Israeli army rounds up, strips and blindfolds civilian men in Gaza, takes them to unknown location – Mondoweiss

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Casualties

  • 17,177 killed*, including 7,729 children, and 46,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • At least 272 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7.

*This figure was given by the Gaza Ministry of Health on December 7. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza) and the high number of people trapped under rubble, the Gaza Ministry of Health has been unable to regularly and accurately update its tolls since mid-November. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to or above 20,000.

Key Developments

  • Chilling footage shows scores of Palestinian men detained by Israeli forces in northern Gaza, stripped down to their underwear, blindfolded, and handcuffed.
  • Despite Israeli claims that these men are Hamas fighters who surrendered, a number have been identified as journalists, shopkeepers, or other civilians who had sought refuge in UNRWA schools in Beit Lahia.
  • These images emerge amid reports of Palestinian men executed in front of their families in northern Gaza, or otherwise killed by Israeli snipers despite waving white flags.
  • Relentless bombing across the Gaza Strip kills scores of Palestinians, including renowned academic, author, and poet Refaat Alareer.
  • CARE International: “After two months of war, women last to eat and children first to die.”
  • U.N. under-secretary-general says “we do not have a humanitarian operation that can be called by that name anymore” in southern Gaza. 
  • Israeli rights group B’Tselem refutes government claims that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, saying it “is not a side effect, it’s the policy.”
  • U.N. Security Council to vote on a resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza after Secretary-General Antonio Guterres invokes Article 99.
  • Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. Riyad Mansour says the current situation in Palestine is a “real test of credibility” for the International Criminal Court. ICC credibility.
  • U.S.’s Antony Blinken says there is a “gap” between Israel’s alleged efforts to spare civilians in Gaza and the reality on the ground.
  • United Voices for America’s Ahmed Bedier: U.S. has “enabled a monster”
  • Far-right extremists Israeli march through occupied East Jerusalem, despite being dispersed by Israeli police.
  • Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir instructs prison services to detain alleged Hamas members in underground prison.
  • Israeli army raid in al-Fara’a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank kills at least six Palestinians.
  • A protest encampment by the families of Israeli hostages in Jerusalem, who have been regularly harassed by far-right Israeli extremists, was targeted with a suspected arson attack on Thursday.
  • Reuters investigation concludes its correspondent in Lebanon Issam Abdallah was killed by Israeli tank fire.
  • Hezbollah strikes on northern Israel kills one civilian, while Israel carries out large number of strikes in southern Lebanon, and Netanyahu threatens to turn Beirut “into Gaza.”
  • Huffington Post reports that Israel is seeking weapons from the U.S. to escalate war on the Lebanese front. 
  • Rockets are fired at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, as American bases have been targeted since October over Washington’s support of Israel.
  • Belgium says it wants to deny entry to violent Israeli settlers, and push for a European Union-wide ban.
  • This weekend marks the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Gaza: Palestinian men stripped naked, bound, and blindfolded

Two months on, it is becoming more and more difficult to summarize in an article the sheer scope of violence, war crimes, and human rights violations being committed in Gaza in the span of a single day.

Horrifying images have emerged of Palestinian men stripped down to their underwear, blindfolded, handcuffed, and made to line up kneeling in the streets or in non descript lots.

Struggling to come up with any credible proof of military success in Gaza besides the slaughter of civilians, Israeli forces have claimed that the men are Hamas fighters who surrendered — but at least one of the Palestinians shown in video footage is Al-Araby al-Jadeed correspondent Diaa Al-Kahlout, while social media users have identified other detainees as relatives, including shopkeepers, who were taking refuge along with their families in Beit Lahia.

Senior Hamas representative Osama Hamdan said “the [Israeli] occupation arrested and abused unarmed civilians with no connection to military operations.”

Euro-Med Monitor said it had received reports of Israeli forces randomly and arbitrarily detaining men, “including doctors, academics, journalists, and elderly”, who had taken shelter in the UNRWA -run Khalifa Bin Zayed and New Aleppo schools.

