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HeadlinesFebruary 12, 2024

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Israeli Strikes Kill 67 in Rafah; Two Hostages Freed in Raid by Israeli Special Forces

Feb 12, 2024

Palestinian health officials say Israeli strikes killed at least 67 people in Rafah overnight as fears grow Israel will soon launch a ground invasion on a city where over 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge. The overnight airstrikes came as Israeli special forces raided a home in Rafah in an operation to free two Israeli Argentine hostages: 60-year-old Fernando Simon Merman and 70-year-old Luis Har. They were both found to be in good condition after being held captive since October 7.

On Sunday, President Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said Biden warned Netanyahu against a ground invasion of Rafah unless there is a “credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.” Authorities in Egypt have threatened to suspend a key peace treaty with Israel if Rafah is invaded. Hamas has also warned an Israeli invasion of Rafah will torpedo ongoing truce talks. The European Union has also warned against a ground invasion of Rafah, with one top EU official saying it could lead to an “unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe.”

Israel carried out numerous airstrikes on Rafah over the weekend, including one that leveled a five-story home, killing at least eight people.

Enas Amer: “I am searching for my niece. She was 2 months old. … My sister and her husband are sleeping there in the room, and my mother and my other sister with her children in the living room, me and my father in the room over here. Suddenly, a rocket fell on us. My sister, her husband and their children, including my niece, who is 2 months old, all gone.”

This all comes as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces increasing pressure at home to secure the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza. Earlier today, a relative of the two Israeli hostages freed in Rafah called for Israel to reach a deal now.

Edan Begerano: “And we know about the discussions in Cairo, or in Paris, in others, between the Hamas and between Israel, with the mediators. Please, be serious and strike a deal. The Israeli people need the deal done — not yesterday, not tomorrow, today. We want it done as soon as possible in order for to give us some breath. We must breathe a little bit here.”

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6-Year-Old Hind Rajab Found Killed by Israeli Forces 2 Weeks After Desperate Plea to Aid Workers

Feb 12, 2024

Hind Rajab, the 6-year-old Gazan girl who had been missing for nearly two weeks, was found dead on Saturday. Relatives found Hind’s body inside a car alongside the dead bodies of five of her family members. The bodies of two rescue workers who were attempting to reach Hind were also discovered. Audio of Hind’s harrowing call with emergency dispatchers was heard around the world as the terrified child begged for someone to come get her as an Israeli tank approached her. The car where Hind was found was covered in bullet holes. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Israeli forces also targeted its ambulance as it arrived on the scene. Emergency workers Yusuf Zeino and Ahmed al-Madhoun had found their way to Hind but appear to have been killed by Israeli fire just yards away from her vehicle. This is Hind’s mother, Wissam Hamadah, after she learned of her daughter’s killing.

Wissam Hamadah: “My heart is completely destroyed over my daughter. Two weeks! They killed them. Two weeks, they were in that car! I’ve told the world from day one, 'Please go get Hind.' God is the only one sufficient for us. Everyone failed us. I will tell God on the day of judgment about my daughter. I swear I will never forgive you or any human involved or any human rights organization.”

Dutch Court Orders Halt to Exporting F-35 Fighter Jet Parts to Israel

Feb 12, 2024

A court in the Netherlands has ordered the Dutch government to stop exporting U.S.-made F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel. In the ruling, one of the judges wrote, “It is undeniable that there is a clear risk that the exported F-35 parts are used in serious violations of international humanitarian law.” In November, Oxfam and Amnesty International sued the Dutch government, saying the arms transfers violated the Netherlands’ obligations under international law to prevent war crimes.

“We Have Made Missteps”: Biden Official Admits Errors in Gaza, Blasts Netanyahu Gov’t in Private Mtg.

Feb 12, 2024

One of President Biden’s top foreign policy aides has admitted the administration has made “missteps” in the Middle East. During a closed-door meeting with Arab American leaders in Michigan, deputy national security adviser Jonathan Finer was recorded saying, “We are very well aware that we have missteps in the course of responding to this crisis since October 7.” During the conversation, Finer also said, “I do not have any confidence in this current government of Israel.” Finer traveled to Michigan after Arab Americans leaders vowed to vote “uncommitted” in this month’s Michigan primary due to Biden’s support for Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Hundreds Protest Art Institutions’ Complicity and Silence over Gaza, Forcing MoMA to Close Doors

Feb 12, 2024

Here in New York, hundreds of Palestinian rights activists occupied the Museum of Modern Art Saturday, forcing the museum to close to the public. Protesters unfurled massive banners and handed out mock MoMA pamphlets in which they called out museum trustees for their investments in Israeli weaponry and other industries. Another protest was organized outside the Brooklyn Museum. The actions came as an open letter signed by over 100 cultural workers condemned the “disgraceful silence of our institutions as Israel commits genocide in Gaza.”

Brown University Students End Hunger Strike, Will Continue to Demand Divestment

Feb 12, 2024

In Providence, Rhode Island, Brown University students ended an eight-day hunger strike demanding Brown divest from companies supplying Israel with military equipment. The students say they will continue fighting for divestment and for Palestinian rights. In November, a Palestinian American student at Brown, Hisham Awartani, was left paralyzed after being shot along with two friends in Burlington, Vermont.

