Endless killings and despair in Gaza – Mondoweiss

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Casualties 

  • 27,365+ killed* and at least 66,630 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 380+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
  • 562 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 were injured.**

*This figure was confirmed by Gaza’s Ministry of Health on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups put the death toll number at more than 35,000 when accounting for those presumed dead.

** This figure is released by the Israeli military.

Key  Developments 

  • UNOCHA: Israeli attacks from “air, land, and sea” kill 127 people in 24 hours.
  • UNOCHA: Israeli forces carrying out “significant destruction” of residential blocks across Gaza, particularly in the city of Khan Younis.
  • Unnamed Israeli bank notified UNRWA that it is blocking its bank account due to “tangible suspicions it is transferring funds to terror groups in Gaza,” reported Haaretz.
  • PRCS: Israeli forces detain al-Amal Hospital general manager and administrative director.
  • Israeli army admits to operating unofficial psychological warfare Telegram channel called “72 Virgins – Uncensored.”
  • PRCS: Fate of 6-year-old Hind Rajab and two emergency service workers who went to rescue her remains unknown a week later. 
  • Hamas says it targeted six Israeli tanks, shot soldier, fired shell at building housing troops in separate attacks in Gaza City on Sunday.
  • Israel plans to hire 65,000 foreign building workers from India, Sri Lanka, and Uzbekistan to replace Palestinian laborers.
  • PRCS releases video footage showing destruction of headquarters in Jabalia, northern Gaza. 
  • Emergency funding bill released by U.S. senators on Sunday includes $14.1bn in military aid to Israel, including $4bn for Israeli Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems.
  • NBC poll: Biden ratings drop, fewer than 3 in 10 approve of handling of Israel Gaza attacks.
  • Israeli protestors block trucks carrying aid from Ashdod to Gaza again on Sunday
  • Israeli cabinet approves extension of citizenship law targeting Palestinians
  • At least 28 Palestinians detained during overnight raids in occupied West Bank.

No safe place in Gaza  

The Gaza Strip has been under constant Israeli bombardment and attacks for over four months while the population of the besieged enclave slowly starves to death.

The UN Agency for Palestiniane Refugees (UNRWA) has said that “there is very limited access to clean water and sanitation amid [the] relentless bombardment.”

“The humanitarian crisis, antagonized by limited aid deliveries and destruction of infrastructure, puts thousands of vulnerable people at risk of disease,” UNRWA continued on X.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces continue to act as judge, jury, and executioner during military rampages in Gaza. 

In Al-Shifa’ Hospital in northern Gaza, Israeli surveillance drones and quadcopter military drones continue to open fire “now and then” on people inside the medical complex, reported Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza on Sunday. 

“They are also unable to get out from the facility as Israeli forces have been redeployed again in the central neighborhoods of Gaza City, as fighting continues with Palestinian fighters in the area,” Azzoum continued. 

Videos have emerged from the area showing Palestinian fighters targeting Israeli tanks and Israeli snipers, he added. 

Across Gaza, at least 234 Palestinians were killed, and 343 were injured between the afternoons of February 2 and 4, reported the UN Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) on Sunday, citing Gaza’s Ministry of Health.

According to Gaza’s government media office, Israeli forces killed at least 30 people in a supposedly “safe area” in the central part of the territory in the past 24 hours. 

“The occupation army targeted the safe homes of citizens with direct bombardment from military jets. It also bombed a mosque in the same area, which led to the killing of many people,” the office said, as cited by Al Jazeera

“We hold the Israeli occupation fully responsible for this heinous massacre and the ongoing massacres against our Palestinian people. We also blame the international community and American administration and President Biden personally for the continuation of massacres and crimes in violation of international law and all international treaties and conventions.” 

As Palestinians continue to be tortured, displaced, and trapped in the besieged enclave, Israeli forces escalate the destruction of civilian infrastructure.

UNOCHA says Israeli forces have carried out “significant destruction” of residential blocks across Gaza, particularly in the city of Khan Younis, which is part of a long string of controlled demolitions by the military across the Gaza Strip in recent months.

At least 33 controlled demolitions have destroyed hundreds of buildings — mosques and schools among them — since November, The New York Times reported last week, citing an analysis of Israeli military footage, social media footage, and satellite imagery.

In response to questions about the demolitions, the Israeli military told the NYT that it is “locating and destroying terror infrastructures embedded, among other things, inside buildings.”

Unlawful detainment and torture of Gaza residents

Israel has continued to unlawfully detain Palestinians in Gaza. Countless testimonies from ex-prisoners describe severe abuse and human rights violations while in the military’s custody.

On Monday, PRCS reported that Israeli forces detained the Executive Committee member of their humanitarian organization and the General Manager of Al-Amal Hospital, Dr. Haider Al-Qaddura, along with the hospital’s Administrative Director, Maher Atallah. 

The medical professionals are being held unlawfully in an unknown location. 

“This follows the ICRC informing PRCS of [Israeli] occupation approval for a safe passage, enabling displaced individuals to leave Al-Amal Hospital and PRCS headquarters towards Mawasi in Khan Younis,” the organization said in a post on X.

Palestinian doctor Said Abdulrahman Maarouf, a pediatrician at al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City, was freed on Thursday and now works in Abu Youssef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah City.

Maarouf told Al Jazeera that Israeli forces tortured him in his nearly seven weeks of detention following his arrest in Gaza, “I was detained from inside the hospital, and, I remained in Israeli prison for 45 days under severe torture and starvation,” he said. 

