Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Greek Greens in the Kitchen

Greens?  They're tasty and full of needed nutrients.  They're also growing very well right now so it's easy to find them.  Madeline e-mailed to note The Food Network's Greek Greens recipe:



  1. Set up a grill for cooking with indirect heat. If using a charcoal grill, build the coals on one side only. If using a gas grill, heat one side only. Place a heavy-bottomed enameled cast-iron pan over the direct heat side of the grill and add the olive oil.
  2. Add the onions, fennel and garlic with a pinch of salt and allow to begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until rusty, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup water, scraping the bottom for any brown bits. Add all of the greens and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Move the pan to the indirect-heat side of the grill, then close the lid and cook until the greens are wilted, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the grill and stir in the dill and lemon juice. Serve.             

If I'd seen that recipe earlier today, we would have had Greens for dinner.  It reads delicious.

Other things?  Not so much.  Crazy Tara Reade remains "defected" (her word) in Russia.  And because she's constantly in search of the crazy, she's now taken Aaron Rodgers under her upper arm fat.  She's reTweeted him talking about fake vaccine cards.  As this RedIt conversation makes clear, Aaron is nutsHere's Rolling Stone on Aaron losing touch with reality.

And Crazy Tara loves her some Crazy Caitlin Johnstone.  She reTweets this from that nut case:

I don’t spend my time attacking the US war machine because I have any special love for Hamas, Iran, Russia, China, or any other power. I do it because the US empire is quantifiably the most destructive and tyrannical force on this planet, by an extremely massive margin. No other power has spent the 21st century killing people by the millions and displacing them by the tens of millions. No other power is circling the planet with hundreds of military bases, starving people around the world with blockades and economic sanctions, staging proxy wars, color revolutions and coups all over the earth, and working to destabilize and destroy any nation anywhere on this planet who dares to defy its dictates. Only the US empire is doing this. No other power comes anywhere remotely close.

No, you spend you time attacking the US war machine because you're chicken s**t and refuse to hold your own government accountable.  The Australian looks the other way to avoid risking anything by actually using her voice.  She hides in another country and calls out the US.  Maybe if the Australian citizen had held Australia accountable, Julian Assange would be free?

There's no war the US goes into that lapdog Australia doesn't follow along with.

But when you're pathetic like Caitlin Johnstone, you make a name for yourself.  That name isn't brave.  But it does start with a "b."

As a general rule, anything the MAGA loving Tara reTweets (including Marjorie Taylor Green) is trash like Tara.

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:

Tuesday, May 14, 2024.  The White House insists the slaughter in Gaza is not a genocide.  So what is it?

The morning begins with THE WASHINGTON POST noting:

Almost 450,000 people have fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip following Israeli evacuation orders earlier this month, according to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). Satellite imagery showed swelling numbers of people in central Gaza, as fighting and strikes intensified in parts of the north. Hospitals are facing possible shutdowns as concerns about hunger grow, with the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt closed to aid for a week, the Gaza Health Ministry and the U.N. humanitarian affairs office warned.

Upward of 20 American doctors are trapped in Gaza as a result of Israel’s post-invasion closure of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, according to sources with knowledge of the plight of two ill-fated medical missions.

Israel has blocked fuel, food, and water from entering Rafah for over a week, leading to severe dehydration among the general population, as well as among the doctors on mission.

The US State Dept states rescue efforts are taking place.  US citizens have to be rescued from Israeli soldiers?  Do we not get how out of control the Israeli government is?  BBC NEWS notes, "The United Nations says one of its staff members was killed and another injured as they travelled to a hospital in southern Gaza on Monday.  It said the workers were travelling in a UN vehicle to the European Hospital near Rafah when it was struck."  INDIA TODAY adds, "An Indian working with the United Nations was killed in Gaza when the vehicle he was travelling in came under attack in Rafah."

This latest murder of an aid worker takes place as Human Rights Watch releases the following:

Israeli forces have carried out at least eight strikes on aid workers’ convoys and premises in Gaza since October 2023, even though aid groups had provided their coordinates to the Israeli authorities to ensure their protection, Human Rights Watch said today. Israeli authorities did not issue advance warnings to any of the aid organizations before the strikes, which killed or injured at least 31 aid workers and those with them. More than 250 aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the October 7 assault in Israel, according to the UN.

One attack on January 18, 2024, injured three people who were staying in a joint guest house belonging to two aid organizations and was most likely carried out with a US-made munition, according to one of the organizations and to a report by UN investigators who visited the site after the attack, which Human Rights Watch reviewed. One of the aid organizations, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), said UN inspectors concluded that the bomb was delivered by an F-16 aircraft. F-16 aircraft use British made components according to campaigners.

The eight incidents reveal fundamental flaws with the so-called deconfliction system, meant to protect aid workers and allow them to safely deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

“Israel’s killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers was shocking and should never have happened under international law,” said Belkis Wille, associate crisis, conflict, and arms director at Human Rights Watch. “Israel’s allies need to recognize that these attacks that have killed aid workers have happened over and over again, and they need to stop.”

