Israel, Palestine/Gaza/Hamas 10 April 2024 –

Written by  //  July 10, 2024  //  Israel, Middle East & Arab World  //  No comments

Iran February 2024-

7 February 2024
10 July
Palestinians told to leave Gaza City as Israel steps up offensive
Evacuation order follows deadly airstrikes on locations including schools and shelters in past few days
The Israeli military told all Palestinian civilians to leave Gaza City and head south on Wednesday as it stepped up a military offensive in the territory that has killed dozens of people over the past 48 hours.
The evacuation order, carried out by dropping leaflets urging “all those in Gaza City” to take two “safe routes” south to the area around the central town of Deir al-Balah, came after a series of deadly strikes over the past two days in other parts of Gaza.
Israel has launched attacks on or near schools sheltering displaced people four times in four days
On Tuesday, an airstrike on the entrance of a school turned shelter in southern Gaza killed at least 31 people, including eight children, according to officials at the nearby Nasser hospital. Footage broadcast by Al Jazeera showed children playing football in the school’s yard when a sudden boom shook the area, prompting shouts of “a strike, a strike!

9 July
Ahead of Key Negotiations, Netanyahu’s Nonnegotiable Demands Spark Diplomatic Tensions
(The Medialine) …Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delineated a list of nonnegotiable demands, intensifying tensions both domestically and among international mediators. Netanyahu’s firm stance includes a contentious condition allowing Israel the option to resume military operations post-agreement, aimed at ensuring the complete achievement of its war objectives.
This announcement comes on the heels of a shift in Hamas’ approach, as the group expressed readiness to negotiate without requiring an upfront commitment from Israel for a complete and permanent cease-fire. This development marked a significant departure from Hamas’ previous positions in the ongoing conflict, potentially setting the stage for the first cessation of hostilities since November.
However, Netanyahu’s rigid prerequisites have been met with frustration and accusations of undermining the negotiation process, both within Israel and among the international community involved in mediating the talks.

8 July
Israel’s Self-Destruction – Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and the Price of Neglect
By Aluf Benn, Editor in Chief of Haaretz
(Foreign Affairs) October 7 was the worst calamity in Israel’s history. It is a national and personal turning point for anyone living in the country or associated with it. Having failed to stop the Hamas attack, the IDF has responded with overwhelming force, killing thousands of Palestinians and razing entire Gazan neighborhoods. But even as pilots drop bombs and commandos flush out Hamas’s tunnels, the Israeli government has not reckoned with the enmity that produced the attack—or what policies might prevent another. Its silence comes at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has refused to lay out a postwar vision or order. Netanyahu has promised to “destroy Hamas,” but beyond military force, he has no strategy for eliminating the group and no clear plan for what would replace it as the de facto government of postwar Gaza.
His failure to strategize is no accident. Nor is it an act of political expediency designed to keep his right-wing coalition together. To live in peace, Israel will have to finally come to terms with the Palestinians, and that is something Netanyahu has opposed throughout his career.
He has devoted his tenure as prime minister, the longest in Israeli history, to undermining and sidelining the Palestinian national movement. He has promised his people that they can prosper without peace. He has sold the country on the idea that it can continue to occupy Palestinian lands forever at little domestic or international cost. And even now, in the wake of October 7, he has not changed this message. The only thing Netanyahu has said Israel will do after the war is maintain a “security perimeter” around Gaza—a thinly veiled euphemism for long-term occupation, including a cordon along the border that will eat up a big chunk of scarce Palestinian land.
… Ultimately, Israel’s future may look very much like its recent history. With or without Netanyahu, “conflict management” and “mowing the grass” will remain state policy—which means more occupation, settlements, and displacement. This strategy might appear to be the least risky option, at least for an Israeli public scarred by the horrors of October 7 and deaf to new suggestions of peace. But it will only lead to more catastrophe. Israelis cannot expect stability if they continue to ignore the Palestinians and reject their aspirations, their story, and even their presence.
15 May
A UN Trusteeship for Palestine
A Temporary Fix That Can Lead to an Enduring Peace
By Lloyd Axworthy, Michael W. Manulak, and Allan Rock
(Foreign Affairs) …as Israel begins its ground assault in Rafah, the situation inside Gaza is deteriorating swiftly. With more than 34,000 civilian deaths already, accusations of genocide, and indications of a manmade famine, the humanitarian imperative is enormous and urgent. Outside Gaza, new Jewish settlements and incursions by the Israel Defense Forces in the West Bank stoke further tensions.
… The situation cries out for an international arrangement to help all sides realize their self-interest in a durable peace for Gaza and, ultimately, a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To last, any such arrangement will have to be backed by regional leaders, have the clear goal of strengthening Palestinian institutions as a prelude to statehood, and guarantee Israel’s security. Fortunately, there is an established, long-dormant mechanism that can do just that: a UN trusteeship.
May/June 2024
Israel’s Forever War
By Tom Segev, Israeli historian and the author of A State at Any Cost: The Life of David Ben-Gurion.
The Long History of Managing—Rather Than Solving—the Conflict
(Foreign Affairs) Evidently, existential conflicts shaped around competing visions of nationhood cannot be ended by grand solutions that neither side will support—least of all, during the most devastating war that Israelis and Palestinians have experienced in three-quarters of a century. But such a conflict can be managed in more or less reasonable ways. If a century of failure has made clear that the two sides are unlikely to be reconciled in the foreseeable future, the war in Gaza has exposed the terrifying cataclysm that poor handling of the conflict can bring about. When the fighting is over, imaginative, resourceful, and compassionate management of the conflict between the two sides will be more crucial than ever. Rather than devoting energy and political capital to deeply unpopular—and unsustainable—peace plans, the United States and other leading powers must do more to ensure that Palestinians and Israelis can find a safer and more tolerable existence in a world without peace.
Countless failures in the search for a solution to the conflict have given rise to a hypothesis that only a catastrophe of biblical proportions could persuade either side to rethink their delusional national creeds. The unfolding events in Israel and Gaza may suggest that both sides have not yet suffered enough. But perhaps this hypothesis is not rooted in reality, either.

