Israeli accusations against UNRWA may result in Gaza’s total collapse; Israel targets telecom workers, kills another journalist; International Court of Justice ruling demands that US stop weapons sales and financial support of Israel; Israel’s imposition of “buffer zone” in Gaza is a war crime; more on American Tawfiq Ajaq, killed in West Bank; other West Bank news; Senator Bernie Sanders calls for end to arms sales to Israel (but not permanent ceasefire); Israeli leaders call for dismissal of “morally incompetent” PM Netanyahu; see hearing of lawsuit against Biden, Blinken, & Austin for complicity in Israel’s unfolding genocide
By IAK staff, from reports
Statement from Philippe Lazzarini, Commissioner General of UNRWA (27 January 2024):
UNRWA’s lifesaving aid may end due to funding suspension.
Over 2 million people in Gaza depend on UNRWA for survival as war and displacement continue.
Nine countries have as of today temporarily suspended their funding to UNRWA. These decisions threaten our ongoing humanitarian work across the region including and especially in the Gaza Strip [Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, the United States, Australia and Canada].
It is shocking to see a suspension of funds to the Agency in reaction to allegations against a small group of staff, especially given the immediate action that UNRWA took by terminating their contracts and asking for a transparent independent investigation.
UNRWA is the primary humanitarian agency in Gaza, with over 2 million people depending on it for their sheer survival. Many are hungry as the clock is ticking towards a looming famine. The Agency runs shelters for over 1 million people and provides food and primary healthcare even at the height of the hostilities.
It would be immensely irresponsible to sanction an Agency and an entire community it serves because of allegations of criminal acts against some individuals, especially at a time of war, displacement and political crises in the region.
UNRWA shares the list of all its staff with host countries every year, including Israel. The Agency never received any concerns on specific staff members.
I urge countries who have suspended their funding to re-consider their decisions before UNRWA is forced to suspend its humanitarian response. The lives of people in Gaza depend on this support and so does regional stability.
In December Israel’s Channel 12 reported that a high-level, classified Foreign Ministry document recommended a 3-stage strategy to push UNRWA out of Gaza.
On January 4th, former Israeli official Noga Arbell called for the destruction of UNWRA during a discussion in the Israeli parliament:
“It will be impossible to win the war if we do not destroy Unrwa, and this destruction must begin immediately”
Earlier this month on 4 January, Noga Arbell, a former Israeli official, called for the destruction of Unrwa during a discussion in the Israeli parliament. pic.twitter.com/VooVg39fVL
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) January 28, 2024
Journalist Sam Husseini reports statement by international law expert Francis Boyle:
with States (including US) cutting off funding to UNRWA, it is “no longer the case of these States aiding and abetting Israeli Genocide against the Palestinians in violation of Genocide Convention article 3 (e) criminalizing ‘complicity’ in genocide.
“These States are now also directly violating Genocide Convention article 2(c) by themselves: ‘Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part…'”
NOTE: Collective punishment is a violation of international humanitarian law.
Al Jazeera reports: The Palestinian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has denounced the continued targeting by Israeli forces of its telecommunications crews in the Gaza Strip.
The most recent attack, it said, took place earlier today in Gaza City, where Israeli forces fired live bullets and a tank shell directly at one of the crews working at a station, resulting in injuries and damage to their vehicles.
This came despite prior coordination through international institutions with the Israeli army, the ministry said, as well as the visibility of the telecommunications logo on their vehicles.
Al Jazeera reports: Gaza Government Media Offices says that Iyad Ahmed al-Rawag, broadcaster and program presenter on Sawt Al-Aqsa Radio, died in an Israeli attack on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza
“The number of journalist martyrs has risen to (120 journalists) since the start of the genocidal war on the Gaza Strip,” the office said in a statement.
