Nationwide, Palestine supporters demand their free speech rights – Day 204

Nationwide, Palestine supporters demand their free speech rights – Day 204

Protests and repression throughout the US; Israeli airstrike kills Refaat Alareer family members; more UNRWA cases closed; Palestinians to be represented in Olympics; ceasefire talks; Gaza water crisis; State Dept memo: Israel may be violating int’l law; Biden snubs Muslim American voters; Ben Gvir car crash and prior record; Freedom Flotilla update, more

By IAK staff, from reports

New York Times reports: More than 200 protesters were arrested on Saturday at Northeastern University, Arizona State University, Indiana University and Washington University in St. Louis, according to officials, as colleges across the country struggle to quell growing pro-Palestinian demonstrations and encampments on campus.

More than 700 protesters have been arrested on U.S. campuses since April 18, when Columbia University had the New York Police Department clear a protest encampment there. In several cases, most of those who were arrested have been released.

The arrests took place at Northeastern University, Arizona State University, Indiana University and Washington University in St. Louis, the paper reported.

Gregory Fenves, president at Emory University and a lifelong Israel partisan, called police on Thursday to arrest students taking taking part in a nonviolent protest against Israeli violence, then defended the police violence including violent arrests of two professors who had simply tried to protect students from being beaten.

Israel murders daughter and grandson of beloved poet, educator Refaat Alareer

Israel on Friday murdered the daughter, grandson and son-in-law of Refaat Alareer, the beloved writer, poet and educator who was assassinated by Israel in December.

The airstrike on a building in the al-Rimal neighborhood of Gaza City killed Shymaa Refaat Alareer, her husband Muhammad Abd al-Aziz Siyam and their 3-month-old son Abd al-Rahman.

UN closes 5 cases of Israel’s claims of UNRWA involvement in Hamas attacks

Middle East Monitor reports: The United Nations has closed five cases of allegations that its relief workers were involved in Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israeli-held territory, amid a notable lack of evidence given by Israel despite its claims.

One person was cleared “as no evidence was provided by Israel to support the allegations”, while investigations into three cases were suspended due to insufficient evidence provided by Israel, and another “has also been suspended pending receipt of additional supporting evidence” to be re-examined during a UN team’s visit to the country in May. The remaining cases “are currently under investigation”, he said.

FURTHER READING: Israel’s Anti-UNRWA Campaign Falls Flat

Palestinian athletes to be invited to Paris Olympics: Bach to AFP

AFP reports: International Olympic Committee (IOC) head Thomas Bach told AFP on Friday that qualification events for the Paris Games, which start on July 26, were ongoing for a number of sports.

“But we have made the clear commitment that even if no (Palestinian) athlete would qualify on the field of play … then the NOC (National Olympic Committee) of Palestine would benefit from invitations, like other national Olympic Committees who do not have a qualified athlete,” he said in an interview at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

He said he expected the Palestinian delegation to number “six to eight”.

Bach said that the International Olympic Committee “from day one of the conflict” in Gaza had “supported in many different ways the athletes to allow them to take part in qualifications and to continue their training.”

Flag bearers Dania Nour and Mohammed Hamada lead their team during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Flag bearers Dania Nour and Mohammed Hamada lead their team during the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games (photo)

Israel open to discussing “sustainable calm” in Gaza after initial hostage release: officials

Axios reports: A new Israeli proposal for a possible hostage deal with Hamas includes Israel releasing 900 Palestinian prisoners and a willingness to discuss the “restoration of sustainable calm” in Gaza after an initial release of hostages on humanitarian grounds, two Israeli officials told Axios.

It is the first time since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that Israeli leaders have suggested they are open to discussing an end to the war in Gaza as part of a hostage deal.

Ending the war has been central to Hamas’ proposals during hostage deal negotiations in recent months.

Two Gazan children die due to heat: UNRWA

WAFA reports: The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said on Sunday that it had received reports that at least two children died due to the heat wave in the Gaza Strip.

This came in a statement on the agency’s X profile regarding the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza in light of the Israeli attacks.

The agency pointed out that children are paying the highest price and called for an immediate ceasefire.

UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini wondered: “What more to endure: Death, hunger, disease, displacement, now living in greenhouse-like structures under scorching heat?”

Palestinian children play in a makeshift tent camp in Rafah
Palestinian children play in a makeshift tent camp in Rafah (photo)

Israel destroyed 70% of northern Gaza water wells: Beit Lahia mayor

Andalou Agency reports: The Israeli army has destroyed 70% of water wells in the northern Gaza Strip amid its ongoing onslaught against the enclave.

Beit Lahia Mayor Alaa Al-Attar told Anadolu that the army also destroyed 50% of sewage pumps in northern Gaza.

