Death, destruction in Gaza “unprecedented and unbearable to witness” – Day 69
Palestinians fleeing the war are seen taking refuge at an UNRWA school in the southern Gaza Strip, October 16, 2023. (photo)
Gaza hospitals in crisis amid devastation, journalists at risk; Jenin in shambles; Israeli forces brutally attack CNN photojournalist on camera; Israel says “intense phase” of war to last till end of January; Taylor Swift, Santa Claus, Ilan Pappe harassed; Jewish Voice for Peace stops traffic all over the US on last night of Hanukkah
Number of Gazans killed since the Biden administration vetoed UNSC ceasefire resolution: at least 1,400 (approximately 647 children)
Defense for Children International – Palestine has just published its end-of-the-year report, “Israeli forces carry out genocide against Palestinian children.” Here is an excerpt (read the full report here):
This year has no comparison in the history of Israeli forces’ efforts to exert total control over the Palestinian people and violate children’s rights. Throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Israeli forces killed Palestinian children at an unfathomable, unprecedented rate.
“It has never been more clear that Palestinian children are targets as Israeli forces pursue a deliberate and systematic campaign across the occupied West Bank and Gaza to destroy Palestinian life,” said Khaled Quzmar, general director at Defense for Children International – Palestine. “Unlawful killing, torture, and other atrocity crimes were the norm for Palestinian children in 2023, forced to endure unrelenting Israeli military occupation and aggression with no end in sight.”
Israel has been preventing Western journalists from getting into Gaza, but a senior CNN journalist just managed to enter and see what Israel was trying to hide: (Clarissa Ward is CNN chief international correspondent).
Israeli troops go on looting and vandalism spree across Gaza
New UN report denounces Israeli violence in Gaza, illegal settlements in occupied West Bank: Al Jazeera has received an advanced copy of a report from the UN Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] about the devastating impact of Israel’s war on Gaza, as well as illegal settlement violations in the occupied West Bank. The report outlines the utter death and destruction that is taking place in Gaza. It’s a very long report that is nearly 15 pages.
The Secretary-General writes that “the magnitude of Israel’s military campaign against Hamas and the scope of death and destruction in Gaza has been unprecedented and unbearable to witness”. He is “horrified” that health workers, humanitarian staff and journalists were also targeted.
He also went on to point out that Israel continues its building of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory…citing 1,500 different cases where Israeli authorities illegally approved housing permits on Palestinian land.
Body bags: On 14 December, WHO announced that it had delivered 4,200 body bags with support from the Contingency Fund for Emergencies (CFE), underscoring the critical need to safeguard civilians from the risk of infection.
Israel ‘deliberately’ causing communications blackout in Gaza, media office says: Gaza’s government media office says cutting off telecommunications and access to the internet means “disaster” for the people of the enclave. “This means that there are many martyrs and wounded individuals that no one will be able to reach,” the office said in a statement, and as a result, the number of victims will inevitably rise.
The communications blackout is a “premeditated crime that deepens the humanitarian crisis”, it added. “We demand an immediate and urgent end to the criminal war against our Palestinian people.”
Israel troops, tanks continue to raid Kamal Adwan Hospital: Israeli forces backed by tanks raided the Kamal Adwan Hospital, located to the north of Gaza City, for the third consecutive day on Thursday and subjected Palestinians there to “mass arrests and ill-treatment”, the UN said.
Israeli military prevented medical staff from providing support to 12 babies in intensive care and to ten injured people in the emergency department, leading to the death of two patients.
Israeli troops also forced some 2,500 displaced people sheltering at the hospital to leave, and patients and medical staff were moved to the grounds of the medical facility.
Also, for the ninth consecutive day, Al Awda Hospital, Jabaliya (northern Gaza), remains surrounded by Israeli troops and tanks, and fighting with armed Palestinian groups is reported in its vicinity. Reportedly, 250 doctors, patients, and their family members are trapped inside the hospital.
Hamas calls for worldwide mass demonstrations ‘in solidarity with Gaza’: Hamas has called on people to keep up “the global mass movement in solidarity” with Palestinians in Gaza. In a statement, the group called on people “in all cities and capitals” across the world to take to the streets and “march in solidarity with Gaza” on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
It called on people to reject and expose the “crimes of the Zionist occupation against children, women, and defenseless civilians”, and to denounce US and Western support for the Israeli assault. “May this global movement continue in all its forms, until the Nazi-Zionist aggression comes to an end,” the group said.
RECOMMENDED READING: How will a child with diabetes survive Israel’s genocidal war?
