Northern Gaza now in “full-blown famine,” Netanyahu rejects free speech in Israel – Day 211

Northern Gaza now in “full-blown famine,” Netanyahu rejects free speech in Israel – Day 211

Famine hits northern Gaza, will spread south; no real progress on truce; Netanyahu cabinet to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel; Sheryl Sandberg film on “rapes” is debunked; muted celebrations on Orthodox Easter; campus protest news; “Hamas hides in American universities” – Gilad Erdan

By IAK staff, from reports

A senior UN official says northern Gaza is now in ‘full-blown famine’

Associated Press reports: A top U.N. official said Friday that hard-hit northern Gaza was now in “full-blown famine” after more than six months of war between Israel and Hamas and severe Israeli restrictions on food deliveries to the Palestinian territory.

Cindy McCain, the American director of the U.N. World Food Program, became the most prominent international official so far to declare that trapped civilians in the most cut-off part of Gaza had gone over the brink into famine.

“It’s horror,” McCain told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview to air Sunday. “There is famine — full-blown famine — in the north, and it’s moving its way south.”

She said a cease-fire and a greatly increased flow of aid through land and sea routes was essential to confronting the growing humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people.

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.
Meanwhile, Israeli officials have alleged that aid organizations are at fault for the famine for their failure to distribute aid efficiently; at times, they have also denied that a food shortage exists.
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 border crossings and attacked aid trucks with no meaningful attempt by Israel to stop them. 
In mid-March, Israel promised to “flood” Gaza with aid, but has failed to do so.



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Netanyahu clamps down on free speech, closing down Al Jazeera in Israel

Ha’aretz reports: The Israeli government voted unanimously on Sunday in favor of shutting down the broadcasting of Al Jazeera, the Qatari television station, in Israel due to its coverage during the Gaza war.

The law, proposed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, grants Karhi the ability to ban the channel from operating for 45 days.

The government authorized Karhi to order the cessation of the channel’s broadcasts in Israel, in Arabic and English; to close its offices in Israel; to confiscate equipment used by its personnel, except for telephones and computers; and to limit access from Israel to the network’s website.

Al Jazeera condemned the vote, calling it a “criminal action.”

“Israel’s suppression of free press to cover up its crimes by killing and arresting journalists has not deterred us from performing our duty,” the networks said in a statement.

Al Jazeera chief for Israel and Palestinian territories called the government’s move “dangerous and political,” adding that the network’s legal team is preparing a response to the closure decision.

A diplomatic source told Haaretz it’s no coincidence that the decision to push the issue is simultaneous with talks in Doha for reaching a hostage deal. “It’s clear that this move is intended to put pressure on Qatar. The law and the curtailing of Al Jazeera activity in Israel are another tool Israel can use to increase pressure on Qatar so it uses its influence over Hamas so it makes the organization moderate its positions,” said the source.

Al Jazeera adds: Israel has long had a rocky relationship with Al Jazeera, accusing it of bias against it and collaborating with Hamas. The Qatar-based network has repeatedly rejected the accusations.

Al Jazeera is one of the few international media outlets to remain in Gaza throughout the war, broadcasting bloody scenes of air attacks and overcrowded hospitals, and accusing Israel of massacres.

Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi, reporting from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, said the Palestine-Israel conflict is “one of the main reasons that our network exists”.

“So to have our journalists, our operations, threatened in this way … Definitely, the worry here in the occupied West Bank is that we will be next,” he said.

Netanyahu, centre, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv
Netanyahu, center, chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in Tel Aviv (photo)

Film by billionaire former Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg is debunked

Sandberg, a longtime Israel partisan, released a sensational film purporting to document the mass rapes Israel claims were carried out by Hamas fighters on 7 October.

“Screams Before Silence” has already garnered more than 600,000 views on YouTube alone. Sandberg worked with the Israeli company Kastina Communications to make the film.

It is being heavily promoted by such figures as former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, ostensibly progressive Congressman Ro Khanna, the Israeli government and countless lobby groups and media figures.

Ali Abunimah breaks down Sandberg’s film and show how it is full of fabrications, distortions and lies, and does not present any credible evidence to support Israel’s atrocity propaganda.

Also see this and this:

Truce impasse continues, as 2 sides maintain mutually exclusive demands

The New Arab reports: A senior source in Hamas said on Sunday that the Palestinian group was keen on reaching a peace agreement with Israel through ongoing indirect truce talks in Cairo, but “not at any cost”.

The source added, “There will be no agreement without a complete cessation of hostilities and the withdrawal of [Israel] from the entire Gaza Strip.”

