Rafah’s displaced: ‘We read our last prayers every night’ – Day 131

Rafah’s displaced: ‘We read our last prayers every night’ – Day 131

Israeli protesters continue to block aid to Gaza; Khan Younis hospital in chaos; State of Palestine to present to ICJ report on Israel’s actions since genocide ruling; Gaza fishermen attacked; popular Gaza political analyst & family killed day after he appears on Al Jazeera; US investigating white phosphorus and 1-ton bombs used in Israel; US State Dept claims it expects a “quick, thorough, and transparent investigation” into the killing of 2nd American citizen in West Bank; Israel accuses South Africa of representing interests of the “Hamas terrorist organization”; Israel reportedly preparing for war with Lebanon; Pope’s 2nd in command condemns Israel’s actions – Israel calls his words “deplorable”; Church of England says Israel’s actions “can not be morally justified”; and more

By IAK staff, from reports

Reuters reports: International warnings to Israel continue as it prepares a ground invasion of Rafah, where about 1.4 million people are sheltering from incessant attacks.

Residents are “staring death in the face.”

“Since Israel said they are invading Rafah soon, we read our last prayers every night. Every night we say farewell to one another and to relatives outside Rafah,” said Aya, 30, who is living in a tent with her mother, grandmother and five siblings.

Al Jazeera reports: The Nitzana border crossing between Egypt and Israel has been closed after dozens of Israel protesters blocked humanitarian aid trucks from entering the Gaza Strip. The crossing has been used for inspection of humanitarian aid trucks before they return to the Rafah crossing into Gaza. 

In recent weeks, similar protests occurred particularly at the Karam Abu Salem border crossing, known as Kerem Shalom in Israel. The Biden administration had reportedly convinced Israel to open this crossing in December; within a week after its opening, the Palestinian director of the crossing and 3 others were killed in an Israeli air raid while carrying out their duties.

An average of 95 aid trucks per day entered Gaza between October 10 and February 1, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, down from 500 commercial and aid trucks a day before the war, when Palestinians weren’t facing mass displacement and starvation. Some 2 million Gazans are dependent on UN aid now.

Protesters often include family members of captives being held by Hamas who demand their release before any more humanitarian aid can cross.

Palestinian sources told Al Jazeera that aid supplies stopped entering through the Rafah land crossing about a week ago. Only a limited number of fuel trucks have been allowed to enter.

OCHA information on aid delivery
OCHA data on aid delivery (chart)
Israelis protest against aid trucks entering the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Jan. 29, 2024. Military personnel are visible at the top of the hill, but are not stopping the protest
Israelis protest against aid trucks entering the Gaza Strip at the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Jan. 29, 2024. Military personnel are visible at the top of the hill, but are not stopping the protest (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: Ahmed Mokhalati, a doctor at the European Hospital in Khan Younis, has described the situation inside the medical facility as “horrible”, saying “the whole system has collapsed.”

We are losing a lot of patients, most of the time because of the lack of equipment and medical staff. The operating theatre has very minimal supplies and we’re keeping them for the critical cases,” Mokhalati told Al Jazeera.

“Anesthesia is very little and we have to do major surgeries without [it], which means the patient can be screaming many times in the middle of surgery.”

The hospital is crowded with displaced people who lack basic services including clean water. “The basic hygiene of the patients is very low, which is reflected in the widespread infection of the wounds,” Mokhalati said.

“We are losing many patients all the time.”

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud reports from Rafah: The Israeli military has ordered people – 300 medical staff, 450 patients, and hundreds of displaced Palestinians – to leave Nasser Hospital.

They destroyed the northern gate of the hospital and blocked it with piles of sand and rubble. Only the eastern gate is open now.

There are tanks and armored vehicles stationed in front of that gate. There are face-recognition cameras installed at the eastern gate of the hospital.

From past experience, setting up face-recognition cameras and hi-tech equipment means raids and mass arrests are soon going to happen.

Soldiers have been shooting at everything in sight – including a doctor and a nurse. There are bodies in the courtyard. Those people were killed after being told to evacuate. 

There’s no fuel, no medical supplies, no oxygen and, therefore, no surgeries. There’s also a sewage flood as the facility is without electricity.

Al Jazeera reports: Omar Awadallah, the Palestinian Authority’s assistant foreign minister, has said the State of Palestine had prepared a report on Israel’s violations of the International Court of Justice’s orders for preventing genocide in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian news agency Wafa.

Last month’s ICJ ruling ordered six provisional measures to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to genocide by Israel, and for the Israeli government take immediate and effective measures to ensure the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.

A legal team will present its case in the next ICJ hearings, from February 19 to 26, together with Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.

