administration and its allies to cease their attacks on shipping lanes critical for global trade.

The United States has defied the Houthis’ demands (and American demands) to call for a ceasefire and stop equipping Israel’s military. Rather than encouraging an end to Israel’s violence, the US is supporting it, and fanning the flames of a broader regional war. (The US gives Israel over $10 million a day in military aid.)

Responding to the latest US strikes on the Houthis in Yemen, the rebel group’s spokesperson Mohamed Abdulsalam said that “continued US-British aggression” would not “prevent [the Houthis] from continuing to support the Palestinian people”.

“We affirm the freedom of maritime navigation for all ships of the world, except for the ships of the Zionist enemy [Israel] heading to the ports of occupied Palestine,” Abdulsalam added.

The US has also redesignated Yemen’s Houthis as a “Global Terrorist” group, saying the decision was taken in response to the group’s attacks on shipping in the Red Sea.

“Today, in response to these continuing threats and attacks, the United States announced the designation of Ansar Allah, also known as the Houthis, as Specially Designated Global Terrorists,” White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

Palestinian children carry pots as they queue to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages in food in Rafah, Gaza Strip, December 14, 2023
Palestinian children carry pots as they queue to receive food cooked by a charity kitchen amid shortages in food in Rafah, Gaza Strip, December 14, 2023 (photo)

The Biden and Netanyahu governments apparently have irreconcilable differences – regarding a solution to the Palestine-Israel problem.

Andalou Agency reports: US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, “There is no way to solve [Israel’s] long-term challenges to provide lasting security, and there is no way to solve the short-term challenges of rebuilding Gaza and establishing governance in Gaza and providing security for Gaza, without the establishment of a Palestinian state…

“There is a historic opportunity that Israel has to deal with challenges that it has faced since its founding, and we hope the country will take that opportunity,” he said.

However, as Ha’aretz reports, Netanyahu said in a press conference today that the Israeli military must be in control of all settlements “west of the Jordan River” and “A prime minister must be able to say ‘no’ when needed, even to our best of friends.” He added, “So it contradicts the idea of self-rule [for Palestinians]. So what? I tell this truth to our American friends.”

Update on the hostage-medicine-for-Gaza-aid deal:

NBC reports: Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said this morning that for each box of medicine provided to the hostages, 1,000 boxes would be sent for use by Palestinian civilians. The agreement also includes the delivery of additional food and humanitarian aid to Gaza.

While apparently all of the Israeli hostages received today a 3-month supply of medicines, Ashraf al-Qudra, the spokesman for the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip, gave a press conference after today’s aid arrived in Gaza. He said that the new medical aid barely meets 30 percent of the territory’s needs. He added:

    • 350,000 chronic patients in Gaza are experiencing serious health complications as a result of the lack of availability of medicines and their failure to enter the Gaza Strip
    • 10,000 cancer patients are still exposed to serious complications that claim the lives of dozens of patients every day as a result of the lack of medication
    • The Ministry of Health has recorded more than 8,000 cases of viral hepatitis A infection, with expectation that the number will double 
    • There have been hundreds of cases of miscarriage and premature birth as a result of panic and forced escape under brutal bombardment

Elizabeth Warren has rebuked the Israeli prime minister for rejecting the establishment of a Palestinian state and called for conditions on US aid to Israel.

“The US supports a two-state solution. It’s the only way to ensure security, dignity, and peace for both Israelis and Palestinians,” Warren said in a social media post. “Netanyahu’s saying the quiet part out loud — it’s dangerous and directly contradicts US policy. Aid must be conditioned on working toward peace.”

Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, outside a morgue in Rafah, southern Gaza
Palestinians mourn their relatives killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, outside a morgue in Rafah, southern Gaza (photo)


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – January 18: at least 24,977* (~24,620 in Gaza* (over 10,600 children, 7,200 women), and at least 357 in the West Bank (94 children). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 31,497 Palestinian deaths.

*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.

About 1.7 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population). 

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – January 18: at least 66,082** (including at least 61,830 in Gaza** and 4,252 in the West Bank). **NOTE: it is impossible to provide an accurate number of injuries in Gaza due to the ongoing bombardment and communication disruption. 

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

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – January 18: ~1,139  (9 killed in West Bank, 193 in Gaza), including 32 Americans, and 8,730 injured, approximately 36 children).

NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel may have been caused by Israeli soldiers; additionally, since Israel has a policy of universal conscription, it is unknown how many of those attending the outdoor rave a few miles from Gaza on stolen Palestinian land were Israeli soldiers.

Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

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

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.

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