Saturday, October 21, 2023

The continued assault on Gaza

The assault on Gaza continues.   Israel says it struck a mosque in Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, with Palestinian medics reporting at least one person killed."  Yesterday, Karen Zraick and

An Israeli airstrike hit the grounds of the historic Saint Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, which was sheltering displaced people, on Thursday night, according to church officials and witnesses.

The church compound, comprising a chapel, seven buildings and a courtyard, was full of Christian families from the Gaza Strip, witnesses said. They said the airstrike happened around 7:30 p.m., when dinner was being distributed.

Videos and images from the scene showed rescuers digging through rubble, working with flashlights late Thursday and into Friday. The chapel was not struck.

Chao Deng (WALL STREET JOURNAL) also noted Friday, "The Israeli military said that a blast Thursday night on the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church campus in Gaza City was the result of its airstrike." Tonight, Najib Jobain, Joseph Krauss and Samy Magdy (AP) report, "The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off and began pounding it with airstrikes following Hamas’ bloody rampage two weeks ago. Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. More than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid have been waiting nearby for days."  Jon Queally (COMMON DREAMS) explains:

Guillemette Thomas, MSF's medical coordinator for Gaza, said Saturday that inside Gaza "we have an extremely high number of injured people arriving in hospitals, very serious patients requiring complex care. According to our colleagues who still work at Shifa hospital, the hospital will soon run out of fuel and therefore electricity. This means that all the patients currently in intensive care units connected to ventilators and babies in incubators will die because of the lack of electricity. Operating theaters will no longer be able to function, patients will no longer be able to be operated on and the number of victims will increase significantly in the coming hours."

Thomas warned that those in the intensive care were "just the tip of the iceberg," warning that all injured and sick people Gaza remain at severe risk.

Human Rights Watch was among those who suggested that the refusal to allow fuel into Gaza—and the absence of efforts to restore or repair devastated the electricity grid or water systems—makes the paltry level stand out as intentionally inadequate.

"While aid agencies struggle to squeeze a few trucks of humanitarian aid into southern Gaza via Egypt, the Israeli authorities are keeping their crossings with Gaza closed and refusing to flick the switch for the water and electricity supply," said Tirana Hassan, HRW's executive director. "There is no excuse for denying water, food, and medicine to Gaza's civilian population. It is cruel and contrary to international law."

Doctors Without Borders adds, "We are in touch with some of our colleagues who are supporting teams from the Palestinian Ministry of Health, particularly in Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City, where MSF had provided care for burn victims for years. Today, medical staff suffer the same fate as the rest of Gazans: they have been constantly bombed for the past 10 days. Our colleagues tell us that many doctors and other health workers have died since the start of the Israeli offensive." 

CBS NEWS notes, "Israel plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas, Israel's military spokesman said. Asked about a possible ground invasion into Gaza, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari told reporters Saturday night that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand." And the Israeli government is counting on more weapons from the US government based on the personal promises of President Joe Biden.  Jessica Corbett (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  With more than 4,100 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis already dead as Israel bombards the Gaza Strip in retaliation for a surprise attack led by Hamas, progressive groups on Friday pushed back against U.S. President Joe Biden's effort to further arm Israel.

"In the face of massive suffering in Gaza and disregard for international law by the Israeli government, the U.S. must not provide additional military aid or weapons that would cause more deaths," the National Priorities Project (NPP) at the Institute for Policy Studies said, demanding that U.S. use its diplomatic power to push for a cease-fire.

"The Israeli military's onslaught on Gaza has not protected civilians. It has instead targeted them," NPP asserted, pointing out that while cutting off Palestinians in the Hamas-governed territory from essentials like food, water, medicine, and electricity, Israel has bombed residential, religious, medical, and educational buildings over the past two weeks. 

Andre Damon (WSWS) notes the United Nation placed the Gaza death toll at 4, 137 on Friday and that, "Over the past week, US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have all visited Israel to give their unequivocal endorsement of the genocidal policies of the Netanyahu regime, which is widely despised within Israel and by Jewish people around the world."  They're not only increasing the killings, the Israeli government is also arresting activists.  Sophie Squire (UK SOCIALIST WORKER) reports:

As the Israeli state prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers and settlers have stepped up their brutality against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. 

Mayar Derbashi, a charity worker in Hebron , told Socialist Worker, “A dire and savage onslaught is unfolding in Gaza. 

“In the West Bank, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in arrests. Before 7 October there were about 5,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli detention. In less than two weeks, that number has doubled, exceeding 10,000. 