Al Jazeera journalist Abubaker Abed reports from Deir Al Balah: Palestinian fishermen in central Gaza say they’re regularly attacked by the Israeli Navy, which opens fire on them as they attempt to feed the starved population of the besieged enclave.

“Yesterday it was hugely dangerous. Our boats were damaged because of the intense shooting,” Imad al-Aqra, a fisherman from Deir el-Balah, told Al Jazeera.

“We can’t get further than 200 metres [656 feet] in the sea. We simply risk our lives going in. Two days ago, my relative was shot dead and his friend was severely wounded. I have survived bullets 20 times. Next time I may not go back to shore.”

Israeli forces killed Gaza political analyst, frequent Al Jazeera guest Ayman Rafati, his wife and children after shelling his home north of Gaza City, says Ramy Abdu, head of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor.

Abdu has accused Israel of silencing voices from Gaza, while others have called it part of an ongoing scholasticide, a term that has become popular to refer to Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s education system.

The Israeli army has previously killed poets, professors and academics, and approximately 100 journalists.

Rafati had reportedly just been a guest on Al Jazeera the previous night.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US State Department is investigating the use of white phosphorus by the Israeli occupation forces in its raids on the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, in an investigation to determine whether the weapons provided by the US to Israel were improperly used to kill civilians.

US authorities are also investigating the air attack on the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on October 31, which led to the killing of more than 125 Palestinians.

Investigators suspect that Israel may have used a one-ton bomb in that raid.

Amnesty International said that its Crisis Evidence Laboratory verified that the Israeli military units striking Gaza were equipped with white phosphorus artillery shells.

NOTE: Use of white phosphorus in civilian areas is considered a war crime due to its extremely dangerous effects on the human body. White phosphorus ignites instantly when in contact with oxygen. It can burn through the human body, including through bone, causing severe, excruciating damage. It can also cause extreme harm when inhaled, with risks of suffocation, cardiovascular failure, coma, death, and other lifelong effects. The substance burns at temperatures of up to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.
RECOMMENDED READING (New York Times): A Times investigation tracked Israel’s use of one of its most destructive bombs in south Gaza

The exodus continues as people move from Rafah to middle parts of the GazaStrip, in search of safety where there is none.
The exodus continues as people move from Rafah to middle parts of the GazaStrip, in search of safety where there is none. (photo)

WAFA reports: Israeli occupation bulldozers today demolished the home of Palestinian researcher specializing in Jerusalem affairs, Fakhri Abu Diab in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem. Abu Diab said that Israeli police, accompanied by a bulldozer, raided the property and proceeded to demolish his house in Al-Bustan neighborhood after forcing him and his family to evacuate it.

He added that he had received a demolition order against his house 15 years ago, under the pretext that it was built without a permit.

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands adds from occupied East Jerusalem: We were inside the house, then the Israeli police came in fully armed and threw us all out forcefully and moved us as far away as they could. The demolition is happening as we speak, a jackhammer on the end of a digger.

The Israelis say many of the homes in this neighborhood are illegal. Palestinians don’t have the right permit since anything built after 1976 shouldn’t have been built and, therefore, is eligible for demolition.

There are about 116 houses in this neighborhood in the crosshairs and could have the same fate. There’s no compensation, Abu Diab is now homeless. This is something that happens very regularly.

This home isn’t being demolished for settlers, it’s because the Israelis want to build a biblical theme park in this neighborhood.

NOTE: Israel admits that its construction permit system is highly discriminatory. Between 2016 and 2020, 99.1 percent of Palestinian requests for building permits were rejected, according to data provided by the IDF’s Civil Administration.

The US State Department’s Office of Palestinian Affairs has decried the killing of 17-year-old Mohammad Ahmad Khdour, who was fatally shot by Israeli forces this week.

The United States has no greater priority than the safety and security of US citizens. We urgently call for a quick, thorough, and transparent investigation, including full accountability,” the office said in a social media post.

The statement echoes Washington’s calls for an investigation into the killing of Tawfiq Ajaq, another 17-year-old US citizen killed in the West Bank last month. But Israel rarely holds its forces and settlers accountable for attacking Palestinians.

A displaced man, Nael Abu Dayya, said he decided to flee Rafah with his family because the school they were sheltering in came under attack.
A displaced man, Nael Abu Dayya, said he decided to flee Rafah with his family because the school they were sheltering in came under attack. (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: Israel has said that South Africa “continues to represent the interests of the Hamas terrorist organization” after the country asked the ICJ, where Israel faces allegations of committing genocidal acts in its campaign in Gaza, to consider additional steps against an anticipated Israeli assault on Rafah.

