News Releases

Escalating Disease Coming from Israel’s Assaults: “Predictable”

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KATHY KELLY, kathy.vcnv@gmail.com, @voiceinwild
Kelly is board president of World BEYOND War and a co-coordinator of the Merchants of Death War Crimes Tribunal.

She just wrote the piece “Predicting Pestilence” for The Progressive magazine. She writes: “Those with influence among authorities in Israel and the United States must reckon not only with the reckless carnage they are inflicting on children, but they must also grasp the likelihood of an exponentially increased death toll from battlefield illnesses afflicting children.” She writes that the surviving Palestinian children in Gaza “live amid ominous pre-conditions for outbreaks of water-borne diseases: a mounting number of unburied corpses, unsafe drinking water, overcrowding in impromptu mass shelters where sick people are denied any access to health care, and a breakdown of basic sewage and sanitation systems. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns that Gaza is ‘on the precipice of major disease outbreaks.’ …

“’Eventually we will see more people dying from disease than from bombardment if we are not able to put back together this health system,’ said Margaret Harris, a spokesperson for the WHO.    “Yet without electricity and fuel, it’s impossible to repair Gaza’s collapsed health care system. Israeli authorities cut off Gaza’s electricity supply after October 11, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and fuel reserves for Gaza’s sole power plant have been dangerously depleted.      “History repeatedly shows that children in war zones bear the brunt of punishment as bombing wars give way to even more lethal economic wars, and what ought to be regarded as biological warfare against children. (It’s noteworthy that Israel is one of only eight world nations not to have signed the Biological Weapons Convention.)    “The suffering inflicted on Iraqi children following the 1991 war and ensuing years of merciless economic sanctions is well known to both United States and Israeli authorities.    “When the U.S. Operation Desert Storm bombing war against Iraq ended on February 28, 1991, a new kind of warfare proved far more devastating than even the worst of the bombing. By 1995, U.N. workers recognized that children were dying, first by the hundreds, then by the thousands, and eventually by the hundreds of thousands because economic sanctions prevented necessary access to medicines, clean water, and adequate food.”

See “Pentagon Documents Show U.S. Intentionally Used Sanctions to Destroy Iraq’s Water Supply” by Tom Nagy.

Kelly also notes: “A similar pattern emerges if we turn our gaze toward the Saudi aerial bombardment of Yemen from 2015 to 2018. The Saudi attacks against vital sewage and sanitation facilities, and against the electrical plants which powered them, contributed to severe shortages of potable water. The Saudis were also known to bomb sites where Yemenis were digging their own wells.    “A report from Save the Children, issued in November 2018, estimated that at least 85,000 children died from extreme hunger since the war began in 2015. The worst cholera outbreak ever recorded infected 2.26 million and cost nearly 4,000 lives. …

“The health system of Gaza, one of the most densely populated places in the world, has long been plagued by underfunding and the effects of the blockade imposed by Israel in 2007.    “In early 2023, an estimated 97 percent of water in the enclave was unfit to drink, and more than 12 percent of child mortality cases were caused by waterborne ailments. Diseases including typhoid fever, cholera, and hepatitis A are very rare in areas with functional and adequate water systems. …   “We can’t help but ask whether Israeli officials, intent on continuing the war for possibly as long as a year, see the potential for widespread disease as motivation for families to leave Gaza, accepting massive ethnic cleansing that would displace them beyond Gaza’s borders.”

See Kelly’s past pieces.

Note: The singer David Rovics has released a series of songs about Israel’s attack on Gaza, the most recent being “Famine and Disease

Israel says Self-Immolator is Driven by Hatred, Wants Funding for Ethnic Cleansing, Biden Sends Israel More Deadly Weapons

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RICHARD SILVERSTEIN,  richards1052@gmail.com, @richards1052       Silverstein writes at Tikun Olam. He recently wrote the pieces Israeli MKs, Messianic Evangelicals Lobby Congress for Ethnic Cleansing,” “Netanyahu Plan to ‘Thin Out’ Gaza Population to ‘Bare Minimum’” and “Israeli Claims of Hamas Sexual Assaults Lay Its Credulity on the Line: Rape claims part of anti-Hamas propaganda campaign.”

