In the latest demonstration of the boundless cruelty of U.S. President Joe Biden and his despicable administration, they have turned the backbone of what little aid Palestinians in Gaza receive into a political football, to be toyed with and batted around while jeopardizing that support for people who are already near the edge of what any human, however brave, can possibly endure. It’s the latest in what feels like an eternal cycle of the United States and Israel beating up on the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for political gain. There have been many hearings on Capitol Hill over the years bashing UNRWA and calling for either a complete structural overhaul of the agency or its dismantlement and absorption into the larger United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Late on Saturday, January 27, a set of Western countries announced they would cease funding UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees, after Israeli authorities alleged implication of some staff members in the attack conducted by Hamas against Israel on October 7, 2023. In a matter of hours, the United States, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Italy, and a couple of other allies announced they would cease contributions to the organization’s work. While some of them stated the cuts would be temporary, until an internal investigation is concluded, UN officials pointed out that the move will essentially end the agency’s work on the ground
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling on Friday — which found that there was plausible evidence of Israel committing genocidal acts in Gaza and ordered that Israel show proof within a month that it was reversing course on its indiscriminate targeting of civilians in Gaza and obstruction of humanitarian aid, but stopped short of calling for a ceasefire — has sparked reactions from Israel, Palestine, and across the world. Some of the Israeli press framed the decision not to order an immediate ceasefire as a “win” and the “best Israel could hope for.” Others interpreted it as a “warning shot” that could further isolate the Israeli government and its closest ally, the United States, on the international stage.
The State Department paused additional funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) after the Israeli government accused 12 UNRWA workers of being involved in the October 7 Hamas attack. A press statement from State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said the Biden administration was “extremely troubled by the allegations.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “to emphasize the necessity of a thorough and swift investigation of this matter.” UNRWA has already terminated the staffers and opened an investigation into the allegations.
Recently, an international delegation traveled to Cairo, Egypt to visit the Rafah border crossing and pressure the United States to allow aid to be brought in to Gaza. Hundreds of trucks carrying aid are lined up at the border waiting for permission to enter. Clearing the FOG spoke with Sara Flounders, one of the members of the delegation, about the current situation in Gaza, the role of the United States in the genocide of Palestinians, how the current conflict is impacting the United States' drive to protect its hegemony and the blow back in Western Asia. Flounders also discusses the incredible solidarity across the world with Palestine and the numerous creative actions in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle.
The horrific 49-day Israeli attack on the civilian population of Gaza continues with over 15,000 Palestinians dead, including over 6,150 children and more than 36,000 wounded in the Gaza Strip. Virtually all of the 2.3 million residents of Gaza have been forced into the southern half of the tiny enclave. 226 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israeli attacks have put 27 of 35 hospitals across Gaza out of operation, according to the World Health Organization. Bakeries, grain mills, agricultural land, water and sanitation facilities have been destroyed by Israeli attacks.
VFP member Danny O’Brien, VFP Board member Gerry Condon, and VFP Advisory Board member, journalist Chris Hedges, are among an international delegation of writers, lawyers, journalists, activists, students, and organizers who arrived in Cairo, Egypt this week with the goal of reaching the Rafah border crossing with Gaza. VFP Advisory Board member, retired Colonel Ann Wright, was refused entry into Egypt. Their goal is to exert pressure to open the border for the immediate entry and sustained flow of urgent humanitarian aid—food, water, fuel, and medical aid to 2.3 million Palestinians facing starvation and death as genocidal Israeli airstrikes continuously pound defenseless civilians.
“We’ve come to Egypt to speak to the world directly from the border of Gaza, which we were not permitted to reach, and which we cannot traverse, and which remains closed for fuel, adequate food, clean water, medical supplies, equipment, and people, including healthcare professionals, to enter Gaza.” Statement from the International Delegation in Support of Gaza This columnist recently returned from Cairo, Egypt, where Black Agenda Report was among the organizations invited to participate in an effort to bring attention and help to the people of Gaza. The National Lawyers Guild played a leading role in assembling the group.
