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Forums - Politics Discussion - Israel-Hamas war, Gaza genocide

US strike on Iraqi army-affiliated al-Saidi angers Iraq

While General Pat Ryder did confirm that the US was behind the strike that killed Mushtaq al-Saidi, a leader of what he described as “Iran-backed” forces, he left out many key details, says Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane.

“We believe that al-Saidi was part of the popular mobilisation forces, which comes under the umbrella of the Iraqi army. General Ryder wouldn’t go so far as to say, ‘Yes he was part of the Iraqi army’. He would only link him to Iranian-backed militia groups,” Culhane said.

Ryder also didn’t say if the US had informed the Iraqi government about the strike, only calling it “a necessary and proportionate action against this particular individual who was personally involved in the planning and execution of attacks against American personnel”.

The Iraqi prime minister expressed “extreme anger” about this strike, Culhane said, and there have been growing calls for US troops to be kicked out of Iraq, which Pentagon officials are downplaying.

Meanwhile escalation in the Red Sea continues

Israeli defense minister outlines plan for new phase in Gaza war 

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday unveiled plans for the next phase of the war in Gaza, featuring a new combat approach in the north and a sustained focus on targeting Hamas leaders in the enclave’s southern territory.  

In the third phase, Israel Defense Forces soldiers in northern Gaza will adopt a “new combat approach” encompassing “raids, the destruction of terror tunnels, aerial and ground activities, and special operations,” according to Gallant.

In southern Gaza, the Israeli military will continue its pursuit of Hamas leaders in the region “for as long as necessary,” Gallant said. Israeli forces stationed in the south will also focus on “enabling the return of the hostages” still in captivity, he added. 

Post-war planning: In a three-page document, Gallant also provided details of the fourth and supposed final phase of the war, entitled the "Day After."

The post-war phase announced by Gallant envisages a Gaza Strip no longer controlled by Hamas, which would no longer “pose a security threat to the citizens of Israel.”  Once the "goals of the war have achieved" there would be "no Israeli civilian presence in the Gaza Strip," according to his plan.   

Israel would, however, maintain its “operational freedom of action in the Gaza strip” and continue to "carry out the inspection of goods entering the Gaza strip," the plan stated. The defense minister also unveiled the concept of a multinational task force led by the United States in partnership with "European and regional partners” charged with the "rehabilitation" of the strip.

In this phase, Israel would also continue dialogue with Egypt, a country Gallant described as a "major actor."

The minister provided scant detail on the future governance of the enclave, however, merely saying that the entity controlling the territory would build on the capabilities of "non-hostile" elements already present in Gaza.

Basically: We destroy it, you build it back up while we remain the right for targeted raids (and destruction) like we've been doing all these years in the West Bank. We'll keep up the blockade while making sure nobody 'hostile' gets in power. Basically back to how it was before Oct 7 with even tighter surveillance?

Talks for a pathway to Palestinian state: US officials have previously said they ultimately envision both Gaza and the West Bank being ruled by a unified government led by a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority. At present, the Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, having lost control of the Gaza Strip to Hamas in 2007.  

An Arab delegation comprising officials from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority emphasized in a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in December that Arab states will need assurances that there is a path toward a Palestinian state if they are going are to play a role in the reconstruction of Gaza.

Israeli post-war plan contrary to US vision

Israel’s plan for post-war administration in Gaza could be seen as a “nonstarter” for the United States, as Israel insists that a revamped Palestinian Authority (PA) will play no role in the enclave following the end of the war, Al Jazeera correspondent Mike Hanna said.

“It’s completely contrary to what the Americans envisage as their so-called ‘day after’ concept,” Hanna said. “The Americans have based their ideas on the fact that the PA would take over control or administration of Gaza,” he said. “Now, in this plan that the Israeli cabinet is going to be discussing, outlined by the defence minister, it is absolutely clear that the PA will not have anything to do with Gaza’s administration,” he added.

“As far as the US is concerned, in terms of its published positions on this, this is an absolute nonstarter.”


