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HeadlinesOctober 23, 2023

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Israel Intensifies Bloody Assault on Gaza; U.N. Warns Babies Could Die in Minutes If Power Lost

Oct 23, 2023

At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air attacks on Gaza over the past day, according to health officials. Residents of the southern city of Khan Younis said Sunday night’s strikes were among the worst they’ve experienced. The death toll in Gaza has topped 5,000 people, with more than 14,000 wounded. Israel’s intensifying assault on the besieged Palestinian territory included missile and artillery attacks on densely populated residential areas, including the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israeli attacks also struck areas near Gaza’s Al-Shifa and Al-Quds hospitals, with medical teams warning patients could be just minutes away from death due to shortages of fuel and electricity. The U.N. says at least 120 newborns in incubators, including premature babies, are at risk. This is Dr. Nasser Bulbul, head of the neonatal intensive care unit at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital.

Dr. Nasser Bulbul: “We call on everyone to send the necessary medical supplies for this critical department, or else we will face a huge catastrophe, especially if the electricity is out in these departments, where there are 55 babies. We will lose all those who need electricity within five minutes.”

Some parents have taken to writing names on their children’s bodies for fear they will die and not be able to be identified.

Two convoys of up to 20 trucks carrying urgently needed aid started trickling into Gaza over the weekend through its border with Egypt. A third convoy is expected today as humanitarian workers say much more aid is needed, and much faster.

Gazan Journalist Roshdi Sarraj Killed; 29 UNRWA Workers Dead in Indiscriminate Israeli Attacks

Oct 23, 2023

On Sunday, Palestinian reporter Roshdi Sarraj was killed when an Israeli strike hit his home. Sarraj was the co-founder of the Palestinian company Ain Media. His killing comes five years after the company’s co-founder Yaser Murtaja was killed by Israeli forces while covering Gaza’s peaceful Great March of Return in 2018. At least 23 journalists have been killed since the war started on October 7.
The U.N. agency serving Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, reports at least 29 staff members have been killed in the past two weeks. Half of those were teachers.

Meanwhile, leading Palestinian human rights lawyer and activist Raji Sourani and his family are said to be safe following the Israeli bombing of his home in Gaza. Click here to see our interviews with Raji Sourani.

Israeli Airstrikes Kill West Bank Palestinians Amid Unchecked Assault on Gaza

Oct 23, 2023

In the occupied West Bank, Israeli warplanes bombed a mosque in the Jenin refugee camp Sunday, killing at least two people. Camp residents said the airstrike came in the dead of night without warning.

Ali Aldamag: “Most people were asleep, and some were awake, when we saw a light and heard a loud explosion. We rushed to the scene, where we saw killed and injured people, and we moved them to the hospital, thank God. This is what happened.”

Separately, Israeli forces killed five more Palestinians in raids across the occupied West Bank overnight, arresting dozens of people. Similar raids this month have killed at least 95 Palestinians while doubling the number held in Israeli jails to more than 10,000 people.

Meanwhile, Israel continued to strike Hezbollah targets inside Lebanon. Netanyahu has warned that any efforts by Hezbollah to join the war would be “devastating” for Lebanon.

American Israeli Mother and Daughter Are First Two Hamas Hostages Released

Oct 23, 2023

Two American Israelis taken hostage on October 7 have been released by Hamas. Judith Raanan and her daughter Natalie, both from Chicago, were released by Hamas to the Red Cross Friday and returned to Israel from Gaza, following a deal brokered by the government of Qatar. They are reportedly in good health. Over the weekend, a spokesperson for Hamas said the group offered to release two Israelis on humanitarian grounds, only to have Israel’s government refuse the offer. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office dismissed the claim as “mendacious propaganda.” Israel’s military says it believes 212 people are being held as hostages in Gaza.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has reportedly advised Israel to delay an anticipated ground invasion of Gaza in order to allow more time for further hostage negotiations.

Protests Continue to Demand Immediate Ceasefire; 100,000 Rally for Palestinian Rights in London

Oct 23, 2023

Protests are continuing around the world. In London, 100,000 people marched to demand a ceasefire in Gaza Saturday.

