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HeadlinesMay 16, 2024

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Gazans Flee Israeli Attacks Across the Territory as Chaos Reigns in Besieged Territory

May 16, 2024

The International Rescue Committee is warning the scale of the crisis in southern Gaza “defies imagination” as Israel intensifies its attack on Rafah while key border crossings remain shut down. More than 600,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah despite having no safe place to go. Another 100,000 Palestinians have fled in the north. Overnight, Israel deployed an additional commando brigade to Rafah. This is a Palestinian woman in Rafah who is in mourning after Israel killed her husband and son.

Afaf al-Halqawi: “My son was beautiful as a moon. He was a groom. He went inside to his bride, thank God. … There’s no safe place, not in Rafah, not in Khan Younis. They slaughtered Jabaliya, they slaughtered al-Nuseirat, and they slaughtered Rafah. Safety is only with God. May God have mercy on us.”

On Wednesday, Israel shelled a clinic in Gaza City run by the U.N. aid agency UNRWA, killing at least 10 displaced Palestinians, including children. Earlier today, Israeli forces targeted residential buildings and an ambulance in Jabaliya, killing multiple Palestinians, including a pregnant woman. Separately, five Israeli soldiers were killed Wednesday in Jabaliya when they were shelled by an Israeli tank. Seven other Israeli troops were injured in what’s being described as a friendly fire incident.

University Human Rights Network Concludes Israel Is Committing Genocide in Gaza

May 16, 2024

The University Network for Human Rights has concluded in a major report that Israel is committing genocidal acts in Gaza. The report was written in partnership with law school human rights clinics at Boston University, Cornell, Yale and the University of Pretoria.

In The Hague, the International Court of Justice is hearing arguments today from South Africa in its genocide case against Israel. South Africa is requesting emergency measures over Israel’s escalating attack on Rafah.

Israel’s Far-Right Leaders Dispute Future of Gaza

May 16, 2024

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has publicly challenged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israel’s future plans for Gaza. Gallant said he opposes Israeli military or civilian rule over the Gaza Strip.

Yoav Gallant: “We must dismantle Hamas’s governing capabilities in Gaza. The key to this goal is military action and the establishment of a governing alternative in Gaza. In the absence of such an alternative, only two negative options remain: Hamas’s rule in Gaza or Israeli military rule in Gaza.”

Gallant’s comments came a day after another member of Netanyahu’s government, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, took part in a march calling for Israel to resettle Gaza and expel Palestinians living there.

“Biden Is Making Jews the Face of the War Machine”: First Jewish Biden Appointee Resigns over Gaza

May 16, 2024

Another member of the Biden administration has resigned to protest the president’s policies on Gaza. Lily Greenberg Call has become the first known Jewish political appointee to resign over the war. She had been working as special assistant to the chief of staff at the Interior Department. In her resignation letter, she wrote, “I can no longer in good conscience continue to represent this administration amidst President Biden’s disastrous, continued support for Israel’s genocide in Gaza.” She went on to write, “Biden is making Jews the face of the American war machine. And that is so deeply wrong.”

Greenberg Call’s views on Israel have shifted over the years. In 2019, as a college student at the University of California at Berkeley, she served as president of Bears for Israel, which is affiliated with AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Israeli Historian Ilan Pappé Interrogated by U.S. Agents at Detroit Airport

May 16, 2024

The acclaimed Israeli historian Ilan Pappé has revealed he was interrogated for two hours by federal agents at an airport in Detroit after flying into the United States. The agents questioned him about his Arab and Muslim friends in the U.S., as well as his views on Hamas and if he thought Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. Pappé said he was allowed to enter the U.S., but only after agents copied the contents of his phone.

Germany Lifts European Ban on British Palestinian Surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah

May 16, 2024

In Europe, Germany has lifted a travel ban on the renowned British Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah which had prevented him from traveling around Europe to talk about what he witnessed in Gaza. In April, Germany initially barred Abu-Sittah from attending a Palestinian congress in Berlin that authorities later shut down.

“Refuse to Accept Hell as Normal”: Amira Hass Delivers Graduation Speech as Students Keep Up Protests

May 16, 2024

Student-led protests across the U.S. are continuing. Graduating students have highlighted the plight of students in Gaza as they deliver end-of-year speeches, while many have waved Palestinian flags and displayed messages of solidarity as they took to the stage to receive their diplomas. At Barnard College here in New York, students wore red poppies on their gowns, each with the name of a slain Palestinian child, and refused to shake the hand of President Laura Rosenbury.

Meanwhile, prominent Israeli journalist Amira Hass addressed Columbia Journalism School graduates on Wednesday.

Amira Hass: “The journalism that I chose to practice is based on the refusal to see injustice as normal, the refusal to normalize it to a point that we do not see it. This is exactly what the students here in Columbia and in so many other campuses in the U.S. and now in Europe have been doing. Refuse to accept hell as normal.”

New School students on Wednesday took over their university’s welcome center, renaming it the Lama Center in honor of Lama Jamous, a 9-year-old aspiring journalist from Gaza.