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The number one reason why Israel won't give Palestinians equality is because they'll instantly lose the majority. That's why they want to kick them out of their homes and why Netanyahu blocks 2 state solutions.

US preparing plans for attack on Houthis, wider Middle East conflict: Report

Politico has reported that officials in US President Joe Biden’s administration are “drawing up plans” for a US response to a regional expansion of the war in Gaza, and to “hit back” at Houthi fighters in Yemen.

Citing four US officials familiar with the issue, the news organisation reports that conversations have taken place “about scenarios that could potentially draw the US into another Middle East war”. Plans are also being drafted to attack the Houthis in Yemen over their hostilities towards commercial shipping in the Red Sea with links to Israel.

US officials told Politico that the potential for a regional conflict is growing amid armed confrontations in Lebanon, Iraq and Iran, which has “convinced some in the administration that the war in Gaza has officially escalated far beyond the strip’s borders”. “The scramble inside the administration to draw up reports on potential points of attacks and possible US responses this week came as a result of orders from the top echelons of the administration over fears that the violence in the region will only continue to grow and that Washington will eventually have to intervene,” Politico reports.

More indications Israel's right wing government wants to re-occupy Gaza

Israeli meeting on post-war Gaza descends into shouting match

An Israeli high-level security cabinet meeting descended into a shouting match on Thursday after right-wing ministers and military officials clashed, according to Israeli media sources. Tensions arose around the decision of Herzi Halevi, the Israeli military’s chief of staff, to include Shaul Mofaz, Israel’s defence minister from 2002 to 2006, in a panel set to probe the mistakes made by the military that allowed the October 7 massacres to occur in southern Israel.

“You appointed Mofaz? Are you crazy?” Israel’s Minister of Transport and Road Safety Miri Regev said to Halevi, according to Kan, Israel’s national broadcaster.

Mofaz was central to Israel’s decision to withdraw from Gaza in 2005, a decision which many on Israel’s far right now hope to see reversed as discussions continue over plans for governance in post-war Gaza.

Scores of Palestinians killed; humanitarian groups unable to deliver life-saving assistance: UN

The UN reports that 125 Palestinians were killed and 318 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza in the 24-hour period between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, citing the Palestinian territory’s Health Ministry. They add to the 22,438 Palestinians killed and 57,614 injured between October 7 and January 3.

The latest UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) situation report also notes:

  • Humanitarian groups have been unable to deliver life-saving assistance, including food and medicine, north of Wadi Gaza for four days due to heavy fighting and access delays and denials.
  • The area surrounding the El Amal Hospital and Palestine Red Crescent Society in Khan Younis was struck for the third consecutive day on January 4. Seven Palestinians, including a five-year-old, have already been killed in three days of Israeli bombardments in the area.
  • On January 4, 177 trucks carrying food and medicine entered Gaza through the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossings, but food insecurity remains acute across the besieged enclave.
  • Only 13 out of Gaza’s 36 hospitals are partially functional as of January 3 – nine in the south and four in the north – according to the World Health Organization.

More than 100 arrested at downtown Chicago rally to demand ceasefire in Gaza

More than 100 people were arrested Monday morning during a protest at the Ogilvie Transportation Center in downtown Chicago, where hundreds of Jews from across the Midwest gathered to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Around 9 a.m., hundreds of Jews and pro-Palestinian allies descended on the Ogilvie Transportation Center, home to a huge number of Metra trains. While train lines were not disrupted, the escalators inside the building were shut down for several hours, as chants for a ceasefire in Gaza grew louder and more animated.

Protesters weren't targeting the train station itself, but the Israeli consulate on the 31st floor of Accenture Tower above Ogilvie.

Protesters from various Jewish groups and other Jewish supporters said they came to downtown Chicago to stand in solidarity with Palestinians. Members of Jewish Voice for Peace-Chicago and others around from the Midwest said they're upset with Israeli leadership for their treatment of Palestinian civilians during the war with Hamas, as well as the support the U.S. has given to Israel.