OCHA reports: In the second half of January, humanitarian partners continue to observe a declining trend in access to northern and central areas of the Gaza Strip. Reasons for this include excessive delays for humanitarian aid convoys before or at checkpoints and heightened military activity in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip. Threats to the safety of humanitarian personnel and sites are also rife, not only hindering the delivery of time-sensitive and life-saving aid but also posing serious risks to the lives of those involved in humanitarian efforts.
This in spite of Israel’s case before the International Court of Justice, accusing the state of genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.
Also from OCHA: Ajith Sunghay, Head of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) for the Occupied Palestinian Territory said that the people displaced who reached Rafah are resorting to living in the street, with sewage running in the streets and “conditions of desperation conducive to a complete breakdown in order”.
Overspilling of violence into Rafah would have severe implications to more than 1.3 million people, already crowded there.
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Implications of the International Court of Justice decision
Al Jazeera reports: Rights advocates and legal experts have welcomed the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) decision ordering Israel to take “all measures within its power” to prevent acts that could amount to genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
While it stopped short of explicitly demanding a ceasefire, the top court of the United Nations on Friday acknowledged there is a plausible risk of genocide in the bombarded Palestinian enclave and refused to dismiss the case brought by South Africa.
“It’s a huge defeat for Israel — one of the biggest defeats … in the past 75 years,” said Raed Jarrar, advocacy director at Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a think tank in Washington, DC.
The ICJ’s decision in The Hague also spurred renewed calls to suspend weapons transfers to the Israeli government, which advocates say amount to complicity and violate international law. That includes arms shipments from the United States, Israel’s foremost backer.
“It’s a watershed moment where the United States government is put on notice that they cannot continue their blank-cheque policies with Israel,” Jarrar said. “The US can’t and should not continue its arms transfers with Israel now.”
Genocide is a dormant gene of settler-colonialism.Seeing ISR as the state born out of the Holocaust, some countries cant accept that it might commit atrocities,incl genocide.
Acknowledging ISR's settler-colonial origins would help remedy that false perception & move twd justice.
— Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur oPt (@FranceskAlbs) January 26, 2024
Al Jazeera reports: Rawhi Fattouh, the president of the Palestinian National Council (PNC), has warned that Israel’s plans to reduce the area of the Gaza Strip under the pretext of expanding a “buffer zone” will reduce the territory’s area by 20 percent.
In a news statement, Fattouh said that any action of this kind – which has seen the destruction of more than 1,200 Palestinian homes – is condemnable and a war crime.
“This plan has a colonial goal, to implement the agenda of the right-wing extremist government. It also constitutes a tightening of the siege, collective punishment, and pressure on the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, which is considered one of the most crowded areas in the world.”
Fattouh added that the so-called buffer zone is nothing but a “reoccupation and a perpetuation of the racist fascist colonial approach that will deprive the Palestinians of agricultural spaces”.
WEST BANK: Al Jazeera offers more background on the American citizen who was killed last week: The trip was meant to be a homecoming: a chance for Tawfiq Ajaq, a 17-year-old born and raised in the United States, to connect with his Palestinian roots.
Instead, his family’s ancestral village of al-Mazra’a ash-Sharqiya became his final resting place. On January 19, Palestinian officials say Ajaq was fatally shot after an off-duty Israeli police officer and an Israeli settler opened fire.
His uncle Mohammad Abdeljabbar acknowledged that justice for Americans killed in the Palestinian territories is often nonexistent, with the US historically unwilling to assert leverage over its “ironclad ally”. Already, he said, “we feel abandoned by our government”.
Ajaq often enjoyed summers in the West Bank, his family’s ancestral homeland, but last year, before the war in Gaza erupted, his parents decided it was time for the children to spend more time there…to “get in touch with our ancestors, to learn more about the culture, the language and the way of living out there”, Abdeljabbar explained.
“Tawfiq was very excited for it. He loved it. He loved the lifestyle,” he continued. “It’s kind of paradise. Apart from the violence and the wars going on, it’s still a beautiful lifestyle.” On January 19, he was shot and left to bleed to death. (Read the full story here.)