The Hamas source also said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued threats to invade Rafah were attempts “to obstruct reaching an agreement for his own personal reasons”.

These comments sharply contradict the Israeli and US narrative that Hamas was obstructing a peace deal, with the Palestinian group emphasizing the “necessity for the agreement to include an explicit provision for a comprehensive ceasefire in one of the stages of the prisoner exchange deals”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel is willing to pause fighting in exchange for hostages, but cannot accept demands for an end to the war and withdrawal of forces from Gaza that would leave Hamas in power.

In a video published on the prime minister’s X account, Netanyahu said that his government is  “making every effort to release all our abductees, but we will not surrender to Hamas”.

“The State of Israel cannot accept this,” he said. “We are not ready to accept a situation in which the Hamas battalions come out of their bunkers, take control of Gaza again, rebuild their military infrastructure, and return to threaten the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu told the cabinet, according to a statement by his office.

Ha’aretz adds: Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said, “We gave [Hamas] a period of time…We recognize alarming signs that Hamas actually does not intend to follow any agreement with us. This means action in Rafah and the entire Gaza Strip in the near future.”

Christians mark Orthodox Easter in the rubble of Gaza

The New Arab reports: Orthodox Christian families in Gaza celebrated Easter Sunday against the backdrop of Israeli attacks with some 100 families gathering at the Orthodox Catholic Church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza City.

The church has become a refuge for displaced families but came under attack in October when Israel bombed the church, killing 18 civilians and devastating the ancient building.

Palestinian Christians in Jerusalem’s Old City from where the sacred Holy Fire is traditionally transported from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre across the territory also marked a quieter day than previous years, as worshippers held thoughts and prayers for the suffering in Gaza.

Christian pilgrims during the Holy Fire ceremony, a day before Easter, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City
Christian pilgrims during the Holy Fire ceremony, a day before Easter, at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City (photo)
Orthodox Christians gather at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where many believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected
Orthodox Christians gather at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where many believe Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected (photo)


U Michigan calls pro-Palestine graduation protest a “proud and triumphant moment”

The New Arab reports: Pro-Palestinian protesters briefly disrupted a commencement ceremony at the University of Michigan on Saturday while demonstrators faced off with police at the University of Virginia as US colleges braced for more turmoil during graduation festivities.

Videos shared on social media showed dozens of students wearing the traditional keffiyeh headdress and graduation caps and waving Palestinian flags as they walked down the center aisle of Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, among cheers and boos from a crowd of thousands.

The ceremony continued and campus police escorted the protesters toward the back of the stadium, but no arrests were made, according to Colleen Mastony, a spokesperson for the university.

“Peaceful protests like this have taken place at U-M commencement ceremonies for decades,” Mastony said in a statement. “The university supports free speech and expression, and university leaders are pleased that today’s commencement was such a proud and triumphant moment.”

Students protest in support of Palestine during the University of Michigan's Spring Commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Students protest in support of Palestine during the University of Michigan’s Spring Commencement ceremony on May 4, 2024 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan (photo)

To read about campus protests around the world, check out Pro-Palestinian protests grow despite police crackdowns


Al Jazeera: ‘We won’t stop’: How Columbia’s students etched a new Gaza protest legacy
Ghassan Abu-Sitta, Al Jazeera: I spent 43 days in Gaza’s now-destroyed hospitals. My mind is still there.
Electronic Intifada: Shady far-right groups behind Texas Tech professor’s suspension
IMEMC News Reports

Memorable quotes

Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan told the UN General Assembly:

Take a drive to Columbia University or New York University. Listen to the murderous cries of the “pro-Palestinian” mobs. Look at their violence. Hear their calls for the genocide of Jews and Israelis.

“From the river to the sea,” these mobs across the United States and Europe, they expose the truth. They have removed the mask of the Palestinian Authority’s lies. The chants of the pro-Palestinian rioters on campuses are calls for Israel’s destruction.

We always knew that Hamas hides in schools … We just didn’t realize that it’s not only schools in Gaza. It’s also Harvard, Columbia and many “elite” universities.

NOTE: Pro-Palestine demonstrations on college campuses have overall been peaceful and non-confrontational, and have notably included a significant number of Jewish students. When there has been violence, it has come from pro-Israel counter-protesters and police.
“From the river to the sea” is not a call for Israel’s destruction, but, as the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) explains, a demand for democratic coexistence between Jews and Arabs.
The silencing of pro-Palestine campus protest violates students’ and professors’ rights to free speech.


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – May 4: at least 35,191* (34,683 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 4: at least 83,018 (including at least 78,018 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 4: ~1,418 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 262 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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