Initially, police sat back and observed the protest, but by 10 a.m., they issued an order to clear out, and most protesters moved their demonstration to the sidewalk outside. Those who didn't leave were lined up, placed in plastic cuffs, and taken to police trucks for processing. With every arrest, fellow protesters cheered.

Police said a total of 106 protesters were arrested for trespassing. The protest group called the arrests unconscionable.

In a statement, Israel Consul General Yinam Cohen said the protest "was not about peace."

"We are overwhelmed by the endless support for Israel by millions of Americans, Jews and non-Jews alike. We are looking forward to tomorrow's March for Israel in DC, the largest rally for Israel in decades."

Ah, rally tomorrow for Israel. That explains why CNN is suddenly bringing up the Oct 7 rapes again.

Rwanda denies discussing ‘transfer’ of Palestinians with Israel

The government of Rwanda has denied recent reports in Israeli news outlet Zman that the country has discussed the possibility of receiving Palestinians “transferred” from Gaza. “The Government of Rwanda notes disinformation published in Zman Yisrael, an Israeli news outlet, alleging talks between Rwanda and Israel on the transfer of Palestinians from Gaza. This is completely false,” the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated in a post on X.

“No such discussion has taken place either now or in the past, and the disinformation should be ignored.”

UN humanitarian chief says Gaza becoming ‘uninhabitable’

United Nations humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths says in a statement that the Gaza Strip has “become a place of death and despair” as Israel’s monthslong assault on the strip continues. Griffiths said that “people are facing the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded,” with famine “around the corner”.

He added that people in Gaza are facing “daily threats to their very existence — while the world watches on”.

Flooding brings new suffering to northern Gaza

Heavy rains have brought additional misery to Palestinians in northern Gaza, where flooding and sewage have filled refugee camps already devastated by Israeli bombing.

“A new problem for civilians here as war and siege intensify on the Gaza Strip,” Al Jazeera correspondent Anas al-Sharif reported from Jabalia refugee camp. “And with the rainfall, municipalities are no longer able to operate as a result of their vehicles being destroyed by Israeli forces.”

“We left the war, and here we are facing a new war. Sewage water leaked into classrooms and flooded them. Our children are suffering from disease and gastrointestinal symptoms. We are suffering from sickness. This is the situation we are living in,” said a resident in Jabalia.

Crowding in Rafah. Currently growing tent city compared to Rafah before Oct 7.

WHO: Nearly 600 healthcare attacks since start of war

The World Health Organization says that since October 7, hospitals and other vital medical infrastructure have been attacked nearly 600 times in the Gaza Strip.

The attacks have affected 94 healthcare sites, including 26 hospitals damaged out of a total of 36 in the enclave. At least 613 people were killed inside the facilities, and more than 770 others have been injured.

WHO spokesperson Christian Lindmeier condemned the continuing bombardment and said that the “ongoing reduction of humanitarian space plus the continuing attacks on healthcare are pushing the people of Gaza to breaking point”.

Israeli settlers given ‘green light’ after October 7

Israeli settlers have stepped up violent attacks on Palestinians and settlement activities in the aftermath of October 7 with the backing of Israeli authorities, says Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti. “The Israeli government is run by settlers, and these settlers are nothing but fascists, if you speak about Ben-Gvir or Smotrich or the others,” said Barghouti, referring to prominent far-right Israeli politicians.

“Since October 7 every settler, every Israeli soldier, and every policeman, feel they have the green light to shoot and kill Palestinians. They have the strong feeling of total immunity, that they can do anything to Palestinians, whatever they want, and in any way they wish,” he added.

Unprecedented ‘surge’ in settlement activity in occupied West Bank since October 7

Peace Now, an Israeli NGO that monitors settlement activities in the occupied West Bank, says that over the past three months, there has been an “unmatched surge” in the construction of outposts, roads, fences and roadblocks by settlers.

“Settlers persist in seizing control of Area C in the West Bank, further marginalising the Palestinian presence,” a press release said. There has been a record number of nine new outposts in a span of about three months, and 18 illegal settler-only roads.

The widespread phenomenon of roadblocks prevent Palestinians from accessing main roads in the occupied West Bank, Peace Now said.


