“This morning is one of the darkest in this 7-month-long nightmare,” “The Israeli occupation has sentenced the residents of the Strip to death” – Day 213

“This morning is one of the darkest in this 7-month-long nightmare,” “The Israeli occupation has sentenced the residents of the Strip to death” – Day 213

Terror in Rafah as Israeli troops move in – in spite of Hamas’ agreement to ceasefire deal; 600,000 children at risk; Israel’s evacuation plan for Rafah does not meet with US approval, and may be a violation of int’l law; Netanyahu is on the hook for ceasefire decision and leaked “top secret” letter from 2018; UN experts on sexual assault of Palestinians; Republican senators threaten ICC prosecutor; campus protest and Freedom Flotilla news, more

By IAK staff, from reports

Jens Laerke, OCHA spokesperson, this morning declared,

The Rafah Crossing is now under control of the Israeli Defense Forces, and is currently closed for the movement of goods and people in both directions.

This morning is one of the darkest in this 7-month-long nightmare.

Hundreds of aid trucks carrying desperately needed food, clean water, and medication continue to line its roads, banned from entering Gaza.

Reuters adds: Israeli army footage showed tanks rolling through the Rafah crossing complex and the Israeli flag raised on the Gaza side.

“The Israeli occupation has sentenced the residents of the Strip to death,” said Hisham Edwan, spokesperson for the Gaza Border Crossing Authority.

A view of collapsed buildings as the Palestinians return to Khan Younis, Gaza on May 5, 2024.
A view of collapsed buildings as the Palestinians return to Khan Younis, Gaza on May 5, 2024. (photo)

Hamas agrees to Gaza truce as Israel vows to move into Rafah

Electronic Intifada reports: Israel dropped leaflets ordering the evacuation of several neighborhoods of eastern Rafah and pounded the area in the southernmost Gaza Strip on Monday.

Israel described its current escalation in Rafah as a “targeted” operation following a rocket attack from Gaza that killed four of its soldiers at a military position near Kerem Shalom, the main commercial crossing along the Gaza-Israel boundary, the previous day.

Palestinians reported “nonstop” bombing and the movement of Israeli tanks across from eastern Rafah overnight Monday.

Al Mezan, a human rights group based in Gaza, said that the new evacuation order, reportedly affecting around 100,000 Palestinians, includes the areas of Rafah crossing and Kerem Shalom – the two points through which most humanitarian assistance is being brought into the territory.

It also includes al-Najjar hospital, “the main medical facility in the whole Rafah governorate,” Al Mezan added.

Israeli warplanes fired on 10 houses in eastern Rafah, killing 20 people, overnight Sunday.

On Monday evening, Hamas announced that Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the faction’s political wing, had accepted a proposed outline for a ceasefire agreement in a phone call with the Qatari prime minister and Egyptian intelligence minister.

Israel swiftly rejected the Egyptian and Qatari proposal, saying that it “included ‘far-reaching conclusions’ ” that it couldn’t accept, according to Reuters.

Late Monday, Netanyahu’s war cabinet unanimously decided to continue the military operation in Rafah “in order to apply military pressure on Hamas, with the goal of making progress on freeing the hostages and the other war aims,” the prime minister’s office stated.

Read the Israeli military’s full statement on Rafah evacuation here.

Families evacuate parts of Gaza:


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Israel briefed US on evacuation plan for Rafah – US still objects to invasion

Associated Press reports: Israel this week briefed Biden administration officials on a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians ahead of a potential operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah aimed at rooting out Hamas militants, according to U.S. officials familiar with the talks.

The officials, who were not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity to speak about the sensitive exchange, said that the plan detailed by the Israelis did not change the U.S. administration’s view that moving forward with an operation in Rafah would put too many innocent Palestinian civilians at risk.

The Biden administration has said there could be consequences for Israel should it move forward with the operation without a credible plan to safeguard civilians.

