Israeli forces massacre civilians waiting for humanitarian aid – Mondoweiss

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Casualties

  • 30,035+ killed* and at least 70,457 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.
  • 582 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.**

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

** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

Key Developments 

  • Journalist says family killed in Israeli bombardment in Gaza City.
  • Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza out of service.
  • Fire broke out at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Wednesday, reported Al Jazeera. 
  • Northern Gaza’s last functional hospital, Al-Awda, shuts down, reports Wafa. 
  • Woman killed, daughter wounded in Israeli strikes on southern Lebanon, according to MTV Lebanon.
  • PRCS registers concern for wellbeing of 7 detained medics.
  • Over 100,000 people vote ‘uncommitted’ in Michigan primary over Biden Gaza policy.
  • UN: Gaza water supply at only 7 percent of pre-October levels.
  • UN: An estimated 339 hectares (838 acres) of greenhouses have been destroyed.
  • Gaza Health Ministry: seven children died of malnutrition on Wednesday. 
  • Rights group: UK arms transfers to Israel may violate international law.
  • Married couple killed in Israeli attacks on south Lebanon.
  • Israeli war cabinet backtracks on al-Aqsa Mosque restrictions, reports Channel 12, as cited by Al Jazeera.
  • Israeli minister says no normalization with Saudi Arabia if it means Palestinian state, reports Al Jazeera.
  • Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian youth at checkpoint in Nablus, reports Wafa.
  • Refugees International chief: Humanitarian airdrops help Israel’s “blockade strategy.”
  • Amnesty chief urges European Union to fund UNRWA “without delay.”
  • Gaza Ministry of Health: Israeli forces kill at least 77 Palestinians waiting for food aid near Gaza City.
  • Israeli conscientious objector Tal Mitnick sentenced to third prison term.

Israeli massacre of starving civilians 

On Thursday, Israeli forces attacked starving Palestinians waiting for food aid near Gaza City, killing at least 77 people, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

Bodies were seen on the ground after the attack, with rescuers unable to reach them due to the danger of further Israeli strikes, reported Al Jazeera.

One man said he had been waiting for the aid to arrive since Tuesday. 

“At about 4:30 this morning, trucks started to come through. Once we approached the aid trucks, the Israeli tanks and warplanes started firing at us as if it were a trap,” the man recounted to Quds News Network, as cited by Al Jazeera.  

“As the Israeli military opened fire on the aid seekers, Israeli tanks advanced and ran over many of the dead and injured bodies in the southwestern parts of Gaza City. It is a massacre, on top of the starvation threatening citizens in Gaza,” Al Jazeera correspondent Ismail al-Ghoul said. 

Over 250 Palestinians were wounded in the attack, the majority of whom have been taken to al-Shifa Hospital and Kamal Adwan Hospital. 

“Some of the others are being rushed to the Ahli and Jordanian hospitals. The [death toll] will rise. Hospitals are no longer able to accommodate the huge number of patients because they lack fuel, let alone medicine. Hospitals have also run out of blood,” al-Goul added.

The man who witnessed the attack added: “To the Arab states, I say, if you want to have us killed, why are you sending relief aid? If this continues, we do not want any aid delivered at all. Every convoy coming means another massacre.”

“Many young men and women were killed and many more injured when they headed to receive the aid. It is common sense that if aid is delivered, a ceasefire must be observed. This is not happening on the ground… this is a crime, it is a sin,” he concluded.  

Following the attack, Jadallah al-Shafei, head of the nurses’ department at al-Shifa Hospital, told Al Jazeera the “situation cannot be described in words.”

“It is reminiscent of the dark scenes from the Baptist Hospital four months ago where 500 people were killed in one Israeli air strike,” he said.

“Since the early hours of the morning, the hospital has been flooded with dozens of dead bodies and hundreds of injured. The majority of the victims suffered gunshot wounds and shrapnel in the head and upper parts of their bodies. They were hit by direct artillery shelling, drone missiles, and gunshots. 

