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HeadlinesNovember 17, 2023

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Israel Lays Siege to Gaza’s Hospitals, Strikes Jabaliya Refugee Camp Amid Telecoms Blackout

Nov 17, 2023

Israel’s unceasing bombardment of the Gaza Strip has entered its seventh week, with fresh attacks on residential buildings in the Jabaliya refugee camp that killed at least 18 people. On Thursday, Gaza’s main telecommunications companies went out of service due to a lack of fuel for generators, plunging most of the besieged territory into another communications blackout. Israeli troops occupied the Al-Shifa Hospital for a third straight day, where some 7,000 trapped medical workers and patients face a worsening humanitarian crisis. A doctor at Al-Shifa said 43 out of 63 intensive care patients who were on ventilators have now died after supplies of oxygen and fuel ran out; a “large number” of premature babies have also died due to Israel’s siege on the hospital.

On Thursday, Israeli and Egyptian authorities allowed a handful of wounded Palestinians through the Rafah border crossing for treatment in Egypt. This is Ahmed Mazen Abu Shahma, a Palestinian boy whose leg was amputated after he survived an Israeli missile strike on his family’s home.

Ahmed Mazen Abu Shahma: “People are torn into pieces, a head on one side and a leg on the other side. Entire buildings in one block are demolished by bombings. The Israeli pilot of the plane, doesn’t he know that there are people in these buildings? They want Hamas. What do the people have to do with this? Innocent children, what do they have to do with this to be bombarded? Doesn’t the pilot know that they are children?”

Also on Thursday, the Indonesian Hospital in northern Gaza reported it had been forced to halt services, leaving dozens of patients who urgently need surgery untreated in a reception area. This comes after Israel bombed the Jordanian field hospital in Gaza, an attack Jordan’s government condemned as a war crime. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, says it may soon be forced to suspend all humanitarian operations in Gaza due to a lack of fuel. UNRWA’s chief said Thursday, “I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation.”

Israeli Drone Strike Kills 3 Palestinians in Occupied West Bank

Nov 17, 2023

An Israeli drone strike on the occupied West Bank overnight killed three Palestinians and injured 14 others. The bombing came as part of a major raid on Jenin and surrounding communities by Israeli soldiers who used armored bulldozers to destroy streets and surrounded four medical sites, including the Ibn Sina Hospital. Dozens of Palestinians were arrested. Since October 7, Israeli forces have killed more than 200 Palestinians in the West Bank.

U.S. CENTCOM Commander Meets Top Israeli Officials Amid Mounting Regional Violence

Nov 17, 2023

The head of U.S. forces in the Middle East is in Israel today for talks with senior Israeli officials. Axios reports General Michael Erik Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command, is meeting Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and top general Herzi Halevi to discuss Israel’s assault on Gaza and fighting along Israel’s border with Lebanon.

On Thursday, Israel’s military shelled villages in southern Lebanon and launched drone strikes after Hezbollah fighters fired anti-tank missiles across the border. It was some of the heaviest cross-border violence since fighting erupted in October.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes hit several targets around Damascus early on Friday. This follows a series of Israeli strikes across Syria, including attacks that took Damascus and Aleppo airports out of service last month, killing two civilian workers.

Protesters Shut Down Boston and San Francisco Bridges Demanding End to U.S. Support for War on Gaza

Nov 17, 2023

In California, hundreds of protesters shut down all westbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for several hours on Thursday morning, demanding President Biden call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to U.S. military aid to Israel. Police arrested 81 people. The protest came as President Biden met with world leaders in San Francisco at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit.

In Boston, Massachusetts, Jewish peace activists led a sit-in protest Thursday that shut down traffic on the Boston University Bridge. In a social media post, the group IfNotNow Boston apologized to anyone stuck in traffic, but added, “We have tried everything else. We have called, we have marched, we have sung, we have prayed. We have written letters, and visited offices. Yet politicians like [President Biden] and [Senator Elizabeth Warren] continue to stonewall, and Israel continues to slaughter innocent Gazans by the thousands.”

We’ll have more on protests against Israel’s assault on Gaza after headlines, when we’ll speak with IfNotNow spokesperson Eva Borgwardt.

Vermont Rep. Becca Balint Becomes First Jewish Congressmember to Call for Ceasefire

Nov 17, 2023

Democratic Congressmember Becca Balint of Vermont called Thursday for a lasting bilateral ceasefire in Gaza. Balint is the first Jewish member of Congress to call for a ceasefire. In a commentary published Thursday, she wrote, “Like me, there are thousands of American Jews that share a deep emotional connection to Israel because of what it meant for the survival of the Jewish people in the face of extermination. This same history also drives so many of us to fight for the protection of Palestinian lives.”

Meanwhile, more than 300 delegates to the 2016 and 2020 Democratic National Convention who backed Bernie Sanders for president called on the Vermont senator to introduce a resolution for a ceasefire in Gaza. Sanders has so far rejected a ceasefire and has called only for short “pauses” to the fighting.

L.A. Times Calls for Gaza Ceasefire to End Israel’s “Indiscriminate Killing of Palestinian Civilians”

Nov 17, 2023

The Los Angeles Times has become the first major U.S. newspaper to call for a ceasefire. On Thursday, the paper’s editorial board wrote, “It has become impossible to distinguish between Israel’s decidedly non-surgical operation against Hamas militants in Gaza and the indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians. When so-called humanitarian pauses in the bombardment and ground operations are too brief to realistically permit innocents to flee, or when there is no place for non-combatants to go that is not also in the line of fire, such pauses are so deficient as to be meaningless.”