Israel’s attack on April 1 on the World Central Kitchen convoy, which killed seven workers, far from being an isolated “mistake,” is just one of at least eight incidents that Human Rights Watch identified in which aid organizations and UN agencies had communicated with Israeli authorities the GPS coordinates of an aid convoy or premises and yet Israeli forces attacked the convoy or shelter without any warning.

In these eight incidents, Israeli forces killed at least 15 people, including 2 children, and injured at least 16 others. Five of these attacks were the subject of a recent New York Times investigation that included visual evidence and internal communications between aid organizations and the Israeli military.

The other seven attacks are:

  • Attack on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF or Doctors without Borders) convoy, November 18, 2023
  • Attack on a guest house of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), December 9, 2023
  • Attack on an MSF shelter, January 8, 2024
  • Attack on an International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) guest house, January 18, 2024
  • Attack on an UNRWA convoy, February 5, 2024
  • Attack on an MSF guest house, February 20, 2024
  • Attack on a home sheltering an American Near East Refugee Aid Organization (Anera) employee, March 8, 2024

As of April 30, the UN reported that 254 aid workers had been killed in Gaza since October 7, 2023, with UNRWA personnel accounting for 188 of these fatalities. On May 13, a UN vehicle was hit on the way to a hospital in Gaza, killing at least one UN staff member and injuring at least one more. According to UNRWA, 169 of its facilities have been affected by the hostilities in 368 incidents and at least 429 displaced people have been killed in UNRWA shelters. Israeli forces have, according to the UN, also shot at and shelled people congregating to collect aid, killing and injuring hundreds. These attacks are having a chilling effect on efforts to provide lifesaving aid in Gaza.

Aid workers have also been unable to leave Gaza, since Israeli forces seized control of and closed the Rafah Crossing on May 7.

During a recent trip to Cairo and northern Sinai, near the border between Egypt and Gaza, Human Rights Watch met with staff from 11 humanitarian organizations and UN aid agencies operating in Gaza who said that Israeli attacks on aid workers had forced them to take various measures that for some included suspending activities for a period of time, reducing their staff inside Gaza, or severely restricting their aid activities in other ways.

“I can’t risk sending more staff into Gaza because I cannot rely on deconfliction as a way of keeping them safe,” a senior employee from one of the organizations whose guest house was attacked told Human Rights Watch. He said this was a key factor in limiting the organization’s ability to provide medical services. “You can build docks and send shipments, but without a safe operating environment, you will have a pile up of shipments that people aren’t able to deploy safely to help people.”

This pattern of attacks despite proper notification of Israeli authorities raises serious questions about Israel’s commitment and capacity to comply with international humanitarian law, which some countries, including the UK, rely on to continue to license arms exports that end up in Israel.

Human Rights Watch has found that Israeli authorities are using starvation as a method of warfare in Gaza. Pursuant to a policy set out by Israeli officials and carried out by Israeli forces, the Israeli authorities are deliberately blocking the delivery of water, food, and fuel, willfully impeding humanitarian assistance, apparently razing agricultural areas, and depriving the civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival. Children in Gaza have been dying from starvation-related complications.

Israel has not responded to a Human Rights Watch letter sent on May 1, requesting specific information about the attacks on aid workers documented in this report.

The laws of war prohibit attacks that target civilians and civilian objects, that do not discriminate between civilians and combatants, or that are expected to cause harm to civilians or civilian objects that is disproportionate to any anticipated military advantage. Indiscriminate attacks include attacks that are not directed at a specific military target or use a method or means of combat whose effects cannot be limited as required.

Warring parties must take all feasible precautions to minimize harm to civilians, including by providing effective advance warnings of attacks unless circumstances do not permit, and by sparing civilians under their control from the effects of attacks. Serious violations of the laws of war committed by individuals with criminal intent – that is, deliberately or recklessly – are war crimes.

Israel should make public the findings of investigations into attacks that have killed and injured aid workers, and into all other attacks that caused civilian casualties. The Israeli military’s long track record of failing to credibly investigate alleged war crimes underscores the importance of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) inquiry into serious crimes committed by all parties to the conflict.

Israeli and Palestinian officials should cooperate with the ICC in their work, Human Rights Watch said. Israel should also provide the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel access to Gaza to conduct its investigations.

Given the pattern of attacks on aid groups that have provided Israeli authorities with proper information about their locations, a group of recognized international experts should conduct an independent review of the humanitarian deconfliction process. Israel should give these experts full access to its processes, including the coordination and communications that occur before, during, and after such attacks as well as information regarding any alleged military target in the vicinity and any precautionary measures taken to mitigate harm.

Israel’s allies, including the United States and United Kingdom – both states sending the weapons parts apparently used in at least one of the documented attacks – should suspend military assistance and arms sales to Israel so long as its forces commit systematic and widespread laws-of-war violations against Palestinian civilians with impunity. Governments that continue to provide arms to the Israeli government risk complicity in war crimes.