“We are out of operating theatres, let alone medical staff. We ran out of medical supplies and fuel to run the hospital. We hope we will be able to provide life-saving assistance to those wounded. All of them are in critical condition, lying on the floor. We stand helpless amid this shortage of supplies and staff,” al-Shafei stated. 

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has condemned what it says was a cold-blooded “massacre” of civilians.

In a press statement, the ministry said the attack was part of Israel’s ongoing “genocidal war.” The statement called upon the international community to “urgently intervene” to forge a ceasefire as “the only way to protect civilians.”

Similarly, Gaza’s government media office said: “We hold the U.S. administration, the international community, the [Israeli] occupation, and international organizations responsible for the killing of civilians in light of their starvation by the [Israeli] occupation,” as cited by Al Jazeera.

Northern hospitals in Gaza are non-functional 

Amid Israel’s ongoing attacks and brutal siege, Gaza’s healthcare sector has drastically suffered and cannot keep up with the rising numbers of patients. 

Yet another medical facility in northern Gaza, the Kamal Adwan Hospital, has been declared out of service after running out of fuel. 

Ahmed al-Kahlout, the hospital director, said halting all medical activities would deprive thousands of patients of the right to medical care, as reported by Al Jazeera.

Al-Awda Hospital in the city of Jabalia, northern Gaza, has also announced the complete suspension of all its medical services due to severe shortages of fuel and medical supplies.

The director of the monitoring and evaluation department in al-Awda, Dr. Muhammad Salha, warned in a press statement that the development would lead to “a complete deprivation of basic health services for citizens, especially in light of the cessation of service by all hospitals in the north,” according to Wafa news agency.

Dr. Salha urgently appealed to all international, humanitarian, and human rights organizations to pressure Israel to supply the hospital with medicines, consumables, medical supplies, and fuel.

Hamas has said that the closure of the northern Gaza hospital will exacerbate the health and humanitarian crisis in the area, reported Al Jazeera.

To make matters worse, not only is Israel actively depriving the hospitals of adequate supplies, but the army has continued attacking the facilities. 

Israeli forces besieged al-Awda Hospital for 18 days, causing severe damage to the upper floors of the building, in addition to destroying several ambulances, Wafa added. 

Additionally, on Wednesday, a fire broke out in one of the buildings of the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis after Israeli artillery shells hit the site in the southern city, reported Al Jazeera Arabic, sharing a video of flames engulfing parts of the hospital amid attempts to extinguish them.

Tania Hary, executive director at Gisha-Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, says that the Israeli government continues to “sow chaos and deny its responsibility to the population” as public order in Gaza disintegrates with growing desperation and starvation.

“The ICJ [International Court of Justice] provisional measure states that Israel must ‘take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services’ not taunt, mock and endanger humanitarians trying to provide aid to 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza,” Hary continued on X.

Medical staff still unlawfully detained 

While brutalizing medical facilities, Israeli forces have also continued to target medical staff. The army has seven members of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in detention for the 20th consecutive day, including ambulance crews, anesthesia technicians, and a doctor.

“They were arrested during the Israeli occupation’s raid on Al-Amal Hospital, and their fate remains unknown at the moment. PRCS expresses its utmost concern for the safety of the detained teams and demands their immediate release,” PRCS said

According to Amani Sarhaneh of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, people being detained in the besieged coastal enclave are subject to forced disappearance by the Israeli military.

“Israel refuses to give out any information about the whereabouts or fate of the detainees,” Sarahneh told Al Jazeera.

She added that released prisoners have spoken of “horrific torture practices carried out against them during their detention in Israeli camps.”

“Since October 7, there has been a radical change in the conditions of detention. Palestinian prisoners are subject to a systematic torture policy, humiliation, and abuse,” she said, adding that ten detainees have died while in prison.

Detainees are also subjected to malnourishment and cell overcrowding. In addition, Israeli prison authorities took away prisoners’ warm clothes and blankets at the start of the winter season, while preventing them from taking daily showers and denying them family and lawyer visitations, Sarahneh said. 

