Palestinians in Gaza are once again counting down the hours until the bombing restarts – Mondoweiss

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Casualties: 

  • 15,000+ killed*, including 6,150 children, and 33,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
  • 247 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
  • Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,200

*This figure has been confirmed by the government media office in Gaza. However, due to breakdowns in communication networks within the Gaza Strip (particularly in northern Gaza), the Gaza Ministry of Health has not been able to regularly update its tolls. Some rights groups put the death toll number closer to 20,000.

Key Developments: 

  • Israeli forces have killed 104 Palestinian children in the occupied West Bank in 2023, including 64 since October 7, says Defence for Children Palestine. 
  • Gaza media office: 70 journalists killed since October 7.
  • Israeli forces killed 21-year-old Fadi Moayad Badran on Thursday morning in front of Ofer prison, Ramallah. 
  • Israeli snipers in Gaza were caught on video (verified by Al Jazeera) targeting unarmed Palestinians on the sixth day of the humanitarian truce. 
  • Three people were killed during a shooting at a bus stop in Jerusalem by two Palestinian gunmen who were also killed at the scene, according to Israeli police. 
  • Sixteen captives were released by Hamas on Wednesday evening, followed by thirty Palestinian women and children being released from Israeli prison, including 22-year-old Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi. 
  • Hamas says three captives, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his four-year-old brother, and their mother, were killed during a previous Israeli bombardment. The statement has yet to be verified by Israel.
  • Palestinian Ministry of Health: The Noura Al Kaabi Centre for dialysis patients in northern Gaza resumed operations on Wednesday. 
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday evening to meet with Israeli leaders; he also plans to visit the occupied West Bank and the UAE during his trip.
  • PRCS is “deeply worried” about Awni Khattab, the head of Khan Younis Emergency Medical Center in Gaza, whose whereabouts are still unknown after being arrested by Israeli forces nine days ago.
  • In the West Bank, Wafa News agency reported that Israeli forces surrounded the Thabet Thabet Governmental Hospital in Tulkarem, stopping and searching ambulances and subjecting emergency workers to interrogation on Thursday. 
  • A video of the moment Israeli forces shot the 9-year-old boy dead in Jenin has surfaced, where he is seen running away before being shot in the back; it has been described as an “execution in cold blood.”

I’m counting down the hours until the bombing restarts.’

Less than an hour before 7:00 a.m. this morning, when the six-day truce between Hamas and Israel was due to expire, a 24-hour extension was reached with the help of external mediators. 

Meanwhile, people in Gaza are waiting for the continuation of Israel’s relentless bombardment. 

“The first day of the pause, I cleared rubble from my sister’s house. The next two, I queued for cooking gas. Now, I’m counting down the hours until the bombing restarts. I’m extremely worried,” said Tarneem in a testimony shared by Medical Aid for Palestinians.

During the six-day pause, the Palestine Red Crescent (PRC) “successfully distributed 254 aid trucks” during the six days of the truce; however, only 21 were delivered to northern Gaza. 

Nearly 500,000 Palestinians in the north of Gaza are still in “dire need” of more aid, says PRC. 

The UN’s children’s agency “declined permission” for fuel transport to Gaza City, northern Gaza, which is “crucial for powering the water pump,” said the Municipality of Gaza.

Marwan Abu Sada, the chief surgeon at al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, told Al Jazeera that despite the truce, many patients are still unable to access healthcare. 

“Since the ceasefire, nothing is coming to the hospital,” he said. “I think most of the medical aid goes to the southern hospitals, [but] nothing is coming to the northern areas, just food and water and other stuff,” he said. 

In a statement released on PRC outlined many challenges they had to face in order to receive and distribute humanitarian aid across Gaza and specifically into the north. 

“The process is lengthy, and delays may compel staff and volunteers to work till dawn to complete the transportation and unloading in the north and return to the south to work on new trucks,” PRC said, calling on the international community to facilitate the entry of more assistance and to “open other crossing points.”

PRC has stated that they are “deeply worried” about Awni Khattab, the head of Khan Younis Emergency Medical Center in Gaza, whose whereabouts are still unknown after being arrested by Israeli forces nine days ago.

“PRCS holds the Israeli authorities responsible for the safety of Khattab, and we demand his immediate release along with three other medical workers who are under arrest,” the group said. 

“Nowhere is safe in Gaza and nowhere will be safe until this humanitarian pause is turned into a lasting ceasefire,” UNICEF spokesperson James Elder said on X.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories, notes that no Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory are safe in response to the killing of nine-year-old Adam Samer al-Ghoul on Wednesday in Jenin. 

A video of the moment Israeli forces shot the boy dead has surfaced, where he is seen running away before being shot in the back; it has been described as an “execution in cold blood.”

“No Palestinian is safe under Israeli occupation,” Albanese said.

U.S. shifting approach with Israel

On Wednesday evening, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv to meet with Israeli leaders and discuss more exchanges between Hamas and Israel, as well as how to increase the humanitarian aid entering Gaza.