Why Biden does not stop Israeli actions

Top political scientist and author Prof. John Mearsheimer says supporting Israel is not in US strategic or moral interest. He explains that Biden doesn’t stop Israel’s genocide in Gaza because of the Israel lobby:

UN rights office says there are ‘strong indications’ Rafah relocation being done ‘in violation of international law’

Andalou Agency reports: On Monday the Israeli army issued immediate evacuation orders for Palestinians in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah.

Tuesday, he UN human rights office said there are “strong indications” that Israel’s forced displacement of people from the southern Gaza city of Rafah, under threat of Israeli attacks, is “being conducted in violation of international law.”

“People are being forcibly relocated yet again, sometimes the fourth, fifth or sixth time to places that are not safe,” OHCHR spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told a UN press briefing in Geneva. Rafah is the last-ditch place of refuge for over a million Palestinians forced to move due to relentless Israeli attacks in other parts of Gaza.

Shamdasani stressed that the people being forced to move now include ones who were disabled due to seven months of hostilities, some need dialysis treatments, and they are relocating to places that lack the infrastructure or the resources to be able to take in the displacement of this large number of people with such diverse needs.

“International humanitarian law prohibits the ordering of the displacement of civilians for reasons related to the conflict unless the security of the civilians is involved,” she said, underlining that Israel has “strict obligations” under international humanitarian law to ensure the safety and access of these individuals to medical care, adequate food, and safe water and sanitation.

“Failure to meet these obligations may amount to forced displacement, which is a war crime,” she said and added:

“There are strong indications that this (relocation) is being conducted in violation of international law.”

Aerial drone photo of a camp sheltering displaced people in Khan Younis, Gaza
Aerial drone photo of a camp sheltering displaced people in Khan Younis, Gaza. Many have fled Rafah to Khan Younis. (photo)

‘We hoped this day would never come’: Save the Children

Save the Children is warning that time has run out to protect children in Rafah following Israel’s evacuation order in advance of the looming ground assault.

“We hoped this day would never come,” said Inger Ashing, CEO of the charity, warning that an incursion would not only risk the lives of more than 600,000 children but would also severely affect the humanitarian aid response for Gaza.

“Forcibly displacing people from Rafah while further disrupting the aid response will likely seal the fate of many children,” Ashing added, urging countries to “act now” to protect civilians and prevent atrocities.

Palestinian children near the rubble of heavily damaged buildings after Israeli attacks on houses in Rafah, Gaza, on April 25, 2024
Palestinian children near the rubble of heavily damaged buildings after Israeli attacks on houses in Rafah, Gaza, on April 25, 2024 (photo)

There is ‘nowhere safe to go’ for the 600,000 children of Rafah, warns UNICEF

UNICEF reports: It is estimated that there are now about 1.2 million people sheltering in Rafah, once home to about 250,000 people. As a result, Rafah is almost twice as densely populated as New York City (20,000 people per km2 vs.11,300 people per km2), and about half the population is children, many of whom have been displaced multiple times and are sheltering in tents or informal and unstable housing.

Given the high concentration of children in Rafah – including many who are highly vulnerable and at the edge of survival…with potential evacuation corridors likely mined or littered with unexploded ordnance; and shelter and services in areas for relocation very likely to be limited – UNICEF is warning of a further catastrophe for children, with military operations resulting in very high civilian casualties and the few remaining basic services and infrastructure they need to survive being totally destroyed.

Hundreds of thousands of children in Rafah are estimated to have a disability, medical condition or other vulnerability that puts them in even greater jeopardy from the looming military operations in the city:

  • about 65,000 children are estimated to have a pre-existing disability, including difficulties seeing, hearing, walking, understanding, and learning.
  • about 78,000 children are infants under 2 years of age;
  • almost 8,000 children under 2 years of age are acutely malnourished;
  • about 175,000 children under 5 years of age – or 9 in 10 – are affected by one or more infectious diseases;
  • almost all children are already in need of mental health and psychosocial support.

