The long-dreaded evacuation of Rafah has begun – Day 212

The long-dreaded evacuation of Rafah has begun – Day 212

The evacuation of Rafah, in preparation for invasion (long forecast to be a bloodbath, and denounced by the US) – is underway; UNRWA chief Lazzarini’s accusations against Israel; US may have delayed an arms shipment to Israel; top int’l relations scholar says Israel Lobby is why Biden doesn’t reign in Israel; Netanyahu reportedly doesn’t want a ceasefire; reactions to the abrupt (but expected) closure of Al Jazeera-Israel; Palestinian journalist killed; campus protest news…

By IAK staff, from reports

BREAKING: Hamas leader informs mediators of ceasefire acceptance – negotiators to meet in Cairo for further talks

A leading Hamas source reports that the group has informed Egyptian and Qatari mediators of its agreement with a ceasefire proposal.

Israel’s Channel 12 is reporting that the Israeli negotiating team has Hamas’ response from mediators, is studying it, and will issue an official response.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya confirmed to Al Jazeera that there are three phases to the ceasefire deal, adding that mediators had told Hamas that the United States president was committed to ensuring the implementation of the agreement.

There has been no confirmation of this from the American side.

Al-Hayya added that the first phase would see the return of displaced Palestinians in Gaza to their homes, and the flow of aid, fuel and relief materials into Gaza.

He added that 50 Palestinian prisoners would be released for each female captive held by Hamas in that first phase. In the second phase, Hamas would release male captives for an undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners.

The third phase of the agreement would include the start of the implementation of a reconstruction plan for a period of three to five years.

Ofir Gendleman, the Arabic language spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says on X that the proposal Hamas agreed to for a ceasefire in Gaza is “far from Israel’s necessary demands,” but that a negotiating team will be sent to Cairo nonetheless.

“The war cabinet unanimously decided that Israel would continue the operation in Rafah in order to exert military pressure on Hamas”, Gendleman added “with the aim of pushing forward the release of our kidnappers [sic] and achieving the goals of the war”.

We will continue to update this story as it unfolds.

Israeli army begins evacuating Gaza’s Rafah ahead of an expected assault

Associated Press reports: The Israeli army ordered some 100,000 Palestinians on Monday to begin evacuating from the southern city of Rafah, signaling that a long-promised ground invasion there could be imminent and further complicating efforts to broker a cease-fire in Gaza.

The looming operation in the city — where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering and a high number of deaths is feared — has raised global alarm and Israeli’s closest allies have warned against it. On Monday, the United Nations agency serving Palestinian refugees said it would not comply with the evacuation order.

Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, an army spokesman, said some 100,000 people were being ordered to move to a nearby Israel-declared humanitarian zone called Muwasi — a makeshift camp of tents where along the coast hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought safety and live in squalid conditions.

NOTE: Middle East Eye recently reported: 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.
Displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip pack their belongings following an evacuation order by the Israeli army
Displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip pack their belongings following an evacuation order by the Israeli army (photo)

Regarding Hostages

UNRWA chief lists grievances with Israel

Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, reports from the Gaza border:

Only in the past 2 weeks, we have recorded 10 incidents involving shooting at convoys, arrests of UN staff including bullying, stripping them naked, threats with arms & long delays at checkpoints forcing convoys to move during the dark or abort.

These incidents happen repeatedly at the time we are engaged in a race against the clock to avert famine in Gaza.

It also creates fear among courageous & committed humanitarian teams.

Since the beginning of the war, the U.N. including UNRWA & other humanitarian personnel, premises and operations have been blatantly disregarded.

Today, Palestinian armed groups launched rockets at the Kerem Shalom crossing causing its closure. It is used for most humanitarian deliveries.

I demand an independent investigation & accountability for the blatant disregard of humanitarian workers, operations, and facilities, all protected under international law.

To do otherwise would set a dangerous precedent and compromise humanitarian work around the world.

I call on the Israeli Authorities to facilitate humanitarian access across the Gaza Strip including to the north.

I also call on Hamas and other armed groups to stop any attacks on humanitarian crossings, refrain from aid diversion and make sure assistance reaches all those in need.

The denial of humanitarian access is a violation of humanitarian law.

A man sits on the rubble as Palestinians search for usable items among the debris of destroyed buildings following the Israeli attacks on as-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, Sunday, May 5
A man sits on the rubble as Palestinians search for usable items among the debris of destroyed buildings following the Israeli attacks on as-Salam neighborhood in Rafah, Sunday, May 5 (photo)

U.S. delayed ammunition shipment to Israel…or did it?

