Netanyahu’s pledge to attack Rafah; NY Times report questioned again – Day 207

Netanyahu’s pledge to attack Rafah; NY Times report questioned again – Day 207

Netanyahu will invade Rafah regardless of prisoner deal; reports of Israeli plan to prevent men from fleeing Rafah; 10,000 decomposing bodies in Gaza; professors tell NY Times to review Oct. 7 report; humanitarian aid still dismally low; boycott; disturbing campus protest news, more

By IAK staff, from reports

Netanyahu’s pledge to attack Rafah ‘tramples’ ceasefire talks

Associated Press reports: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Tuesday to launch an incursion into the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are sheltering from the almost 7-month-long war, as cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas appear to be gaining steam.

Middle East Eye adds: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his forces have started evacuating Palestinians from Rafah in preparation for their upcoming operation there.

He added that the chances of reaching a ceasefire and hostage deal are “slim” and that Israel will not accept a complete withdrawal from Gaza.

NOTE: The Biden administration has been clear in its disapproval of Israel’s plan to invade Rafah, but has funded it anyway, in spite of worldwide calls for an end to arms transfers and an end to the war, and despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling that Israel is plausibly committing genocide. Netanyahu has ignored almost all Biden administration demands thus far.

Journalism professors call on New York Times to review Oct. 7 report

A major investigative report into sexual violence in the Hamas attack on Israel has drawn criticism inside and outside the newspaper

More than 50 tenured journalism professors from top universities have signed a letter calling on the New York Times to address questions about a major investigative report that described a “pattern of gender-based violence” in the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel.

Questions began to emerge shortly after the Times published its December investigation headlined “‘Screams Without Words’: Sexual Violence on Oct. 7.”

Relatives of a woman slain in the attack, whose story became a central focus of the Times report, cast doubts on reporting suggesting that she was raped, while other critics pointed to discrepancies in various accounts offered by an eyewitness cited in the story…

Read the letter here



Israel won’t commit to ending the war: Hamas

Al Jazeera reports: A senior Hamas official has noted that Israel continues to ignore demands for a permanent end to the war.

Israel has reportedly offered a sustained 40-day ceasefire and the release of potentially thousands of Palestinian prisoners, in return for the freedom of about 130 Israeli captives, according to UK Foreign Minister David Cameron.

“It’s clear from the Israeli paper that they are still insisting on two major issue: they don’t want a complete ceasefire and they are not talking – in a serious way – about the withdrawal from Gaza. In fact, they are still talking about their presence, which means they will continue to occupy Gaza,” Hamas’s Osama Hamdan told Al Jazeera.

“We have serious questions for the mediators. If there are positive answers, I think we can move forward.”

‘Stopping a crime is not generous’: Hamas

Blinken has said the latest Israeli ceasefire proposal is an “extraordinarily generous” offer and Hamas should accept it “quickly”.

But a Hamas official said there’s nothing “generous” about Israel halting attacks that have killed tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, mostly children and women.

“The attack itself is a crime so when you stop a crime you can’t claim that it’s a generous action from the Israeli side,” Hamas’s Osama Hamdan told Al Jazeera.

Disease spreads as 10,000 bodies decompose in blown-up buildings

More than 10,000 missing Palestinians are buried under the debris of hundreds of destroyed buildings in Gaza.

The territory’s civil defence agency made the statement on X as the death toll from the war rose to 34,535.

“The continued accumulation of thousands of bodies under the rubble has begun to cause the spread of disease and epidemics, especially with the onset of summer and the rise in temperatures, which accelerates the process of decomposition,” it said in a statement.

US still hasn’t seen plan to keep civilians safe during Rafah invasion

As Netanyahu vows to invade Rafah regardless of the status of a hostage deal, State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters that the US has yet to see a credible plan presented by Israel that would address its concerns.

The administration of US President Joe Biden has long said that it will not support an invasion of Rafah, where approximately 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering, without a credible plan to protect civilians there.

Earlier today, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to go ahead with the operation, regardless of an outpouring of concern from the international community over the fate of the displaced Palestinians.

