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HeadlinesFebruary 23, 2024

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“We Are on the Edge of a Monumental Disaster”: UNRWA Says It’s Reached a Breaking Point

Feb 23, 2024

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, warns that it has “reached a breaking point” amid the U.S. and other countries halting funding, and repeated Israeli attempts to dismantle the life-sustaining organization. In a letter to the president of the U.N. General Assembly, UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini said, “I fear we are on the edge of a monumental disaster.” He also noted “there have been more children, more journalists, more medical personnel, and more U.N. staff killed than anywhere in the world during a conflict.”

Israeli Attack on Homes in Deir al-Balah Kill at Least 40 Palestinians, Incl. Infants

Feb 23, 2024

This comes as Israeli attacks throughout the Gaza Strip continue. At least 40 people were killed after coming under Israeli shelling on residential homes in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza. Survivors gathered outside Al-Aqsa Hospital to mourn their loved ones who perished in the attack, including this father of a baby who was born just two weeks into Israel’s assault.

Ahmed Azzam: “The missile came down and killed 10 of us, and the whole house got destroyed. My mother is in intensive care. May God be kind to us. Thank God. Thank God, my child — the child was born during the war, day 13 in the war.”

Meanwhile, Israeli negotiators are taking part in truce talks in Paris, according to local media.

MSF: Traumatized Gazan Children Tell Aid Workers They’d Prefer to Die

Feb 23, 2024

At the U.N. Security Council, the head of Doctors Without Borders blasted the U.S. for its repeated vetoes of Gaza ceasefire resolutions. MSF Secretary General Christopher Lockyear addressed the 15-member U.N. body Thursday.

Christopher Lockyear: “Children who do survive this war will not only bear the visible wounds of traumatic injuries, but the invisible ones, too: those of repeated displacements, constant fear and witnessing family members literally dismembered before their eyes. These psychological injuries have led children as young as five to tell us that they would prefer to die. … The people of Gaza need a ceasefire not when practicable, but now. They need a sustained ceasefire, not a temporary period of calm.”

President Joe Biden acknowledged on social media Thursday, “The overwhelming majority of Palestinians are not Hamas. And Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.” Biden did not, however, comment on his refusal to call for a ceasefire, ongoing U.S. funding for the Israeli military or his administration’s pending congressional request for another $14 billion to fund Israel’s assault on Gaza.

Norwegian Pension Fund Divests from Israeli War Machine; UC Davis Students Pass BDS Resolution

Feb 23, 2024

In a major victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, Norway’s pension fund has divested their entire Israel Bond holdings. Four Norwegian universities have also decided to cut ties with Israeli institutions linked to the IDF.

In the U.S., the student government of the University of California at Davis last week voted to divest its $20 million budget from “companies complicit in the occupation and genocide.” They cited companies like McDonald’s, Sabra, Starbucks, Airbnb, Disney and Chevron.

“Zionism Misrepresents Judaism”: Jewish American Activists Protest AIPAC, NY Politicians

Feb 23, 2024

Here in New York, thousands of protesters led by the group Jewish Voice for Peace marched from the U.N. to the offices of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, Thursday. The activists also took aim at elected leaders who have received hundreds of thousands of dollars from AIPAC, including House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. This is antiwar protester Patrick Brent.

Patrick Brent: “I’m here today not only as an American Jew, but as a combat veteran who is now an antiwar activist, among other things, to speak out against AIPAC and, in a larger scope, Zionism and how it misrepresents Judaism. And my demand is for U.S. politicians to cut ties with AIPAC and to get more serious about what their contingents say than what AIPAC has to say, as far as demanding a ceasefire, an immediate ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire, as a beginning toward a liberated Palestine.”

Alexei Navalny’s Mother Sees Son’s Body, Says She Is Being Blackmailed into Having Private Burial

Feb 23, 2024

The mother of deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says she was finally able to see her son’s body. Russian authorities, who ruled Navalny died of natural causes, had prevented her from seeing him for nearly a week following his death. Lyudmila Navalnaya says authorities are now attempting to blackmail her into holding a secret burial, away from public view. She posted this video on YouTube.

Lyudmila Navalnaya: “I am recording this video because they started threatening me. Looking me in the eye, the investigators say that if I don’t agree to a secret funeral, they will do something with my son’s body. The investigator Voropayev openly told me, 'Time is not working for you. Corpses decompose.' I don’t want special conditions. I just want everything to be done according to the law. I demand receiving my son’s body immediately.”

Meanwhile, President Biden met with Alexei Navalny’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, and daughter, Dasha Navalnaya, a student at Stanford, in California Thursday. The U.S. has announced more than 500 new sanctions against Russia today. On Wednesday, Biden reportedly called Putin a “crazy SOB” while at a San Francisco fundraiser. The Kremlin has accused Western leaders of “hysteria” around Navalny’s death.