Axios reports: The Biden administration last week put a hold on a shipment of U.S.-made ammunition to Israel, two Israeli officials told Axios.

It is the first time since the Oct. 7 attack that the U.S. has stopped a weapons shipment intended for the Israeli military.

President Biden is facing sharp criticism among Americans who oppose his support of Israel.

Last Wednesday U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken reportedly had a “tough” conversation with Netanyahu regarding a possible Israeli operation in Rafah, in which he said that “a major military operation” in Rafah would lead to the U.S. publicly opposing it and would negatively impact U.S.-Israel relations.

CNN adds: The Biden administration paused a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel, according to a source familiar with the matter, who did not disclose why the decision was made. The hold is not connected to a potential Israeli operation in Rafah and doesn’t affect other shipments moving forward, the source said.

Asked about the paused shipment, a National Security Council spokesperson cited ongoing security assistance to Israel.

“The United States has surged billions of dollars in security assistance to Israel since the October 7 attacks, passed the largest ever supplemental appropriation for emergency assistance to Israel, led an unprecedented coalition to defend Israel against Iranian attacks, and will continue to do what is necessary to ensure Israel can defend itself from the threats it faces,” the spokesperson said.

Times of Israel adds: The United States reportedly stopped the delivery of a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel last week, according to Axios, although Israel says that deliveries are continuing as normal.

Speaking to Ynet, an Israeli official downplays the Axios report, saying “Even now, a continued series of defense shipments are being sent from the US to Israel.”

“It’s possible that one shipment or another is delayed, but the flow continues and we’re not aware of a policy decision to stop it,” the official adds.

NOTE: There is speculation that the delay of arms shipment to Israel is simply re-direction of arms to Ukraine.

Top international relations scholar says Biden cannot reign in Israel because of Israel Lobby

Professor John Mearsheimer Is the author of seven books, Including The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy (with Stephen M. Walt), which made the New York Times best seller list and has been translated into twenty-five different languages. He has received numerous awards for his work.

He says supporting Israel is not in the US strategic or moral national interest.

Netanyahu Hoped Hamas Would Reject the Cease-fire Offer. When It Didn’t, He Turned to Sabotage

Ha’aretz reports in an opinion-analysis piece: Netanyahu is fleeing from a hostage deal. The closer it gets, the faster he runs to avoid it.

At least twice in recent months he has sabotaged the sensitive moves toward a deal, whether through public statements or covert messages, or by curbing the mandate of the negotiating team. It was no different this time.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (photo)

It is not the 33 hostages who might be released – the sick, the injured, the old; women, including female soldiers – who are uppermost in his thoughts, but rather the 64 Knesset members of his coalition and above all, himself: the head of the government of failure and the October 7 massacre, the criminal defendant, the leader who has lost his people’s trust, the politician whose promises of “total victory” in Gaza if we can only eliminate the four remaining Hamas battalions are dismissed by an overwhelming majority of Israelis, including rightists.

Netanyahu had hoped that the Egyptian proposal, which was more far-reaching than anything he had been willing to accept in the past, would be rejected by Hamas. Over the weekend, when the negotiations took a positive turn, Netanyahu found himself in distress.

Netanyahu’s well known conduct showed itself vis-a-vis the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which is considering issuing arrest warrants against him (and other senior government and IDF officials).

Instead of taking discreet action through diplomatic channels, Netanyahu lashed out at the court, threatening and cursing it, contrary to all the legal advice he received. The court ended up putting out an extraordinary statement over the weekend in which it rejected the threats and scare tactics.

NOTE: This headline appeared in Saturday’s Ha’aretz:
Screenshot (screenshot)


Al Jazeera calls Israeli closure ‘criminal act that violates human rights’

Here is the full statement from the Al Jazeera Media Network:

In a deceptive and slanderous move, the Israeli Cabinet, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, unanimously voted to shut down Al Jazeera’s offices in Israel. They also chose to withdraw crew accreditations, as well as banning media service providers from transmitting its broadcasts and blocking Al Jazeera Media Network websites.

Ironically, as the world marked World Press Freedom Day, the Israeli government closed Al Jazeera’s offices, preventing the public from accessing its content, disregarding the universally recognized fundamentals of freedom of expression.

Al Jazeera Media Network strongly condemns and denounces this criminal act that violates human rights and the basic right to access of information. Al Jazeera affirms its right to continue to provide news and information to its global audiences.

Israel’s ongoing suppression of the free press, seen as an effort to conceal its actions in the Gaza Strip, stands in contravention of international and humanitarian law. Israel’s direct targeting and killing of journalists, arrests, intimidation and threats will not deter Al Jazeera from its commitment to cover, whilst more than 140 Palestinian journalists have been killed since the beginning of the war on Gaza.