Protester: “Today, I’m here today to show my love and my compassion for the Palestinians who are suffering in Gaza and all the innocent lives that are being lost. We’ve come today — it’s not about religion, it’s about humanity, coming together and fighting for what’s right.”

Here in New York, multiple protests took place over the weekend. In Brooklyn, police cracked down on peaceful protesters Saturday, giving just a five-minute warning to disperse before assaulting and reportedly arresting 19 people. This is an activist speaking earlier in the day.

Protester: “I’m here because I’m a Jew, born in Jerusalem, and I’m horrified and enraged that my government here in the U.S. is sending weapons and money and never-ending, unconditional diplomatic support for Israel as it ceaselessly slaughters Palestinians.”

Activists Occupy Office of Rep. Ro Khanna After He Refused to Sign On to Ceasefire Resolution

Oct 23, 2023

On Friday, a group of activists from Adalah Justice Project, Jewish Voice for Peace, Dissenters and Dream Defenders occupied the D.C. office of California Congressmember Ro Khanna to demand he sign on to the resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. This is Sandra Tamari of Adalah Justice Project.

Sandra Tamari: “Representative Khanna claims to represent progressive values, claims to care about his constituents. His constituents include Palestinians. His constituents include Muslims. We are dying. We’re dying now. And we just need him to say the word 'ceasefire.' That’s all we’re asking for.”

Ro Khanna’s political director resigned over Khanna’s refusal to sign on to the resolution. As the activists sat on the floor of Khanna’s office, thousands of others marched on the National Mall to demand the U.S. back a ceasefire. This is Ilhan Omar, one of 18 lawmakers who signed the ceasefire resolution.

Rep. Ilhan Omar: “Even when they interview people who are living under bombardment in Gaza, they do not ask questions that address their humanity. They do not ask questions that address what is happening to their psyche as they are living through this bombardment.”

Former U.S. Rep. Justin Amash Announces Family Members Killed in Israeli Strike on Gaza Church

Oct 23, 2023

Former U.S. Congressmember Justin Amash has announced that multiple members of his family perished in last week’s Israeli airstrike on the Saint Porphyrius Orthodox Church in Gaza. Amash posted a photo of two of his relatives, Viola and Yara, who were among the victims. Amash was the first Palestinian American lawmaker to serve in the U.S. Congress. He was elected as a Republican in 2011, representing Michigan, but switched to independent in 2019 after backing the first impeachment of then-President Trump.

Acclaimed Author Viet Thanh Nguyen Has NYC Event Canceled After Condemning Israel’s Assault on Gaza

Oct 23, 2023

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen says organizers canceled his New York appearance Friday after he signed an open letter condemning Israel’s indiscriminate violence against Palestinians in Gaza and calling for a ceasefire. Some 900 people were expected to attend Friday’s event at the 92NY for Nguyen’s memoir about growing up as a refugee of the U.S. War on Vietnam. The cancellation came two days after Nguyen wrote on social media, “The Israeli government and its supporters have sought to shut down any protest of Israel, including nonviolent ones like [Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions], which helps lead to the current situation where some can only see violence as a solution.” 92NY is the former 92nd Street Y.

This comes after scores of Palestinian American activists say their scheduled appearances in TV and radio interviews have been canceled this month, while hotels and other venues have canceled events featuring Palestinians or speakers who have criticized Israel’s human rights record.

Detroit Synagogue Leader Samantha Woll Found Murdered Outside Home

Oct 23, 2023

In Michigan, a funeral was held for Samantha Woll Sunday, the board president of a Detroit synagogue who was found stabbed to death outside her home Saturday. Forty-year-old Samantha Woll of the Isaac Agree Downtown Detroit Synagogue was found by police, who cautioned the public to not “draw any conclusions” as the killing is being investigated. Woll worked in local politics, including for Congressmember Elissa Slotkin, who said Woll “dedicated her short life to building understanding across faiths, bringing light in the face of darkness.” Woll also worked on Attorney General Dana Nessel’s reelection campaign. Nessel wrote in a tribute, “Sam truly used her faith and activism to create a better place for everyone.”