Seven babies die of malnutrition  

The situation in Gazan communities grows worse by the hour as the threat of a man-made famine looms over the besieged enclave. 

The director of Kamal Adwan Hospital, Ahmad al-Kahlout, told Al Jazeera Arabic that seven children have now died due to malnutrition. The medical facility itself has run out of fuel to run its generators. 

A few hours before the fuel ran out at the Hospital, Dr. Hossam Abu Safia, the head of pediatrics at the hospital, told Al Jazeera the hospital was admitting between 1,000-1,200 babies a day, compared to the 500-600 daily admittance rate before the war.

“We notice that all patients are showing signs of paleness and weakness. Even newborns are emaciated,” he said.

“The majority of newborns we are treating today at the Kamal Adwan Hospital are without parents. They were referred to us by shelters or other hospitals, and they are without their mothers,” Abu Safia said.

He added that the hospital struggles to find enough milk for the babies, even as many needed milk to help their immune systems recover.

“Whatever milk we have is split equally amongst everyone, and this will definitely affect the babies’ weight and their daily progress,” he said. 

Project Hope, a humanitarian organization operating a clinic in the Gaza Strip, says 21 percent of the pregnant women it has treated in the last three weeks are suffering from malnutrition. Additionally, 11 percent of the children under the age of five treated during the same period are malnourished.

“People have reported eating nothing but white bread, as fruit, vegetables, and other nutrient-dense foods are nearly impossible to find or too expensive,” the group added.

Gaza’s water supply has also been critically affected by the severe restrictions on fuel shipments and the lack of functioning desalination plants.

“Malnutrition, epidemic disease and trauma is everywhere,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said during a visit to Rafah in southern Gaza.

Visiting a school sheltering some 4,500 displaced people who fled Gaza City in the north of the enclave and nearby Khan Younis, Egeland said on social media he was “shocked by conditions” people were forced to live in.

“The disabled, the pregnant and the newborn share 18 latrines with 4,500 others,” he wrote on social media.

In an earlier post from the Rafah border crossing into Gaza, Egeland said hundreds of aid trucks were waiting to travel into the Palestinian territory to help “a starving civilian population.”

“The system is broken,” he said of the process involved in allowing aid into Gaza.

“Israel could fix it for the sake of the innocent,” he added.  

“There is no limit to the scale of humanitarian needs for people in Gaza. Diseases are rampant. Food production has come to a halt. Over 1/4 of water wells have been destroyed,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said in a social media post

“Famine is looming. Hospitals have turned into battlefields. 1 million children face daily trauma.” 

Meinie Nicolai, director of the group Doctors Without Borders (MSF), said the people of Gaza are “desperate.” 

“They live in makeshift shelters. It’s cold. There’s not enough food. There’s not enough water. There’s not enough healthcare,” Nicolai said.

“Healthcare has been attacked, it’s collapsing. The whole system is collapsing. We are working from tents trying to do what we can. We treat for the wounded. With the displacements, people’s wounds have been infected. And I’m not even talking about the mental wounds. People are desperate. They don’t know anymore what to do.” 

“The place is very dark, and light only enters through narrow openings among the remnants of debris,” UNRWA quoted 12-year-old Alaa, who has been forced to seek shelter along with her family in a demolished building in Rafah.

“For the population of Gaza, there is literally nowhere left to go,” the UN agency added, accompanied by photos of the family in the bombed-out building.

Congressperson Pramila Jayapal, head of the Progressive Caucus, has written a letter calling for the complete restoration of U.S. funding for the primary aid distributer in Gaza, UNRWA, which was pulled over unsubstantiated Israeli allegations that several of its employees had taken part in the October 7 attacks. 

The letter was signed by representatives Andre Carson and Jamie Raskin.

“Suspension of funding to UNRWA, in a context where alarming signs of genocide exist, risks significantly exacerbating if not contributing to the harms which the Genocide Convention seeks to prevent,” the secretary-general of Amnesty International, Agnes Callamard, wrote in a letter to the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, urging the EU to continue its funding for UNRWA “without delay.”