CNN Runs Gaza Coverage Past Jerusalem Team Operating Under Shadow of IDF Censor

The Jerusalem bureau has long reviewed all CNN stories relating to Israel and Palestine. Now, it’s helping shape the network’s coverage of the war.

Whether reporting from the Middle East, the United States, or anywhere else across the globe, every CNN journalist covering Israel and Palestine must submit their work for review by the news organization’s bureau in Jerusalem prior to publication, under a long-standing CNN policy. While CNN says the policy is meant to ensure accuracy in reporting on a polarizing subject, it means that much of the network’s recent coverage of the war in Gaza — and its reverberations around the world — has been shaped by journalists who operate under the shadow of the country’s military censor.

Like all foreign news organizations operating in Israel, CNN’s Jerusalem bureau is subject to the rules of the Israel Defense Forces’s censor, which dictates subjects that are off-limits for news organizations to cover, and censors articles it deems unfit or unsafe to print. As The Intercept reported last month, the military censor recently restricted eight subjects, including security cabinet meetings, information about hostages, and reporting on weapons captured by fighters in Gaza. In order to obtain a press pass in Israel, foreign reporters must sign a document agreeing to abide by the dictates of the censor.

CNN’s practice of routing coverage through the Jerusalem bureau does not mean that the military censor directly reviews every story. Still, the policy stands in contrast to other major news outlets, which in the past have run sensitive stories through desks outside of Israel to avoid the pressure of the censor. On top of the official and unspoken rules for reporting from Israel, CNN recently issued directives to its staff on specific language to use and avoid when reporting on violence in the Gaza Strip. The network also hired a former soldier from the IDF’s Military Spokesperson Unit to serve as a reporter at the onset of the war.

“The policy of running stories about Israel or the Palestinians past the Jerusalem bureau has been in place for years,” a CNN spokesperson told The Intercept in an email. “It is simply down to the fact that there are many unique and complex local nuances that warrant extra scrutiny to make sure our reporting is as precise and accurate as possible.”

100 Chilean lawyers accuse Netanyahu of war crimes, file complaint at ICC: Report

About 100 Chilean lawyers, most of whom are of Palestinian origin, have filed a complaint with the International Criminal Court regarding the crimes of the Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, the Wafa news agency has reported.

The complaint alleges charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed by the Israeli army on Palestinians. “They are demanding that Benjamin Netanyahu bear criminal responsibilities, to impose an immediate ceasefire,” said Francisco Shahwan, the chairman of the foreign relations committee.

The complainant is calling for the issuance of an arrest warrant against Netanyahu and other officials and soldiers responsible for these crimes, Shahwan added.

Scottish leader says Israeli comments on Gaza amount to ‘ethnic cleansing’

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has come out with more strong words in support of Palestinians, saying repeated comments by senior Israeli officials calling for displacing Palestinians out of Gaza and replacing them with Israeli settlers amount to ethnic cleansing.

“I think political leaders should stop beating around the bush, should call what they’re seeing in Gaza,” he said. “We are seeing not only a humanitarian crisis, but also seeing senior members of the Netanyahu government making statements that are frankly the textbook definition of ethnic cleansing. And that should be condemned in the strongest possible manner.”

Yousaf, whose parents-in-law were trapped in the Gaza Strip amid intense Israeli air attacks before being evacuated in November, had previously also supported the genocide case brought against Israel by South Africa to the International Court of Justice.

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Israeli attacks kill 122 Palestinians, injure 256 in past 24 hours: Ministry

Israeli military attacks in Gaza have killed 122 Palestinians and injured a further 256 in the past 24 hours, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

This brings the total Palestinian death toll since October 7 to 22,722, with 58,166 injured, the ministry said.

A further 7,000 Palestinians are still missing.

Ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip

The Israeli military in Khan Younis has widened its operations, trying advance towards the main residential neighbourhoods in the city, which is considered to be one of the hardest cities for Israeli soldiers to fight in.

This is alongside the ongoing and unprecedented bombardment of the middle governorates in the Gaza Strip. In the last hour, there were a number of Palestinians who were injured by Israeli snipers who are deployed on the main linking roads between the villages and towns of the middle area.