The Network vehemently rejects the allegations presented by Israeli authorities suggesting professional media standards have been violated. It reaffirms its unwavering commitment to the values embodied by its Code of Ethics.

Al Jazeera urges all media freedom, human rights, and other concerned organizations to condemn the repeated attacks on journalists and the press by Israel, and to hold those responsible to account. The Network will pursue all available legal channels through international legal institutions in its quest to protect both its rights and journalists, as well as the public’s right to information.

“Targeting journalists is a crime.”

Al Jazeera shutdown a ‘violation of freedom of expression’: Gaza media office

Al Jazeera reports: The Government Media Office in Gaza says in a statement that the closure of Al Jazeera’s operations in Israel is a “scandal and a blatant violation of freedom of opinion and expression”.

It said the move would be a blow to the Israeli government as it “falsely praises democracy and human rights” but has shown it commits many violations.

“We condemn the shameful silence of many countries that consider themselves guardians of the world and human rights, while they are engaged in a war of genocide, and participate in the war to silence media professionals, journalists, and their media outlets.”

Israeli journalist Gideon Levy has called Israel’s shutdown of Al Jazeera a “shame”.

“To close it down means closing down the option of a free press.”

Levy, a columnist at Israeli newspaper Haaretz, speculated that the shutdown may be politically motivated to pressure Qatar in the ongoing truce negotiations.

“Al Jazeera is a Qatari network. And Qatar is one of those [countries] that are pulling and pushing for a settlement [to reach a truce deal in Gaza], some deal,” he said.

“[Israeli PM] Netanyahu is doing everything possible in the last two or three days to sabotage a deal.”

Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz editorial board opposes closing of Al Jazeera in Israel

In making this anti-democratic decision [to shut down Al Jazeera in Israel], Israel took a step down the slippery slope on the way to becoming a country that silences people…[D]oing so may turn out to be only a preface to a policy in which any media outlet, Israeli or international, that the government doesn’t like is shut down.

That’s how it is when there’s an extreme right-wing government that has declared war on freedom of expression and on the rule of law in Israel.

On the agenda are freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Anyone who cares about them must oppose the government’s disgraceful decision. It has no place in a democracy.

For more on the closure of Al Jazeera-Israel, see:

Association for Civil Rights in Israel: Repeal the Law Imposing Sanctions on Foreign Broadcasting Channels (“Al-Jazeera Law”)
Israel and Palestine Director at Human Rights Watch: Statement on the closing of Al Jazeera
Foreign Press Association: Statement
Committee to Protect Journalists: Statement
International Federation of Journalists: Statement
United Nations: Statement
More than 50 attacks against Al Jazeera journalists since October 7
When has Israel targeted Al Jazeera before?

Another Palestinian journalist killed in Gaza, death toll rises to 142 since 7 October

Andalou Agency reports: Another Palestinian journalist was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, taking the death toll to 142 since Oct. 7, 2023, according to his employer.

Salem Abu Toyor, a reporter for Al-Quds Today television station, and his son lost their lives when fighter jets struck their home in the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, the TV station said.

The pair were buried in the central city of Deir al-Balah, according to an Anadolu reporter.

The new fatalities brought to 142 the number of Palestinian journalists killed in Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, 2023.


Pro-Palestine protesters stand firm as Chicago police officers prepare to begin arrests at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois on May 4, 2024. Protests on US school campuses are continuing nationwide, with pro-Palestine encampments calling on institutions to divest investments in Israel and in support of a ceasefire in Gaza
Pro-Palestine protesters stand firm as Chicago police officers prepare to begin arrests at the Art Institute of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois on May 4, 2024. Protests on US school campuses are continuing nationwide, with pro-Palestine encampments calling on institutions to divest investments in Israel and in support of a ceasefire in Gaza (photo)


Middle East Eye: Richard Falk on the War on Gaza: The ICC must seize this moment to hold Israel accountable
Palestine Chronicle: “Full Belly Before Death” – This is how we are surviving in northern Gaza
Palestine Chronicle: Israeli anger is growing at Palestinian sports as a way to silence the truth
Mondoweiss: Open letter to University heads: Listen to your courageous students and divest from Israel (from Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church, USA)
Mondoweiss: Student resistance to the Gaza genocide is spurring a crisis for Democrats and the progressive coalition
Mondoweiss: Inside the Biden administration sham to convince the world Netanyahu wants a ceasefire


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – May 5: at least 35,191* (34,735 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 5: 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 5: ~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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