Callamard also acknowledged the need for allegations against a dozen of UNRWA’s 30,000 staff to be independently investigated, but said that “suspending UNRWA funding also risks legitimising the practice of collective punishment of Palestinians.” 

Logistics of aid 

In light of the alarming rate of starvation in Gaza due to Israel’s efforts to obstruct aid, countries are increasingly considering airdropping humanitarian aid over Gaza, including the U.S.

“Hundreds of aid trucks wait in line to cross into Gaza at the Rafah and Kerem Shalom [Karam Abu Salem] crossings to a starving civilian population,” Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said in a social media post.

“There has not been a single day we have gotten the needed 500 trucks across. The system is broken and Israel could fix it for the sake of the innocent,” Egeland’s post continued, accompanied by a video showing scores of aid trucks lined up.  

President Joe Biden’s administration has said they are debating airdropping aid from U.S. military planes, reported Reuters, citing a U.S. official. 

However, several human rights organizations have said the delivery method is inefficient for Gaza’s drastic and critical needs. 

The World Food Programme (WFP) has also said airdrops are a “last resort” for several reasons, including the “relatively small quantities” that can be delivered compared to a convoy of trucks.

“Facilitating airdrops — and driving media coverage around them — gives the public appearance that Israel is cooperating with humanitarian efforts,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, the president of Refugees International.

Konyndyk added that the amount of aid delivered in airdrops is so “negligible” that it helps “perpetuate the overall blockade strategy.”

“The fact that they need be considered is a major policy failure,” he concluded.

Journalism under attack 

Journalists covering Israel’s aggressions across the Gaza Strip continue to be targeted and obstructed by Israel. 

Foreign reporters have, with rare exceptions, been consistently barred from access to the besieged territory since the start of the war, while Israeli forces have kiled at least 89 Palestinian journalists since October 7, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).  

More than two dozen lawmakers from U.S. President Biden’s party have signed a letter demanding that Secretary of State Antony Blinken take steps to protect the safety of journalists in the Gaza Strip and ensure press freedom.

“With more journalists killed in three months than have ever been killed in a single country over an entire year, we remain concerned that not enough steps have been taken to safeguard the lives of the civilian population in Gaza, including journalists,” wrote the members of Congress.

The congress members also demanded assurances that foreign journalists and all members of the press (including Palestinians already in Gaza) be granted access to personal protective gear while being allowed the freedom to enter and exit Gaza at will without an Israeli military escort. 

Additionally, the lawmakers demanded that communications infrastructures must be protected whenever possible. 

A group of 55 international journalists has penned an open letter urging the Israeli government to let them enter Gaza to report on the war, reported Press Gazette.

The letter says that foreign reporters have been refused access to the territory since the war broke out, “apart from rare and escorted trips with the Israeli military,” and calls on Israel and Egypt to give all media “free and unfettered access.”

It also calls for measures to protect local journalists, 126 of whom have been killed since the war broke out, according to Gaza’s government media office.

Biden uncommitted

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden won the Michigan Democratic primary. However, more than 100,000 people voted “uncommitted” over the administration’s policy in Gaza.

“Our movement emerged victorious tonight and massively surpassed our expectations. Tens of thousands of Michigan Democrats, many of whom who [sic] voted for Biden in 2020, are uncommitted to his re-election due to the war in Gaza,” tweeted the Listen to Michigan group, which organized the campaign to vote uncommitted. 

“President Biden has funded the bombs falling on the family members of people who live right here in Michigan. People who voted for him, who now feel completely betrayed. President Biden, listen to Michigan. Count us out, Joe,” the group continued. 

Following the results, Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said: “The results in Michigan are clear: Voters are not happy with the U.S.’s handling of the war in Gaza,” Jayapal said in a social media post, referring to the solid showing by “uncommitted” voters in Michigan’s Democratic primary election yesterday.

“This is a profound moral issue — and it’s time to listen.”



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