Developing story on wounded Al Jazeera journalists: Al Jazeera Arabic is reporting that journalists Wael al-Dahdouh and Samer Abudaqa were wounded as a result of an Israeli drone strike near Farhana school in Khan Younis. Al-Dahdouh has been hit by shrapnel in his upper arm, while Abudaqa is still trapped at the site of the incident.
An ambulance finally reached Al Jazeera’s ‘critically injured’ journalist Samer Abudaqa after he’d been suffering and bleeding for several hours.
Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah, says the ambulance had to receive prior “approval” from Israeli forces before it could reach Abudaqa, wounded in what was believed to have been an Israeli drone attack in Khan Younis.
Gaza journalists in ‘the most extraordinary situation’: Tim Dawson, deputy general secretary at the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), says journalists in Gaza are in “the most extraordinary situation”. “They have suffered the most extraordinary losses and they’re showing the most extraordinary bravery in continuing to do their work,” he told Al Jazeera, describing the conflict as “unlike any other” in recent history in terms of media workers’ deaths.
Dawson added that institutions like the International Criminal Court must prepare themselves for the “many” cases that will arise out of this conflict.“It’s important for everybody in Palestine … to see international law applies to and protects them, as well as everybody else in the world. I think a lot of the time, and with good reason, they feel like they’re somehow exempted from the protections of international law, and I don’t think that can be allowed to continue,” Dawson said.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) stated:
CPJ emphasizes that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties.
Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats. Many have lost colleagues, families, and media facilities, and have fled seeking safety when there is no safe haven or exit.
The following are among the deadliest incidents reported between 14:00 on 13 and 14 December:
- On 13 December, at about 18:20, at least 27 Palestinians were reportedly killed and at least ten others were injured when two residential buildings were hit in Ash Shabora area of Rafah, southern Gaza.
- On 13 December, at about 22:00, at least 26 Palestinians were reportedly killed when a house was struck in Ad Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza city. The bodies were reportedly extracted from the rubble.
WEST BANK AND JERUSALEM
Jenin refugee camp has become a scene of desolation: An Israeli army raid in the Jenin refugee camp, occupied West Bank, that went on for 60 hours left a scene of desolation, Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid says. “This is a desolate city, everything is shut down,” Abdel-Hamid reported.
Walls of shops at the site show drawings of the Star of David and other Israeli symbols, while sewage water fills the streets as the camp’s infrastructure was destroyed. “Bulldozers were the first to go in and destroyed everything on their way to make people’s life here more difficult,” she said.
At least 12 people were killed and more than 500 arrested in the raid. Many of those detained were later released, Abdel-Hamid said, adding that some of those were badly beaten during questioning.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians were trapped inside their homes as armed Israeli drones, armoured vehicles, military bulldozers and at least 1,400 reservist soldiers took part in a massive 60-hour raid on Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
Kicking down doors, ransacking Palestinian homes, and blowing up others, residents described the violence of the Israeli occupation forces and what resident Ahmad al-Azmi described as the soldiers’ “hatred” of all Palestinians.
“But we are not afraid of them,” al-Azmi told Al Jazeera. “Jenin will always embrace the heroes of the resistance. We will not let our people down,” he said.
Photojournalist assaulted by Israeli forces in occupied East Jerusalem: Turkish television has broadcast footage of the attack on Anadolu Agency photographer Mustafa al-Kharouf in the Wadi al-Joz neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem after worshippers were denied entry to Al-Aqsa Mosque. The video is disturbing.
Israeli occupation forces destroy two family houses south of Nablus: Israeli occupation forces Thursday night punitively destroyed two family homes in the village of Urif, to the south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank. Members of both families are in Israeli prisons.
According to sources, a large contingent of the Israeli military, accompanied by a bulldozer, stormed the village in the late night hours. The forces surrounded the family home of the detained Sabbah, forcibly evacuated the family, along with the residents of adjacent homes, before blowing up the dwelling located on the second floor of an old three-story building housing four families totaling 16 individuals.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Israeli raid in Jenin: 11 Palestinians killed since Tuesday
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: How much environmental damage is Israel’s war on Gaza causing?
Report: Israel sets end of January to end ‘intense phase’ of Gaza war: Israel intends to end the “intense phase” of its war on Gaza by the end of January, a “timetable” which was presented to US National Security Adviser, Jake Sullivan, during his visit to Tel Aviv yesterday, showed, according to Channel 12.
Following the “intense phase”, Israeli occupation forces will withdraw from the heart of Gaza and be deployed on defense lines in and out of the Strip, the report continued.
The third and most prolonged stage is expected to last for most of 2024, and consist of “localized raids and operations” with the aim of eradicating the Hamas movement, the report said, explaining that Israel wants to maintain control over Gaza for the foreseeable future.