“The Era of Peace in Europe Is Over”: Ukraine Issues Dire Warning as War Grinds into 3rd Year

Feb 23, 2024

The U.N. human rights chief warned there is “no end in sight” to the war in Ukraine, nearly two years after Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022. The U.N. said over 14 million Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homes in the past two years. About one-third of those have since returned home. The U.N. says it has confirmed over 10,000 civilian deaths, though the true toll is likely much higher.
Ukraine is upping pressure on the U.S. and other allies to supply more funding and arms after Russians captured the eastern city of Avdiivka last week. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba offered an ominous take on the current state of the war at the Munich Security Conference.

Dmytro Kuleba: “The era of peace in Europe is over. And every time Ukrainian soldiers withdraw from a Ukrainian town because of the lack of ammunition, think of it not only in terms of defending democracy and world-based order, but also in terms of Russia getting — Russian soldiers getting a few kilometers closer to your towns.”

New York Judge Rejects Trump Attempt to Delay Payment of $455 Million Fine

Feb 23, 2024

New York Judge Arthur Engoron denied Donald Trump’s request to delay payment of the $455 million he was ordered to pay last week for illegally inflating the value of his business assets. Trump had requested a monthlong delay before the civil fraud penalty is enforced, but Judge Engoron noted Trump’s lawyers “failed to explain, much less justify, any basis for a stay.” Trump will now have 30 days to post bond and appeal the ruling. Earlier this week, New York Attorney General Letitia James said she is prepared to seize Trump’s New York properties if he fails to come up with the money.

Third Alabama Clinic Stops IVF Program After Court Ruled Frozen Embryos Have Same Rights as Humans

Feb 23, 2024

In reproductive rights news, a third Alabama fertility clinic has halted its in vitro fertilization program in the wake of this week’s Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos are children. The decision, which has been met with outrage from families, legal groups and medical providers, opens doctors and patients up to possible wrongful death lawsuits. Biden’s campaign manager Julie Chávez Rodríguez said, “What is happening in Alabama right now is only possible because Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justices overturned Roe v. Wade.”

Indian Farmers Escalate Protests After Death of Young Farmworker, Social Media Censorship

Feb 23, 2024

In India, protesting farmers are observing a “Black Day” today following the recent death of a young farmer after police fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrations. Farmer unions are calling on all Indians to hang black flags from their homes and cars to express their anger and solidarity with the farmworkers, who have been marching toward New Delhi to demand fair prices for their crops. Protesters vowed to continue.

Amandeep Kaur: “If we don’t get the minimum support price, then we might die here facing bullets, or we’ll die back home due to poverty. So it is better that we stay here fighting for our rights.”

Earlier this week, the social media platform X admitted it took down a number of accounts and posts related to the farmworker movement, following an order by the Indian government.

Senegalese President Macky Sall Agrees to Leave Office at End of Term with No Date for New Election

Feb 23, 2024

Senegalese President Macky Sall said Thursday he will leave office on April 2, at the end of his presidential term. This comes after he attempted to delay this month’s election by 10 months, plunging Senegal into political turmoil and triggering accusations he was trying to hold onto power. Senegal’s highest election authority issued a ruling that the poll delay was unlawful, which Sall vowed to abide by.

President Macky Sall: “I consider having finished my work at the head of the country at the end of my term. It is up to all these components of the dialogue and to the Constitutional Council in the last resort to see how they will continue the process. But what is certain, there will not be a vacuum. We cannot leave a country without a president. That’s obvious.”

President Sall did not, however, announce a date for a new election in Senegal. Talks between civil society groups, political parties and candidates are scheduled to take place next week.


Kenya’s Ogiek Fight to Halt Evictions from Mau Forest

Feb 23, 2024

In Kenya, the Ogiek Indigenous people are fighting their ongoing eviction from their ancestral Mau Forest. Kenyan human rights advocates have taken legal action to block further evictions and accuse Kenyan authorities of serious violations. In at least the past decade, over 100,000 people have been evicted; many have scattered across the forest area and are living in makeshift structures made of nylon bags as the government refuses to provide alternative housing. Ogiek community members have also recently led protests in Nairobi as they petition for their right to inhabit the forest.

Fred Nasisina: “Maybe many of the community people might even die, because they depend with this food. They don’t have any alternative. Also, they are people, forest dwellers. They don’t know to stay at town, at marketplaces. That’s why you are finding those elderly people are staying inside the forest, and they are saying, 'Unless they come and kill us inside here, we won't go out, because this is our land.’”

Indigenous Guna to Leave Disappearing Island, But Panamanian Gov’t Has Not Prepared Relocation Site

Feb 23, 2024

Human rights groups are warning the government of Panama is not prepared to help transfer some 1,300 members of the Indigenous Guna community from their homes on a small Caribbean island that is disappearing due to rising sea levels. Gardi Sugdub is off Panama’s northern coast and has faced some of the worst impacts of climate change. Indigenous people on the island have requested support from the Panamanian government since at least 2010 and are scheduled to move to a relocation site on mainland Panama by the end of this month. Human Rights Watch says the Panamanian government has yet to make clean water, sanitation services or healthcare available at the relocation site.

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