8 July
Israel war on Gaza live: Israel attacks UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City
The Israeli army claims the UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City contains combat equipment and detention rooms belonging to Hamas, justifying its attack.
Palestinians are fleeing eastern parts of Gaza City after the Israeli military expanded “immediate” evacuation orders to the Tuffah, Daraj and Old City neighbourhoods.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel will agree to a deal with Hamas only if the group agrees to its condition to resume fighting in Gaza, as Defense Minister Yoav Gallant insists on continuing fighting with Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if a truce agreement is reached in Gaza.
Mediated truce talks are expected to continue in Egypt and Qatar this week.
At least 38,153 people have been killed and 87,828 wounded in Israel’s war on Gaza since October 7. The death toll in Israel from the Hamas-led attacks is estimated at 1,139, with dozens of people still held captive in Gaza.

7 July
The nightmare of Gaza
Humanitarian workers in Gaza continue their operations in impossible conditions because there is no other choice.
By Olga Cherevko, Staff member of the UN OCHA
(Al Jazeera) Some 1.9 million people – or 90 percent of the population – have been displaced; many have had to move multiple times, as there is no safe place in Gaza.
Using the term “living conditions” to describe the dreadful circumstances Palestinians in Gaza face seems absurd. People are not “living”, they are barely surviving. Many are forced to reside in crammed shelters in ever-shrinking spaces where they are allowed to seek refuge. I have seen tents where as many as five families are staying together under sheets of plastic or ripped blankets propped up by a rickety frame.
The vast majority of people in Gaza lack the very basics of life, including food, water, medicine and hygiene supplies. Digging latrine pits near one’s tent has become increasingly common to avoid having to search and wait for communal latrines that are now extremely rare.

6 July
Hamas accepts US proposal on talks over Israeli hostages, Hamas source says
A Palestinian official close to the internationally mediated peace efforts had said the proposal could lead to a framework agreement if embraced by Israel and would end the nine-month-old war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.
(Reuters) – Hamas has accepted a U.S. proposal to begin talks on releasing Israeli hostages, including soldiers and men, 16 days after the first phase of an agreement aimed at ending the Gaza war, a senior Hamas source told Reuters on Saturday.
The militant Islamist group has dropped a demand that Israel first commit to a permanent ceasefire before signing the agreement, and would allow negotiations to achieve that throughout the six-week first phase, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

4 July
US calls new Hamas ceasefire proposal for Gaza a ‘breakthrough’
White House says proposal is in line with deal outlined by Joe Biden in late May, but work is still to be done
(The Guardian) The White House has described the latest Hamas ceasefire proposal for Gaza as a “breakthrough” establishing a framework for a possible hostage deal, but warned that difficult negotiations remained over the implementation of the agreement.
A senior US official said the Biden administration received the latest Hamas offer “a couple of days ago” and had been studying it ahead of a 30-minute telephone call between Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
“The conversation was detailed, going through the text of the agreement, constructive and encouraging, while also clear-eyed about the work ahead [and] the steps that must be put in place to finalise this deal and then begin the implementation,” the US official said of the call.
Israel sends delegation to negotiate hostage release deal with Hamas
White House welcomes resumption of talks
Mossad boss to lead Israeli talks delegation
“Real chance” of deal: source in Israeli delegation
Netanyahu discussed talks in call with Biden
Israeli security cabinet convenes
(Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday he has decided to send a delegation to resume stalled negotiations on a hostage release deal with Hamas, their administrations said.
A source in the Israeli negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was a real chance of achieving agreement after Hamas made a revised proposal on the terms of a deal.

3 July
Israel turbocharges West Bank settlement expansion with largest land grab in decades
(AP) — Israel has approved the largest seizure of land in the occupied West Bank in over three decades, a settlement tracking group said Wednesday, a move that is likely to worsen already soaring tensions linked to the war in Gaza.
Israel’s aggressive expansion in the West Bank reflects the settler community’s strong influence in the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the most religious and nationalist in the country’s history. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, a settler himself, has turbocharged the policy of expansion, seizing new authorities over settlement development and saying he aims to solidify Israel’s hold on the territory and prevent the creation of a Palestinian state.
Authorities recently approved the appropriation of 12.7 square kilometers (nearly 5 square miles) of land in the Jordan Valley, according to a copy of the order obtained by The Associated Press. Data from Peace Now, the tracking group, indicate it was the largest single appropriation approved since the 1993 Oslo accords at the start of the peace process.

24 June
‘Intense phase of war with Hamas about to end,’ focus to shift to Lebanon border, Netanyahu says
(CNN) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the “intense phase of the war with Hamas (in Gaza) is about to end,” and that the military’s focus could then shift to Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, where fighting with the Iran-backed group Hezbollah has intensified in recent weeks.
(The World) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that the current phase of fighting against Hamas in Gaza is winding down, setting the stage for Israel to send more troops to its northern border to confront the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The comments threatened to further heighten the tensions between Israel and Hezbollah at a time when they appear to be moving closer to war. Netanyahu also signaled that there is no end in sight for the grinding war in Gaza. The Israeli leader said in a lengthy TV interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that would not mean the war against Hamas is over. But he said fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah began striking Israel almost immediately after Hamas’ Oct. 7 cross-border attack that triggered the latest Gaza war. Israel and Hezbollah have been exchanging fire nearly every day since then, but the fighting has escalated in recent weeks, raising fears of a full-blown war.