“I did not commit any crime. My weapons are my pen, notebook and stethoscope. I did not leave the hospital, I was treating children inside,” Maarouf said, adding that he was blindfolded and his hands and legs shackled.

“I lost more than 25kg in 45 days. I lost my balance, I lost my focus, and I lost all feeling. We were shackled for 45 days, handcuffed for 45 days.”

Similarly, Diaa Al-Kahlout, a Palestinian journalist from Gaza working for the New Arab spoke about the constant torture and ill-treatment he was subjected to during his 33 days in Israeli detention. 

In a statement published on X, Al-Kahlout said he was denied medical treatment despite suffering from a herniated disk and was subject to physical and psychological violence, including six hours of “shabeh,” a torture method used in which detainees are bound and placed in stress positions for long hours, calculated to inflict significant pain without leaving visible marks.

Israel blocks UNRWA bank account

UNRWA is calling for donations to continue its vital work amid funding cuts by several Western countries.

The funding cuts, which will impact life-saving assistance for over two million civilians, come after accusations by Israel that the agency’s employees participated in the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel.

However, Israel has not shown evidence to back the allegations, and the aid groups has warned that the cuts will worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli newspaper Haaretz has reported that an unnamed Israeli bank has notified the humanitarian agency that it is blocking its bank account due to “tangible suspicions it is transferring funds to terror groups in Gaza.”

Still, UNRWA said in a post on X: “As the largest humanitarian organization in Gaza Strip, we will do whatever is possible to continue our indispensable work to support people in Gaza.”

Many politicians and human rights groups have criticized the move to cut funding, including EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has rejected the cuts to UNRWA led by the U.S.

“If some doctors in a European hospital were involved in criminal activities, there would be a thorough investigation and all appropriate actions would be taken,” Borrell said in a statement, according to Al Jazeera

“However, no government would ever stop funding the health service, as this would primarily punish the people who receive these services. The wrongdoing of individuals should never lead to the collective punishment of an entire population.”

Borrell also noted that the agency provides services to Palestinian refugees across the Middle East, not just in Gaza, warning that “UNRWA’s demise would also be a serious risk for regional stability.”

Western countries escalate violence in the Middle East 

As Israel continues decimating Gaza despite international outcry, regional tensions continue to escalate with the help of Western countries that contribute to the flaring of tensions in the Middle East.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has told NBC News that the U.S. intends to carry out additional airstrikes against Iran-backed groups in the Middle East.

“We intend to take additional strikes and additional action to continue to send a clear message that the United States will respond when our forces are attacked,” he said.

U.S. and UK forces jointly struck Yemen’s Ansar Allah (commonly known as “the Houthis”) on Saturday night, the third time since the group started its attacks on ships off Yemen’s coast in solidarity with Gaza, The Vaultz News reported.

“At my direction, United States forces have conducted discrete strikes against facilities in Syria and Iraq used by [Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)] and affiliated militia groups,” U.S. President Joe Biden wrote in a letter on Sunday in a formality required by U.S. War Powers legislation.

“Every military incursion has been proceeding out of the executive order without congressional approval,” philosopher and independent presidential candidate Cornel West noted to Al Jazeera. The “United States has not declared a war based on its Congress since World War II.”

The Iraqi government has said that 16 people, including civilians, were killed in the attacks, reported Al Jazeera. 

The next day, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told his British counterpart David Cameron that war was not a solution. 

“[You] do not [want to] test the wrath of the region,” Amir-Abdollahian wrote in a post on X.

“We consider the security of Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank) to be the security of the region.”

Likewise, Ansar Allah spokesperson Muhammad Abdulsalam has said that the attacks by the U.S. and UK will pull them into a quagmire in the region.

“Yemen’s decision to support Gaza is firm, principled and will not be affected by any attack,” he said.

Abdulsalam also said: “Instead of escalating and opening a new war front in the region, America and Britain should listen to international public opinion, which is calling for an immediate halt to the Israeli aggression, lifting the siege on Gaza, and ending protection to Israel at the expense of the Palestinian people.”

“It must be emphasized that the aggressive raids, whether on our country or on Iraq and Syria, will fan the flames of hatred of our people and unite them against the American colonial presence in the region,” he added.

Biden calls for another $14.1bn for Israel

On Sunday evening, the U.S. Senate unveiled a $118bn bipartisan deal that would boost border security and provide wartime aid to Israel and Ukraine.

The deal would provide $14.1bn in military aid to Israel, including $4bn for Israel’s Iron Dome and David’s Sling defense systems, reported Al Jazeera

Biden has urged Congress to “swiftly pass” the deal so he can sign it into law, warning Republicans who have expressed alarm about the security of the border that “doing nothing is not an option.”

“Now we’ve reached an agreement on a bipartisan national security deal that includes the toughest and fairest set of border reforms in decades. I strongly support it,” Biden said in a statement.

The country’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has also said humanitarian issues in Gaza will be a top priority for U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his current trip to the region, in direct contradiction to the U.S. decision to cut funding to UNRWA.

A U.S. Senate bill includes funding for humanitarian assistance to Gaza and the West Bank, but it has not clarified how much.

The funding for the Palestinian territories is included in a larger pot of $9.2bn for “global humanitarian assistance,” which will also go to “Ukraine … East Africa, South Asia, and elsewhere,” according to a summary of the bill.



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