They should also use their leverage, including through targeted sanctions, to press Israeli authorities to cease committing grave abuses and enable the provision of humanitarian aid and basic services in Gaza, in accordance with Israel’s obligations under international law and recent International Court of Justice (ICJ) orders to Israel in the case brought by South Africa concerning alleged violations of the Genocide Convention.

“On one hand, Israel is blocking access to critical lifesaving humanitarian provisions and on the other, attacking convoys that are delivering some of the small amount that they are allowing in,” Wille said. “Israeli forces should immediately end their attacks on aid organizations, and there should be accountability for these crimes.”

For details of attacks on the aid organizations, please see below.

Attack on the World Central Kitchen Workers

On April 1, just before 11 p.m., Israeli forces carried out a drone strike with three missiles targeting a convoy of three World Central Kitchen (WCK) vehicles, two marked with the organization’s logo on the roof, in central Gaza, all carrying civilians, that were escorting eight aid trucks. The attack killed seven aid workers. The convoy had just left a food warehouse in Deir al-Balah and was traveling a route that the organization said they had agreed upon with the Israeli military. The attack was reportedly carried out by an Israeli-made Hermes 450 drone.

After the attack, WCK paused its operations in Gaza for several weeks, as did American Near East Refugee Aid  (Anera). At the time, the two groups had together been providing an average of 300,000 meals across Gaza daily. Photographs of the damaged vehicles were initially verified by the independent investigative collective Bellingcat and later independently verified by Human Rights Watch researchers.

A preliminary Israeli investigation into the attack found that Israeli forces’ conduct was “contrary to the Standard Operating Procedures” and had occurred because of “a grave mistake,” including a lack of coordination between different levels of the army and the mistaken identity of a man in one of the vehicles, according to the Israeli armed forces. The preliminary investigation also found that the two additional drone missiles were fired against army protocol.

In its response, WCK reiterated its call for an independent commission to investigate the incident because, it said, the “[Israeli Defense Forces] cannot credibly investigate its own failure in Gaza.” WCK resumed its operations in late April because, it said, “The humanitarian situation in Gaza remains dire,” but said it had still received “no concrete assurances” that the Israeli military’s operational procedures had changed.

This incident elicited widespread condemnation, including from leaders of countries whose citizens were killed in the attack, including United States President Joe Biden, United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Attack on a Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Convoy, November 18

On November 18, 2023, armed forces attacked a convoy of five marked MSF vehicles, killing two people, witnesses said. The group had been trying to evacuate 137 civilians from its guesthouse near al-Shifa Hospital in Rimal, northern Gaza, where they had been trapped for a week, to southern Gaza. MSF said that it had coordinated the convoy’s movement with the Israeli armed forces and followed the route prescribed by the army. Once the convoy reached a crowded checkpoint near Wadi Gaza, Israeli soldiers did not allow the vehicles to clear the checkpoint for hours.

When gunfire rang out near the checkpoint, MSF staff, who were still waiting to go through the checkpoint, decided to return to the guest house, 7.5 kilometers to the north. They said they maintained contact with the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration (CLA), the military unit responsible for the coordination of access to and from Gaza in connection with the facilitation of civilian and humanitarian needs, throughout their travel back and informed them that the convoy had to return to their guest house.

As they were approaching their office, between 3:30 and 4 p.m., MSF said that the Israeli army attacked the convoy, hitting two of the vehicles. The organization quoted one staff member as saying: “I was terrified when I saw that the snipers and the tanks were pointing their weapons at us, especially at the fourth and the fifth van [in the convoy].” MSF said that the staff there during the incident saw no military targets in the area. The organization has requested an explanation from Israeli authorities, but has received no response, a representative told Human Rights Watch.

“This incident shows just how ineffective the coordination mechanisms put in place by Israeli authorities have been,” said the representative of MSF. In this instance, “The latter appeared to have little or no influence on the operational troops on the ground, including to let the vehicles pass through the checkpoint.”

This failed coordination with the CLA has been cited in previous UN reporting.

Attack on a Guest House of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), December 9

On December 9, the Israeli navy fired 20mm cannon rounds at an UNRWA guest house consisting of two buildings in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost governorate, the agency told Human Rights Watch. The rounds damaged the west side of both buildings. The attack occurred late in the evening, while 10 staff were asleep inside. The agency said it had shared the coordinates of the guest house with Israeli authorities on a regular basis prior to the attack, including on the date of the attack, and was not aware of any military targets in the area at the time. UNRWA told Human Rights Watch that it had received no warning of the attack. Following the attack, the deputy commander of the Israeli Southern Command told UNRWA that the attack had been carried out in error, UNRWA told Human Rights Watch.