People have been informing us that the Israeli forces are trying to encircle Nuseirat, Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps, which is a significant threat to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital there. We are afraid that the scenario of al-Shifa Hospital might be repeated.

Gaza children chronically underfed, extremely traumatised: UNICEF

Children are bearing the brunt of Gaza’s humanitarian crisis as they suffer from months of hunger, trauma and displacement, says Tess Ingram, spokesperson for the UN’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Ingram pointed to a recent UNICEF survey finding that 90 percent of children under the age of two in Gaza only have access to two main food groups – grain and dairy – compared with five food groups they need for healthy development. “We are very alarmed about the amount of nutrients that young children are getting for their growth and development”, Ingram told Al Jazeera.

The war’s long-term mental health impact on them is equally concerning, she said.

“We’re seeing traumatic stress responses in so many children we engage with. In other conflicts, children may experience trauma, but they have the ability to go to safety. That hasn’t been happening in Gaza,” she said. “Until the fighting stops and children can feel safe, we cannot really begin to assess and respond to their long-term mental health needs.”

Signs of starvation everywhere in southern Gaza

Southern Gaza is now unlivable. Every day, there is a shortage of everything, including food. Signs of starvation are everywhere. There are families that live on one meal a day. Some families do not even have the energy to queue up to get that one meal, so they end up going days without food. On top of that, there is the lack of medical supplies and other essential goods. It is having an impact on the most vulnerable: children.

We cannot stress this enough: children are being targeted both with weapons and with starvation.

Children in Gaza dying ‘in every way possible’

As humanitarian conditions continue to worsen in Gaza, small children are among the most vulnerable.

“They’re dying in every way possible. The death toll had been over 8,000 when you were last able to get an accurate death toll. It’s been several weeks now, so the figure is likely closer to 10,000,” Tanya Haj-Hassan, a doctor with Medecins Sans Frontieres, told Al Jazeera.

“About three months into the Ukraine war, the UN had stated that the lives of children had been devastated on a level not seen since World War Two. At the time, on average, two children were being killed per day. The average number of children being killed per day in Gaza is well over 100.”

Hezbollah fires dozens of rockets at Israel in "initial response" to killing of senior Hamas figure  

Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says it fired a total of 62 rockets at an Israeli observation post along the Israel-Lebanon border on Saturday as an "initial response" to the killing of a senior Hamas leader in Beirut earlier this week.   

In a statement, Hezbollah said its fighters launched an attack shortly after 8am local time (1aET) on the Meron Air Surveillance Base in northern Israel as an "initial response" to the killing of Saleh Al-Arouri in southern Beirut on Tuesday.   

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that "approximately 40 launches” from Lebanon toward the area of Meron in northern Israel were identified after sirens sounded in northern Israel on Saturday.

Red alerts - warning of potential incoming rocket fire including where intercept shrapnel may fall - were issued for over 100 locations in northern Israel on Saturday morning.   

The Israeli military then struck the Hezbollah fighters who "took part in the launches," the statement added.  

Israel attacks southern Lebanon

Al Jazeera’s correspondent reports that the Israeli army hit the Qalia Plain, south of the Lebanese city of Tyre.

Earlier, we reported that Hezbollah claimed to have targeted the Maroun air control base on Jabal al-Jarmak in Israel with 62 missiles of various types, and inflicted direct and confirmed hits.

In response, Israel has been carrying out raids inside Lebanese territory.

Hezbollah attacks Israel in latest exchange of fire across Lebanese border

The group says in a statement via Telegram that at 4:40pm local time (14:40 GMT), it fired on a group of Israeli soldiers in Avivim and achieved a direct hit.


Iran faces "all-out battle" with an "enemy" as the West vows to tackle Houthi rebel attacks, commander says

Iran is facing an "all-out battle" with an "enemy" actor, a top Iranian commander said, as Western nations vow to tackle the recent slew of attacks from Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea.