15 June
With Rafah crossing closed by Israel, Gazans have no way out
Israel’s offensive in Rafah, aimed at eliminating Hamas’s last battalions, has dashed any hope of escape for ill and injured Palestinian civilians.

14 June
Are We Close to a Ceasefire in Gaza?
A crucial moment in the Gaza crisis.
Mark Leon Goldberg
(Global Dispatches) We are in a very odd moment of diplomacy in the Gaza crisis. On the one hand, the prospect of reaching a ceasefire agreement has never been as tantalizingly close as it is today. There is a deal on the table that the Israeli government has sent to Hamas. The United Nations Security Council endorsed this deal in a near-unanimous vote earlier this week. Crucially, Hamas has thus far not rejected it and has reacted somewhat favorably to it.
On the other hand, the ceasefire negotiations could completely collapse at any moment. The depth of support for this deal in the Israeli government is paper-thin at best. Meanwhile, Hamas seems to be dragging its feet and apparently insisting on changes to the agreement that would not be acceptable to Israel. Meanwhile, the carnage in Gaza continues, and the prospect of a wider regional war sparked by conflict in Northern Israel and Lebanon remains acute.
The deal on the table has three parts. First, it would include a six-week ceasefire and the release of most of the Israeli hostages and a large number of Palestinians in Israeli military detention. During this six-week period, humanitarian relief would surge into Gaza as negotiators work toward a permanent ceasefire, the second phase. Finally, after a permanent ceasefire has been reached, there would be meaningful political progress on certain issues in the Palestine-Israeli portfolio and a reconstruction plan for Gaza.
There are two ways this can go right now. One is a ceasefire deal that leads to a meaningful cessation of hostilities and reduction of suffering in Gaza. The other is a doom cycle of escalation that could lead to a wider war in the Middle East.

11-12 June
UN report on Israel, Hamas: Murder, starvation, gender-based violence
(Al Jazeera) The Israeli government and Palestinian groups including Hamas have committed war crimes during the war on Gaza, according to a report from the UN Commission of Inquiry. It detailed a long list of offences, including the use of extermination, starvation, indiscriminate attacks, siege warfare, and sexual and other gender-based violence.
UN says violence against children in conflict reached extreme levels in 2023, including in Gaza
(AP) — Violence against children caught in multiplying and escalating conflicts reached “extreme levels” in 2023, with an unprecedented number of killings and injuries in crises, from Israel and the Palestinian territories to Sudan, Myanmar and Ukraine, according to a new U.N. report.
The annual report on Children in Armed Conflict, obtained on Tuesday by The Associated Press, reported “a shocking 21% increase in grave violations” against children under the age of 18 in an array of conflicts, also citing Congo, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Syria.
For the first time, the U.N. report put Israeli forces on its blacklist of countries that violate children’s rights for the killing and maiming of children and attacking schools and hospitals. It listed Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants for the first time as well for killing, injuring and abducting children.
Israel shrugs at Palestinian civilian casualties. So does Hamas.
(WaPo) In new report, Hamas’s leader in Gaza is said to describe Palestinian civilian deaths as “necessary sacrifices.”
Almost every time it emerges that Israeli forces have killed large numbers of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, Israel and its supporters invoke their repeated mantra: It’s all the fault of militant group Hamas.
That was the line that followed Saturday’s bloody events, when an Israeli military operation freed four hostages in central Gaza and killed at least 274 Palestinians, many of whom were civilians including dozens of children, according to Gazan health authorities.
… Hamas has its own narrative, too. The group, listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, casts itself at the heart of the resistance to Israeli occupation and says it successfully blew up the status quo that surrounded the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the frozen peace process between both sides. In April, even as the group faced major losses to its armed wing and the hideous toll exacted on Gaza’s civilians grew, Khaled Meshal, one of Hamas’s leaders in exile, told an audience in Qatar that his faction was further down “the path of liberating Palestine and defeating the Zionist project.”
UN says Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups may have committed war crimes in a deadly raid
(AP) — The U.N. human rights office is citing possible war crimes by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in connection with a deadly raid by Israeli forces that freed four hostages over the weekend and killed hundreds of Palestinians.
Office spokesman Jeremy Laurence expressed concerns about possible violations of rules of proportionality, distinction and precaution by the Israeli forces in Saturday’s raid at the urban Nuseirat refugee camp.
‘Unprecedented scale’ of violations against children in Gaza, West Bank and Israel, UN report says
More grave violations against children were committed in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel than anywhere else in the world last year, according to a UN report due to be published this week.
“Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory presents an unprecedented scale and intensity of grave violations against children,” the report [on children and armed conflict] said.
The report covers the killing, maiming, sexual abuse, abduction or recruitment of children, denial of aid access and targeting of schools and hospitals.
The report is compiled by the UN secretary general’s special representative for children and armed conflict, Virginia Gamba. The list attached to the report is widely intended to name and shame parties to conflicts in the hope of deterring violence against children.