Attack on an MSF Shelter, January 8

On January 8, an Israeli projectile pierced the side of a building in which over 100 MSF staff and their families were sheltering in Khan Yunis, MSF said. The strike killed the 5-year-old daughter of an MSF worker and injured four people. At the time, the staff saw no military targets in the area and received no warning of the attack, which took place in an area under no evacuation order, the organization told Human Rights Watch. The organization said it had shared the coordinates of the building with Israeli authorities on a regular basis, saying it was being used as an MSF shelter.

MSF published a video in which Léo Cans, the MSF head of mission for Palestine, described the attack and showed two parallel holes in the wall that munitions had passed through, he said. The video also included two photographs of remnants lying on the grass, allegedly outside the building. Human Rights Watch could not confirm the location of these remnants but was not able to find them online prior to January 8. The New York Times analyzed the photographs and reported that they showed the remnants of an Israeli 120mm tank shell with Hebrew markings outside the shelter. Human Rights Watch independently verified the type of remnants. 

The Israeli military denied to the New York Times that it had struck the building. However, MSF said that Israeli authorities later told the organization that the damage to the guest house had been collateral in an attack on a “terror” target.

Attack on an International Rescue Committee (IRC) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) Guest House, January 18

On January 18, an Israeli air attack hit the perimeter wall around a guest house being used by both the IRC and MAP north of Khan Younis, where 12 people, including 4 doctors, were staying at the time, according to the 2 organizations. No one was killed in the strike but three people suffered light injuries, MAP told Human Rights Watch.

Satellite analysis shows the attack left a roughly 15-meter-wide crater in the sandy ground, destroyed the wall marking the perimeter of the property, and significantly damaged the house. MAP confirmed to Human Rights Watch that the organization had shared the coordinates of the guest house with the Israeli authorities and with the UN twice in late 2023 to ensure it did not come under attack. The building stands alone, with no other buildings or structures around it, and MAP said they knew of no military targets in the area at the time of the attack and received no warnings.

Human Rights Watch reviewed a report of an on-site independent assessment by a multi-agency UN team after the attack, which concluded that the damage was the result of an airstrike, most likely involving a US-made guided GBU-32 air-dropped bomb. MAP said inspectors concluded that the bomb was delivered by an F-16 aircraft. The organizations said that, since the attack, Israel has provided six different and often contradictory explanations as to whether and why the attack took place, but they said the explanations had not provided clarity or accountability.

Attack on an UNRWA Convoy, February 5

On February 5, Israeli naval gunfire hit an UNRWA aid truck, the agency said. The attack occurred while a convoy of 10 trucks flanked by marked UN vehicles were parked on a road in western Nuseirat, waiting at a previously agreed holding point for permission from the Israeli military to proceed to an Israeli checkpoint. The shelling damaged the last truck in the convoy. No one was injured. UNRWA said it had coordinated with Israeli authorities the planned movement of trucks prior to the attack, including reporting to Israeli authorities when the convoy had reached the holding point and when aid workers in the convoy began to hear naval gunfire in proximity to the stationary convoy.

On February 5, 2024, Israeli naval gunfire hit an UNRWA aid truck carrying food. © 2024 UNRWA

Because of this incident, UNRWA and its partners had to pause assistance activities to northern Gaza, affecting 200,000 people, for 19 days, a UNRWA representative said. Since March 24, the Israeli government has restricted access to northern Gaza for UNRWA , refusing to allow UNRWA to provide food assistance to the north, despite UNRWA’s mandate. Israeli authorities have taken other steps that have undermined the ability of UNRWA to distribute aid in Gaza, which has contributed to the dire humanitarian situation, given that UNRWA has maintained  the largest humanitarian aid operation in Gaza.

The Israeli military told CNN the same day that it was looking into the incident. An UNRWA official told Human Rights Watch that Israeli authorities have since acknowledged the attack and said they have put in place “prevention measures to prevent another such occurrence.”

Attack on an MSF Guest House, February 20

Just after 8 p.m. on February 20, an Israeli tank fired a medium- to large-caliber weapon at a multi-story apartment building in al-Mawasi neighborhood of Khan Younis housing only MSF staff and their families, 64 people in all. The attack killed two people and injured seven others. MSF said that the weapon was an Israeli tank shell. It said that staff saw no military objects in the area at the time and received no warning.

On February 20, 2024, an Israeli tank fired a medium- to large-caliber weapon at a multi-story apartment building in al-Mawasi neighborhood of Khan Younis in Gaza.  The building housed only Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) staff and their families, killing two people and injuring seven more. © 2024 Mohammed Abed/MSF

Photographs and videos included in a Sky News report on the attack and reviewed by Human Rights Watch confirm that a large MSF flag was draped on the outside of the building at the time of the attack. The images and satellite imagery also show that the building is secluded, with the nearest buildings approximately 50 meters away.