"We need to defend our national interests to wherever they extend […] It will be harmful for the enemy to be found near and at a half distant. They should stay away from this area," Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said Saturday at a ceremony unveiling a new navy ship in the coastal Gulf city of Bandar Abbas, Reuters reported.  

Salami did not name the enemy during the televised speech, according to Reuters.  

On January 2, the Iranian Navy dispatched a military destroyer to the Red Sea as tensions in the waterway soared. Although Iran did not officially provide a reason for the deployment, state affiliated Tasnim News Agency said the destroyer was dispatched as part of a series of vessels taking part “in regular missions in international waters.” 

This comes as the UK-based maritime security group, Ambrey Analytics, said in an alert Saturday that it received a report of "a maritime security event in the Bab al Mandab area" in the Red Sea. “Crews are advised to minimize deck movements and only essential crew should be on the bridge,” it said. 

This is just one of several similar events to take place in the Red Sea in recent weeks. The Houthi rebels, considered to be one of Iran's proxies, have launched several attacks against commercial and merchant vessels in the Red Sea in what the group have called a revenge campaign against Israel's war in Gaza.   

A coalition of 11 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, condemned the "illegal" and "profoundly destabilizing" attacks in a joint statement Wednesday. The coalition outlined their serious intention to "hold malign actors accountable" for "unlawful seizures and attacks."    

The UK's finance minister underlined the severity of the situation during an interview with BBC Radio 4 Saturday, acknowledging that attacks "may have an impact" on prices in the country. Finance minister Jeremy Hunt said the UK and its partners have made it "very clear to the Houthis" that the rebel group's actions in the Red Sea will bear "consequences." "We will not just sit back and accept that because it’s so vital for global trade," Hunt warned.

Pro-Palestine protesters block bridge outside of UK Parliament

A group of pro-Palestine demonstrators has blocked access to a bridge near the British Parliament, calling for a ceasefire in Gaza in an act of civil disobedience.

Police clashed with protesters, who blocked roads after they were prevented from marching across Westminster Bridge in London, where they had planned to unfurl banners.

Guess this war never changes as they say in the fallout sereies.


Remember Israel blaming the UN for slow aid deliveries?

Cumbersome process and ‘arbitrary’ Israeli inspections slow aid delivery into Gaza, US senators say

At Egypt’s Rafah border crossing, lines of hundreds of trucks carrying aid wait for weeks to enter Gaza, and a warehouse is full of goods rejected by Israeli inspectors, everything from water testing equipment to medical kits for delivering babies, two U.S. senators said Saturday after a visit to the border.

Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Jeff Merkley pointed to a cumbersome process that is slowing relief to the Palestinian population in the besieged territory — largely due to Israeli inspections of aid cargos, with seemingly arbitrary rejections of vital humanitarian equipment. The system to ensure that aid deliveries within Gaza don’t get hit by Israeli forces is “totally broken,” they said.

“What struck me yesterday was the miles of backed-up trucks. We couldn’t count, but there were hundreds,” Merkley said in a briefing with Van Hollen to a group of reporters in Cairo.

US ambassador to Egypt Herro Mustafa Garg (2ndL), US Senator Chris Van Hollen (3rdL) and US Senator Jeff Merkley (C), along with a US delegation, visit the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing with the southern Gaza Strip on Friday [AFP]

The U.S. has been pressing Israel for weeks to let greater amounts of food, water, fuel, medicine and other supplies into Gaza, and the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Dec. 22 calling for an immediate increase in deliveries. Three weeks ago, Israel opened its Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza, adding a second entry point for aid after Rafah.

Still, the rate of trucks entering has not risen significantly. This week, an average of around 120 trucks a day entered through Rafah and Kerem Shalom, according to U.N. figures, far below the 500 trucks of goods going in daily before the war and far below what aid groups say is needed.

Van Hollen and Merkley said a more simplified process for getting aid into Gaza is necessary. During a three-day visit to Egypt, they met with Egyptian officials, U.N. aid agencies and non-governmental relief groups working in Gaza. At Rafah on Friday, they also spoke to doctors who had come out of Gaza and a truck driver waiting to get in.