Israel planning ring of checkpoints to prevent men from fleeing Rafah, source says

Middle East Eye reports: Israel is reportedly setting up a complex system of checkpoints that will prevent men of “military age” from fleeing Rafah in preparation for its offensive on the southern Gaza border city, a senior western official familiar with Israel’s military plans has told Middle East Eye on condition of anonymity.

The checkpoints are designed to allow some women and children to leave Rafah ahead of an expected Israeli offensive, but unarmed, civilian Palestinian men will likely be separated from their families and remain trapped in Rafah during the assault.

The previously unreported disclosure of Israel’s construction of a ring of checkpoints around Rafah underscores how Israel is pushing ahead with plans to attack the city where over one million displaced Palestinians are sheltering in tents and makeshift camps.

“Israel considers every male a Hamas fighter until proven otherwise,” Abbas Dahouk, a former senior military advisor at the State Department and military attache in the Middle East told Middle East Eye.

‘Incremental progress’ in humanitarian aid in Gaza, but not enough, says Guterres

The UN chief says the delivery of humanitarian aid in Gaza has seen some “incremental progress”, but more is “urgently needed”.

“A major obstacle to distributing aid across Gaza is the lack of security for humanitarians and the people we serve. Humanitarian convoys, facilities and personnel, and people in need must not be targets,” he said.

“We welcome aid delivery by air and sea, but there is no alternative to land routes,” he continued.

“I again call on the Israeli authorities to allow and facilitate safe, rapid and unimpeded access for humanitarian aid and humanitarian workers, including [UN Palestinian refugee agency] UNRWA, throughout Gaza.”

After 6 months, aid is only just above half of the aid Gaza used to receive before the war. Now, as Israel has destroyed farmland and food processing facilities all over Gaza, the need is much greater.

Lazzarini: More food available in northern Gaza, but still not accessible

UNRWA chief Lazzarini says there is more food on offer at markets in northern Gaza after an increase in supply in April. However, these supplies are still far from accessible to most people who have no cash left to spend nearly seven months into the war, he said.

Lazzarini also noted that UNRWA officials on the ground in Gaza describe residents as experiencing a constant state of trauma due to ongoing military attacks, hunger and overall deteriorating conditions.

“We are not talking any more about PTSD, but CTSD: Constant traumatic stress disorder,” Lazzarini said.

NOTE: 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.

Israel hampers Gaza field hospitals by providing insufficient sites

Designated plots are either too small or are inhabited by displaced Palestinians encouraged to settle there by Israeli authorities, say regional sources

‘It is obvious that those Palestinians had been pushed to those areas by Israel to disrupt the construction of the field hospital’

Another case suggests that Israel may have deliberately prevented the construction of field hospitals in Gaza.

Boycott: KFC Malaysia temporarily shutters outlets

Reuters reports: The KFC restaurant chain has temporarily closed outlets in Malaysia, citing challenging economic conditions, as local media reported that the closings were because of boycotts over its links to Israel.

Malaysia, a majority-Muslim country, is a staunch supporter of the Palestinians, and some Western fast-food brands in the country, as in some other Muslim nations, have been targeted by boycott campaigns over Israel’s war on Gaza.

The statement did not address the media reports.

It did not specify how many stores were affected, but local media reported more than 100 outlets were temporarily closed.

Information on an app helping people boycott brands supporting Israel is here.

China facilitates Hamas-Fatah efforts at reconciliation

Reuters reports: Rival Palestinian groups Hamas and Fatah have expressed the will to seek reconciliation through dialogue at unity talks in Beijing, China’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The two factions have not managed to heal political disputes since Hamas fighters expelled Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a short war in 2007.

“The Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) and Islamic Resistance Group (Hamas) representatives arrived in Beijing a few days ago for in-depth and candid dialogue,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a regular briefing.

“They agreed to continue the course of talks to achieve the realization of Palestinian solidarity and unity at an early date.”

“In conclusion, both sides affirmed the continuation of consultations and working towards achieving Palestinian national unity, with China ready to provide all necessary support.”


Arizona Police Accused of Removing Student Protester’s Hijab

Newsweek reports: Social media users expressed outrage this week over video that appeared to show Arizona State University (ASU) police removing the hijab of a student protester.

On Monday, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in Arizona issued a press release accusing ASU police officers of “reportedly forcibly removing the Islamic headscarves, or hijabs, of Muslim women arrested at a pro-Palestine rally on the university’s campus.”