Mother of Murdered 6-Year-Old Palestinian American Released from Hospital

Oct 23, 2023

In Illinois, the mother of slain 6-year-old Wadea Al-Fayoume was released from the hospital over the weekend. Thirty-two-year-old Hanaan Shahin was stabbed by her landlord Joseph Czuba at least 12 times in the racist attack that claimed her son’s life. The brutal attack on the Palestinian American family came as rights groups warned that dehumanizing rhetoric around the war on Gaza is putting the lives of Muslims and Arabs in the U.S. at risk.

Peronist Candidate Sergio Massa to Face Far-Right Populist in Argentina Presidential Runoff

Oct 23, 2023

In Argentina, centrist presidential candidate Sergio Massa and far-right populist Javier Milei are headed to a runoff after neither candidate received the number of votes required to declare victory in Sunday’s election. Massa took a surprising lead over Milei, who had previously secured the most support in August’s primary. Massa is Argentina’s economy minister and a member of the Peronist ruling party, which has been widely criticized over the nation’s soaring inflation and poverty. Massa addressed supporters Sunday night in Buenos Aires.

Sergio Massa: “I want to tell each Argentinian that I will be the president of work and security, above anything else. This is my biggest commitment.”

Meanwhile, Milei is an admirer of former U.S. President Trump and has vowed to shutter Argentina’s central bank, opposes sex education, wants to facilitate the purchasing of guns and is a climate crisis denier. He also spoke last night from Buenos Aires.

Javier Milei: “All countries that embrace the ideas of liberalism progress, while those who follow populist ideas unite in misery.”


Opposition Leader María Corina Machado Wins Venezuela Presidential Primary

Oct 23, 2023

In Venezuela, voters took to the polls Sunday for a presidential primary election to decide who will challenge President Nicolás Maduro next year. Former Venezuelan lawmaker María Corina Machado quickly declared victory after preliminary results showed she received over 90% of the votes. Machado has vowed to privatize Venezuela’s state oil industry. This was the first time Venezuela’s fractured opposition coalition held a primary since at least 2012. Last week Maduro’s government and opposition leaders agreed to new rules ahead of next year’s presidential general election. The move is expected to clear the way for the United States to ease its harsh sanctions on Venezuela.

Iranian Journalists Sentenced to Prison for Covering Death of Mahsa Amini in Police Custody

Oct 23, 2023

In Iran, two journalists who first covered the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last September have been sentenced to prison. Elaheh Mohammadi and Niloufar Hamedi were found guilty of collaborating with the U.S. government, conspiring against national security, and propaganda against the state. They could each serve over five years in prison. They’ve both been held in Tehran’s Evin Prison for over a year.

In related news, a 16-year-old girl has been declared “brain-dead” after she was reportedly assaulted by Iran’s morality police for not wearing a headscarf. Armita Geravand was hospitalized with brain injuries and fell into a coma after witnesses said she was beaten by officers in a Tehran subway station earlier this month.

Nawaz Sharif Returns to Pakistan; Former PM Imran Khan Indicted over “State Secrets”

Oct 23, 2023

A court in Pakistan has indicted former Prime Minister Imran Khan for leaking state secrets. Khan’s PTI party said he, alongside former deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi, were charged in a closed-door trial and that they would appeal the ruling. Imran Khan was removed from office in a no-confidence vote last year and has faced a litany of charges since. Khan has accused the military of going after him.

Meanwhile, Khan’s main rival and three-time former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, returned to Pakistan Saturday after a four-year self-imposed exile. Sharif hopes to make a political comeback ahead of January elections. He was convicted of corruption in 2018 and barred from running for office, but observers say he may be allowed to run, thanks to a deal between his Pakistan Muslim League party and the powerful army.


9 Republicans Vie for House Speakership After Rep. Jim Jordan Drops Bid

Oct 23, 2023

On Capitol Hill, Republicans dropped far-right Ohio Congressmember Jim Jordan as their nominee for speaker of the House after Jordan’s third vote attempt failed on the House floor Friday. In a secret ballot behind closed doors, just 86 Republicans voted to keep Jordan as their nominee. Nine Republicans have since announced plans to seek their party’s nomination. All but two of the Republican candidates sought to block the certification of President Biden’s 2020 election victory.

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