Trucks carrying aid cargos can wait for weeks at the border for their turn to be processed, they said they were told by aid officials. They enter the Egyptian side of the border, drive along no-man’s land to the Israeli facility at Nitzana for inspection by the military, then return to Rafah to cross into Gaza — or go to Kerem Shalom for inspection and entry there.

Kerem Shalom operates eight hours a day, and both it and Nitzana close part of Friday and all Saturday. “This, in a 24-hour-a day” humanitarian crisis, Van Hollen said.

Israel says the inspections are necessary to prevent items of military use from reaching Hamas.

During the process, cargos are unloaded and reloaded several times. If inspectors reject a single item in a truck, it must return with its entire cargo to be re-packaged, starting the weeks-long process all over again, said Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland. The reasons for rejection are often “very vague, and they are conveyed informally. Sometimes they were very unreasonable,” said Merkley, a Democrat from Oregon.

The two senators said they saw a warehouse in Rafah filled with material that had been rejected in inspection. It included oxygen cylinders, gas-powered generators, tents and medical kits used in delivering babies.

Aid workers told the senators the tents were refused because they included metal poles, and the medical kits because they included scalpels. Most solar-powered equipment appears to be barred — though it is vital in Gaza, where central electricity has collapsed and fuel for generators is in short supply.

“The warehouse was a testament to the arbitrariness” of the process, Van Hollen said.

There is a process for pre-approving cargos, but it can take weeks, they said, and even items that obtained prior approval are sometimes rejected during inspection. After inspection, trucks are considered “sanitized” and their drivers are not allowed to interact with anyone; the senators said they were told one truck driver was turned back after someone brought him a cup of coffee, violating the rule.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem this week, Col. Elad Goren, a senior official in the Israeli military body overseeing Palestinian civilian affairs known as COGAT, admitted that Israeli security checks could be hampering rapid aid delivery but largely blamed the bottlenecks on international agencies and the United Nations.

Asked about certain forms of medical equipment not being allowed in, he said, “I want to make it clear we are not refusing anything that is underneath four headlines … Food, water, medical supplies and shelters.”

Goren said the U.N. should increase manpower and workers’ hours and deploy more trucks to deliver aid. He maintained the humanitarian situation in Gaza was under control and there was sufficient food. Officials at COGAT did not respond to Associated Press requests for comment on the senators’ briefing.

Van Hollen and Merkley said U.N. and other aid workers described extensive problems in distributing aid. They must ration the small amount of fuel Israel allows to enter Gaza between hospitals, bakeries and aid trucks. Frequent collapses of the communications system — or simple inability to recharge phone batteries — makes contact and coordination with aid teams impossible.

Arranging safe passage for aid deliveries is an enormous challenge, they said. “Nothing about deconfliction is working,” Merkley said. Aid groups inform the Israeli military of their movements but even once they have assurances an area is safe, it sometimes gets struck.

“No place really becomes deconflicted,” Merkley said. “It is not safe for them to move.”

Blinken says Gaza conflict needs to be contained

Middle Eastern nations need to use their influence over regional actors to ensure the Gaza conflict is contained and to prevent “an endless cycle of violence”, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said.

Blinken spoke late in the day after meeting the leaders of Turkey and Greece at the start of a week-long trip. Blinken, who will also visit Arab states, Israel and the occupied West Bank, said if efforts to settle the crisis failed, the outcome would be “lives of insecurity and conflict for people in the region”.

A ceasefire would contain the conflict.... Always blaming everyone else.

Iran says ending war in Gaza key to avoiding regional war

Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has responded to remarks from his French counterpart saying that Iran must stop “destabilising activities” in the region. The Iranian official countered that the surest way to defuse regional tensions is to end the “ongoing genocide in Gaza”, according to Iranian state media.

“An effective step in ending violence in the region would be to stop the crimes of the Zionist regime [Israel] and the ongoing genocide in Gaza, as well as taking action to stop the killing of civilians, facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and prevent forced migration,” Amir-Abdollahian said.