Yet Joe Biden wants to give more weapons and more US tax dollars.  His visit accomplished nothing and Ralph Nader really nails that down at DISSIDENT VOICE:

If President Joe Biden were a pony, instead of a perennial warhorse (e.g., gung-ho for Bush/Cheney’s criminal destruction of Iraq), he would have his tail between his legs on his return from a one-day trip to Israel. He failed to achieve any immediate, critical objectives while the ongoing destruction of Gaza and the defenseless Palestinians continues.

Did Biden get Israel and Egypt to allow the exit of hundreds of American citizens fleeing the Gazan firestorm? No!

Did Biden open up corridors for humanitarian aid to the babies, children, women, elderly and other civilians in Gaza who had nothing to do with the October 7 Hamas homicide/suicide attack on Israelis? No!

To the contrary, earlier in the week he cruelly ordered his UN Ambassador to veto a widely supported resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Did he forcefully double down on his earlier counsel to the Israeli government to obey the laws of war, then and now, being openly violated? No! He continued his silence after the Israeli Defense Minister ordered his soldiers with the genocidal command, “No electricity, no food, no fuel, no water…” That death sentence includes patients in hospitals who must endure the carpet bombing of this long-time blockaded tiny strip of desert land holding 2.3 million people. (See, Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide).

Joyce Chediac (LIBERATION!) notes what Joe's visit to Tel Aviv means on the world stage, "This extraordinary visit of a U.S. president to a war zone is a full endorsement of Israel’s decision to cut off food, electricity and water to Gaza; of its bombings of several medical facilities and ambulances, schools, mosques, bakeries and UN food storage facilities; and its repeated bombing of the Rafa border crossing with Egypt, making it impossible for Gaza to retrieve 1,000 tons of supplies waiting there to be picked up. It is a green light for whatever else Israel chooses to do."  WORKERS WORLD points out, "Gaza’s territory is roughly the same size and holds the same population as Chicago. One can hardly imagine what sort of horror the current bombing means for the people who are themselves mostly refugees or their descendants, where there is no functioning economy, where half the population are children, and where the Israeli blockade makes it near impossible to leave. There are good reasons that not only Palestinians but also some Western political leaders have called Gaza the largest open-air prison in the world."  Eric London  (WSWS) cites Joe Biden's plan to give $14 billion to Israel and points out that since 1948, the US taxpayers have already forked over $260 billion to the Israeli government.  Of Joe's Thursday night TV address, Eric offers, "Over 20 years ago, then-president George W. Bush used the same language to justify launching imperialist wars in Afghanistan and Iraq which were to last 20 years, kill more than one million people, and cost more than $8 trillion, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project. A 2022 report published by the Pentagon admitted that each taxpayer paid $8,278 for the wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021, though the true figure is likely an order of magnitude higher."


Funding this assault and providing more weapons for it and verbally praising it means the US government is also responsible -- legally responsible -- for the genocide being carried out. Graham Peebles (DISSIDENT VOICE) observes, "Peace is impossible whilst these destructive ideals dominate."  At TRUTHOUT, Marjorie Cohn (former president of The National Lawyers Guild) writes:

In retaliation against the Palestinians in Gaza for Hamas’s October 7 killing of hundreds of Israeli civilians, Israel has intensified its 16-year siege of Gaza to a “complete siege.” Israel is slaughtering Gazans, cutting off their food, water, electricity and fuel, ordering more than 1 million of them to leave their homes and then bombing their evacuation routes, and trapping them with nowhere to escape.

Israeli forces are amassing tanks on the border in preparation for an imminent invasion. The United States is sending massive firepower to help Israel.

“Complete siege” is a euphemism for ethnic cleansing. It “explicitly indexes a plan to bring the siege to its final destination of systematic destruction of Palestinians and Palestinian society in Gaza,” Raz Segal wrote in Jewish Currents

Israel has turned its incremental genocide of the Palestinian people into full-fledged genocide — with the unconditional support of the U.S. government.

“There is a plausible and credible case that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian population in Gaza, as a significant part of the overall Palestinian population, as a protected group,” the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) wrote in its October 18 emergency legal briefing paper titled “Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide.” 