9 June
Outrage over ‘massacre’ in Gaza as Israel rescued four hostages
Top EU diplomat says ‘bloodbath must end’ after Israeli attacks killed at least 274, according to Gaza ministry
(The Guardian) Israeli attacks in central Gaza killed scores of Palestinians, many of them civilians, on Saturday amid a special forces operation to free four hostages held there, with the death toll sparking international outrage.
At least 274 Palestinians were killed and 698 wounded in Israeli strikes on the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza, Gaza’s health ministry said on Sunday. The Israeli military said its forces came under heavy fire during the daytime operation.
The EU’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, called it a “massacre”, while the UN’s aid chief described in graphic detail scenes of “shredded bodies on the ground”.
Gaza’s Health Ministry says 274 Palestinians were killed in Israeli raid that rescued 4 hostages

1-2 June
Israeli leader Netanyahu faces growing pressure at home after Biden’s Gaza proposal
(AP) — Israel’s prime minister faced growing pressure Saturday after U.S. President Joe Biden announced a proposed agreement to end the fighting in Gaza, with many Israelis urging Benjamin Netanyahu to embrace the deal but far-right allies threatening to collapse his government if he does.
Netanyahu called a permanent cease-fire in Gaza a “nonstarter” until long-standing conditions for ending the war are met, appearing to undermine the proposal that Biden described as an Israeli one.
A huge demonstration in Israel on Saturday night, led by families of hostages held by Hamas, urged the government to act now. Mediators the U.S., Egypt and Qatar pressed Israel and Hamas, saying the proposed deal “offers a road map for a permanent cease-fire and ending the crisis” and gives immediate relief to both hostages and Gaza residents.
Update Mediators urge Israel and Hamas to finalise Biden’s Gaza peace plan
(Reuters) – Gaza conflict mediators on Saturday urged Israel and Hamas to finalise a ceasefire and hostage release deal outlined by U.S. President Joe Biden that they said would bring immediate relief to people in Gaza and to the hostages and their families.
Gaza ceasefire out of the question unless Hamas is destroyed: Netanyahu
(Reuters) – Israel said on Saturday that the Gaza war would not end as long as Hamas retains power, raising questions of timing and interpretation over a truce offer that U.S. President Joe Biden has advanced and the Palestinian militants have cautiously welcomed.
Biden said on Friday that Israel had proposed a deal involving an initial six-week ceasefire with a partial Israeli military withdrawal and the release of some hostages while “a permanent end to hostilities” is negotiated through mediators.
The proposal, Biden said, also “creates a better ‘day after’ in Gaza without Hamas in power”. He did not elaborate on how that might be achieved. The Iranian-backed Islamist group has given no indication it might step aside or disarm voluntarily.
However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Saturday any notion that Israel would agree a permanent ceasefire before “the destruction of Hamas’ military and governing capabilities” was “a non-starter”.

31 May
Biden details Gaza truce proposal, Hamas responds positively
US says first phase would involve negotiations on a permanent ceasefire
Hamas says it will respond in a ‘constructive manner’
US secretary of state speaks with Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia to build support for plan

28-30 May
Hamas Says Ready For “Complete Agreement” If Israel “Stops War In Gaza”
(Reuters) – Hamas said on Thursday it had told mediators it would not take part in more negotiations during ongoing aggression but was ready for a “complete agreement” including an exchange of hostages and prisoners if Israel stopped the war.
Talks, mediated by among others Egypt and Qatar, to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and the Islamist movement in the Gaza war have repeatedly stalled with both sides blaming the other for the lack of progress.
Gaza Offensive Will Last at Least Through End of Year, Israeli Official Says
(NYT) Israel’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, appeared to reject the idea of a quick end to the war, though it was unclear what the intensity of the campaign would be.
Israel declares it has ‘tactical control’ over a strategic Gaza corridor on the border with Egypt.
Israel used U.S.-made bombs in the strike that killed dozens in Rafah.
Aid groups in Rafah say Israel’s advance is pushing them out.
Thousands around the world protest after the deadly Israeli strike in Rafah.
‘All eyes on Rafah’ surges on social media after a deadly Israeli strike.
Ian Bremmer: Israel & Hamas extreme positions move them even further apart
Israel with tanks now rolling into central Rafah.
(GZERO media) This is the warning that the Americans had given the Israelis for over a month now, not to invade that area. The Prime Minister and others on the War Cabinet have said that they will persist until Hamas is destroyed, and that critically includes Rafah. This comes after roughly 1 million Palestinians have fled the area, having been warned by the Israelis that they’re going to attack it. Over the past couple of weeks, of course, it’s not clear that they have anywhere safe to go. Certainly, nowhere with infrastructure or with adequate humanitarian support. Comes after airstrikes by Israel hit a camp for people displaced from Rafah that killed over 45, mostly women and children, as well as two Hamas officials. Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to that as a tragic error. They’ve been a lot of those over the course of the past months. The United States, as I said, strongly opposing the invasion and calling it a red line, sort of. I mean, that red line also came with all sorts of caveats that the United States wanted to ensure that aid was going to be able to get in.
And part of that was the Americans building a humanitarian pier that they set up and which is falling apart because of bad weather, choppy seas, and no aid has been delivered from it despite all of the money and all of the effort to do so to the Palestinians. Also, with the idea that the Palestinians have to be gotten out and indeed, most of them have now gotten out, those that aren’t military age, fighting age men. But whether those plans are considered adequate by the Americans, especially given where they’re fleeing to, seems very unlikely. So Biden’s red line is certainly going to be seen as having been transgressed by the Israeli government, by the Israeli War Cabinet. What exactly he plans to do about that? Still very, very challenging.
26-27 May
Facing Global Outrage, Netanyahu Calls Civilian Deaths in Rafah Strike ‘Tragic Accident’
(NYT) With international condemnation mounting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Monday that the killing of dozens of people a day earlier at a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah was “a tragic accident,” but gave no sign of curbing the Israeli offensive in the southern Gaza city.
The deadly fire that tore through the encampment on Sunday after an airstrike came at a particularly delicate time for Israel, just days after the International Court of Justice appeared to order the country’s military to halt its offensive in Rafah and as diplomats were aiming to restart negotiations for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas.
The strike on Sunday, which Israeli officials said targeted two Hamas leaders taking cover near a civilian encampment, ignited a fire that killed 45 people, according to the Gazan authorities.
(The World) The strike only added to the surging international criticism Israel has faced over its war with Hamas, with even its closest allies expressing outrage at civilian deaths. Israel insists it adheres to international law even as it faces scrutiny in the world’s top courts, one of which last week demanded that it halt the offensive in Rafah. Netanyahu did not elaborate on the error. Israel’s military initially said it had carried out a precise airstrike on a Hamas compound, killing two senior militants. As details of the strike and fire emerged, the military said it had opened an investigation into the deaths of civilians. Sunday night’s attack, which appeared to be one of the war’s deadliest, helped push the overall Palestinian death toll in the war above 36,000, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Israeli Airstrike in Rafah Kills Dozens in Tent Camp, Gazan Officials Say
In a statement, the Israeli military said it was looking into reports that “several civilians in the area were harmed” by the airstrike and a subsequent fire. A follow-up statement said the strike had killed two Hamas leaders. A legal official with the military said Monday that the strike was under review.

