Gaza Strip, (The Inside Palestine)- Latest Updates
- After 11 days of fighting, Israel and Hamas have reportedly agreed to a ceasefire, negotiated by Egypt, to start early Friday, 2 AM Jerusalem time. US President Joe Biden announced the agreement shortly after 6 PM EST and “commended” Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu for ending hostilities. See more, below.
- Gaza death toll reaches 232, including 65 children, and 1,760 injured due to ongoing Israeli airstrikes; 50,000 families have been displaced, 24 health facilities suffered partial or complete damage, Gaza Ministry of Health reports.
- US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is reportedly preparing to introduce a resolution to halt U.S. sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, following a similar resolution from House democrats, led by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)
- Western press coverage continues to highlight the tremendously disproportionate destruction of Israel’s attacks, even pro-Israel observers say. Geraldo Rivera accused Israel of war crimes on Fox News: “The fact that the United States of America is providing Israel many of the weapons Israel is using today to kill Palestinian civilians without demanding a cease-fire, [Rashida] Tlaib is right. That makes us complicit in an ongoing crime against humanity.”
- A group of Jewish employees of Google have called on the company to condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza and to “heed the requests framed by Palestinian Googlers and center their voices going forward.” The appeal has gotten 250 signatures. The group is a reported breakaway from a Google Jewish employees’ group that has suppressed criticism of Israel.
-updated 9:17am GMT
Palestinians celebrate Gaza ceasefire
Palestinians across Gaza and the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem took to the streets in celebration in the early hours of Friday morning, as a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas authorities in Gaza went into effect at 2am.
The ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt and said to be “mutual” by both Israeli and Hamas officials, came after 11 days of Israeli bombardments that killed at least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children in Gaza.
On the Israeli side, 12 people including two children died as a result of Hamas rocket fire from Gaza.
Leading up to the 2am ceasefire, Israeli bombardments on sites in the Gaza Strip continued, while the military wings of Islamic Jihad and Hamas fired rockets into Israel.
But once the ceasefire officially took effect at 2am, tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza poured into the streets in celebration of an end to the Israeli offensive — the fourth of its kind since 2009.
Al Jazeera reported that the start of the ceasefire was being treated like “the first day of Eid” in Gaza, as Gazans spent this year’s Eid al-Fitr holidays (May 13-15) under heavy bombardment.
Al Jazeera reporter Youmna al-Sayed also said that displaced families were already returning to their homes from UN-run schools where they had been seeking shelter.
Similar scenes unfolded across Jerusalem and the West Bank, as videos flooded social media showing thousands of Palestinians in the occupied territory celebrating what they were calling a major victory for the Palestinian resistance, and an end to the killing of their people in Gaza.
Report: Israel and Hamas agree to ceasefire beginning at 2 am local time on Friday
In announcing the ceasefire, President Biden committed the United States to rebuilding Gaza, with the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. He did not address the 13-year-long siege Israel has maintained on the Gaza Strip.
Biden said he had spoken to Benjamin Netanyahu six times in the last 11 days. He thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for negotiating the deal and expressed his sympathy for the families who lost loved ones during the conflict.
The Associated Press reports:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the cease-fire after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. It said the group had unanimously accepted an Egyptian proposal, though the sides were still determining exactly when it was to take effect.
Adalah to Israeli Supreme Court: “Settlers’ takeover of Sheikh Jarrah now employing racist practices seen only in the darkest of regimes”
Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court today demanding that Israeli police remove the checkpoints they have established at the entrances to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem.
In a press release Adalah says, “Israeli police are blocking the entry of non-resident Palestinians into Sheikh Jarrah, while simultaneously granting access to organized groups of dozens of Israeli Jewish extremists.These extremists – many of them armed with assault rifles – have attacked Palestinian residents of the neighborhood on a number of occasions over the past couple weeks.”
Adalah commented on the situation in Sheikh Jarrah:
“The Israeli police, which is essentially backing the settlers’ takeover of Sheikh Jarrah, is now employing a racist practice seen only in the darkest of regimes, one which stands in clear violation of international law. The degrading tactic of racial profiling that Israeli officers are now using – exclusively against Palestinians – serves as a tool in the hands of the Israeli far right to hold Palestinian residents hostage in their own homes. The checkpoints at the entrances to Sheikh Jarrah, together with the nightly attacks of Israeli Jewish extremists on Palestinian residents, clearly spotlight the policies of Jewish supremacy that Israel is now seeking to impose and which are leading to continued bloodshed.”
Netanyahu rebuffs Biden as moves towards Gaza ceasefire gain momentum
After days of reaffirming his staunch support of Israel and its “right to self-defense,” US President Joe Biden, amids growing pressure from progressive democrats, reportedly pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu towards a ceasefire during a call on Wednesday.
Axios reported that Biden “made it clear he is running out of patience”, telling Netanyahu that he expects “significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.”
Despite Biden’s phone call, Israel continued its bombardment on Gaza through the evening on Wednesday and into the early morning hours of Thursday, bringing the death toll in Gaza up to 230, including 65 children.
Barak Ravid reported that Netanyahu responded to Biden’s call, saying that while he appreciates Biden’s for Israel’s “right to self-defense,” he is “determined to continue the operation in Gaza until it achieves its goal of restoring calm.”
Other Israeli officials echoed similar sentiments: that despite mounting international pressure, they are determined to continue the current offensive on Gaza. Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen reportedly told Israel’s Kan public radio that there would be no ceasefire on Friday, and that despite “seeing very significant international pressure… we will finish the operation when we decide we have attained our goals.”