The United Nation Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) has claimed that there is a deliberate attempt to strangle its activities in the besieged Gaza strip by Israel which may lead to the shutting down all its humanitarian activities. Speaking to the press on Thursday, November 16, Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, said there is a risk of the agency shutting down all its humanitarian work in the region due to lack of fuel and consistent attacks on its activities. “I do believe there is a deliberate attempt to strangle our operation and paralyze the UNRWA operation,” Lazzarini said.
The brutal genocide against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip continues unabated after 5 weeks. The majority of the enclave’s hospitals have been rendered inoperational through targeted airstrikes on medical infrastructure or because fuel and power supplies have run out, putting at risk the tens of thousands who have been injured in the last month, the hundreds of thousands seeking shelter in medical installations, and healthcare workers. It is in this context, that the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate (EJS) has called on “the free people of the world” to join its “Global Conscience Convoy” aiming to apply pressure to open the Rafah Crossing – the Gaza Strip’s lifeline – to allow all forms of humanitarian aid, such as (food, water, medication, and fuel) to enter sustainably, and for an unconditional exit for the critically wounded.
We are an international delegation of writers, lawyers, journalists, activists, students and organizers who arrived in Cairo, Egypt, this week with the goal of reaching the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to exert pressure to open the border for the immediate entry and sustained flow of urgent humanitarian aid — food, water, fuel and medical aid to 2.3 million Palestinians facing starvation and death as genocidal Israeli airstrikes continuously pound defenseless civilians. In response to the Palestinian and Arab calls for civil society to challenge Israel’s deadly occupation by heading immediately towards the Egyptian-Palestinian crossing to bring urgent humanitarian relief to 2.3 million people, we have just submitted a request to the Egyptian authorities for permission to travel to Rafah.
On Friday, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told a parliamentary committee that the Israeli army’s impending ground invasion of Gaza will unfold across “three phases,” with the objective of creating a “new security reality” in Gaza. This reality would see the pacification of Palestinian resistance and the decimation of Hamas’s military “infrastructure,” which would be achieved through the current devastating airstrikes, coupled with an as-yet forthcoming ground maneuver. Gallant’s statement left vague what destroying that infrastructure would entail during this supposed first phase.
On Thursday night, Israel bombed the Greek Orthodox St Porphyrius Church, the oldest church in Gaza, dating back to the 5th century. According to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Minister of Health Mai al-Kaila, 17 Palestinians were killed in the airstrike, including Muslim and Christian families who had been sheltering in the church. The historic church also suffered major structural damage. Located in the historic al-Zaytoun neighborhood of Gaza City, in close proximity to the recently bombed Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, the churched serviced members of Gaza’s Christian minority, which make up around 1% of the Strip’s population.
Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued overnight on Wednesday into the early hours of Thursday morning. Civilians and journalists continue to report that nowhere is safe. Israel intensified its bombing across the area, most heavily targeting the Rafah district, killing dozens of Palestinians, and further damaging roads leading from the border crossing with Egypt, according to Al Jazeera, which also reported at least 121 people have been killed and 540 injured in Gaza since Wednesday evening. In the al-Zahra neighborhood, Palestinian media reports that Israeli warplanes completely destroyed four residential towers after nearly 100 Palestinians evacuated them.
On Monday, October 16, one week since Israel tightened its siege on Gaza, media reports citing Egyptian security officials began circulating that a temporary ceasefire was going into effect on Monday morning to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into southern Gaza through the Rafah crossing. Reports also claimed that the temporary ceasefire would go into effect in southern Gaza, where Israel has been corralling Palestinians since Friday, to allow Palestinians with dual nationalities to leave the Strip through Egypt. But hopes of fuel and essential supplies, as well as safe passage out of Gaza for a few, were quickly dashed when Israel denied ever having agreed to a ceasefire.