Dana Elborno (TRUTHOUT)  writes, "Amid the death and destruction from the shower of bombs dropping on Gaza like rain, truly the thing that has forever changed me is seeing how the world is turning into a hate mob against a civilian population, a majority of whom are refugees, the majority of whom are children, all of whom have been living besieged for 16 years. It is the media coverage priming the public to accept mass atrocities by using hateful and racist rhetoric that has left me feeling the most hopeless and scared. This incendiary and dehumanizing language used to describe Palestinians is going to contribute to genocide in Gaza and increasing violence against Muslims in the U.S., like the stabbing to death of Wadea Al-Fayoume, a Palestinian 6-year-old in Illinois."  Gregory Shupak (COMMON DREAMS) also addresses the media coverage:

Recent editorials in leading liberal U.S. newspapers have consistently presented the unrelenting mass terror that Israel inflicts on Palestinians as legitimate.

Media outlets have endorsed Israel's assault on Gaza, and America's funding of the attack, while criticizing those who offer even mildly dissenting views. American publications have repeatedly conferred on Israel's violence a virtuousness, even as it mows people down - a generosity not afforded to its Palestinian counterpart.

On 12 October, The Washington Post ran an editorial praising US President Joe Biden for his "unreserved condemnation of Hamas's terrorism," saying: "In that respect, Mr. Biden's firm words also stand in welcome contrast to the equivocations by a small number of the left-wing members of Congress in his own party, which White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre specifically repudiated."

The link to Jean-Pierre's words indicates that the "equivocations" the Post objects to are statements that "suggested the Hamas attack on Israel should be considered in context with previous actions by Israel," as well as those that "opposed US military aid for Israel on social media and called for an immediate cease-fire in the conflict."

A day before that editorial was published, the human rights groups Mezan, al-Haq, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights jointly documented that, just in the period between midday 10 and 11 October, Israel destroyed entire neighborhoods of al-Qarm, Ezbet Abdrabbo, and al-Sikka, with rescue teams "recover[ing] dozens of bodies" while "others are still under the rubble"; "target[ed]" Gaza's Islamic University and bombed the Al-Fakhoura Scholarship Program building," assaults that combined to kill 57 Palestinians, including 20 children. They further noted Israel's air strikes and shelling of the Middle Area District's agricultural lands and "residential areas, most notably in the three densely populated refugee camps of Al-Bureij, Al-Nusairat, and Deir al-Balah", killing at least 49 Palestinians, 15 of them children.

Media analysis also comes from Mohammed El-Kurd at THE NATION:

 I and a few other Palestinians have been hopping between TV channels and radio stations to talk about the atrocities unfolding in Gaza, most of which are absent from headlines, and we have encountered similar hostility. Producers invite us, it seems, not to interview us for our experiences or analysis or the context we can provide, but to interrogate us. They test our answers against the viewer’s inherent bias—a bias well-fed through years of Islamophobia and anti-Palestinian rhetoric. The bombs raining down on the besieged Gaza Strip become secondary, if not entirely irrelevant, to our televised trials.

While I don’t expect pleasantries on air, I want accurate reporting. On the UK’s LBC radio, last week, host Rachel Johnson (sister of the former prime minister) took a break from repeatedly interrupting to question me—in fact, indict me—about unverified, word-of-mouth reports of Palestinian fighters “decapitating and raping” Israelis. She didn’t mention the various videos of Israelis mutilating, stomping, and urinating on Palestinian corpses, many of which are readily available to 83,000 subscribers of an Israeli Telegram channel named “Terrorists_are_dying.”

Such unsubstantiated claims were—and still are—all over the news. The Independent (UK) plastered its Chief International Correspondent Bel Trew’s “impossible to verify” reports of “decapitated women and babies” on its front page. Los Angeles Times columnist Jonah Goldberg reported then redacted “rapes.” On CNN, a teary-eyed Sara Sidner confirmed live, based on Israeli official sources, that “babies and toddlers were found with their heads decapitated,” then apologized on Twitter (now X) that she was “misled,” following a statement, again, from Israeli official sources admitting there is no information confirming the claim that “Hamas beheaded babies.”

This is a familiar playbook. A claim is circulated without evidence; Western journalists spread it like wildfire; diplomats and politicians parrot it; a narrative is built; the general public believes it, and the damage is done.

It may seem trivial to place such weight on the manner of killing, given the fact of killing, but such language isn’t without consequences. On Monday, an Illinois landlord attacked his Palestinian American tenants, seriously injuring a woman and killing her 6-year-old child. “You Muslims must die,” he yelled as he stabbed them each over a dozen times. Joe Biden said he was “shocked and sickened” by the attack, as if he could divorce himself from a claim he had made days before that he’d seen “pictures of terrorists beheading children” (a claim he quietly retracted hours later).