(Read the full report here.)

Gideon Levy, regarding ceasefire: ‘Ball in Israel’s hands,’ ‘very, very tough decision’ for Netanyahu

Al Jazeera reports: Gideon Levy, a columnist with Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, says Hamas “took a brilliant step” that has left Israel “embarrassed”.

“Hamas said very clearly, ‘We agree to a deal,’ which nobody of us knows exactly the details, and now the ball is in Israel’s hands and Israel has to decide,” he told Al Jazeera.

“For Netanyahu, this is a very, very tough decision because he might lose his government. On the other hand, if he says no, it’s very clear that Israel wants war and not the hostages,” Levy said.

“Netanyahu has to decide what does he prefer: a government that continues to stay in power, God knows what for, … or taking a brave decision, saying yes to the deal, releasing the hostages, putting an end to this war – which didn’t do anything good in Israel and for sure not to the Palestinians – and trying to create a new reality in Gaza,” Levy said.

“That’s his choice. Knowing him, he will not choose the better one.”

Israeli PM Netanyahu is reportedly "frightened and unusually stressed" by the possibility of an imminent arrest warrant.
Israeli PM Netanyahu is reportedly “frightened and unusually stressed” by the possibility of an imminent arrest warrant. (photo)

Top Secret: In a 2018 letter, Netanyahu asked Qatar to fund Hamas

Israel’s YNet reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the government of Qatar to continue the transfer of $30 million a month to Gaza, in a secret letter sent to the Qatari leadership in 2018 and only seen by a handful of people since.

In the letter, Netanyahu explained that the funding would reduce the motivation of terror groups there to carry out attacks, would prevent a humanitarian crisis and was vital for preserving regional stability.

The letter has only been seen by a handful of people since being sent by Benjamin Netanyahu.

In the letter, the prime minister said funding Hamas would preserve regional stability and avert a humanitarian crisis.

After Qatari officials demanded further assurances, the US government agreed to a request from Netanyahu and sent an additional letter to Doha that, in effect, ensured Qatar that funding Hamas would not be considered funding terror, the report said, adding that the letters from Netanyahu and then-US Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin ultimately “satisfied the Qataris”.

UN Experts Condemn Israel’s ‘Sexual Assault And Violence’ In Gaza

AFP reports: United Nations experts on Monday condemned “unacceptable” violence by the Israeli military against women and children during the ongoing war in Gaza, particularly sexual violence and enforced disappearances.

“We are appalled that women are being targeted by Israel with such vicious, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, seemingly sparing no means to destroy their lives and deny them their fundamental human rights,” the seven special rapporteurs said in a statement.

Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. They do not speak on behalf of the United Nations.

The statement pointed to “continued reports of sexual assault and violence against women and girls, including against those detained by Israeli occupation forces”.

They cited UN reports saying women and girls in Gaza were victims of enforced disappearances.

Referring to Hamas, which runs the besieged Palestinian territory, Israel’s mission in Geneva alleged the experts had “once again chosen to ignore Hamas’s systematic militarization of health facilities and civilian infrastructures in the Gaza Strip, voluntarily and actively using the population as human shields”.

“In issuing such a statement, the signatories try to create an alternative narrative, parroting the agenda of a terrorist organization that is actively destroying the lives of the Palestinian population in Gaza,” the Israeli mission said.

NOTE: While Israel has made allegations of “systematic sexual violence” against Hamas on October 7th, it has yet to provide forensic evidence or witnesses. The allegations persist apparently because American mainstream media continue to ignore the facts, though numerous websites have reported about the weaknesses in reporting.
Hamas’ alleged use of the civilian population as “human shields” has also been debunked.
Report: Israeli forces strip, rape pregnant Gazan woman in public
Israeli rapes of Palestinian women and children, past & present

Human Rights Watch says U.S.-made bomb killed seven civilian relief workers in Lebanon in March

An ambulance that was hit in the Israeli strikes in Lebanon, in March.
An ambulance that was hit in the Israeli strikes in Lebanon, in March. Read about it here. (photo)

Republican senators threaten ICC prosecutor: Target Israel, and we will target you

Times of Israel writes: Despite warning from world court’s top lawyer against meddling, lawmakers threaten sanctions, US visa bans if arrest warrants are issued against Israeli officials. TOI reports

A dozen Republican senators on Monday sent a letter warning International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan not to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, days after the British lawyer cautioned against efforts to try to sway the court.