In his most recent piece, Silverstein writes: “In an escalation of the stakes against U.S. policy on Gaza, an anti-war protestor draped in a Palestinian flag, poured gasoline on himself and lit a match. He self-immolated outside the Israeli consulate in Atlanta. News reports offer little more than that. Except for the astonishing statement by the Israeli consul general: ‘We are saddened to learn of the self-immolation at the entrance to the office building,’ the consul general of Israel to the southeastern U.S., Anat Sultan-Dadon, told ABC News. ‘It is tragic to see the hate and incitement toward Israel expressed in such a horrific way. The sanctity of life is our highest value.’ This is a perfect reflection of the toxicity of Israel’s permanent war mentality. …     “Change is coming incrementally: a majority of Americans now oppose Israel’s war in Gaza; 40 House members now call for a ceasefire; Democratic senators are calling, for the first time, for placing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel — even as as we’re supplying Israel with some of our most lethal weapons: ‘The U.S. has provided Israel with large bunker buster bombs, among tens of thousands of other weapons and artillery shells … U.S. officials said.

    “‘The surge of arms, including roughly 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells, began shortly after the Oct. 7 attack and has continued in recent days, the officials said. The U.S. hasn’t previously disclosed the total number of weapons it sent to Israel, nor the transfer of 100 BLU-109, 2,000-pound bunker buster bombs.'”

Pro-Peace in Palestine Protests in Biden Hometown

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Following talks with Blinken, Israel has resumed bombing of Gaza, including the south, where Israel told Palestinian civilians to go in what UNICEF spokesperson James Elder is calling “a war on children.” An Israeli spokesperson states its forces are unleashing “the mother of all thumpings” on Gaza. The Israeli +972 Magazine published the piece “‘A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza.” See Al Jazeera live stream and X/Twitter list. There have been major protests around the world, from South Africa to Denmark to Jordan.

This weekend, a coalition of groups is protesting in Biden’s hometown of Scranton, Penn.

The protests will center around a General Dynamics facility which the coalition states “makes 155 mm shells which have been used by Israeli artillery to bomb Gaza where over 15,000 people have been killed with 75 percent being children and women. The geographic area of Gaza is just one-third the size of Lackawanna County [where Scranton is located]. Israel has dropped 25,000 tons of explosives on tiny Gaza — equal to the explosive force of two nuclear bombs. … The Biden administration ordered 57,000 155 mm shells to be delivered to Israel.”

The groups include Northeast Pennsylvania for Palestine, Veterans for Peace and Democratic Socialists of America. The coalition states: “Genocide Joe is attempting to remove all restrictions currently in place on Israel’s access to U.S. stockpiles in the region as a way of sidestepping congressional approval. The killing must stop.”

The coalition cites the “Leahy Law that prohibits sending weapons to known human rights violators” and vows to block the main gate of General Dynamics facility.

“Josh Paul, a former senior State Department official overseeing arms sales who resigned in protest last month, said that Israel is in violation of international law. ‘Israel is committing war crimes in its actions in Gaza right now,’ he said. ‘And it’s not just my opinion. I’ve actually heard from officials across government, including elected officials at a very senior level, who share that opinion but aren’t willing to say it in public.’

“Hospitals had become refuge for many, and they have been bombed, along with actual refugee camps. Even during this ‘humanitarian pause’ Gazans who have attempted to return home in the North have been fired on by the Israeli Forces. “While we are pleased to see the reunification of families … we must remember the Israeli government has vowed that they will continue their campaign of carnage after the temporary ‘humanitarian pause.’

“We in no uncertain terms condemn Rep. Matt Cartwright, Sen. Bob Casey, and Sen. Fetterman for providing rhetorical cover for the genocide of Palestinians. We condemn President Biden, who could stop this genocide with a phone call and who has been a vehement supporter of the brutal Israeli occupation his entire political career.”

Speakers at the rally at noon on Sunday include:

Mike Ferner, Director of Veterans for Peace USANick Mottern, National Board of Directors of VFP

Ariel Gold, Director of Fellowship of Reconciliation Jamie Santiago, University of Scranton studentJulia Stanley, Binghamton NY Peace and Justice advocateLori Watson, Scranton Peace and Justice advocateJack Gilroy, Pax Christi USA/VFP

For more information, contact: Jack Gilroy, jgilroy1955@gmail.com

Pro-Israel Lobby and “Ethnic Cleansing” in the West Bank

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Netanyahu met with AIPAC leadership in Jerusalem, prompting former Bernie Sanders surrogate Nina Turner to comment: “It’s wild that this is allowed.”