“The Israeli army destroyed all agricultural crops in the town (Beit Lahia) which is considered the primary food basket for the Strip,” said Al-Attar.

He noted that marketplaces were destroyed by the army in addition to more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) of water and sewage pipelines in the town.

All Gaza citizens are drinking unsafe water’

The Health Ministry in Gaza warned today over the spread of diseases and epidemics due to sewage overflows, the piling up of waste in streets and camps for displaced people and the spread of insects in the besieged territory.

“Because of the closure of the public health laboratory and the inability to test drinking water, all citizens of the Gaza Strip are drinking unsafe water that puts their lives at risk,” the ministry said in a statement.

It attributed this to Israel’s refusal to allow the use of chlorine or any alternative for treating drinking water.

Gaza is plagued by unhygienic conditions and the territory's residents have to drink unsanitary water due to Israel's war and siege
Gaza is plagued by unhygienic conditions and the territory’s residents have to drink unsanitary water due to Israel’s war and siege (photo)

Internal State Dept memo: Israel may be violating international law in Gaza

Reuters reports: Some senior US officials have advised Secretary of State Antony Blinken that they do not find “credible or reliable” Israel’s assurances that it is using US-supplied weapons in accordance with international humanitarian law, according to an internal State Department memo reviewed by Reuters.

“Some components in the department favored accepting Israel’s assurances, some favored rejecting them, and some took no position,” an unnamed US official quoted by Reuters said.

A joint submission from four bureaus raised “serious concern over non-compliance” with international humanitarian law during Israel’s prosecution of the war on Gaza, declaring that Israel’s assurances were “neither credible nor reliable.” The memo cited eight examples of Israeli military actions that the officials said raise “serious questions” about potential violations of international humanitarian law, including repeatedly striking protected sites and civilian infrastructure; “unconscionably high levels of civilian harm to military advantage”; taking little action to investigate violations or to hold to account those responsible for significant civilian harm and “killing humanitarian workers and journalists at an unprecedented rate”.

Biden campaign refuses invitation to address US Muslim voter advocacy groups

Middle East Eye reports: US President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign team refused an invitation to address a symposium regarding the voter engagement of more than one million Muslim Americans in the country, according to a coalition of more than two dozen Muslim civic groups.

President Biden campaigns in Superior, WI on January 25, 2024
President Biden campaigns in Superior, WI on January 25, 2024 (photo)

The two-day online symposium was held on 20 and 21 April, and discussed issues related to the upcoming presidential election in November, including “the pressing concerns that align with the interests and values of the American Muslim community”.

The symposium examined US support for Israel, “justice in the Middle East region and Asia”, and domestic issues – particularly concerning the Black community in the US.

It was hosted by 25 organizations, including the Muslim Civic Coalition; Cair Action; the Abandon Biden Campaign; the Uncommitted National Movement; and American Muslims for Palestine – Chicago.

In addition to Biden’s campaign, the coalition said that the campaign for former US President Donald Trump also refused the invitation.

“While I wasn’t expecting much from the Trump campaign, President Biden choosing to ignore 1.6 million Muslim voters, many of whose votes put him in the White House in 2020, reveals the disconnect between him and the American people he serves,” Luna Banuri, of the Utah Muslim Civic League, said in a statement shared with Middle East Eye.

“President Biden’s apparent disregard for Muslims, Arabs, young people, and allies of all races and faiths – whether they’re the ones his policies are killing in Gaza or the ones he’s ignoring in America – makes it critical for our communities to vote in a way that our voices are heard loud and clear.”

Instead, the symposium heard from several third-party candidates, including independent Cornel West, Jill Stein of the Green Party, Claudia de la Cruz of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Joseph Collins of the Libertarian Party.

Far-right minister Ben Gvir, whose car flipped Friday, has long record of traffic convictions, orders drivers to break law

Ha’aretz reports: Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir’s private driver, who drove the minister on Friday’s traffic accident, was convicted in June 2022 of speeding charges and his driving license was revoked for 50 days.

The driver, Moshe Eichenstein, who is also a member of Ben-Gvir’s security detail, was caught driving at a speed of 147 KM per hour (about 92 miles per hour) near the Meitar checkpoint on Route 60, where the speed limit is 80 KM per hour (about 50 miles per hour).

Ben-Gvir was lightly wounded in Friday’s accident that occurred, when his car, which according to sources was driven by Eichenstein, crossed a red light and hit a passing car.

The national security minister’s bodyguards have reportedly complained to their superiors in the ministry that Ben-Gvir was ordering his drivers to commit traffic offenses that endanger them and himself

Ben-Gvir has 79 traffic offense convictions. His driving license had been revoked several times. In 2024, the minister video-recorded himself twice in a moving vehicle without a seat belt. Despite the footage, police has not fined the minister.