“Target Israel, and we will target you,” the senators, led by Sen. Tom Cotton, warned in the letter. “Such actions are illegitimate and lack legal basis, and, if carried out, will result in severe sanctions against you and your institution.”

Sens. Mitch McConnell (minority leader), Rick Scott, Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio also signed the letter, amid increasing concern in Israel that the UN court could issue arrest warrants for senior political and military officials over the nearly-seven-month-old war in Gaza.

Former Fox news analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano and Philip Giraldi (head of the Council for the National Interest) call the 12 US Senators “thugs” for threatening the International Criminal Court:


NOTE: The ICC prosecutes cases only when States do not are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely.

While it is true that Israel has its own military legal system, it rarely holds Israeli soldiers accountable. OCHA has reported, for example: “At least 510 criminal complaints were submitted to the Israeli Military Advocate General by civil society organizations on behalf of [Palestinian] victims of the 2008-2009 hostilities…only four cases resulted in an indictment and subsequent conviction. The highest sentence was seven and a half months imprisonment for a soldier convicted of stealing a credit card.”

It is an established fact that the Israeli military courts exist primarily to prosecute Palestinians living in the West Bank, which is under Israeli military control. Since 1967, about 40% of male Palestinians in the occupied territories have been arrested.


Conservative US judges boycott Columbia grads over campus Gaza protests

Reuters reports: A group of 13 conservative U.S. federal judges said on Monday that they would not hire law students or undergraduates from Columbia University in response to its handling of pro-Palestinian demonstrations.

The judges, all appointees of former U.S. President Donald Trump, called the Manhattan campus an “incubator of bigotry” in a Monday letter to Columbia President Minouche Shafik and Law Dean Gillian Lester.

Both professors and administrators are on the front lines of the campus disruptions, encouraging the virulent spread of antisemitism and bigotry,” the letter said.

The letter called for “serious consequences” for students and faculty who participated in campus disruptions and for the enforcement of free speech rules.

Spokespeople for Columbia University and Columbia Law School did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Columbia on Monday canceled its main graduation ceremony due to the ongoing protests.

The judges who signed Monday’s letter were all appointed by Trump, who has praised the New York Police Department’s response to the protesters, calling them “raging lunatics and Hamas sympathizers.”

The 13 judges boycotting Columbia represent a small slice of the nation’s nearly 900 federal judges.

NOTE: Pro-Israel organizations and individuals 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.


LISTEN: The movement to break Israel’s siege on Gaza

As aid barely trickles into Gaza, a group of activists are trying to take matters into their own hands.

The Freedom Flotilla movement plans to set sail to Gaza carrying more than 5,000 tonnes of aid in a mission that means great personal risk for its volunteers.

Go here for Al Jazeera’s podcast that looks into the Freedom Flotilla’s years-long struggle to break Israel’s siege on Gaza.


Al Jazeera: Israel bans Al Jazeera: What does it mean and what happens next?
Al Jazeera: Text of the Gaza ceasefire proposal approved by Hamas
Palestine Chronicle: “We have to take sides” – Rev. Munther Isaac says Gaza genocide has divided the world
Middle East Monitor: Israel wants to destroy Gaza and annex the West Bank, but what do the Palestinians want?


Palestinian death toll from October 7 – May 7: 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 7: 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 7: ~1,421 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 266 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.
Source: IsraelPalestineTimeline.org




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