The report described the schedule as “realistic” and one that both Tel Aviv and Washington can agree on.
Summary of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan meeting with Israel: Jake Sullivan has wrapped up his visit to Israel. Here are some key takeaways from the meetings:
- The control of Gaza has to transition to Palestinians and there is a need to work through a timeline
- There will be a new phase in the war focused on targeting Hamas leadership
- Had valuable discussions in Israel about moving to a less-intense military operation
- We agree with Israel that the fighting will take months, but in different stages
- We are working to release the remaining Israeli captives in Gaza.
Sullivan will head to the West Bank next. Notably, he has no plans to stop in Gaza.
RECOMMENDED READING: War Crimes Televised – Israeli soldiers’ dehumanizing videos from Gaza
Israeli army says it recovered bodies of 3 hostages: Two are Israeli soldiers, the other is a civilian.
The firing of rockets by Palestinian armed groups towards Israeli population centers has continued over the past 24 hours, with no reported fatalities.
(Information on rocket attacks is here.) It appears that the last time a rocket killed an Israeli was October 7-8, as reported by Ha’aretz and the Times of Israel. 15 Israelis were killed – 10 of them Palestinian Israelis who reportedly had no access to bomb shelters. Rockets have killed a total of 35 Israelis over the 22 years they’ve been fired.
LATEST FROM US AND ELSEWHERE
Three days before the jamboree, Mr. Dorph received an email from the president of the chamber of commerce, telling him he had been relieved of his duties. She offered no explanation, he said, beyond saying he was too outspoken for the gig.
The truth was, when word got out that he would be Santa this year, a group of people from a local synagogue, Temple Adas Israel, sent a flurry of emails to the event organizers objecting to his selection.
Mr. Dorph, they said, had made people uncomfortable during a Nov. 30 talk at the synagogue about the Israel-Hamas crisis, sharply criticizing a pair of speakers from the American Jewish Committee, a nonprofit advocacy group that supports Jewish people and Israel, from his seat in the audience.
(Read the full story here.)
French publisher pulls Ilan Pappé’s seminal ‘Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ book: A leading French publishing house has reportedly withdrawn copies of the book ‘The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine’ from its shelves as Israel continues to pound Gaza, amid a wave of pro-Palestinian censorship in Europe. The book has been discontinued since 7 November, French website ActuaLitté reported last week, raising eyebrows amongst customers as the book’s withdrawal came one month after Israel’s military campaign in the Gaza Strip began.
The book, authored by Israeli historian Ilan Pappé and published in 2006, is considered among the most significant works on the violent expulsion of around 720,000 Palestinians from their villages and towns in 1948 to make way for the creation of Israel.
The book has been praised for challenging the Israeli narrative on the 1948 creation of Israel – known as Nakba, or “Catastrophe” by Arabs – and has been recommended over the years for a better understanding of the mass dispossession and displacement of Palestinians 75 years ago.
US school teacher arrested for ‘threatening to behead’ student offended by Israeli flag: Benjamin Reese, a 51-year-old middle school teacher, was heard shouting that he would “cut your … head off” at three female students on December 7, according to an incident report written by a sheriff’s deputy. He was also heard saying he would “drag [a student] by the back of my car” and that he would “slit her … throat”.
One of the students told the sheriff’s deputy that she had asked Reese why an Israeli flag was hanging in his classroom, saying that she found it offensive because of Israel’s actions in Gaza.
Reese was arrested last week and charged with making terroristic threats and cruelty to children in the third degree, according to the incident report, which lists more than 20 witnesses, according to CNN. The teacher has since been bonded out of jail.
Amnesty welcomes Sanders resolution seeking US report on Israeli treatment of Palestinians:Amnesty International has thanked progressive US senator Bernie Sanders for introducing a little-used “privileged resolution” seeking information on Israel’s human rights record in the occupied Palestinian territories amid the war in Gaza.
Amnesty said on social media that it has evidence that US-made weapons are being used in the unlawful killing of civilians by Israeli forces and the shipment of US arms to Israel must stop.
Jewish-American protesters hold demonstrations, block traffic to demand ceasefire: Jewish protesters demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza have held demonstrations in eight US cities, blocking rush hour traffic on busy streets and bridges in Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, according to reports. Demonstrations also occurred in Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Oregon.
In San Francisco, hundreds gathered outside the headquarters of Google to admonish the tech company for signing a $1.2bn deal for artificial intelligence with the Israeli government, the protest group said.
“Tonight we are saying to those in power: No business as usual as long as people are dying. The U.S. must join other countries around the world in calling for an IMMEDIATE CEASEFIRE – after all, it’s what most American voters want,” JVP Philly said in a post on X.