22 May
Recognitions of Palestinian statehood are a rebuke to Israel, if a largely symbolic one reflecting dwindling international patience with its military offensive in Gaza and its decades of occupation of Palestinian territories.

20 May
ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrants for Israel’s Netanyahu and Hamas leaders
The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on Monday he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.
Israeli and Hamas leaders denounce his decision
Biden calls move against Netanyahu ‘outrageous’
ICC has no power to enforce arrest warrants
(Reuters) – The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on Monday he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defence chief and three Hamas leaders over alleged war crimes.
ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement issued after more than seven months of war in Gaza that he had reasonable grounds to believe the five men “bear criminal responsibility” for alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Gazans, Hamas see false equivalence in ICC charges
By Nidal Al-Mughrabi
ICC prosecutor seeks arrest of Israel, Hamas leaders
Gaza residents criticise decision equating Hamas’ actions with Israel’s war
Hamas denounces warrants against its leaders
Hamas: warrant against Netanyahu and Gallant ‘seven months too late’
(Reuters) – Gaza Strip residents criticised on Monday the International Criminal Court prosecutor’s decision to seek the arrest of Hamas leaders, saying it falsely equated them with the Israeli leaders waging war in the Palestinian enclave since October.
Amal Clooney advised ICC prosecutor who seeks arrest of Israel and Hamas leaders
‘The law that protects civilians in war was developed more than 100 years ago and it applies in every country in the world regardless of the reasons for a conflict,’ Clooney said.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney served as a special adviser in the international criminal court prosecutor’s investigation that led him to seek arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, it has emerged.
The court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, thanked Clooney in his statement announcing the move, describing her as part of “a panel of experts in international law” whom he had turned to for advice and to review the evidence in the case. Many of the named experts are British.

19 May
Israel’s war on Gaza live: Fierce fighting continues in Jabalia, north Gaza
Fierce fighting continues in Jabalia, north Gaza, as Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports Israeli plane, helicopter and artillery strikes on the camp.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi has called for an international probe into “war crimes” committed during Israel’s war on Gaza.
Safadi’s tough words come after Israel killed 31 people in Nuseirat refugee camp amid intensified air and ground attacks across Gaza.
UN’s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths has warned of “apocalyptic” consequences of aid shortages in Gaza as key Rafah and Karem Abu Salem crossings remain “effectively blocked”.
At least 35,456 people have been killed and 79,476 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7. The death toll in Israel from Hamas’s attack is 1,139, with dozens still held captive

18 May
Key member of Israel’s war cabinet threatens resignation over war strategy in Gaza
Gantz’s departure would leave Netanyahu more beholden to far-right allies
(AP/CBC) Gantz spelled out a six-point plan that includes the return of scores of hostages, ending Hamas’s rule, demilitarizing the Gaza strip and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs. It also supports efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.
He said if it is not adopted by June 8, he will quit the government: “If you choose the path of fanatics and lead the entire nation to the abyss, we will be forced to quit the government,” Gantz said.

17 May
The UN’s Gaza Statistics Make No Sense
The actual death toll matters—first, because of the dignity of those killed or still living.
By Graeme Wood
(The Atlantic) Between May 6 and May 8, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) revised its estimates of how many women and children had died in Gaza. The numbers appeared to drop drastically: first, it reported at least 24,000 dead women and children, and two days later, it reported exactly 12,756 “identified” dead women and children. One could be forgiven for wondering whether the UN had raised about 6,700 Gazan children and 4,500 Gazan women from the dead.
This is one of those moments when the fog of statistics could be dispersed with just a few sentences of straight talk, of the sort rarely uttered by spokespeople. The UN numbers changed because the UN has little idea how many children have been killed in Gaza, beyond “a lot.” It gets its statistics from Hamas. Where else would it get them? There are no independent epidemiologists in Gaza right now doing the survey work, house to bombed-out house, that would yield reliable numbers. So OCHA used unreliable ones. It never concealed its sources, but it distributed even the most questionable numbers under the UN name.
Operating a statistics laundromat for Hamas’s media wing is embarrassing. But the absence of alternatives is also concerning.
Israel currently embeds zero journalists in Gaza. “To allow journalists to report safely,” an Israeli military spokesperson told me, the Israel Defense Forces “accompany them when on the battlefield.” He would not say how many journalists had in fact been allowed to accompany IDF units—let alone accompany them on regular operations, rather than short press tours of battle sites after the action. When Hamas alleges that Israeli soldiers are shooting everyone in sight, and murdering families by flattening buildings devoid of military purpose, it can point to the dead children. Israel can deny the charge and hope that the world trusts it over an avowed terrorist group. The world seldom obliges.