Russian Artist Gets 7 Years in Prison for Replacing Grocery Price Tags with Antiwar Messages

Nov 17, 2023

In Russia, artist Sasha Skochilenko was found guilty Thursday of spreading “false information” about the Russian military and sentenced to seven years in prison for replacing supermarket price tags with antiwar messages. The labels featured messages like “The Russian army bombed an art school in Mariupol. Around 400 people were hiding inside.” Skochilenko was convicted under new wartime legislation that criminalizes any antiwar messaging or activism. In her closing statement after her year-and-a-half trial, Skochilenko said, “How little faith does our prosecutor have in our state and society if he thinks that our statehood and public security can be ruined by five small pieces of paper?” This is opposition politician Boris Vishnevsky.

Boris Vishnevsky: “This verdict is unfair. There is no guilt, because Skochilenko is not guilty of anything. I will not even speak about humanity here or about equality before the law, because sometimes people receive fewer years in jail for murder than for five price tags in a shop. It’s not justice. It’s an execution.”

In other news from Russia, a former police officer sentenced to 20 years in prison for the 2006 contract killing of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been pardoned after a military tour in Ukraine. Politkovskaya was best known for reporting Russian abuses in Chechnya, often writing for the now-banned Novaya Gazeta.

Ismael Villagómez Becomes at Least 5th Journalist Killed in Mexico This Year

Nov 17, 2023

Another journalist has been killed in Mexico. Ismael Villagómez was fatally shot in Ciudad Juárez Thursday while working his second job as a driver. He was a photographer for the newspaper El Heraldo de Juárez who had worked in media for nearly two decades. At least three people were arrested in connection to his death. His colleagues are demanding justice.

José Ramón Ortiz: “Ismael was a good and honest person. He was a good co-worker whose life was taken away in this way. We don’t want his case to remain unsolved, as has happened with the deaths of other journalists. If the cause was something other than his work in journalism, we want this to be clarified by authorities. And if this is related to his journalistic activity, we want authorities to investigate this even further. The Mexican Editorial Organization, Ismael’s family and the journalistic community demand clarification of the facts.”

At least four other journalists have been killed this year in Mexico, one of the most dangerous countries for media workers in the world outside a war zone. Violence has skyrocketed in Mexico following the enforcement of the U.S.-backed war on drugs.

100+ Imprisoned Immigrants in Washington State Launch Hunger Strike

Nov 17, 2023

Over 100 immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, have started a hunger strike protesting indefinite detention and other inhumane and dangerous conditions. They’re denouncing Immigration and Customs Enforcement for failing to properly handle and resolve immigration cases. The group La Resistencia says at least 25 of the hunger strikers have been placed in isolation. Northwest is run by the for-profit prison corporation GEO Group.

Judge Declares Mistrial for Officer Who Shot into Breonna Taylor’s Home During Deadly Raid

Nov 17, 2023

In Kentucky, a judge declared a mistrial in the federal civil rights trial of the ex-Louisville police officer who fired his gun during the deadly 2020 raid on Breonna Taylor’s home. The jury deadlocked over whether to convict Brett Hankison, who was charged with using excessive force and violating the rights of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, her partner and Taylor’s next door neighbors, where some of the officer’s stray bullets ended up. Hankison faced a maximum sentence of life in prison. He was acquitted last year on three state counts of endangering Taylor’s neighbors. Federal prosecutors will now have to decide whether to hold a retrial.

Paul Pelosi Attacker Found Guilty of Attempted Kidnapping, Assault

Nov 17, 2023

A federal jury in California has found a right-wing conspiracy theorist guilty of attempted kidnapping and assault charges, after he invaded the San Francisco home of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2022 and attacked her husband, Paul Pelosi, with a hammer. Ahead of the attack, 43-year-old David DePape shared QAnon conspiracy theories and false claims about the 2020 election and the January 6 Capitol insurrection. He faces up to 50 years in prison at a future sentencing hearing.

Disgraced NY Rep. George Santos Will Not Run in 2024 Amid Myriad Findings of Fraud

Nov 17, 2023

Embattled New York congressmember and serial liar George Santos said Thursday he won’t seek reelection, after the House Ethics Committee found substantial evidence the freshman Republican committed numerous felony crimes. In their report, House ethics investigators found Santos “sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit. He blatantly stole from his campaign. He deceived donors into providing what they thought were contributions to his campaign but were in fact payments for his personal benefit.”

UAW Members Vote to Ratify Contracts with “Big 3” Despite Some Lingering Dissent

Nov 17, 2023

United Auto Workers members have approved new contracts with the Big Three automakers. Among other things, union members will see their pay increase by 25% over the course of the deal. Two-thirds of Ford workers voted in favor of the deal, while only about 55% of workers at General Motors agreed to ratify their contract. Stellantis appears set to approve the deal at similar margins to Ford. Some more senior employees have objected to the deal, saying pay increases should be higher. Others have expressed disappointment that pension benefits weren’t expanded to employees hired after 2007.

In related news, Stellantis has offered buyouts to half of its nonunionized U.S. staff as part of a cost-cutting move.

Thousands of Starbucks Workers Walk Off the Job on “Red Cup Day”

Nov 17, 2023

Thousands of Starbucks workers held a one-day strike Thursday on “Red Cup Day,” one of Starbucks’s busiest days of the year. Workers say frequent promotional events and giveaways like yesterday’s create extra stress and unmanageable workloads. Organizers say Thursday’s walkout was the largest in the coffee chain’s history. A historic union drive has swept over Starbucks stores nationwide in the past two years; over 360 locations are now unionized. This is Edwin Palma Solis, a Starbucks worker in New York.

Edwin Palma Solis: “We want to make sure that we have better pay, staffing, scheduling, and we have the right amount of hours to work, because they’ve been improperly staffing us. And sometimes it just makes it harder for us to work. You know, sometimes we feel like we work for two people instead of one, and we’re just tired. We’re just really tired of overworking ourselves.”

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