Blinken will also visit the occupied West Bank and the UAE during his third trip to the Middle East since October 7.

According to Al Jazeera, the purpose of Blinken’s trip is to find a way to reach a sustained ceasefire as well as the release of all the remaining captives being held inside Gaza, in addition to an action plan for the future of Israel and Palestine. 

“We have seen over the last week the very positive development of hostages coming home, being reunited with their families,” Blinken said at a meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv.

“It’s also enabled an increase in humanitarian assistance to go to innocent civilians in Gaza who need it desperately. So, this process is producing results. It’s important and we hope that it can continue. I look forward to detailed conversations with the government of Israel about the way ahead in Gaza,” he continued. 

However, Israeli politicians have made it clear that they are committed to continuing their assault on Gaza. 

“From the beginning of the war, I set three goals – the elimination of Hamas, the return of all our abductees, and to ensure that Gaza will never again be a threat to Israel. These three goals remain in place,” Benjamin Netanyahu said in a video statement. 

“In the last few days I hear a question – after this phase of returning our abductees is exhausted, will Israel return to fighting? So my answer is an unequivocal yes,” Netanyahu added.

“There is no way we are not going back to fighting until the end. This is my policy, the entire cabinet stands behind it, the entire government stands behind it, the soldiers stand behind it, the people stand behind it – this is exactly what we will do,” he said. 

Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant has said that Israeli forces “in the air, on land, and at sea are ready to resume fighting.”

“With Netanyahu publicly disagreeing with so much of what the Americans are saying are their red lines [on Gaza], Biden is going to be asserting himself diplomatically,” Political analyst William Lawrence told Al Jazeera.

“There is also no question in my mind that Netanyahu knows that his political days may be numbered by the length of this conflict,” he continued.

“He wants the war to start again as soon as possible and to go for as long as possible,” he added.

‘This is not a war; this is a carnage that nothing and no one can justify.’

Many international leaders are still calling for the temporary truce, initially four days but extended to 7, to become a permanent ceasefire despite Israel’s continuing rejection of these calls.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki says the Gaza truce “must become a ceasefire, a permanent ceasefire.”

“The massacres cannot be allowed to resume. This is not a war, this is a carnage that nothing and no one can justify. It must be brought to an end,” al-Maliki told the Security Council.

“The danger is that if this … truce expires, we will return to the killing at the scale that we have seen, which is unbearable,” Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud told reporters at UN headquarters while calling for a permanent ceasefire. 

Qatar’s Prime Minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told the UN Security Council that international law should be “applied justly.”

“The double standards applied by the international community regarding the carnages and the crimes perpetrated by the Israeli occupation against civilians and civilian infrastructure … is a stain on the conscience of humanity,” he said.

In addition, more U.S. lawmakers are joining calls for a ceasefire, including Congresswoman Debbie Dingell

“In recent days, we’ve seen successful diplomatic efforts to pause fighting and release hostages, and we must build on those efforts with a lasting ceasefire that secures the immediate release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas and initiates a steady and a substantial flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza,” said Dingell.

“How many more lives will be enough? How many more children need to be killed? How many more families have to be traumatized and torn apart? There is nothing humanitarian, my friends, about giving innocent civilians a few days of rest before they are bombed again,” Palestinian American lawmaker Rashida Tlaib said at an event outside the White House.

“The bombing of innocent civilians and children is repugnant and disgraceful. The refusal to support a ceasefire and an end to violence and the killing is repugnant and disgraceful. Our president calling on Congress to fund more bombs that are being dropped on innocent civilians is repugnant and disgraceful,” Tlaib continued.

Jerusalem shooting sparks further arming of Israeli civilians. 

On Thursday morning at a bus stop in Jerusalem, three people were killed and 16 wounded by two Palestinian gunmen who were also killed at the scene, according to Israeli police. 

Directly after the incident, Israeli forces raided the neighborhood of Sur Baher in occupied East Jerusalem, broke into the house of the two Palestinian suspects, and arrested their family members for questions, reported Al Jazeera, citing Wafa. 

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who began distributing thousands of assault rifles to Israelis after October 7, prioritizing those in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, is exploiting the shooting incident to further his agenda of arming the Israeli population. 

“Weapons save lives,” Ben-Gvir said on X.

“Despite the criticism from all kinds of parties, I will continue this policy of handing out weapons everywhere, both to emergency rooms and to civilians,” the far-right ultranationalist minister who often encourages violence against Palestinians while granting Israeli settlers impunity. 

Soon after his statement, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on X that the government would continue to distribute weapons to civilians, noting that he appreciated an armed civilian at the scene, along with two soldiers, killed the gunmen.

“The government headed by me will continue expanding the distribution of weapons to citizens. This is a measure that proves itself time and time again in the war against murderous terrorism,” he said.

Hamas has since claimed the two gunmen as its own members. 

“The operation came as a natural response to unprecedented crimes conducted by the occupation,” the group said in a statement, citing Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and the treatment of Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli jails.

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