[His name is also reported as Tawfic Abdel Jabbar.]
— الجزيرة فلسطين (@AJA_Palestine) January 26, 2024
Translation: Scenes documenting the moment Israeli occupation bulldozers destroyed the Cinema and Main roundabouts in the centre of Jenin camp in the West Bank.
US Senator Bernie Sanders writes in the Guardian:
Many of us are watching with horror the severe humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives and US Senate are choosing to ignore this reality and evade their congressional responsibilities…
Let’s be clear: what’s happening in Gaza is not just some unfortunate tragedy taking place thousands of miles from our shores. The United States provides Israel with $3.8bn in military aid every year, and the bombs and military equipment that are destroying Gaza are made in America. In other words, we are complicit in what is happening…
And let’s be clear: this is not a natural disaster. It is a human-made crisis. This is the direct result of choices made by political leaders, none more than Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of Israel’s extreme rightwing government…
We also cannot ignore what is causing this disaster. And the answer is pretty clear: at every step, the Israeli government has failed to provide even the most basic protections to civilians. Every humanitarian move has been extracted only after weeks of delay and outside pressure from the United States and others…
So let’s be clear: Netanyahu’s rightwing government is starving Gaza. Israel’s indiscriminate bombardment and restrictions on essential humanitarian aid have created one of the most severe humanitarian catastrophes of recent times…
This war is being fought primarily with US arms and equipment. That means the United States is complicit in this nightmare. We must end it. The United States has to use its leverage to make Netanyahu change his approach…
The United States must stop asking Israel to do the right thing. It’s time to start telling Israel it must do these things or it will lose our support. (Read the full article here.)
Middle East Monitor reports: Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Friday that 26 former senior Israeli security officials and 17 senior officials in the civil field, including three Nobel Prize winners, signed a public letter calling for the dismissal of the Prime Minister of the occupation government Benjamin Netanyahu, following the failures of the war in Gaza. They consider him unqualified to lead Israel and that his hands are stained with Israeli blood.
Among the prominent names included in the letter are former ministers and chiefs of staff in the occupation army and former heads of the intelligence services, such as Moshe Yaalon, Dan Halutz, Tamir Pardo, Nadav Argaman, Assaf Hefetz and Yaakov Peri, all of whom have headed the Israeli security services or held high-ranking positions.
Among their accusations against Netanyahu, the signatories noted that he was fundamentally and morally incompetent to lead Israel into war and posed a direct and existential threat to the State of Israel.
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The Center for Constitutional Rights reports:
“Palestinian human rights organizations, together with Palestinians in Gaza and the U.S., filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court [in Oakland, CA] against President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and Secretary of Defense Austin for the U.S. officials’ failure to prevent and complicity in the Israeli government’s unfolding genocide against them, their families, and the 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza..
Among the plaintiffs, Defense for Children International–Palestine (DCIP) and Al-Haq are leading Palestinian human rights organizations dedicated to preserving and promoting the human rights of Palestinian people across the Occupied Palestinian Territory, consisting of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza. In Gaza, the lawsuit is also brought by Ahmed Abu Artema, founder of the 2018 Great March of Return, Dr. Omar Al-Najjar, a 24-year-old intern physician at Nasser Medical Complex, and Mohammed Ahmed Abu Rokbeh, a field researcher with DCIP.
A video of the January 26th hearing can be viewed here.
STATISTICS OCTOBER 7 – JANUARY 27:
Palestinian death toll from October 7 – January 27: at least 26,453* (26,257 in Gaza* (over 11,000 children, 7,500 women), and at least 370 in the West Bank (98 children). This does not include an estimated 7,000 more still buried under rubble (70% women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 33,360 Palestinian deaths.
About 1.7 million people have been displaced (about 85% of the population).
Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – January 27: ~1,705 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, 9 in West Bank, 557 soldiers in Gaza; including ~32 Americans and approximately 36 children) 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.”
*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.
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