Reuters meanwhile quoted Hamas officials as saying that they were confident the efforts to reach a ceasefire would succeed in the coming day or two “on the basis of mutual agreement.”
Reuters also quoted Egyptian security sources as saying “the sides had agreed in principle to a ceasefire but details needed to be worked out.”
Meanwhile, France is reportedly pushing a resolution at the UN Security Council also calling for a ceasefire, Axios reported, saying that France plans to bring the resolution for a vote in the coming days if the fighting continues.
Committee to Protect Journalists says Israel may have intentionally targeted Palestinian journalist in his home
Yesterday, Palestinian journalist Yousef Abu Hussein was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his home, and the The Committee to Protect Journalists believe it may have been intentional.
From their statement:
The Committee to Protect Journalists today condemned the killing of Palestinian journalist Yousef Abu Hussein in Gaza and called on Israeli authorities to immediately clarify whether they deliberately struck his home.
At dawn today, an Israeli warplane bombed the top floors of the Gaza City apartment building where Abu Hussein, a reporter and news anchor for the Hamas-affiliated radio station Voice of Al-Aqsa, lived with his family, according to news reports, the journalist’s employer, and statements by the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate and the MADA press freedom organization. The journalist was killed in the blast, which injured his wife and brother, according to those reports. CPJ could not immediately determine whether anyone else was killed in the attack.
On May 12, Israeli warplanes bombed and destroyed the Al-Shorouk building in Gaza City, which housed a number of media outlets including Voice of Al-Aqsa Radio, as CPJ documented at the time. The station has continued broadcasting following the destruction of its office.
“In light of Israel’s earlier destruction of the building that housed Voice of Al-Aqsa Radio, we cannot completely discount the possibility that Yousef Abu Hussein was targeted in his home because of his work,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative, Ignacio Miguel Delgado. “Israeli authorities must explain why they bombed the home of a journalist, a civilian who was protected under international law. The Israeli military must ensure that its operations in Gaza do not harm journalists or news outlets.”
US Senator Bernie Sanders joins effort to block $735 million in US arms sales to Israel
US Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is reportedly preparing to introduce a resolution on Thursday to the Senate “disapproving” the planned sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel, according to The Washington Post, which obtained a draft of the resolution.
The push by Sanders comes after a similar resolution was introduced on Wednesday by House democrats, led by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who said the US should “not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government as they deploy our resources to target international media outlets, schools, hospitals, humanitarian missions and civilian sites for bombing.”
The joint resolution, which was also signed by Democratic Reps. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), is aimed at halting the sale of JDAMs, or Joint Direct Attack Munitions, and Small Diameter Bombs to Israel.
The sale of the weapons was approved prior to the eruption of tensions in Israel and Palestine, which was set off by Israeli agressions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and in Sheikh Jarrah at the end of Ramadan, and the subsequent Israeli onslaught on Gaza.
Congress was officially notified of the deal on May 5th, and the efforts to stop the sale are coming down to the wire, as the 15-day review period in which they could stop the sale, ends today, Thursday May 20th.
The Washington Post report noted that Sanders’ resolution on the arms deal “appears to be guaranteed a vote in the Senate,” according to procedures outlined in the International Security and Arms Export Control Act of 1976.
The latest efforts by Sanders come less than 24 hours after the senator introduced a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, during which he highlighted the ongoing Israeli siege on Gaza that has devastated the humanitarian and economic situation in the territory.
Sanders’ resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire was introduced in response to a Republican resolution condemning Hamas and reaffirming US support for Israel.
Al-Haq calls for investigation of Israeli targeting of Palestinian journalists
The Palestinian human rights organization has issued a report charging Israel with attacks on journalists, including the killing of Yousef Hussein. Al-Haq calls for:
- United Nations States to condemn Israel’s unwarranted targeting of media buildings, notwithstanding their protected status under international humanitarian law, and to pressure Israel to urgently and immediately treat media personnel and media buildings as protected civilians and civilian objects, and respect their humanitarian immunity;
- The establishment of an independent commission of inquiry under the umbrella of the Human Rights Council to investigate into Israel’s indiscriminate and systematic attacks on Gaza, including the targeting of Al-Jalaa building, and addressing and determining its criminal responsibility.
Here are some of the specific charges in the Al-Haq report:
Israel’s policies and practices of silencing journalists, was evident in Jerusalem, when Al-Haq documented Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) attacks and injury of journalists Assaid Amarna, Abu Armila Brigade, Fatima al-Bakri, and Maysa Abu Ghazaleh, when the IOF threw sound and gas bombs inside the Dome of the Rock Mosque and attacked worshipers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, firing tear gas, sound and rubber bullets, at 8:15 am on 10 May 2021. Two days later, at 3:00 pm on 12 May 2021, IOF soldiers arrested the journalist Hazem Nasser while he was passing through the Annab military checkpoint, back to his home in the Shweika suburb north of Tulkarm.
It was further evident from Israel’s Ministry of Defense banning of journalists from entry into the Gaza Strip through the Erez crossing from 11 May 2021, until further notice.
By 14 May, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights had documented that “17 media offices, including 4 news agencies, were destroyed in IOF air strikes and three journalists sustained wounds as they were covering the security developments in the Gaza Strip despite them wearing clearly marked and identifiable PRESS vests”.