I knew Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, the co-founder of Hamas, along with Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Yassin. Al-Rantisi’s family were expelled to the Gaza Strip by Zionist militias from historic Palestine during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. He did not fit the demonized image of a Hamas leader. He was a soft spoken, articulate and highly educated pediatrician who had graduated first in his class at Egypt’s Alexandria University. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed executions in Khan Younis of 275 Palestinian men and boys, including his uncle, when Israel briefly occupied the Gaza Strip in 1956, the subject of Joe Sacco’s magisterial book Footnotes in Gaza.
A recently released Israeli captive held in Gaza revealed that she feared Israel would kill her and others through indiscriminate shelling and then blame Hamas, Ynet reported on 6 December. Menir Oz made the statement in a meeting between her and other recently released captives and their family members on the one hand, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet on the other. During the meeting, the released captives and family members expressed anger at Netanyahu for his war policy which put their lives in danger. “I was there and I know how hard it is in captivity," said Menir. "Every day in captivity was very difficult.
Israel continues to mercilessly pummel the Gaza Strip, with WAFA news agency reporting deadly airstrikes in several neighborhoods of Gaza City, as well as Deir al-Balah, and the al-Bureij and Nuseirat refugee camps, killing at least 198 people overnight according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. A strike reportedly hit a cemetery in Beit Lahiya, killing a number of graveyard workers, while an entire neighborhood in al-Bureij was razed by airstrikes, killing at least 15 people. Among the scores killed overnight was Palestine TV correspondent Mohammad Abu Hatab, who died along with his wife, son, brother, and eight other relatives in Khan Younis – a city in southern Gaza where Israeli authorities had told civilians to evacuate.
Already plunged in the dark after Israel cut electricity access at the beginning of the onslaught, Gaza has now lost nearly all of its internet connectivity, internet and cybersecurity watchdog Netblocks confirmed on Friday evening, as cell towers for Paltel, the last remaining major operator standing in Gaza, were believed to be hit. Various reports seem to indicate that access to the internet in northern Gaza is almost completely gone, while communications out of southern Gaza are severely affected. Palestinian Authority Minister of Telecommunications Ishaq Sidr confirmed on Saturday that Israeli bombardments had hit the last two points designated for international connection with the Gaza Strip.
Ever since the beginning of the current round of Israeli bombardments inside Gaza, the US has maintained that it is necessary to restrict the violence inside the Palestinian territories. The US fears that any regional escalation will harm its geo-political interests including its presence there and may kill all prospects of the normalization of Arab-Israel relations. The point was repeated during the repeated visits of the top US officials in the region including the US President Joe Biden. In the very first week of Israeli bombing, the US deployed its warships in the region openly warning the Lebanese resistance force, Hezbollah, to not interfere.
In the second week of relentless bombing of Gazan civilians by Israel, with the full backing and financing of President Joe Biden’s administration, protests continue in countless cities around the U.S. and abroad — and they’ve gotten larger. This roundup just touches the surface. In a historic turnout for supporters of Palestine in Philadelphia, an estimated 10,000 people from Palestinian and other communities rallied at City Hall, then marched up the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Oct. 21. People filled the steps and streets in front of the museum with their cell phone flashlights on.
I deplore the killings done by Hamas on October 7 in which 1100 Israelis and 328 from other nations died. And I deplore the massive retaliation and revenge that the State of Israel is wrecking as collective punishment on the civilians in Gaza in the name of destroying Hamas. Over 8,000 Palestinians, including over 3000 children, have now been killed in the three weeks of massive air and artillery attacks on Gaza and over 20,000 have been injured with hundreds, if not thousands, missing under rubble. As documented in Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center located in Jerusalem, in November 1940, 380,000 Jews were sealed inside the Warsaw ghetto.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza released on Thursday evening a list of 6,747 Palestinians confirmed killed since Israel began carpet bombing the blockaded enclave on October 7. The list, which includes names, ages, gender, and ID numbers for each casualty identified as of the afternoon of October 26, does not include people still trapped under rubble, those who were buried directly without being brought to hospitals, and those whose details had yet to be confirmed and processed by health officials – meaning that hundreds have yet to be officially identified, according to the ministry’s own estimates.
Gaza’s population of over 2 million, which continues to be carpet bombed, is still being denied fuel, clean water, and adequate food supply by Israel’s ongoing siege on the enclave. The situation is “horrific” as millions are being “collectively punished in full view of the world,” says Oxfam, a British charity focused on alleviating global poverty. “It’s estimated that only three liters of clean water are now available per person. The UN said a minimum of 15 liters a day is essential for people in the most acute humanitarian emergencies as a bare minimum,” they stated.
Amidst extensive media coverage of the atrocities in Gaza, an unsettling pattern emerges. Media reports often document Israel’s airstrikes on civilian areas, hospitals, schools, and UN shelters. Yet, they consistently accompany these accounts with a disclaimer, attributing these actions to a response to the Hamas attacks of October 7. This narrative not only justifies Israel’s collective punishment of Gaza but also depicts Palestinians as mere collateral damage, implying their lives hold little worth. This soft propaganda, being pushed upon billions of people by the media, effectively whitewashed Israel’s crimes instead of holding it accountable for its wanton breaches of international law.
On October 16, the Russian Federation introduced a draft resolution at the UN Security Council (UNSC) calling for an “immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza.” In hopes of getting it passed, they avoided placing blame on either Israel or Hamas. Twelve Arab nations and eight more majority Muslim nations endorsed it, as did Russia, Belarus, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The Council voted that resolution down, with only five of the fifteen members—Russia, China, Mozambique, Gabon, and the United Arab Emirates—voting in favor. The US, UK, France and Japan voted against it, and the other six members of the Council—Albania, Brazil, Ecuador, Ghana, Malta, and Switzerland—abstained.
Wael El-Dahdouh, Al-Jazeera Bureau Chief in Gaza, was reporting live when an Israeli airstrike targeted the southern Gaza building where his family sheltered, killing his wife, son, daughter, and grandson. The news came hours after Axios reported that Secretary Antony Blinken told U.S. Jewish leaders he asked Qatar to “turn down the volume on Al Jazeera’s coverage” of the Israeli genocidal campaign in the Gaza Strip, accusing the network of being “anti-Israel.” Mondoweiss reached out to journalists in Gaza who shared their anxiety that their families could fall victim to punitive shelling solely for doing their job.
Since October 7, the day’s events have been shrouded in mystery. There are not only questions about the Israeli intelligence apparatus’s colossal failure to anticipate what was happening in the tightly besieged Strip or the quick collapse of their billion-dollar “Maginot Line” but also the details of what actually transpired in the military bases and settlements around the Gaza Strip. We know that, by common estimates, 1,400 Israelis were killed in the following few days, but we do not yet know the details of how. Some reports are beginning to appear, including documentation of the killing of Israelis by Palestinian fighters, but there are a growing number of reports that indicate the Israeli military was also responsible for Israeli civilian and military deaths on October 7 and the days after.
The population of Gaza is simply defenceless. Only international intervention can stop Israel from doing whatever it wishes, and those countries which have influence with Israel are actively abetting and encouraging the genocide. The question is, what is Israel’s aim? Do they intend to reduce the Gaza Strip still further, annexing half or more of it? Will starvation and horror enable the international community to force Egypt to accept the expulsion of the population of Gaza into the Sinai Desert as a “humanitarian” move? That appears to be the end game: expulsion of population and territorial expansion into Gaza. That would require a ground invasion, but probably not until after even more intense aerial bombardment to eliminate all resistance.