Israel has gotten wide support for its attack on Gaza from the vast majority of both Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

See list on X/Twitter.

MAZIN QUMSIYEH, mazin@qumsiyeh.org, Skype: mbqumsiyeh
Qumsiyeh is a professor at Bethlehem University. His books include Sharing the Land of Canaan. He is founding director of the Palestine Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability.

His latest piece is “Israel Lobby in USA“, which examines a number of ways pro-Israeli forces assert themselves. He asks: “Why does the mainstream media ignore the hundreds of thousands of Jews who oppose Israel and its actions in Gaza?” Also see from Grant Smith a piece which examines the efforts by the anti-Zionist American Council on Judaism and then Attorney General Robert Kennedy to designate what would become AIPAC as a foreign agent.
    Qumsiyeh said: “As a U.S. citizen of Palestinian origin, I find the U.S. position isolated globally and is contrary even to U.S. law. For example, why do we send billions of our tax money (more than South America and Africa combined this year) to Israel while it persistently violates human rights (violating the law enshrined in the Leahy Amendment)? The answer is that a minority of Zionists shape our policies due to a strong lobby.”

Qumsiyeh highlights “accelerating repression in the West Bank, ethnic cleansingattacks by settlers and abduction of 3,300 Palestinians since Oct. 7. Also inside the Green line, there are attacks on Palestinians. One pregnant woman was stabbed to death in front of her children, many have been attacked and many more lost their jobs or university positions as students, etc.” See from Democracy Now today: “‘This Is Genocide’: Attorney Raji Sourani on Israeli War Crimes & Fleeing Gaza After Home Was Bombed.”

Does Israel Recognize International Law?

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G7 foreign ministers on Tuesday proclaimed: “We emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself and its people, in accordance with international law, as it seeks to prevent a recurrence of the October 7 attacks.”

MICHAEL LYNK, mslynk@uwo.ca, @MichaelLynk5    Available for a limited number of interviews, Lynk served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, from 2016 to 2022. He is a non-resident fellow at Democracy for the Arab World Now.

He recently wrote the piece “Can International Law Prevail in Gaza and Israel?” which states: “The right of Israel to defend itself has been regularly raised by Western leaders to justify their support for Israel’s assault on Gaza in the aftermath of Oct. 7, frequently citing Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. However, while states have the obligation to protect their citizens and others under their control, the use of force in self-defense can only be justified under Article 51 if the armed attack originated from another state. The International Court of Justice stated in its 2004 Wall Advisory Opinion that Israel is the occupying power over the Palestinian territory and that Article 51 does not apply when the threat originates from a territory over which it has control. Notwithstanding, Israel would have the right to use proportionate force, strictly within the limits of international law, to apprehend those who killed or kidnapped Israeli civilians.”

See related recent IPA news releases.

See related questioning by Sam Husseini at the State Department: “Is Israel Really Targeting Hamas? Does the U.S. Recognize the Fourth Geneva Convention? — Questioning the State Dept.

Team Biden Goes From Denial to Panic

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JEFF COHEN, jeff@rootsaction.org, @Roots_Action    Cohen is co-founder of RootsAction.org, which is sponsoring the Step Aside Joe campaign. He is a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College and founder of the media watch group FAIR. Cohen was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

He just co-wrote the piece “Team Biden Goes From Denial to Panic” which states: “Over the weekend, Politico published the latest in a tidal wave of stories about President Biden’s dwindling prospects for re-election. Under the headline ‘The Polls Keep Getting Worse for Biden,’ the article pointed out that Biden is trailing the presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in a large majority of the latest polling. …

“The bleak poll numbers might actually understate the problem, as they measure only voter discontent and not activist discontent. For months next summer and fall, Democratic activists will be needed to win over undecided voters and mobilize occasional voters. But many activists who worked hard to elect Biden over Trump in 2020 now have little enthusiasm for the president, due to his policies on climateracial justiceGaza and other vital concerns.”

Is South Africa Vulnerable to Israel Lobby as Well?

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PATRICK BOND, pbond@mail.ngo.za
Bond is distinguished professor of sociology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa.He just wrote the piece “‘Breaking off Diplomatic Relations with Israel Will be Counterproductive,’ Claims South Africa’s (unreliable) Foreign Minister.” The subhead reads: “’Israel Lobby’ fingerprints?”