15 May
Palestinians mark 76 years of their dispossession as more catastrophe unfolds in Gaza
Palestinians are marking 76 years of dispossession on Wednesday, commemorating their mass expulsion from what is today Israel, as a potentially larger catastrophe unfolds in Gaza where over a quarter of the population has been displaced by fighting in the last few days alone.

12 May
Israel increasingly isolated on world stage amid Gaza offensive
Tasha Kheiriddin
(GZERO media) Israel marked a somber Memorial Day on Sunday, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declaring that the nation is prepared to “stand alone” if necessary. The Jewish state has become increasingly isolated as it faces pushback from adversaries and allies alike.
Israeli operations in north and south Gaza force displaced to flee again
Humanitarian agencies warned that no place was safe and that aid had nearly run out, almost a week after Israel seized and shut down the Rafah crossing.
(WaPo) Israeli forces continued to advance on the southern city of Rafah on Sunday and launched another operation against Hamas in the north, setting off a desperate scramble among war-weary civilians across Gaza. Humanitarian agencies warned that no place was safe and that essential aid had nearly run out, almost a week after Israel captured and shut down the border crossing with Egypt.
The expanding evacuations in Rafah, where Israel had ordered more than 1 million Palestinians to seek shelter from fighting early in the war, signaled a possible push into the heart of the city — a move that could prompt Washington, Israel’s staunchest ally, to freeze offensive weapons shipments after months of faltering cease-fire negotiations.
“We cannot, will not support an operation in Rafah, a major military operation, in the absence of a credible plan to protect civilians, and they [Israel] still haven’t delivered,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.

9-10 May
United Nations General Assembly backs Palestinian bid for membership
Resolution does not give Palestine full UN membership, but recognises them as qualified to join and extends rights
Battles rage around Rafah’s edge as more than 100,000 flee the city
Medics and journalists were unable to reach the area, making it difficult to assess the nature and intensity of the fighting.
Gaza ceasefire talks end with no deal as Israel ramps up Rafah attacks
UNRWA official accuses Israel of subjecting Gaza to ‘medieval siege’ as 110,000 Palestinians flee Rafah and aid runs out.
(Al Jazeera) The Israeli military has ramped up its attacks in Rafah, southern Gaza, and hit Gaza City while crippling humanitarian aid operations across the Palestinian territory as ceasefire talks ended without a deal.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said on Friday that 110,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah. Israeli troops were advancing in the east of the city in close combat operations and conducting air raids
Thousands flee Rafah as heavy fighting breaks out on city’s outskirts
(The World) About 110,000 people have fled the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, as heavy fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants on the city’s outskirts leaves aid crossings inaccessible and food and fuel supplies grow critically low, a UN official said Friday. All crossings into southern Gaza remain effectively closed, cutting off supplies and preventing medical evacuations and the movement of humanitarian staff, said Georgios Petropoulos, an official for the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs working in Rafah. Some 1.3 million Palestinians — over half of Gaza’s population — had sought refuge in Rafah.
(The World) A shipment of humanitarian aid left a port in Cyprus on Thursday morning and was on its way to the US-built pier in Gaza, the first delivery to the newly built ramp, Cyprus’ foreign minister said. The relief is desperately needed, with the United Nations saying people in Gaza are on the brink of famine and as Israeli troops have ordered the evacuation of 100,000 Palestinians from Gaza’s southern city of Rafah. Earlier this week, Israel sent tanks to seize Gaza’s nearby Rafah crossing with Egypt, shutting down a vital border entry point needed to get assistance into the battered enclave. It remains uncertain whether Israel will launch an all-out invasion of Rafah as international efforts for a ceasefire continue. Israel has said that an assault on Rafah is crucial to its goal of destroying Hamas.

7 May
EU’s top diplomat condemns assault on Rafah as Israel halts aid routes
“The will to continue the war will produce another great humanitarian crisis, bigger than it is already.”
(Politico Eu) Israeli tanks entered the Gazan city of Rafah on Tuesday morning — despite months of warnings by allies and aid groups that a full-scale attack would be a humanitarian catastrophe.
More than half of the population of Gaza — 1.4 million people, the majority of whom arrived having already been displaced from further north — are trapped in Rafah.
“I’m afraid that this is going to cause again a lot of civilian casualties, whatever they say. There are 600,000 children in Gaza, they will be pushed to so-called safe zones,” the EU’s foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said Tuesday ahead of a meeting of ministers in charge of development cooperation.

5 May
Cease-Fire Talks Between Israel and Hamas Again at an Impasse
There had been signs the two sides were inching closer to an agreement, but talks in Cairo stalled and a Hamas delegation left the city.
(NYT) The latest round of negotiations between Israel and Hamas hit an impasse on Sunday as mediators struggled to bridge remaining gaps and a Hamas delegation departed the talks in Cairo, according to two senior Hamas officials and two other officials familiar with the talks. An Israeli official also confirmed the negotiations had stalled and described them as being in “crisis.”
Hamas blamed the lack of progress on Mr. Netanyahu, who vowed again in recent days that the Israeli army will invade Rafah, the southernmost town in the Gaza Strip, with or without an agreement.

1 May
Blinken presses Hamas to seal cease-fire with Israel, says ‘the time is now’ for a deal
(AP) U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has met with Israeli leaders in his push for a cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas to impress on them that “the time is now” for an agreement that would free hostages and bring a pause in the nearly seven months of war.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken hiked up pressure on Hamas on Wednesday to accept the latest proposal for a cease-fire with Israel, saying the “time is now” for an agreement that would free hostages and pause the nearly seven months of war in Gaza.
But a key sticking point appeared to remain — whether the deal would completely end Israel’s offensive as Hamas has demanded.