The organization added that it had “documented incidents of sniping and direct killing carried out by the Israeli army against displaced people in the vicinity of the two aforementioned schools. The Geneva-based human rights organization stated that members of Israel’s army targeted everyone who tried to leave, even though they were raising white flags.”

There have been increasing reports of civilians being killed by Israeli snipers in northern Gaza.

Israel’s bombing campaign of the entirety of Gaza continues unabated, with deadly strikes reported in Khan Younis, Rafah,Shujaaya, Deir al-Balah, Nuseirat, al-Tuffah, and al-Daraj. An ancient mosque was destroyed in Gaza City, among one of the many cultural and historical buildings in Gaza to be wiped out by Israeli forces.

Al Jazeera reported on Friday morning that Israeli tank shells had fired at Palestinians waiting in line for water near Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, with one witness calling the scene  “very bloody and shockingly graphic”.

The Israeli army said it had hit 450 “targets” in 24 hours. If each target is only a single strike, that’s one every three minutes and 12 seconds.

Among the names of the latest Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza is Refaat Alareer, a professor at the Islamic University of Gaza, writer, poet, and activist, whose death is being mourned by many.

As the Gaza Ministry of Health updated its latest death toll estimates on Thursday to 17,177 killed*, including 7,729 children, and 46,000 wounded, ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra reiterated that there were “great difficulties” in issuing accurate tolls “as a result of the continuous bombing and the large number of victims remaining under the rubble and on the roads.”

Only a few hundred wounded have been able to leave the Gaza Strip through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt for treatment abroad.

Among the many consequences of the decimation of Gaza’s medical system — which a U.N. expert slammed as Israel waging an “unrelenting war” on the health system in Gaza — health care facilities have been unable to test blood before transfusions, al-Qidra noted, adding that this was “in violation of all applicable medical protocols and has serious repercussions on the wounded, the sick, and the health of society.”

Humanitarian agencies and human rights organizations continue to raise alarms about the situation in Gaza, as Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said in no uncertain terms on Thursday: “The humanitarian crisis is not a side effect. It is the policy.”

U.N. agency OCHA meanwhile said that some of its aid was stranded in central Gaza, cut off from both the north and south due to the bombardments and fighting.

“We do not have a humanitarian operation in southern Gaza that can be called by that name anymore,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths said on Thursday.

While there have been reports of talks for Israel to allow aid into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, Israeli media reports have said the crossing would only be used for “screening and inspection,” without providing further details.

Meanwhile, ground fighting between Palestinian armed resistance groups and Israeli forces has been raging in the northern, central and southern Gaza Strip, with Hamas thwarting an Israeli attempt to recapture a hostage, which led to the death of the hostage. The son of Israeli cabinet minister and former military chief Gadi Eizenkot was among the soldiers killed in combat on Thursday. Palestinian rockets have continued to be fired towards the Gaza envelope and Tel Aviv.

Security Council to vote on ceasefire after Guterres invokes Article 99, as U.S. continues to downplay Israeli violations

Israeli officials wasted no time to condemn U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ decision to invoke Article 99 of the U.N. Charter, which allows him to “bring to the attention of the Security Council any matter which in his opinion may threaten the maintenance of international peace and security”.

“Guterres’ tenure is a danger to world peace,” Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Eli Cohen wrote on X (formerly Twitter). “His request to activate Article 99 and the call for a cease fire in Gaza constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization and an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies and the rape of women. Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas.”

The United Arab Emirates has seized the occasion to call for the U.N. Security Council to vote on a resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire on Friday morning.

The U.N. General Assembly, which, unlike the Security Council, does not have binding powers, adopted on Thursday five resolutions in favor of Palestine, WAFA news agency reported.

The invocation of Article 99 does not guarantee that any meaningful action will take place. The United States, as one of the Security Council’s permanent members, has veto power.