Bond writes: “The case for genocide charges against Israel’s political-military leadership is stronger every day. On the surface, this case is being at least partially led by South Africa’s eloquent, impassioned Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, who has served in that role since mid-2019 and in Cabinet since 2004. Her party, the African National Congress (ANC), long enjoyed exiled relationships with the Palestine Liberation Organization. Pandor and her impressive Director-General at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Zane Dangor, are among the most committed anti-Zionist foreign ministers and officials.    “The question now is whether Pandor and Dangor can draw energy and momentum from last week’s overwhelming parliamentary vote — 248-91 — endorsing expulsion (albeit temporarily) of the Israeli ambassador from Pretoria. Pandor is also asking — alongside foreign ministries in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, Djibouti, Colombia, Algeria and Turkey — the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute Benyamin Netanyahu. And the next logical step is invoking The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.” The Convention states that signers “undertake” to both “prevent and to punish” genocide    Bond continues: “‘The South African government has paved the path, globally, for the proper reaction to an unfolding genocide,’ The Cradle columnist Pepe Escobar claimed. ‘South Africa, for its part, had the courage to go where few Muslim and Arab states have ventured. As matters stand, when it comes to much of the Arab world — particularly the U.S. client states — they are still in Rhetorical Swamp territory.’   “But the ICC does not look promising, as journalist Sam Husseini reports, because the Hague-based court ‘has been dragging its heels for years on prosecuting Israelis. It has been called a “white man’s court” after only going after Africans, and, after letting Israel off the hook during an earlier assault on Gaza, “a hoax.”‘ Husseini continues … if the ‘South African and other governments think that Israel is committing or threatening genocide, they should invoke the Convention.’    “But the danger lurking in the South African ruling party, as in many nationalist movements, is a tendency to talk left but walk right. Symbolic narratives within the rhetorical swamps of parliament and diplomacy are one thing, but hitting the Tel Aviv regime where it hurts — such as the Genocide Convention and economic sanctions — would be another.”    Bond documents connections between pro-Israel groups and the South African government and concludes: “No doubt, just as in 2014, there’s extensive behind-the-scenes lobbying by Zionists to prevent the broke ruling party — facing a tough 2024 election — from fully cutting diplomatic ties with Tel Aviv. Some Zionists appear truly frightened, angry and full of threats, according to the South African Jewish Report.” In 2014, Bond wrote the piece “The Washington-Pretoria-Tel Aviv Relay.”

See: “UN Official Resigns, Calling Israel’s Attack ‘Genocide’ — Will a Nation Invoke the Genocide Convention?

Report: Israel Knew Real Hamas HQ; Lies Enabled “War of Obliteration of the Population”

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GARETH PORTER, porter.gareth50@gmail.com, @GarethPorter
Investigative reporter Porter, who specializes in national security affairs, recently wrote: “IDF Knew Real Hamas HQ While Lying About al-Shifa.”   The piece states: “Although corporate news media have made it clear they don’t buy the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) claim that al-Shifa Hospital has been a cover for a Hamas command and control center and weapons armory, Western media have failed to report a much bigger story.
    “The IDF and the Israeli government already knew when they launched their propaganda campaign about al-Shifa that Hamas had no military command and control facility hidden there because it had already found the complex kilometers away.” Porter gives details about the actual Hamas HQ, citing a leak to the Jerusalem Post    “The real story of the Israeli effort to sell its argument that Hamas took over al-Shifa and other hospitals to coordinate attacks is the massive deception aimed at U.S. media and public opinion in order to justify Israel’s war of obliteration of the population of Gaza.   “That campaign of deceit has had the full-throated support of the Biden administration, which stands equally guilty of misleading the American people in its support for an illicit Israeli war.”

Debunking Israel’s Claims About Hamas Control Center Under Al-Shifa Hospital

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Israel and the Israeli Defense Force have consistently claimed that Hamas runs a military “command and control center” in tunnels under al-Shifa Hospital. Since October 7, the hospital––“once the largest, most advanced and best equipped referral hospital in Gaza”––has been under total siege by Israeli forces. The hospital was raided last week and is no longer functioning as a medical facility. 

JENNIFER LOEWENSTEIN; sarinj111@gmail.com 
    Loewenstein is former Associate Director of Middle Eastern Studies and Senior Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She founded the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project in 2003 and is currently active in Jewish Voice for Peace–Tucson and AZPAL, the Arizona-Palestine Network. She is a freelance journalist and editor.