“A video allegedly showed ASU police officers removing a woman’s hijab during an arrest, with reports indicating this happened to at least four women during campus protests. CAIR AZ is looking into the incident,” the press release said.

Azza Abuseif, executive director of CAIR AZ, said, “the First Amendment guarantees the practice of religion. Police cannot suspend this right. We condemn the reported actions of ASU police and call for a full investigation into this incident.”

A spokesperson for ASU told Newsweek, “This matter is under review.”


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Law enforcement action at US universities ‘disproportionate’: UN

Regarding pro-Palestine rallies on college campuses, the spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Marta Hurtado, said “We are concerned that some of law enforcement actions across a series of universities appear disproportionate in their inputs.”

The protests have upended university campuses across the US, with the number of arrests approaching 1,000 as the final days of classes wrap up.

One student at UT Austin condemned the university’s attempts to silence the protesters, adding, “What trumps our fear is our love for Palestine, and our love for liberation, and our refusal to accept subjugation and censorship from an oppressive institution.”

Local media report that a police attack on a 66-year-old professor who was filming events caused multiple broken ribs and a broken hand. One doctor said the professor is “lucky to be alive.”

RELATED: France deploys riot police, cuts funding to quell campus protests over Gaza

White House: Takeover of Columbia University building ‘absolutely the wrong approach’

The Hill reports: The White House condemned the move by student protesters to take over a building on Columbia University’s campus Tuesday, calling it the wrong approach amid the ongoing college demonstrations across the country against Israel’s handling of its war in Gaza.

Pro-Palestinian protesters at the New York City college took control of an academic building early Tuesday, barricading entrances and flying a Palestinian flag outside the window.

“The president believes that forcibly taking over a building on campus is absolutely the wrong approach, that is not an example of peaceful protests,” White House national security communications adviser John Kirby told reporters.

The same building was occupied in a 1968 civil rights and anti-Vietnam War protest.

NOTE: Pro-Israel organizations consistently work to silence Palestine advocacy on campus – a free speech violation. One strategy they use is to pressure universities to officially adopt the IHRA “definition” of antisemitism, which defines legitimate criticism of Israel as antisemitic. Other strategies include blocking prestigious appointments of and events with supporters of Palestinian rights, threatening to withhold major donations, and more. But supporters of Palestine on campus are fighting back.
Actual antisemitism is not as prevalent as Israel partisans would like us to think. A large portion of what they call antisemitism is simply criticism of Israel, the self-proclaimed “Jewish State.” Most of the animosity Israel experiences is opposition to Zionism. Zionism is not a benign philosophy, but a racist ideology – the ideology under which Israel dispossessed 750,000 Palestinian people and exiled them to Gaza and other locations. The so-called “demonization” of Israel is in most cases a legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies of occupation, apartheid, and genocide, and other illegal practices.

Regarding Hind: Reuters reported in Februry: Relatives found the body on Saturday of a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who had begged Gaza rescuers to send help after being trapped by Israeli military fire, along with the bodies of five of her family members and two ambulance workers who had gone to save her.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance it sent to rescue Hind Rajab after she had spent hours on the phone to dispatchers begging for help with the sound of shooting echoing around.

“The occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the site to rescue Hind,” the Red Crescent said in a statement.

The PCRS released a photo of the ambulance, seen almost completely burned out. Al Jazeera footage of the scene appeared to show the ambulance only steps away from the car they said the family was in, a damaged black Kia Picanto riddled with bullet holes.

The ambulance that tried to rescue Hind, and the two drivers, who were struck and killed by Israeli forces.
The ambulance that tried to rescue Hind, and the two drivers, who were struck and killed by Israeli forces. (social media)


Mondoweiss: Meet the ‘homegrown violent extremism’ researcher behind the crackdown on pro-Palestinian students at USC
Mondoweiss: We need to strike for Palestine: why UAW 4811 matters
Middle East Monitor: Is WhatsApp putting Palestinians at risk of being killed in Gaza?
IMEMC News Reports



Palestinian death toll from October 7 – April 30: at least 35,160* (34,658 in Gaza* (at least 14,690 children, 9,680 women), and at least 502 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 30: 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 30: ~1,418 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 263 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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