30 April
Ian Bremmer: Israel intent on Rafah invasion despite global backlash
How will the international community respond to an Israeli invasion of Rafah?
Very, very badly. You see that the Israeli prime minister and War Cabinet continues to say that no matter what happens with the hostages and a potential deal, and everyone’s trying to get one done at the last minute, that the intention is still very much to fight on the ground there. I don’t think that’s a bluff. And especially because it’s supported by the entire Israeli political spectrum and the population, they believe that you’ve got to take out Hamas. And beyond that, there’s also the concern about Hezbollah. So I think the international response is going to be very negative. It is certainly going to push back the possibility of any Saudi normalization, and it’s going to lead to a lot more demonstrations and hostility against Israel in the United States and in Europe.
Hopes for Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal take severe blow as Netanyahu vows to invade Rafah
A potential deal to halt almost seven months of war in Gaza hung in the balance Tuesday as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken shuttled around the Middle East trying to push home a ceasefire pact between Israel and Hamas.
Ceasefire hopes, which had risen in recent days as Mr. Blinken visited Saudi Arabia and Jordan to build support in the Arab world, took a severe blow just before he landed in Israel on Tuesday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that his country’s military would invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah regardless of how the negotiations went.
“The idea that we will halt the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question,” Mr. Netanyahu said while meeting the families of some of the victims of the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. “We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there, with or without a deal, in order to achieve the total victory.”

26 April
Egypt sent a high-level delegation to Israel on Friday with the hope of brokering a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, two officials said. At the same time, it warned that a possible Israeli offensive focused on Gaza’s city of Rafah — on the border with Egypt — could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability. Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, is leading the delegation and planned to discuss with Israel a “new vision” for a prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the mission freely. Friday’s talks focused at first on a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, and the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the Egyptian official said.
The official said mediators are working on a compromise that will answer most of both parties’ main demands, then lead to continued negotiations with the goal of a larger deal to end the war. A Western diplomat in Cairo said that Egypt’s intensified efforts for a cease-fire aim to avert a Rafah offensive. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.
Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent cease-fire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has rejected. Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is defeated and that it will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

25 April
Hamas says they will disarm if independent Palestinian state is established
(The World) A top Hamas political official told The Associated Press the Islamist militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders. The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of talks for a ceasefire in Gaza. The suggestion that Hamas would disarm appeared to be a significant concession by the militant group officially committed to Israel’s destruction. But it’s unlikely Israel would consider such a scenario. Speaking to the AP in Istanbul, Hayya said Hamas wants to join the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by the rival Fatah faction, to form a unified government for Gaza and the West Bank.
9 January
Blinken urges Israel to engage with region on postwar plans that include path to Palestinian state

24 April
Amid a somber Passover in the Holy Land, a chilling reality remains: Israel could soon trigger an exodus into Egypt.
For weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled his intent to launch a full-scale offensive into Rafah

What are the obligations of Israel and Hamas to protect civilians? (pay wall)
International Humanitarian Law creates obligations—but contains numerous caveats
(The Economist) THE ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCES (IDF) are preparing for an offensive against the city of Rafah, in the southernmost tip of Gaza. It is the last redoubt of Hamas—but is also home to some 1.5m displaced Palestinians. Fearing a humanitarian catastrophe, even Israel’s closest ally, America, has warned against military operations there. But Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, insists that the IDF will go in. He claims to have a plan to protect civilians. One Israeli official said that the country was buying 40,000 tents to prepare for an evacuation. Israel argues that it has always abided by International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Gaza. What exactly are its obligations?
Under the four Geneva Conventions of 1949, of which it is a signatory, Israel qualifies as a combatant, or “warring party”, in Gaza, which obliges it to observe strict prohibitions against targeting civilians, using starvation as a method of war and more. But Israel’s obligations towards Gazans could be greater still if it were considered an “occupying power”, a status that is hotly disputed. Israel claims it is not, but many international bodies argue that in practice it is: the country controls imports and access to Gaza to a significant degree, as well as maintaining the Palestinian population registry through its defence ministry. …

19 April
The unspoken story of why Israel didn’t clobber Iran
By David Ignatius
Over the past week, we’ve seen what looks to me like a considered decision by Israel to subtly reshape its strategy for deterring Iran and Iranian proxies Hamas and Hezbollah. Israeli deterrence is usually about massive use of offensive military force — a roundhouse punch that seeks to compel compliance through coercion.
But this time was different. When Iran launched a missile and drone barrage last weekend in retaliation for Israel’s April 1 strike on Iranian military leaders in Damascus, Syria, Israel used its Iron Dome defense system and help from allies to absorb the blow. The reported destruction of 99 percent of Iran’s incoming munitions was an astonishing display of missile defense. Some Israelis wanted to respond immediately with a big counter-barrage. But under pressure from President Biden, they waited.
When the Israeli response came early Friday, it was muted. Iranian and Israeli reports suggest that the Israeli air force attacked a site near some of Iran’s largest nuclear facilities. Those facilities weren’t damaged, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. But Israel sent the message that it can penetrate Iranian air defenses and hit strategic targets when it chooses.
Israel wanted the last word in this exchange, and it seems to have succeeded. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday, after talks with officials in Tehran, that “Iran does not want an escalation.”