The car of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir after an accident in Ramle, April 26, 2024. The minister was lightly injured
The car of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir after an accident in Ramle, April 26, 2024. The minister was lightly injured (photo)

West Bank: Young Man Suffocates To Death After Soldiers Locked Him In Bakery

IMEMC reports: On Saturday, Palestine TV said that a young Palestinian man from Husan village, west of Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank, suffocated to death after the soldiers locked him in his bakery.

Palestine TV stated that the young man Hazem Nabil Ramadan Da’na, 27, from Doha town, southwest of Bethlehem, died from extreme heat and suffocation in his bakery.

It is worth mentioning that the Israeli army has been repeatedly invading the village and forcing the stores shut and has previously forced the young man to close the bakery many times before, but not while he was inside it.

A ship from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition anchors at Tuzla seaport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday, April 19, 2024
A ship from the Freedom Flotilla Coalition anchors at Tuzla seaport in Istanbul, Turkey, on Friday, April 19, 2024 (photo)


Freedom Flotilla Coalition reports: On Thursday afternoon, the Freedom Flotilla Coalition was contacted by the Guinea Bissau International Ships Registry (GBISR), requesting an inspection of our lead ship – Akdenez. This was a highly unusual request as our ship had already passed all required inspections; nevertheless, we agreed. The inspector arrived on Thursday evening. On Friday afternoon, before the inspection was completed, the GBISR, in a blatantly political move, informed the Freedom Flotilla Coalition that it had withdrawn the Guinea Bissau flag from two of the Freedom Flotilla’s ships, one of which is our cargo ship, already loaded with over 5000 tons of life-saving aid for the Palestinians of Gaza.

Again, this is a highly unusual move from a flagging authority. Normally, national flagging authorities concern themselves only with safety and related standards on vessels bearing their flag, and are not concerned with the destination, route, cargo manifests or the nature of a specific voyage. Just like when you register your car, the authorities don’t require you to detail to them every place you are going to go with the car.

Sadly, Guinea-Bissau has allowed itself to become complicit in Israel’s deliberate starvation, illegal siege and genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. Israel is showing the world the extent to which it will go to deny Palestinians the aid they need to stay alive, in direct contravention of International Humanitarian Law, UN Security Council resolutions, and two orders of the International Court of Justice. Israel is only allowed to get away with this because we have an international order where law does not apply equally, where people are not valued the same, and where might equals right. The US has hijacked international law and is violating its own laws to protect Israel at every turn.

Without a flag, we cannot sail. But, this is not the end. Israel cannot and will not crush our resolve to break its illegal siege and reach the people of Gaza. The people of Gaza and all of Palestine remain steadfast under the most horrific, unimaginable conditions. We take strength from their incredible, inexplicable ability to maintain their humanity, dignity and hope when the world has given them no reason to do so.

It is our responsibility to keep that hope alive. WE WILL SAIL.

NOTE: We will bring regular updates about the 2024 Freedom Flotilla until it arrives in Gaza.
NOTE: Read about the individuals who launched the flotilla movement over 16 years ago here.


Columbia leadership rebuked by faculty panel over police crackdown on Gaza protesters

Reuters reports: Columbia University President Nemat Minouche Shafik has come under renewed pressure as a campus oversight panel sharply criticized her administration for clamping down on pro-Palestinian protests.

After a two-hour meeting, the Columbia University senate approved a resolution that Shafik’s administration had undermined academic freedom and disregarded the privacy and due process rights of students and faculty members by calling in the police and shutting down a Gaza solidarity encampment which led to the arrest of more than 100 students.

“The decision … has raised serious concerns about the administration’s respect for shared governance and transparency in the university decision-making process,” it said.

Memorable quote

A spokesperson for Office of Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel commented on allegations by Hamas that Israel was involved in any misconduct regarding a mass grave found at a battle site located on a hospital compound in Gaza:

Hamas libels know no limits. It’s sad to see how many news organizations are still so quick to copy and paste Hamas’ lies for clickbait. The IDF will continue to target Hamas while avoiding civilian casualties with precision likely to have never been seen in the history of warfare.

Al Jazeera: Are US campus protests against Israel’s war on Gaza going global?
+972 Magazine: Campus protests for Gaza are proliferating — and so is the repression
Electronic Intifada: Medicines desperately needed in Gaza
The New Arab: Hundreds protest White House correspondents’ dinner over Gaza
IMEMC News Reports


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – April 27: at least 35,154* (34,654 in Gaza* (at least 14,690 children, 9,680 women), and at least 500 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 – April 27: at least 81,664 (including at least 77,229 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 27: ~1,407 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 259 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.

Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.