Sonoma State President Placed on Leave After School Agrees to Academic Boycott of Israel

May 16, 2024
Image Credit: Sonoma State University

In California, the president of Sonoma State University, Mike Lee, has been placed on leave after he announced that the school had agreed to an academic boycott of Israel following talks with student protesters. The chancellor of California State University has accused Lee of insubordination.

Unions Representing UC and Harvard Student Workers Challenge Violent Crackdown on Gaza Protests

May 16, 2024

In Southern California, police raided an encampment at University of California, Irvine, arresting at least a dozen demonstrators. This comes as unionized student workers across the UC system have overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike in response to the use of force in dismantling student encampments and violation of their labor rights. The UAW Local 4811 represents some 48,000 members.

Meanwhile, the Harvard Graduate Students Union filed a federal complaint against Harvard for surveillance and retaliation against their protest.

And a judge in Rhode Island has rejected trespassing charges against 41 Brown University protesters. The judge said, “I think this is a reflection of what nonviolent and peaceful resistance, frankly, is supposed to look like.”

Prime Minister of Slovakia in Stable Condition After Assassination Attempt

May 16, 2024

The prime minister of Slovakia has survived an assassination attempt. Robert Fico is reportedly in stable but serious condition after being shot several times on Wednesday. A 71-year-old suspect has been detained in what authorities are describing as a “lone wolf” attack. Fico is a populist leader who is an ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Slovakia’s President Zuzana Čaputová said the shooting was an attack on democracy.

President Zuzana Čaputová: “A physical attack on the prime minister is primarily an attack on a person, but it is also an attack on democracy. Any violence is unacceptable. The hateful rhetoric we witness in society leads to hateful acts. Please, let’s stop it.”

Far-Right Populist Geert Wilders Forms Dutch Coalition But Agrees Not to Become Prime Minister

May 16, 2024

The Netherlands is set to see its most far-right government in decades after the populist leader Geert Wilders announced his anti-immigrant Party for Freedom is forming a coalition with three other parties, six months after their victory in parliamentary elections. But the Islamophobic Geert Wilders will not become the new prime minister, after agreeing to forfeit the leadership position as part of negotiations. Wilders is still expected to wield significant power over Dutch politics. A crackdown on asylum seekers is widely expected.

Putin Backs Beijing Peace Plan for Ukraine as He Meets with Xi Jinping in China

May 16, 2024

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are meeting in Beijing as Russia wages a new offensive in northeast Ukraine. Last year, China put out a 12-point peace plan to end the war in Ukraine. Earlier today, Xi said China “hopes for the early return of Europe to peace and stability.” Xi and Putin also signed a joint statement to deepen their partnership on trade, as well as on nuclear and energy cooperation.

France Declares State of Emergency in New Caledonia After 4 Killed in Clashes with Police

May 16, 2024

France has declared a state of emergency and is deploying its forces to New Caledonia amid mounting unrest in the Pacific archipelago. At least four people were killed in clashes this week. Tensions have been rising as Indigenous Kanak communities protest plans to allow French residents who have lived in New Caledonia for 10 years to vote in provincial elections.

Kanak resident: “We feel oppressed. We are angry. Everything is taking place over there in France. And us, we are wondering: Are we being heard, the Kanak people?”

Some 40% of the population of New Caledonia is Kanak, but the island remains under French rule since its colonization by France in the 19th century. Many young people seek full independence from France.

Activists Say Javier Milei’s Rhetoric and Policies Led to Deadly Attack on Lesbians

May 16, 2024

In Argentina, LGBTQ and women’s rights activists are accusing the government of far-right populist Javier Milei of fomenting violence and hate after a man set fire to four lesbians, killing three and seriously injuring the fourth. In one of his first acts as president, Milei shut down the government office that deals with hate crimes and banned the use of gender-inclusive language in the military.

Ex-Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko Convicted for Crimes Against Humanity

May 16, 2024
Image Credit: NAC/Wikimedia

Human Rights Watch is hailing a “monumental victory” after a Swiss court convicted former Gambian Interior Minister Ousman Sonko for crimes against humanity committed under the dictatorship of Yahya Jammeh. Sonko was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in torture, illegal detentions and unlawful killings between 2000 and 2016. He is the second ex-Gambian official convicted in Europe for international crimes committed in Gambia, after a former death squad member received a life sentence in Germany last year.

SCOTUS Restores Louisiana Voting Map with Additional Black-Majority District

May 16, 2024
Image Credit: Democracy Docket

In U.S. election news, the Supreme Court has restored, for now, a Louisiana congressional voting map that includes two Black-majority districts. The ruling upholds a map drawn in January which introduced the second Black district, and it overrules a federal court ruling that blocked that map in late April. Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision comes as a major win for Democrats, who are hoping to retake control of the House in November.

Biden and Trump Agree to 2 Network Debates, Eschewing Debate Commission

May 16, 2024

President Biden and Donald Trump have agreed to two presidential debates. The first debate will be hosted by CNN on June 27 without a live audience. The second debate is scheduled for September 10, hosted by ABC News. The campaigns opted to arrange the debates directly with the networks instead of the Commission on Presidential Debates, which has set up every presidential debate since 1988. If the debates go ahead as planned, June’s event would be the earliest-ever presidential debate and come before either candidate is officially nominated at their parties’ conventions.

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