MSF said that armed forces fired additional rounds at the building’s exterior and the interior of the ground floor. It told Human Rights Watch that an independent investigation, which was corroborated by witness accounts, confirmed that there had been an Israeli tank in the area at the time of the incident. The investigation found that the projectile causing the explosion was fired by an Israeli Merkava tank. The small-caliber bullet impacts on the building are consistent with the secondary armament of Merkava tanks, it also concluded. Human Rights Watch verified a photograph posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) by MSF on February 22, showing damage to the exterior of the building.

MSF said that the organization had shared the coordinates of the building with the Israeli authorities prior to the attack. It received no warning. MSF said that, after the attack, Israeli authorities reconfirmed that they had received the coordinates of the building.

In response to the attack, the Israeli army told Sky News the tank opened fire on the building because it had been “identified as a building where terror activity is occurring.” It committed to an examination by the Israeli Army's General Staff's Fact Finding and Assessment Mechanism, a permanent “independent” body established in 2014 to examine “exceptional incidents” that take place during military operations. No results have been made public.

“These killings underscore the grim reality that nowhere in Gaza is safe, that promises of safe areas are empty and deconfliction mechanisms unreliable,” Meinie Nicolai, MSF general director, told Sky News after the incident.

Attack on a Home Sheltering an American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) Employee, March 8 

On October 13, Doaa Shawwa, her husband Mousa Shawwa, and their children Dima, 13, and Karim, 6, fled their home in Tal al-Hawa and moved into the second-floor apartment of a friend in al-Zuwaida, in a building with three apartments further south. The attack killed at least three people and injured at least three more. Doaa told Human Rights Watch the neighborhood had avoided the worst of the hostilities over the subsequent months. Mousa was the Anera supply and logistics coordinator, and, upon moving to al-Zuwaida, he had communicated the coordinates of the home with his Anera colleagues, the organization confirmed.

On March 8, an Israeli attack on an apartment in al-Zuwaida, killed Mousa Shawwa, the American Near East Refugee Aid (Anera) supply and logistics coordinator. © Private

Anera showed the New York Times emails it had sent to Israeli authorities in which it included the coordinates of the house, as well as photographs of the building, informing them that this was where one of their workers was living with his family. In the emails, Israeli authorities confirmed that the location was being “processed” in their “system.”

On Friday, March 8, at about 4 p.m., an Israeli strike hit the building without warning, Doaa said. Mousa was standing in the doorway of the apartment with Doaa’s visiting brother, Baha al-Gifri, speaking to Doaa when the strike hit. “He was halfway through his sentence when we were hit. I don’t remember anything from that moment, I lost consciousness immediately and only woke up later in the hospital to find out that I had lost Mousa and my brother,” she said.

Mousa had injuries all over his body and died as he arrived at al-Aqsa Hospital, Doaa said she was later told. Baha died at the moment of impact, with wounds to his head and face. Doaa’s 6-year-old son, Karim, had a head injury, but medical staff did not realize he had a skull fracture and internal bleeding in his brain, so his injuries went initially untreated. He died at al-Arish Hospital in Egypt, 11 days after the attack.

With the assistance of Anera, Doaa, Karim, and Dima had been transferred to Egypt from Gaza eight days after the attack. The attack fractured Doaa’s right hand and caused a large wound to her face and head. It fractured Dima’s right foot, and covered her body and face with wounds from metal fragments. Dima also had burns on her right hand. A friend who owned the home in Gaza where they were attacked also had burns on his face, Doaa said.

Doaa said that, as far as she knew, the other two apartments in their building had only been housing civilians, and that she knew of no presence of armed forces in the neighborhood. Human Rights Watch verified Al Jazeera footage, posted on YouTube on March 9, of the building after the attack which shows considerable damage to the second floor of the building, and experts consulted by the New York Times concluded the attack was carried out with a precision-guided air-dropped munition. Israel told the New York Times in response to its request for comment that the attack had targeted a Hamas member who participated in the October 7 assault in Israel. Anera said it had received no information from Israel about who or what had been targeted, or why.

“We did not receive any warning from the Israelis before the attack,” Doaa said. “This is the thing that upsets me the most. My husband works for an American organization and the Israelis knew we were there. They should have sent us a message to warn us to get out. Why didn’t they?” Doaa said she keeps asking herself. “This was something beyond our imagination. Our hearts were destroyed.”

Meanwhile the US government continues to deny a genocide is taking place.

It's not a genocide so it's what?  Sport?

Joe Biden grows more politically attractive with each day.

Let's drop back to yesterday's DEMOCRACY NOW!

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

Israel is intensifying its war across the Gaza Strip as the official death toll has now topped 35,000, including more than 14,500 children. According to the United Nations, more than 360,000 Palestinians have now been fled the southern city of Rafah despite fears there is nowhere safe to escape the Israeli bombardment.

This comes as the United Nations General Assembly voted 143 to 9 Friday in support of Palestine becoming a full U.N. member. Twenty-five countries abstained from the vote. The United States and Israel both voted against the measure. The vote grants new rights and privileges to Palestine, but it can’t become a full U.N. member without support from the U.N. Security Council. Last month, the U.S. vetoed a Palestine statehood resolution at the Security Council.