More than half of Gaza’s population has been forced to seek shelter in the city near the border with Egypt, many of them moving there following evacuation orders from Israel in other parts of the Strip.

“South Africa continues to represent the interests of the Hamas terrorist organization and is trying to deny Israel the fundamental right to defend itself and its citizens,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat.

Al Jazeera reports: Israeli Army Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi says the army is preparing for war in the north, in a reference to Lebanon: “We are now focused on being ready for war in the north. If it does not end in war, it will not end with any compromise to the achievements,” he said.

“We are intensifying the strikes all the time, and Hezbollah are paying an increasingly heavy price. The next campaign will have a very strong offensive, and we will use all of our tools and capabilities,” Halevi continued.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan says the Israeli government has not allowed the aid into Gaza despite promises to the US government.

“That flour has not moved the way that we had expected it would move, and we expect that Israel will follow through on its commitment to get that flour into Gaza.”

RECOMMENDED READING: Biden’s calls for Israel to mind the laws appear feeble, and ignored

A wounded woman and her child at the Kuwaiti Hospital following Israeli attacks on Rafah
A wounded woman and her child at the Kuwaiti Hospital following Israeli attacks on Rafah (photo)

Al Jazeera reports: The US Senate has passed a bill containing $95bn in funding for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan and other countries.

The White House-backed bill will now go to a vote in the Republican-controlled Congress, where it faces opposition from some Republican representatives.

As well as $14.1bn in additional funding for Israel, the legislation includes a provision prohibiting Washington from allocating any funds to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Ha’aretz reports: The U.S. House has passed a resolution condemning gender based and sexual violence used by Hamas on October 7 by a vote of 418-0. The only lawmaker not to vote in favor of the resolution was Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who voted ‘present.’

Writing on social media platform X, formerly Twitter, Tlaib said that, “We all have a responsibility to denounce sexual violence in all forms, regardless of who is responsible. War crimes cannot justify more war crimes. This resolution falls well short of also acknowledging the sexual abuse of Palestinians,” she added.

The Michigan lawmaker also posted that she had submitted for the Congressional Record an article by Haaretz’s Hagar Shezaf, documenting abuse by Israeli settlers and soldiers of Palestinians in the West Bank.

The Israeli organization Peace Now said, “Behind every violent settler lies an entire governmental system that supports and funds them. Settler violence is not an isolated incident but rather a part of an organized strategy to dispossess Palestinians of their lands.”

The statement was in response to a Times of Israel report that states:

A corporation owned by a settlement municipality signed a contract with one of the Israelis who has been sanctioned by Washington, which could put the government body at risk of being cut off from the US financial system.

The Peace Now organization said the contract Levi signed with the Har Hebron Regional Council subsidiary demonstrates how official government agencies are complicit in settler violence and in efforts to establish illegal outposts in the West Bank, which makes them no less liable to US sanctions than the individuals directly responsible for carrying out such illegal activity.

Palestinians have faced increased harassment from Israeli settlers since the war began
Palestinians have faced increased harassment from Israeli settlers since the war began (photo)

WEST BANK: B’tselem reports: The annual olive harvest in the West Bank is a key element of the Palestinian economy and a crucial source of income for tens of thousands of families. The World Bank and the Palestine Trade Center estimate that in good years, it injects almost 200 million dollars into the Palestinian economy.

However, every year, Israel extensively restricts Palestinians’ ability to carry out the harvest, using official and unofficial means. In 2023, while the war in the Gaza Strip was underway, these restrictions reached new heights, leaving about 50% of Palestinian farmers unable to harvest their trees, according to estimates of the Palestinian Farmers’ Union.

“The systemic obstruction of the olive harvest, augmented by organized settler violence against harvesters and their property is … part of Israel’s longstanding violent policy, which aims to cement the apartheid regime in the West Bank and allow continued expansion of settlements,” the group says.

“The 2023 harvest was especially important this year as the Palestinian economy is already struggling due to the war in Gaza – particularly because of the prohibition on laborers entering Israel and the Palestinian Authority’s suspension of public sector salaries.” Read the full report here.

More news stories from Palestine are available at International Middle East Media Center (IMEMC).

Vatican News reports: Dialoguing with journalists on Tuesday, February 13, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin used unequivocal words about what is happening in Gaza. He repeated the “clear and unequivocal condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism”; at the same time, he reiterated the “request that Israel’s right to defense, which has been invoked to justify this operation, be proportional, and certainly with 30 thousand deaths, it is not.”

The cardinal added, “I believe we are all outraged by what is happening, by this carnage, but we must have the courage to move forward and not lose hope.”