RECOMMENDED READING: ‘Climate of fear’: The US campus crackdown on pro-Palestine activism
US group accuses Israel of waging ‘religious warfare’ against Palestinians: The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) expressed outrage over footage of Israeli soldiers broadcasting Jewish prayers from a mosque in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.
“The far-right Israeli government’s act of religious warfare against Palestinian Muslims in the West Bank highlights its intent to both ethnically and culturally cleanse Palestinian land,” CAIR Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell said in a statement.
“Make no mistake, this was not just an attack on Palestinians but an attack on Islam itself. The Biden administration should open its eyes and stop enabling the Israeli government’s crimes against humanity.”
Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir shared a video of soldiers reciting Jewish prayers and singing songs on loudspeakers inside a mosque in the West Bank city of Jenin. The Israeli army has launched a military operation in the Jenin refugee camp, reportedly leaving at least 11 Palestinians dead since Tuesday.
Dutch court clears export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel: The Netherlands can continue to deliver parts for F-35 fighter jets used by Israel in the Gaza Strip after a Dutch court threw out a case brought by a group of human rights organizations, which alleged that supplying the parts contributed to alleged violations of international law by Israel in its war with Hamas.
The US-owned F-35 parts are stored at a warehouse in the Netherlands and then shipped to several partners, including Israel, via existing export agreements.
8 European countries call for end to the record-high settler violence Ireland, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom called on Israel to take immediate and concrete steps to tackle the record-high settler violence in the occupied West Bank.
They expressed in a joint statement their grave concern about the record number of attacks by extremist settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank. Since the start of October, settlers have committed more than 343 violent attacks, killing 8 Palestinian civilians, injuring more than 83, and forcing 1026 Palestinians from their homes.
The joint statement read, in part, “We strongly condemn the violent acts committed by extremist settlers, which are terrorizing Palestinian communities. We reiterate our position that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law and remind Israel of its obligations under international law, in particular Article 49 of Geneva Convention IV. “
UN Secy General offers report to Security Council, in hopes of ceasefire: Al Jazeera has received an advance copy of a UN report, written by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and addressed to the UN Security Council, about the devastating impact of the war in Gaza and the increasing level of violence across the occupied West Bank. Here are highlights from the 15-page report:
- The magnitude of the military campaign and “the scope of death and destruction in Gaza has been unprecedented and unbearable”.
- Guterres says he “is horrified” that Israeli air strikes have hit protected people, including journalists, healthcare workers and humanitarian personnel, as well as civilian infrastructure including hospitals and UN facilities.
- Israel continues its illegal settlement-building in the occupied West Bank, with the report citing 1,500 cases where Israeli authorities have illegally approved housing permits on Palestinian land from September through December of this year.
- The UN chief concluded by asking, once again, for an immediate ceasefire.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: US protesters block ship allegedly carrying weapons to Israel
Aid enters Gaza: On 14 December, as of 22:00, there are initial reports that at least 100 trucks carrying humanitarian supplies and four tankers of fuel have entered the Gaza Strip. This is well below the daily average of 500 truckloads (including fuel and private sector goods) that entered every working day prior to 7 October.
Palestinian Red Crescent distributes humanitarian aid in southern Gaza: The PRCS says that the aid was distributed to displaced Palestinians at its headquarters and at Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.
Israeli government agrees at last to allow aid through Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing: Trucks will undergo inspection on the Israeli side, then unload at a compound about 70 meters deep into Gaza. The United Nations has been calling for the opening of the crossing for weeks.
The Israeli prime minister’s office says the opening of the Karem Abu Salem crossing will allow Israel to permit the entry of 200 trucks of aid per day
STATISTICS AS OF DEC. 14:
Palestinian death toll: OCHA reports at least 18,702* (~18,413 in Gaza* (70% women and children), and at least 289 in the West Bank). This does not include an estimated 8,000 more still buried under rubble. Euro-Med Monitor reports 24,142 Palestinian deaths.
*IAK does not yet include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile is being disputed; although much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, experts are still looking into the incident. Israel is blocking an international investigation. Israel killed more Palestinians in a little over a month after Oct. 7 than in all the previous 22 years combined.
Palestinian injuries: 58,502** (including at least 55,000 in Gaza** and 3,502 in the West Bank). **NOTE: it is impossible to provide an accurate number of injuries in Gaza due to the ongoing bombardment and communication disruption.
NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel may have been caused by Israeli soldiers; additionally, since Israel has a policy of universal conscription, it is unknown how many of those attending the outdoor rave a few miles from Gaza on stolen Palestinian land were Israeli soldiers.
Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here. For more news, go here and here. Live broadcast news from the region is here.
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