For more, we’re going to London to speak with the Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom, Husam Zomlot.

Welcome to Democracy Now!, Ambassador. Thanks so much for being with us. Let’s start in Gaza, with Israel intensifying the bombardment of Rafah, 360,000 Palestinians now moving out of Rafah, where so many of them had already fled to. Can you describe the situation on the ground? As we speak, we hear that the Kuwaiti Hospital has been ordered to evacuate, with staff saying they don’t want to leave their patients.

HUSAM ZOMLOT: There are no words, Amy, to describe the situation in Rafah, in Gaza. What is it? Horrific, Armageddon. I mean, people have been targeted for seven months. Some of them have had to leave five times, seven times, 10 times, including family members of mine. And I know what they have gone through, not only the displacement, not only the slaughterhouse that they have gone through, but there is nowhere to go. There is nowhere safe. Fathers, mothers are thinking about their children right now. I mean, it’s undescribable.

And it’s obvious Israel has decided to go on. They are not going to end this war without a serious pressure. And many are telling us, you know, Israel doesn’t have a military plan, Israel doesn’t have a political plan. Well, Israel does have a plan, and Israel is executing the plan with almost perfection. And the plan is genocide, and the plan is the mass expulsion of the Palestinians — a repeat of the Nakba of 1948, which we are commemorating this very month, in May. Otherwise, nothing of what Israel is doing makes sense. So, the situation is horrendous, horrendous in every sense of the word.

AMY GOODMAN: President Biden said he is withholding a shipment of weapons, bombs that could be used in Gaza, as the Rafah ground invasion is threatened. Your response to this, Ambassador? Do you feel that President Biden is shifting his position?

HUSAM ZOMLOT: Well, it’s a very important step, and it did break a taboo, a U.S. taboo. And we must build on this. But it is 100,000 people killed and maimed late, and we need to make sure that this is not just a pause, but this is an arms embargo, that the U.S. does fulfill its commitment under international law by making sure that its weapon does not end up in violation of international law. And it is absolutely, bluntly clear, particularly after the ruling of the International Court of Justice, that’s the highest court of the land, of the globe, a clear ruling whereby they officially put Israel on trial for genocide, ruling that it is plausible that Israel is committing genocide. And therefore, there is no conversation after that. Every third party that does provide Israel, genocidal Israel, with weapons, especially these 2,000-pound bombs that are not supposed to be used in civilian areas like Gaza, especially those, and many other weapons, we should see an arms embargo now.

And we should build on that step, that small step, taken by the U.S. president. And I assure you, if Netanyahu was certain that there will be an arms embargo, he wouldn’t have gone through Rafah. He wouldn’t have crossed that American red line. But he knows pressure in the U.S. by some of his allies will mount and that this pause in the shipment of these lethal weapons might actually resume soon.

AMY GOODMAN: We got word on Friday that the State Department had concluded Israel likely used U.S. weapons in violation of U.S. and international law, but the report claims the Biden administration has not yet found specific instances that could force the U.S. to withhold military aid. Your response, Ambassador?

HUSAM ZOMLOT: Well, I think the U.S. here is mincing their words, dodging any responsibility, delaying the inevitable, and not having the guts and the will, the political will, to do what is right. And this has been the story with the U.S. for a long time, for decades, Amy, and that’s why we are where we are today. The U.S. knows very well — the legal assessment is bluntly clear — Israel not only violated international law, Israel has bombed international law, has bombed the U.N. premises and what have you. And then, when Israel came up with these allegations against UNRWA, the U.S. was absolutely clear, or at least, you know, quick, to suspend funding from the organization that deals with the humanitarian side of Gaza, of the West Bank, of Palestinian refugees in general.

The U.S. policy vis-à-vis Palestine is inconsistent, contradictory. It does not make sense. It doesn’t add up. The U.S. has been saying for all along that it wants a two-state solution. And when we go to the U.N. seeking U.N. membership, you know, they veto it in the Security Council, and they vote against it in the General Assembly. And why? If you really believe in a two-state solution, why do you do so? Unless you really don’t, and all what you’re doing is just buying time, giving cover for Israel to finish off its job. This is very disingenuous on the part of the U.S. administration, extremely disingenuous, and very counterproductive. Because what’s the endgame? Israel will not be able to kill all Palestinians. They will not be able to finish us off. So, what’s the endgame with doing that? The U.S. says humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza, they want to see help, and then they still defund UNRWA and so forth. So, doesn’t make sense.

And I believe this is a moment when the last seven months have unmasked, beyond doubt, many things, including the hypocrisy, selectivity, double standards of certain international actors, and I believe the U.S. administration is right at the top of that list of not really being consistent with its own responsibilities as a founding member of the international legal system.