Talks Resume on U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Iraq; Defense Sec. Austin Transfers Power to Receive Care

Feb 12, 2024

Talks have resumed in Iraq that could result in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq more than 20 years after the 2003 U.S. invasion. The United States currently has about 2,500 soldiers in Iraq and another 900 troops in Syria. Calls for the troops to withdraw have increased after the U.S. carried out a number of deadly drone attacks on militia groups in Baghdad.

In other military news, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has been hospitalized again. This time he’s being treated in a critical care unit for a bladder issue. On Sunday, he temporarily transferred power to his deputy. Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in December.

Trump Says Russia Should Attack NATO Allies Who Pay Less Than Others

Feb 12, 2024

Former President Donald Trump is facing widespread criticism after saying he would encourage Russia to attack NATO allies who pay too little money into the military alliance. Trump made the comment during a campaign rally in South Carolina.

Donald Trump: “One of the presidents of a big country stood up, said, 'Well, sir, if we don't pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, 'You didn't pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said, 'Yes, let's say that happened.’ 'No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.' And the money came flowing in.”

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg issued a statement in response to Trump’s remarks: “Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.”

Conservative Former PM Alexander Stubb Wins Finnish Presidential Election

Feb 12, 2024

Finland held national elections Saturday. The conservative former Prime Minister Alexander Stubb won the presidential election with over 51% of the vote. It was Finland’s first election since joining NATO.

Allies of Jailed Ex-PM Imran Khan Pull Off Upset in Pakistan Elections But Fall Short of Majority

Feb 12, 2024

In Pakistan, candidates affiliated with the jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have pulled off a major upset by winning 101 seats — more than any other party in last week’s election, even though Khan’s PTI party was formally barred from running. But the PTI-affiliated candidates fell short of winning a majority of seats, giving other parties a chance to form a coalition government. Supporters of Khan accused the military of rigging Thursday’s vote by taking drastic actions, including shutting down the country’s cellphone service on Election Day.

Subhan Ali: “Today’s demonstration is a protest against the forces that have stolen the people’s mandate. This is a protest against those forces that do not accept public opinion and think they can impose their decisions on the public.”

U.N. Sounds Alarm over Humanitarian Catastrophe in Sudan as 18 Million Face Emergency Hunger Levels

Feb 12, 2024

In Sudan, U.N. officials estimate about 18 million people are facing emergency levels of hunger — a figure that’s doubled since last year due to months of fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces. The humanitarian crisis has also triggered the world’s largest displacement of children ever seen in Sudan, with over 700,000 likely to suffer severe acute malnutrition, according to UNICEF. This is the agency’s spokesperson, James Elder.

James Elder: “First, the world’s largest displacement of children has been seen in Sudan. Four million children have been displaced. That’s just over 13,000 children displaced every single day for the past 300 days. Safety gone. Worldly possessions gone. Hope fading. Second, the consequences of the past 300 days mean that more than 700,000 children are likely to suffer the most dangerous form of malnutrition this year. UNICEF won’t be able to treat more than 300,000 of those without improved access and without additional support. In that case, tens of thousands would likely die.”

Burma Marks 3 Years Since Military Takeover; Amnesty Calls on U.N. to Refer Ruling Junta to ICC

Feb 12, 2024

Burma’s ruling military junta has imposed mandatory military service for all young men and women. Under the new law, all men aged 18 to 35 and women aged 18 to 27 will be ordered to serve for two years, though that can be extended to five years in the event of an ongoing state of emergency.

This month marks three years since the military seized power in a 2021 coup and ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of her party. Earlier this month, Burma’s U.N. ambassador appealed to the international community to do more to help his country.

Kyaw Moe Tun: “Last three years, over 44,000 people have been brutally killed by the military. More than 2.6 million people have been internally displaced. Over 86,000 civilian properties, including religious buildings, have been destroyed, abandoned by the junta forces. Almost 19 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Half of the population has been thrown into poverty.”

Meanwhile, Amnesty International is calling for a war crimes probe over the military bombing of a church in the Burmese city of Sagaing in January which killed 17 people, including two children, who were attending a Sunday service. Amnesty is urging the U.N. Security Council to refer the Burmese junta to the International Criminal Court.

Al-Shabab Attacks Mogadishu Base, Killing 5 Foreign Troops

Feb 12, 2024

In news from Somalia, the militant group al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for an attack on a military base in Mogadishu that killed four Emirati troops and a Bahraini military officer. The foreign troops were at the base to train Somali soldiers in their fight against al-Shabab.

D.C. Jury Awards $1M to Climate Scientist Michael Mann for Right-Wing Smear Campaign

Feb 12, 2024

A jury in Washington, D.C., has awarded $1 million to the climate scientist Michael Mann, who had sued two right-wing critics for defamation. In a statement, Mann said, “I hope this verdict sends a message that falsely attacking climate scientists is not protected speech.”

Minneapolis Will Pay Nearly $1M to Journalists Attacked by Police in Wake of George Floyd Murder

Feb 12, 2024

The city of Minneapolis has agreed to pay $950,000 to a group of journalists who were attacked by Minneapolis police while they covered protests over the police killing of George Floyd. In its lawsuit, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota had accused police of tear-gassing and pepper-spraying journalists, as well as shooting some journalists in the face with hard foam bullets. The ACLU said several journalists were arrested and threatened at gunpoint.

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