Conjuring rape and decapitation feeds on Islamophobic tropes. Simultaneously, it works hand in hand with the Israeli regime’s PR strategy, which has sought to equate Hamas with ISIS in the audience’s imagination, resurrecting the culture that brought forth the “War on Terror.”

Robin Andersen (DISSIDENT VOICE) also contemplates the effect of the slanted media coverage:

On October 7, the AP reported that US President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States “stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people, full stop.” On October 9, The Times of Israel quoted Defense Minister Yoav Gallant saying, “We are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.” Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian directed his threat at all Gazans on October 10, declaring, “Kidnapping, abusing and murdering children, women and elderly people is not human.” He then announced, “There will be no electricity and no water. There will only be destruction. You wanted hell; you will get hell.”

In a piece published on October 8 titled “Media Calls The Attack On Israel Unprovoked: Experts Say That’s Historically Inaccurate,” the Huffington Post pointed to the Israeli government’s “apartheid against Palestinians” as a provocation. It quoted IfNotNow, an American Jewish group that opposes Israeli apartheid, expressing their dread for the loss of life and loved ones, Israelis and Palestinians alike. It continued, “Every day under Israel’s system of apartheid is a provocation. The strangling siege on Gaza is a provocation. Settlers terrorizing entire Palestinian villages, soldiers raiding and demolishing Palestinian homes, murdering Palestinians in the streets, Israeli ministers calling for genocide and expulsion” are all provocations.

Indeed, multiple international human rights groups have defined the long-term Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands as a system of apartheid. The death toll on each side exposes the false assertion that Israeli violence is always retaliatory and that of Palestinians is “unprecedented.” The UNOCHA documents 6,407 Palestinian deaths since 2008, compared to 308 Israeli fatalities. Gregory Shupak reported that since 2001, more than ten thousand Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces, with “nearly 9 out of 10 deaths this century have been on the Palestinian side.” In addition, the Israelis have made daily life in Gaza miserable. As UK journalist Jonathan Cook wrote, “[Gaza’s] inhabitants—one million of them children—are denied the most basic freedoms, such as the right to movement; access to proper health care, drinkable water, and the use of electricity because Israel keeps bombing Gaza’s power station.” But voices such as Shupak and Cook are virtually absent from US establishment news coverage of the violence.

The Hamas attacks were taken out of the context of ongoing violence, presented without cause, and in narratives that see only Hamas violence but have rarely featured or condemned equivalent Israeli violence against Palestinians. Establishment media’s one-sided pro-Israel coverage, established over many years, fed into the growing consensus that a major retaliation by Israelis would be forthcoming. Early corporate news reporting seemed to confirm its inevitability, with almost no voices of reason or caution allowed to enter the militarized revenge frame coalescing around a major attack.

The verbiage used by the New York Times on the Tribe of Nova music festival also illustrates Big Journalism’s sensationalized, inaccurate reporting. The Times wrote that the “massacre of its youth” and Israel’s “75-year-old quest for some carefree normalcy” met the “murderous fury of those long-oppressed Palestinians who deny the state’s right to exist.” The language of the Times’ report—using “murderous” and denial of Israel’s “right to exist,” with “long-oppressed Palestinians”—makes a mockery of what Gazans have experienced. Additionally, it is not true that Palestinians deny Israel’s right to exist. A quick look at the US State Department’s summation of the 1993 Oslo Accords states that the Palestinian Authority “renounced terrorism and recognized Israel’s right to exist in peace” and Israel accepted the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians,” concessions that undergirded the two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. But Rashid Khalidi has called out the “empty words about a two-state solution while providing money, weapons and diplomatic support for systematic, calculated Israeli actions that have made that solution inconceivable.”

Dylan Saba (IN THESE TIMES) also analyzes the media coverage:

On October 8, the morning after Hamas launched an attack from the Gaza strip that killed 1,400 Israelis, Ha’aretz—Israel’s paper of record — published an editorial laying blame for the massacre squarely on Prime Minister Netanyahu and his government. The disaster that befell Israel,” the editorial board wrote, is the clear responsibility of one person: Benjamin Netanyahu.” Netanyahu completely failed to identify the dangers he was consciously leading Israel into when establishing a government of annexation and dispossession” and embracing a foreign policy that openly ignored the existence and rights of Palestinians.” It was a damning and powerful indictment.

Two days later, Ryna Workman, the student body president of NYU Law School, sent out a newsletter to classmates as Israel’s retaliatory assault on the Gaza Strip was well underway. Expanding on the Ha’aretz editorial board’s language, Workman wrote that Israel bears full responsibility for this tremendous loss of life.” Workman also affirmed their solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against oppression.