The United States continues to issue weak protestations regarding Israel’s war crimes, with ever more shameless understatements over the massacre of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. On Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a “gap” between Israel’s alleged intent to spare civilians and the reality on the ground.

Yet The New Arab reported that White House officials had not given Israel a deadline to end its operations in Gaza, amid reports earlier this week that Tel Aviv was planning to continue destroying the small Palestinian enclave with the same degree of intensity until at least January.

In a call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Thursday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin “underscored his enduring support for Israel’s right to defend itself from terrorism,” an official statement said. Still no word on what the U.S. might call the relentless and deliberate killing, maiming, starving, and traumatizing of Palestinian men, women, and children.

“The Biden administration at the beginning of this gave full support, full throttle support for the Netanyahu government, what they’re doing, and now they’re trying to rein it in,” United Voices for America president Ahmed Bedier told Al Jazeera on Friday. “In a way, they enabled a monster and they can’t pull them back.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported on Friday that Washington was working with the fiercely unpopular Palestinian Authority, which is currently the nominal Palestinian political power in the occupied West Bank, on a plan for the PA to take over control of whatever rubble is left in Gaza once the war ends.

Hate march in Jerusalem, six Palestinians killed in West Bank refugee camp

Israeli media reported that Israeli police had disbanded a far-right march scheduled to go through occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday evening — which it had greenlit a day earlier. The  march, organized by an ultranationalist Kahanist group, was reportedly shut down due to participants signs and chants, including “A bullet in the head of every terrorist,” “We demand vengeance”,  “You [Israeli police] are the whores of the Arabs,” and calling for the destruction of the Dome of the Rock in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

WAFA however reported that extremist demonstrators nonetheless marched through the Old City, assaulting passersby and shouting racist profanities at Palestinian residents.

At least seven Palestinians were detained in East Jerusalem overnight, including Sheikh Najeh Bkerat, the deputy director of the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem.

In the northern occupied West Bank, Israeli forces staged a raid in al-Fara’a refugee camp near Tubas, sparking armed confrontations with residents and killing at least six Palestinians. Israeli soldiers reportedly prevented ambulances from reaching the wounded.

A Palestinian man, identified as Awad Tayeh Anbar, 47, succumbed to his wounds on Thursday after being shot by Israeli forces three weeks earlier in Tulkarem refugee camp.

Violent Israeli raids, whether by army forces or settlers, in the past 24 hours have injured at least four Palestinians in Hizma, four in Tulkarem, three in Masafer Yatta, two in al-Khader, one in al-Fawwar, one in Huwara. Armed clashes were reported in Ramallah overnight, with no confirmed information on casualties.

Other notable actions by Israel in the past day include the raid of an orphanage in Beit Ummar, and the seizure of more than 120 acres from the Palestinian town of Jaba, which were declared “state lands”.

Netanyahu threatens to turns Beirut ‘into Gaza’

Almost two months after its correspondent Issam Abdallah was killed in southern Lebanon, Reuters news agency released its own investigation concluding that Israeli tank fire was responsible for his death. In response, the Israeli military has merely said that the incident took place in an “active combat zone” and was “under review.”

Amnesty International has called the attack that killed Abdallah and injured several other journalists a war crime.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reported on Friday that Israel was seeking to obtain more weapons from the U.S. in order to scale up its war with Lebanon.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Lebanon with total destruction should the Hezbollah movement scale up its attacks on northern Israel.

“If Hezbollah chooses to start an all-out war, then it will single-handedly turn Beirut and South Lebanon, not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Yunis,” the Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying.

Hezbollah and other resistance groups have continued to fire rockets from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, reportedly killing one civilian on Thursday. At least four Hezbollah fighters and two members of Islamic Jihad have been declared dead since Thursday.
Lebanese media have reported that Israeli forces have ramped up strikes on southern Lebanon, including with white phosphorus shells.

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