‘War on Gaza has not gone so well for Israel’: Analyst

Giorgio Cafiero, CEO of Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, says that Israeli military and leadership are eager to send a message to the public about winning “this war on Gaza and to try and boost morale among Israelis”.

“The truth, however, is that this three-month war on Gaza has not gone so well for Israel,” he told Al Jazeera. “There’s been a rather high Israeli death count and the resistance in Gaza remains rather strong. This idea that Israel is going to quickly decapitate Hamas – well, that hasn’t played out the way the Israelis wanted it to. The stopwatch is running out in terms of how much longer Israel can continue to wage this high-intensity military campaign in Gaza,” he said.

Cafiero said that Israel is trying to shape a narrative about how its war in Gaza has been successful.

IDF claims it has completed dismantling Hamas' command structure in northern Gaza

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claimed Saturday that it had completed dismantling Hamas' command structure in northern Gaza. IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari said the IDF was now focused on dismantling Hamas in central and southern Gaza. Hagari told a press conference that around 8,000 Hamas militants had been killed in northern Gaza. 

CNN cannot independently verify the IDF claim that it has dismantled the Hamas command structure in northern Gaza or that 8,000 Hamas militants have been killed.  

Netanyahu says war must not stop until 3 objectives are achieved

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Saturday that the war against Hamas “must not be stopped” until Israel achieves three main objectives: “eliminate Hamas, return our hostages and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel.”

I guess making Gaza uninhabitable ticks that box...

Israeli forces have killed 15 in Qalqilya since October 7

Qalqilya, which is already surrounded on three sides by the Israeli separation wall, has been reeling from several deadly military crackdowns, says Murad Shteiwi, director of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee in the northern occupied West Bank.

“The only way to enter the city is through the eastern entrance, and that also is often closed to citizens by the military,” he told Al Jazeera. “Israeli forces closed the northern entrance to the town of Azzun with an iron gate and barbed wire, and erected a military tower in addition to the two previously installed towers on the northern side,” he added.

The army also closed the entrances to the towns of Kafr Laqif, Jinsafut and al-Funduq.

West Bank town under ‘unprecedented crackdown’

Since October 7, the Israeli army escalated its repressive measures against Kafr Qaddum, near Qalqilya, says Murad Shteiwi, director of the Wall and Settlement Resistance Committee in the northern West Bank.

“Soldiers have been raiding the town and besieging the mosque from which a weekly anti-occupation march starts every Friday and Saturday, while also using live ammunition on protesters,” Shteiwi told Al Jazeera.

Since 2011, the town has been subjected to many military closures and raids, prompting weekly protests by its residents. “This has led to the death of an elderly man, more than 100 injuries and more than 200 have been detained,” he added.

Israeli forces impose restrictions on Jordan Valley

Arif Daraghmeh, an expert on settlement affairs and Israeli violations in the Jordan Valley, says that in the last week, Israeli troops have prevented Palestinian farmers from cultivating their land and settlers are free to trespass.

“Soldiers have stopped farmers from ploughing the agricultural land, detained some of them and confiscated their agricultural tractors,” Daraghmeh told Al Jazeera. In the northern Jordan Valley, he said, dozens of Palestinian vehicles are seen on a daily basis queueing at military checkpoints.

“Settlers have also been using Palestinian lands to let their own animals graze, while soldiers continue to militarise the Jordan Valley, restricting access to the area and closing checkpoints for varying periods of time,” Daraghmeh added.

Palestinian rights group gives update on arrests from Israeli raids

The Palestinian Prisoners Club says in a statement via Telegram that from yesterday evening until today, Israeli forces arrested 22 citizens from the occupied West Bank and four citizens from Gaza.

“The arrest operations were concentrated in the town of Qatana/Jerusalem, which witnessed a massive raid for hours”, the group said, ” while the rest of the arrests were distributed among the governorates of: Hebron, Bethlehem, Jenin, Ramallah and Tulkarem.”

Is said that Israeli army arrests are accompanied by “severe beatings, threats against detainees and their families in addition to widespread sabotage and destruction of citizens’ homes.”

Last edited by SvennoJ - on 06 January 2024