And we have been following some letters by senior U.S. officials and senators threatening the ICC, threatening judges, global judges, literally using words in their letters like “You have been warned.” You know, that reminds me, Amy, of The Sopranos, a Mafia-like threatening of courts, of international courts that we created after the horrors of the Second World War to make sure the “never again,” to make sure that everybody who commits war crimes is held accountable to international legality. You are threatening judges, imposing sanctions on international courts, on the ICC, only to shield a government and a military that is committing genocide and is on trial for genocide. And we are also following letters by also senators pressuring the U.S. president not to go ahead with the pause of the arms shipment to Israel.

And therefore, yes, this is a time when we are following everybody. We will not forget. We will not forget. We will not forget those who stood firm against the genocide, stood firm with international legality and international law, and those who are literally ransacking our humanity and ransacking our international system.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Husam Zomlot, you’re joining us from London. You’re the Palestinian ambassador to Britain. The Foreign Office there is investigating a claim by Hamas that a British Israeli hostage, Nadav Popplewell, has died in Gaza, died about a month ago. Hamas has said that Nadav Popplewell succumbed to wounds from an Israeli airstrike about a month ago. His mother was released months ago. She was also a hostage. Can you tell us what you know at this point?

HUSAM ZOMLOT: I really don’t have information about this, Amy, whatsoever. But all loss of life is heartbreaking, regrettable. All hostages, from both sides, must be released and returned safely. And I repeat “from both sides,” because Israel has taken thousands of our people hostages, without trial, without charge. And you have followed some of the astonishing, heartbreaking reports of the Israeli treatment, Israeli prison guards’ treatment of our hostages, a CNN report only last week about the torture. And some of them have actually died under torture, like Dr. Adnan al-Bursh of Gaza, who is world-renowned for being a backbone of the health sector in Gaza. And once, he operated 41 operations in one day.

And therefore, you know, it is crucial to focus on what Israel has done to hospitals and to the health sector — of course, also to the education sector — I mean, destroying all and targeting the number of hospitals they did. And, you know, this is important, so people in the U.S., Amy, understand. In relative terms, in proportionate terms, if you apply the ratio of those killed and maimed, including children, if you apply the ratio in Gaza of schools, of hospitals to the U.S., let me give you some numbers. The people who have been killed and maimed in Gaza would make in the U.S. the equivalence — the equivalence of the same in the U.S. would be 14 million Americans killed and maimed. If it’s about only killed, it would be 5 million. If it’s about children, there would have been 2.1 million American children killed in the last seven months. About universities and hospitals, it would be 6,000 American universities destroyed, either in full or in part, would be 4,000 American hospitals targeted, destroyed, bombed. And it would be 105,000 schools in the U.S. damaged or completely destroyed.

So, this is the situation. And therefore, in Gaza, you have no way to treat anybody. And the situation has become exactly in line with the original plan, the blueprint of Netanyahu and Israel: lifeless, a place that you cannot live in. And even if you want to move within it, you have no home to go back to, you have no school to send your children and kids to, you have no hospitals to be treated in — a lifeless territory for the final push of people out of their homeland.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to ask you about the United Nations General Assembly vote, 143 to 9 Friday in support of Palestinian statehood — Palestine becoming a full U.N. member. Twenty-five countries abstained. U.S. and Israel both voted against the measure. The vote grants new rights and privileges to Palestine, but not full U.N. membership, which requires the support of the U.N. Security Council. Last month, the U.S. vetoed a Palestine statehood resolution at the Security Council. Can you respond?

HUSAM ZOMLOT: Yes. That tells you the contrast. On the one hand, you have the overwhelming majority of the world in support of Palestinian rights, the right to self-determination, our right to have a state status in the U.N., a member state in the U.N., 143 countries. And on the other hand, you have the U.S. standing almost alone against that, together with Israel and a couple of other smaller countries, being isolated. And the U.S. is going out of its way always to shield Israel — and to prevent its own policy. I mean, it’s so telling. It’s so telling.

You know, that vote and that speech by the Israeli representative, that shredding of the U.N. Charter, what was he objecting? What was the Israeli representative objecting? What was the U.S. objecting? Was it objecting to Hamas? Was it objecting to violence? Was it objecting to — no, Israel was and is and has been objecting to the creation of a Palestinian state. That’s the objection. The rest is details. The rest is symptoms. And that objection, that block of our right to self-determination, our right to sovereignty and independence, our right and our duty to liberate our land and live in a state of our own, is the heart of the matter. That’s the root cause. And why would the U.S. object to that? And then, the whole thing becomes about certain periods of our history: 7th of October, Second Intifada, First Intifada. That’s the key part. And I believe that moment has revealed much.

And I think I can confirm for you that we will build on that historic moment. We must thank all the nations that have come in support of the state of Palestine and its status in the U.N. And we will come back. We will come back to the Security Council. We will come back to the General Assembly. We will come back every session, if needed, every time, every day, until we are admitted as a U.N., because the majority of the world have spoken, because Palestine has the right, meets the criteria of the U.N. Charter for membership. And the U.S. has no right and has no business — the United States and the administration of the U.S. has no right and has no business of objecting to Palestinian right to self-determination. They don’t. And they must stop that.