18 April
An ultimatum raises pressure on Netanyahu to make postwar plans for Gaza, even as fighting rages
(AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is under mounting pressure from his own War Cabinet and his country’s closest ally over postwar plans for Gaza, even as the war with Hamas shows no sign of ending
On Saturday, Benny Gantz, a member of the War Cabinet and Netanyahu’s main political rival, said he would leave the government on June 8 if it did not formulate a new war plan including an international, Arab and Palestinian administration to handle civilian affairs in Gaza.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, the third member of the Cabinet, has also called for a plan for Palestinian administration, and said in a speech this week that he wouldn’t agree to Israel governing Gaza itself.
The United States has meanwhile called for a revitalized Palestinian Authority to govern Gaza with assistance from Saudi Arabia and other Arab states ahead of eventual statehood. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan is expected to push those plans when he visits Israel on Sunday.

14 April
Ian Bremmer’s Quick Take: Iran attacks Israel
What are the Israelis going to do? I mean, the hope for the United States is that while Prime Minister Netanyahu wants to do more and suck the United States into a broader war against Iran, that he is going to be constrained from doing so. In part because he was so successful, they now have a major victory on their belt under his watch, being able to defend the Israeli people completely in response to an unprecedented Iranian attack. And there’s also going to be a big distraction away from the war in Gaza. Doesn’t mean that Israel suddenly loses its isolation or wins the PR war globally, I think that’s certainly not going to happen, but, there’s less pressure on the Israelis, on the prime minister, in terms of Gaza right now as a consequence of what Iran has done. And there’s also less pressure for Netanyahu to be forced out domestically in the near, in the immediate future.
… At the very least, I think there’ll be more significant strikes against Iranian proxies in the coming days. And the Israelis will also continue to engage in strikes against Iranian targets as they see them, as is opportune, in proxy states going forward. This is the problem, of course, is that, even though you have averted major escalation in a very dangerous period over the weekend, the Israelis and the Iranians haven’t accomplished anything to stabilize their relationship longer-term.
Israel has shown that they are capable of taking out Iranian leaders in Syria, and Iran can’t defend them. Iran has no intention of suddenly leaving those proxies to fend for themselves. And further, the likelihood that Israel now gets a breakthrough agreement on hostage release by Hamas, and that leads to a ceasefire, has gone down, at least in the near-term. The other side of that is the likelihood that the Israelis proceed with at least some form of ground attack into Rafah, which the Americans have warned them not to, also has gone up.
So the Hamas war with Israel is nowhere close to ending, the likelihood of continued Palestinian civilian casualties continues to grow, and the potential for further military engagement, both vis-a-vis proxies, including the Houthis in the Red Sea, the fact that the Iranians have also boarded an Israeli linked vessel in the Red Sea and that there is no effective deterrent in place right now between Israel and Iran, despite all sorts of other actors not wanting this to expand into a broader war, that all makes the Middle East right now, more dangerous.
… if you are looking ahead over the next, let’s say, six months, a couple things I think you can say. First, it is more likely that the present Israeli government is going to be in place for longer, and that the war in Gaza is going to continue without a serious effort at stabilization, or at least not one that’s consequential.

13 April
Hamas rejects Israel’s ceasefire response, sticks to main demands
(Reuters) – The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has rejected an Israeli ceasefire proposal, saying on Saturday it had handed to mediators in Egypt and Qatar its response to the proposal it had received last Monday.
After more than six months of war with Israel in Gaza, the negotiations remain deadlocked, with Hamas sticking to its demands that any agreement must end the war.
“We.. reaffirm our adherence to our demands and the national demands of our people; with a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction,” the Islamist faction said.
Israel wants to secure the return of hostages seized by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war, but says it will not stop fighting until Hamas is destroyed as a military force. It also says it still plans to carry out an assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have taken refuge.

12 April
‘We have to cut back on everything’: Palestinians farmers in West Bank say water is in short supply
(The World) As Israel’s war in Gaza continues, its impact on the lives of Palestinians in the occupied territories of the West Bank can be felt acutely in terms of water access.

10-11 April
Two views of Israel’s future
‘We need to fix the country’: Israelis ponder a post-war future
US President Joe Biden says Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a “mistake” with his approach to Gaza. More than 70% of Israeli respondents of a recent survey said Netanyahu should either resign now, or as soon as the war in Gaza ends.
(The World) Now, questions loom about a post-war future for Israel.
US President Joe Biden says that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making a “mistake” with Israel’s military response in Gaza. And last month, US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered even more blunt criticism in a speech on the Senate floor (A speech that sent shockwaves from Washington to Jerusalem).
Yoav Hendel, Israeli army reservist and former special forces soldier, who is also a former member of Israel’s parliament, said he will never forget who stepped up — and who didn’t — when the attacks occurred.
“Plenty of Israelis feel responsible and took leadership in those days when the politicians were shut down. They vanished in the first three weeks.”
Hendel believes those reservists on the frontlines of this war will take on new leadership roles in Israel. “We are talking a lot and doing a lot to make sure that after the war, we’ll be able to send those guys home — from the prime minister to the last minister that was responsible to what happened,” Hendel added.
A Jewish Theocracy That Resembles Iran
By Eran Yashiv, economist
(Haaretz) Wikipedia entry, April 2048.
Israel is a religious Jewish republic with a secular minority on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Its regime is currently theocratic and authoritarian. Israel’s history as a state is relatively brief (100 years), though it is part of the long history of the Jewish people. Its official language is Hebrew. …
With time, Israel became more and more similar to Iran, which underwent similar political and economic processes, though these originated in a revolution rather than through gradual change. World Jewry, with the exception of the ultra-Orthodox community, distanced itself from Israel. Israel is deemed an extreme, failed state, undemocratic and illiberal, espousing a radical branch of Judaism and promoting theocratic and authoritarian values.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm