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HeadlinesFebruary 06, 2024

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Israeli Strikes Target Aid Groups as UNRWA Hangs On by a Thread and 2 Million Gazans Need Help

Feb 06, 2024

As Gazans brace for an expected Israeli ground invasion of Rafah, unrelenting attacks across the besieged territory continue, as the death toll tops 27,500 people with another 67,000 wounded after nearly four months of daily attacks. Israeli strikes hit residential areas, elementary schools, hospitals and aid distribution sites all within recent days. The Palestine Red Crescent Society published footage Monday showing its Jabaliya headquarters in northern Gaza heavily destroyed after Israeli attacks. Meanwhile, an UNRWA food convoy was attacked by Israeli artillery fire Monday. This is Juliette Touma, communications director for the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency.

Juliette Touma: “It was not the first time an UNRWA convoy with the United Nations was attacked. It’s the third time a convoy belonging to UNRWA has been exposed to an attack on its way to the north of Gaza or when it is coming back from the north. And this is not acceptable. Humanitarian convoys, according to international humanitarian law, must be protected from all parties to the conflict, also during combat.”

The U.N. has appointed a panel to independently review Israeli allegations that a handful of UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas’s October 7 attacks. The panel’s findings are expected to be released in late March. The U.S. and a dozen other countries have already halted funding for the life-saving agency. Nearly the entire population of Gaza is displaced and reliant on aid. This is Ayesha Abu Al-Khair, a mother displaced from Gaza City.

Ayesha Abu Al-Khair: “In 2024, we’re dreaming of living our lives. People move forward and live their lives. We are still chasing a plate of food and bread for our children to survive. … We ask of the president of the United States to help the people of Gaza, send aid. He can see the situation here in Gaza and how difficult life is and how children are lacking food and water. Instead of helping Israel with rockets and bombardments, he should help the people of Gaza and look at how much the people are struggling to get a plate of food or a loaf of bread.”

Amnesty Report Reveals “Chilling Disregard for Palestinian Lives” as West Bank Killings Soar

Feb 06, 2024

A new report by Amnesty International says Israel’s army has been carrying out unlawful killings of civilians in the occupied West Bank and should be investigated for possible war crimes. Amnesty says Israeli forces have displayed “a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives” as a wave of brutal violence in the West Bank has intensified since Israel began its assault on Gaza. Amnesty investigated four separate cases of violence, including an Israeli raid on Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem that began October 19 and went on for at least 30 hours as Israeli forces stormed dozens of homes, cut off water and electricity to the camp, destroyed infrastructure with bulldozers and blocked two ambulances from reaching injured residents. At least 13 people, including six children, were killed in the raid. Since October 7, at least 360 people have been killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including 94 children, according to the U.N.

Blinken’s Middle East Tour Aims to Advance Truce, Ease Tensions as U.S. Bombs Region, Arms Israel

Feb 06, 2024

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with leaders in Egypt and Qatar today on his second day of a Middle East tour as a possible new Gaza truce and hostage handover inches forward amid rising regional tensions. Blinken met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia Monday and will also travel for meetings in Israel and the West Bank. U.S. officials say Blinken’s trip is aiming to ease tensions in the Middle East, where the U.S. is supporting Israel’s catastrophic war on Gaza and U.S. military forces have struck Yemen, Iraq and Syria in recent weeks. This comes as Yemen’s Houthi forces say they fired more missiles at two U.S.- and U.K.-owned vessels in the Red Sea. The Houthi movement said such attacks will continue “until the siege is lifted and the aggression against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is stopped.”

Meanwhile, France’s new foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, used his first official visit to Israel on Monday to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow an “immediate ceasefire” and a “massive influx” of humanitarian aid to Gaza. Séjourné also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Monday, where he called for an end to Israeli settler violence.

Nicaragua, South Africa Pressure Gov’ts Through International Courts

Feb 06, 2024

Nicaragua could move to take Germany, Canada, the U.K. and the Netherlands to the International Court of Justice over their role in aiding Israel’s genocide in Gaza. Nicaragua called on the four nations to immediately stop providing arms, munitions and technology to the Israeli army.

Meanwhile, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor says she questioned why International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan issued an arrest warrant against Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine, but not for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Pandor visited the ICC offices while in The Hague for the ICJ ruling on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel. Prosecutor Khan was not able to answer the question.

Police Arrest 100+ Activists as They Take Over Pennsylvania Capitol to Protest War

Feb 06, 2024

Back in the U.S., hundreds of Pennsylvanians rallied at the state Capitol in Harrisburg Monday to demand the state divest millions from Israeli bonds. The protest was led by Jewish Voice for Peace, the Philly Palestine Coalition and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR. Police arrested at least 126 demonstrators. State Representative Chris Rabb attempted to shield protesters from arrest and later defended their right to protest, evoking the history of the civil rights struggle and Black History Month.

Rep. Chris Rabb: “All the things we talk about during Black History Month or Martin Luther King Day, oh, and all the great things that happened, all of those things were far more than inconvenient. They were radical. They were radical. This is a radical expression of one’s First Amendment rights in the people’s House. This is the most ironic place to arrest people for expressing their First Amendment rights.”