AMY GOODMAN: Ambassador Husam Zomlot, we want to thank you very much for being with us, Palestinian ambassador to the United Kingdom. Interestingly, the speech of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations was canceled, to Linda Thomas-Greenfield, both to — and also invitations withdrawn by Xavier University and University of Vermont because of student objections to American support for Israel. President Biden is expected to address Morehouse, the historically Black college, next weekend, and there’s rising protest around that address.

Gaza remains under assault. Day 220 of  the assault in the wave that began in October.  Binoy Kampmark (DISSIDENT VOICE) points out, "Bloodletting as form; murder as fashion.  The ongoing campaign in Gaza by Israel’s Defence Forces continues without stalling and restriction.  But the burgeoning number of corpses is starting to become a challenge for the propaganda outlets:  How to justify it?  Fortunately for Israel, the United States, its unqualified defender, is happy to provide cover for murder covered in the sheath of self-defence."   CNN has explained, "The Gaza Strip is 'the most dangerous place' in the world to be a child, according to the executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund."  ABC NEWS quotes UNICEF's December 9th statement, ""The Gaza Strip is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. Scores of children are reportedly being killed and injured on a daily basis. Entire neighborhoods, where children used to play and go to school have been turned into stacks of rubble, with no life in them."  NBC NEWS notes, "Strong majorities of all voters in the U.S. disapprove of President Joe Biden’s handling of foreign policy and the Israel-Hamas war, according to the latest national NBC News poll. The erosion is most pronounced among Democrats, a majority of whom believe Israel has gone too far in its military action in Gaza."  The slaughter continues.  It has displaced over 1 million people per the US Congressional Research Service.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) points out, "Academics and legal experts around the world, including Holocaust scholars, have condemned the six-week Israeli assault of Gaza as genocide."   The death toll of Palestinians in Gaza is grows higher and higher.  United Nations Women noted, "More than 1.9 million people -- 85 per cent of the total population of Gaza -- have been displaced, including what UN Women estimates to be nearly 1 million women and girls. The entire population of Gaza -- roughly 2.2 million people -- are in crisis levels of acute food insecurity or worse."  THE NATIONAL notes, "Gaza death toll reaches 35,173, with 79,061 wounded."

On the death toll.  A UN agency is changing figures.  Not the toll itself but x number of women, x number of children, x number of men.  Ask them why -- no one appears able to get an answer -- no one in the press.  The count is an undercount and doesn't include those still buried or even every death.  We will continue to use the Gaza ministry count.

Months ago,  AP  noted, "About 4,000 people are reported missing."  February 7th, Jeremy Scahill explained on DEMOCRACY NOW! that "there’s an estimated 7,000 or 8,000 Palestinians missing, many of them in graves that are the rubble of their former home."  February 5th, the United Nations' Phillipe Lazzarini Tweeted:


On bodies trapped under rubble, ALJAZEERA notes this morning:

We’re talking about a three-storey building that housed not only residents but also dozens of other displaced Palestinians in Rafah that made it to Nuseirat three days ago.

I met the neighbours. I met the family. I met one of the relatives of people still trapped under the rubble earlier today. They were telling me heartbreaking things.

Imagine escaping the air strikes in Rafah, looking for a safe space but being killed after three days of evacuating – not only being killed but being trapped where the Civil Defence teams do not have any equipment to remove or pull these people from under the rubble.

I saw Civil Defence teams doing their best to pull people from under the rubble. They were digging with their bare hands, with very basic tools. This was not the first time we have seen this scene. We have been seeing this for more than seven months now.

Unfortunately, it may come to a point where the Civil Defence teams will give up on this house because there are more people being targeted every single hour across the Gaza Strip.

April 11th, Sharon Zhang (TRUTHOUT) reported, "In addition to the over 34,000 Palestinians who have been counted as killed in Israel’s genocidal assault so far, there are 13,000 Palestinians in Gaza who are missing, a humanitarian aid group has estimated, either buried in rubble or mass graves or disappeared into Israeli prisons.  In a report released Thursday, Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor said that the estimate is based on initial reports and that the actual number of people missing is likely even higher."

As for the area itself?  Isabele Debre (AP) reveals, "Israel’s military offensive has turned much of northern Gaza into an uninhabitable moonscape. Whole neighborhoods have been erased. Homes, schools and hospitals have been blasted by airstrikes and scorched by tank fire. Some buildings are still standing, but most are battered shells."  Kieron Monks (I NEWS) reports, "More than 40 per cent of the buildings in northern Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, according to a new study of satellite imagery by US researchers Jamon Van Den Hoek from Oregon State University and Corey Scher at the City University of New York. The UN gave a figure of 45 per cent of housing destroyed or damaged across the strip in less than six weeks. The rate of destruction is among the highest of any conflict since the Second World War."

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