Middle East Monitor adds: Israel protested to the Vatican on Wednesday after senior Papal aide Cardinal Pietro Parolin described events in Gaza as “carnage” resulting from a disproportionate Israeli military response to the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas.

The Israeli Embassy to the Vatican said it was a “deplorable” comment. “Judging the legitimacy of a war without taking into account all relevant circumstances and data inevitably leads to wrong conclusions.”

RECOMMENDED READING (If Americans Knew): Israel is not as Christian-friendly as you think

Middle East Eye reports: The Church of England has said in a statement that the manner in which Israel is conducting its war on Gaza “cannot be morally justified”.

“With the onset of Israel’s ground offensive into Rafah, we call for an immediate ceasefire. The relentless bombardment of Gaza and its huge cost in civilian lives and civilian infrastructure must stop,” the statement says.

“We urge Israel to adhere to the ICJ order and to ensure that Palestinians have access to food, water, healthcare, and safety, that have long been denied to them. We welcome the [UK] foreign secretary’s recent call for an immediate pause in the fighting and would also welcome further representation to the government of Israel about the way that it is exercising its right to self-defense and to affirm adherence to international law,” the statement said.

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes remarks during a pro-Israel rally at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 9, 2023.
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes remarks during a pro-Israel rally at the Soloway Jewish Community Centre in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada October 9, 2023. (photo)

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he “strongly condemns” a pro-Palestine demonstration outside Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Canada.

Protesters at the hospital shouted “Long Live the Intifada”, while one person scaled the hospital’s awning and waved a Palestinian flag.

“The demonstration at Mount Sinai Hospital yesterday was reprehensible. Hospitals are places for treatment and care, not protests and intimidation. I strongly condemn this display of antisemitism*. In Toronto and across Canada, we stand with Jewish communities against this hate.”

*NOTE: PM Trudeau misunderstands the term “antisemitism.” Support for Palestinian rights is not actually antisemitic at all.
RECOMMENDED READING (If Americans Knew): A wave of new post-Oct 7th “antisemitism” bills completely miss the point

Protesters in Providencia, in Chile’s Santiago province, are demanding an end to Israeli aggression on Gaza and the severing of relations with Israel, according to local media, shouting, “close the criminal embassy.”

Demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and demanded that President Gabriel Boric withdraw his country’s ambassador from Israel as a result of Tel Aviv’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza.

The Hill reports: Pro-Palestinian protestors crashed the start of former Rep. Tom Suozzi’s (D) victory speech Tuesday, accusing the representative-elect of supporting genocide, moments after he won back his seat in the House in New York’s special election to replace disgraced congress member George Santos.

Suozzi was beginning his speech in Woodbury, N.Y., when a person with a Palestinian flag attempted to come up to the newly elected lawmaker. “You can’t hide, you’re supporting genocide! Stop supporting genocide,” the protestor shouted. He was removed by a security guard.

Once his victory speech was under way, Suozzi said: “The people of Queens and Long Island are sick and tired of political bickering.”

NOTE: The issue of Palestinian rights is a humanitarian and human rights issue. Palestinians demand that Israel conform to international law, and end its apartheid and genocide.

Israel National News reports: Mike Pompeo, former US Secretary of State, was recently received by the soldiers of the Armored Corps’ 73rd Battalion with singing and dancing.

The event took place in the southern city of Ofakim, as part of Pompeo’s quick visit to Israel with his wife Susan, as the guest of his friend, businessman and philanthropist, Yossi Sagol.

At the end of the tour of southern Israel during the morning hours, Pompeo said: “I’ve been to Israel on numerous occasions. But this visit has been the most poignant and the most heartbreaking. What happened on October 7th was so shocking and so sadistic that the trauma is felt constantly, everywhere by everyone. And yet, their resilience is truly inspiring. I stand with Israel. I stand with the Jewish people.”

RECOMMENDED READING: Pompeo Rocks the Middle East: Lessons from a Former CIA Officer for the Sec’y of State


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – February 14: at least 28,969* (28,576 in Gaza* (over 12,300 children, 8,400 women), and at least 393 in the West Bank (101 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 36,671 Palestinian deaths.

About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.

Palestinian injuries from October 7 – February 14: at least 72,766** (including at least 68,291 in Gaza and 4,475 in the West Bank).

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

Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – February 14: ~1,374 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~574 were civilians, 373 or 337 were security and/or military forces, ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 232 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza;, 10 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.

NBC reports: “According to the latest available IDF data… nearly 1 in 5, or 17%, of all Israel’s losses have come not at the hands of Hamas but from mishaps on its own side.”

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.

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.
Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org

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