Loewenstein told the Institute for Public Accuracy: These charges are a “lie, manufactured by the same Israel that wants to finish destroying the healthcare system in northern Gaza, complete the evacuation of the 1.3 million Gazans from the north into the south, and continue pulverizing the Strip so that it is literally uninhabitable. 

“Claims about Hamas roaming the halls of Shifa go back at least as far as 2007, and have been dredged up in almost every major war on Gaza,” including in 2008/9, 2014, and now in 2023. “There [were] even claims about armed militants roaming the halls in 2006 before Hamas took power.

“There are tunnels…underneath Shifa hospital––and Israel knows exactly where to find them. Why? Because they built them back in the 1980s.” Indeed, various sources note that tunnels under the hospital were built by Egypt prior to 1967 and by Israeli constructors in the 1980s. That “explains why Israeli intelligence knows where [the tunnels] are. Hamas’s military strategy is never to stay put in one location for very long––another reason why claiming a single command center inside Shifa is bogus and propaganda.”

“The ministry of health in Gaza, the hospital staff, UN organizations, journalists, & other individuals have [strongly denied this allegation] and repeatedly asked Israel to allow in the ICRC, the UNCIIP, and other impartial bodies to verify independently the existence of such a center, or to verify any evidence presented. Israel has consistently refused. The ‘intelligence’ they allegedly have has never been available to anyone other than the administration in Tel Aviv or Washington D.C. 

“If Israel is going to murder thousands and thousands of innocent civilians, and the U.S. is going to back its client state unconditionally, wouldn’t it seem reasonable that they’d want their claims of a Hamas ‘command and control’ center verified by as many groups as possible?”

The hospital tunnel charges have also been called into question by Democracy Now!, the Electronic Intifada, Al Jazeera, the BBC, the Washington Post, the Intercept, and the Guardian. These outlets have called on Israel to prove there is a Hamas command center under al-Shifa. 

Israel: * Killing Journalists * Are “Prisoners” Actually Hostages?

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JAFAR JAFARI, jijafari@yahoo.com, @MayadeenEnglish    Jafari is with Al-Mayadeen, a Beirut-based pan-Arab news channel. Israel just killed two of their media workers, Farah Omar and Rabih Me’mari in Lebanon, in what the network charges was a deliberate attack.

A petition signed by hundreds of journalists earlier this month stated: “Israel’s devastating bombing campaign and media blockade in Gaza threatens newsgathering in an unprecedented fashion. We are running out of time. More than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s four-week siege. Included in the mounting death toll are at least 36 journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in what the group calls the deadliest conflict for journalists since it began tracking deaths in 1992. Scores more have been injured, detained, gone missing or seen their family members killed.”

Jafari said today: “Most of the Palestinians — mostly women and children — being released as part of the apparent deal were never tried. They were detained indefinitely without trial. Calling them prisoners is dubious, in fact ‘hostages’ may well be a better term. What do you call women and children who are captured by foreign gunmen and held without trial?” See comments by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé on Palestinians being detained by Israel.

Jafari notes that Israel uses various legal mechanisms to indefinitely detain people and has done so for deaces “as a remnant of the British occupation of Palestine ‘Emergency Laws,’ Article 111 of 1945. …    “In essence, this measure produces massive political detainees without charge, allowing the occupation authorities to keep the subjects for indefinite times, typically renewed every six months, for as long as the military ‘governor’ determines necessary.”He states that during the first intifada in 1987, “Israeli authorities empowered lower-level military ranks, officers, and soldiers, under Military Order 1228, dated March 17, 1988, to execute indetermined detention of many Palestinians. The flood of detainees, then, prompted the Israeli occupation authorities to build a ‘new’ prison in the Negev desert, called ‘Ansar 3,’ after the ‘Ansar‘ infamous torture chambers in southern Lebanon during its occupation 1982-2000.    “Specific numbers of detainees are not easily available but are estimated to be 2000 to 4000.”

Politico reports that “there was some concern in the administration about an unintended consequence of the pause: that it would allow journalists broader access to Gaza and the opportunity to further illuminate the devastation there and turn public opinion on Israel.”   Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada, citing Israeli media, notes that released Israelis will be detained “incommunicado away from the media to make sure they can’t tell the truth about their experience.”

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