CNN Toes Israeli Line as WSJ and NYT Platform Islamophobia, Endangering Muslim Communities

Feb 06, 2024

A new report by The Guardian has exposed a growing internal rift at CNN over its one-sided coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza and the “censoring of Palestinian perspectives.” CNN’s Atlanta headquarters issues editorial directives for the entire network, relying on official Israeli accounts. In addition, all content must be approved by the Jerusalem bureau.

This comes amid outrage over recent inflammatory headlines in mainstream newspapers. On Friday, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed titled “Welcome to Dearborn, America’s Jihad Capital.” In response, Dearborn’s Mayor Abdullah Hammoud said he was ramping up police presence across religious sites and landmarks over fears of racist violence. President Biden and Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer both condemned the article. Meanwhile, longtime New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman penned an op-ed titled “Understanding the Middle East Through the Animal Kingdom,” in which he compared Iran to a “parasitoid wasp,” writing, “We have no counterstrategy that safely and efficiently kills the wasp without setting fire to the whole jungle.” Michigan congressmember and the only Palestinian American U.S. lawmaker Rashida Tlaib said, “This is blatant Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism that puts people’s lives in danger.”

4 Muslim Americans Attacked, One Stabbed, While Returning from Palestinian Rights Protest

Feb 06, 2024

In Texas, a man attacked four young Muslim Americans who were driving home from a protest for Palestinian rights in Austin Sunday. Three of the victims are Palestinian Americans, including a 23-year-old who was stabbed after the attacker pulled them out of the car. They say the suspect, who has been identified as Bert James Baker, yelled obscenities, including the N-word, and tried to rip off a keffiyeh hanging from the car. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, CAIR, is calling on authorities to charge Baker with hate crimes, saying, “Those responsible for this violence must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law…and those fomenting the anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim hate that leads to this violence must be condemned.”

Senegal Delays Elections to Dec. 15 Amid Mounting Political Turmoil

Feb 06, 2024

Senegalese lawmakers voted to delay presidential elections until December 15 following President Macky Sall’s announcement Saturday postponing the vote, which had been scheduled for later this month. Chaos overtook the parliament as opposition lawmakers attempted to block the vote in protest.

Opposition lawmaker: “This is not possible! They’re stealing from the population of Senegal!”

Security forces forcibly removed some lawmakers during the session. The election postponement by President Sall — who has already served the maximum two terms allowed — was followed by street protests and accusations of a “constitutional coup” by his opposition. Rights groups warn Senegal’s democracy and political stability are at stake.

MSF Warns 13 Children Dying Every Day in North Darfur IDP Camp

Feb 06, 2024

In Sudan, a new report by Doctors Without Borders warns at least one child dies every two hours in a camp for displaced people in North Darfur as fighting between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces enters its ninth month. The humanitarian aid group estimates that about 13 children die each day in the Zamzam camp, one of the largest sites for internally displaced people in Sudan, where MSF is the sole health provider. Children who are suffering from severe malnutrition are expected to die within a few weeks unless they receive urgent care.

This comes as the World Food Programme says many people are dying of starvation as hunger has doubled in Sudan over the past year due to the ongoing violence that has cut off civilians from life-saving aid. Some 18 million people across Sudan are facing acute hunger, while nearly 11 million have been displaced from their homes.

Poor People’s Campaign Unveils Nationwide Voting Push Focusing on Low-Income Americans

Feb 06, 2024

The Poor People’s Campaign launched a 40-week operation to catalyze the voting power of poor people across the country. Some 7,000 volunteers will be tasked with mobilizing 15 million voters ahead of November’s election, with the first major coordinated actions taking place outside of 30 statehouses on March 2. This is Bishop William Barber unveiling the initiative at a press conference in Washington, D.C., Monday.

Bishop William Barber II: “For far too long extremists have blamed poor people and low-wage people for their plight, while moderates too often have ignored poor people, appealing instead to the so-called middle class. Meanwhile, poor and low-income, low-wage people have become nearly half of this country. And we are here today to make one thing clear: Poor and low-wage brothers and sisters have the power to determine and decide the 2024 elections and elections beyond.”

Millions Mourn, Struggle to Rebuild, and Demand Accountability 1 Year After Turkey-Syria Earthquake

Feb 06, 2024

Millions of people gathered across Turkey today to commemorate one year since a devastating earthquake and its aftershocks killed over 50,000 people. In Antakya, the capital of Hatay, the worst-hit southern province, crowds held a moment of silence at 4:17 in the morning local time, marking the moment the quake struck. Protests broke out as residents continue to demand justice and accountability from authorities for poorly regulated constructions and for delays in responding to the disaster, which left many to die, trapped in the rubble amid freezing temperatures. Others gathered in Malatya to mourn the dead.

Mehmet Dogac: “I lost my children. I lost my daughter, son-in-law, my three grandchildren. It feels like I am living the same days again. … Only their memories are left, their photos. Their love is what is left. They are my children. What can I say? It is just difficult.”

The 7.8 earthquake and aftershocks killed some 6,000 people in northern Syria, worsening an already dire humanitarian crisis after over a decade of conflict. Many who lost their homes are still sleeping in tents. This is a Syrian man who lost his home and remains unhoused along with his neighbor.

Sheikh Barakat: “He has nothing now. He is staying in this tent and has nothing. His situation is really bad. No one asked about him nor came to check. He is staying in the tent here. God help him and everyone. We are all staying in tents after a year of the earthquake. What can we do?”

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