Almost immediately, they faced a torrent of backlash in the form of online disparagement and right-wing media attention. In response to pressure, the dean of the law school publicly condemned Workman’s remarks. By the evening, the law firm Winston & Strawn, where Workman had planned to work after graduating, publicly withdrew their job offer without so much as a phone call. The university then unilaterally removed Workman from their position as student body president without any disciplinary process, and threatened further charges — all for daring to speak out.

Workman is not alone. Across the US, people speaking out on behalf of Palestinian human rights and against Israeli war crimes, apartheid policies, and settler-colonial expansion that have been unfolding over nearly eight decades are facing a wave of McCarthyite backlash directly targeting their future careers and livelihoods. Students at other prominent universities have faced the same: the leaders of Harvard University student groups were doxxed and smeared for signing a statement also expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people. Their names and faces were plastered on a mobile billboard truck that roamed around campus for days, and a College Terror List” circulated online accusing them of antisemitism. Several also lost job offers. A Berkeley law professor published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal imploring legal employers not to hire his own students and smearing them as antisemitic.

Chip Gibbons (Defending Rights and Dissent) noted earlier this week:

Right now, Arab-American civil rights organizations are reporting an uptick in harassment, including FBI visits to mosques and FBI and ICE detention of Palestinian nationals. 

Politicians are pressuring activists to cancel First-Amendment protected assemblies and boasting to the press that police will be monitoring them. 

The media for its part, instead of serving as a critical watchdog on government abuses of power, including repression of dissent, has helped to whip up this atmosphere. They are conflating protesters with terrorists, pushing politicians to condemn them. They have devoted attention to critiquing the social media posts of college students.

When journalists have asked critical questions, they have been rebuked by officials. During a State Department news conference after several independent journalists asked questions about the impacts of Israel’s bombardment on civilians, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller chastised the journalists stating “Some of the questions I am getting today do seem to ignore the fact that Israel just had 100s of its citizens killed, taken hostage[…]some of the questions seem to pretend that Israel should not be able to conduct operations to be able defend itself and hold accountable terrorists that killed civilians.” 

Defending Rights & Dissent will not be silent as some seek to degrade our democracy and pull the country backwards by imitating the worst abuses of the McCarthy and post-9/11 eras. 

The media has to lie to sell the war, the US government has to crack down on free speech to keep people ignorant.  It's the only way to keep the killing go.  

The answer is not to be silent.  Spent the day with one group after another speaking about this issue.  I would urge you reach out to whomever you know but I would argue you would be most effective reaching out to those over 40 because that is where the knee-jerk support for the Israeli government in the US.  And that is where I saw the most shock as I spoke to groups today.  Speaking to two college groups, for example, was just getting applause and support.  I spoke to a group of people over forty and the response was they were shocked. 

One 47-year-old woman, and I'm not trying to make fun of her because we all have learning gaps and the US media has been a propaganda front for the Israeli government for decades, stopped me in the midst of one response I was making to ask me what I was talking about.  Israel was always where it is now, she stated.  No, the state of Israel was created in 1948.  I spoke about screenwriter Ben Hecht and the creation of that nation in 1948 to explain to her how it came to be.  Ben Hecht, a great writer, is one of sources of knowledge.  Use what you have, use what you connect with to discuss this with others.  It gave time, because Ben co-wrote 20TH CENTURY (film starring Carole Lombard and John Barrymore -- a screwball classic), the original SCARFACE, Carole Lombard's NOTHING SACRED (another screwball classic), Alfred Hitchcock's NOTORIUS . . . So it gave time to reset, it tossed out some non-Israeli trivia that people could nod their heads to, etc.  And then we were able to talk about Ben's work creating the state of Israel.  Use your own knowledge base.  

But talk about it.  Because it's a history that you know but that a lot of people don't. We've talked here many times about how the media taught homophobia.  Consumers of the news media in the bulk of the 20th century were taught that gay men and lesbians were mentally ill.  That was the 'educated' opinion.  By the same token, the media has spent years in this country denying the reality of the creation of the Israeli state and lying to make it synonymous with American Jews. 

During that same time, the US media also engaged in non-stop attacks on Arabs.  

All of this combines, after years and decades, to create a general misconception -- not by accident, that was always the intent.  

And that's what we're up against.  But it's not as bad as it was at the start of the week.  As Americans are becoming more aware, the number of people supporting a cease-fire is increasing significantly. Jake Johnson (COMMON DREAMS) reports:

  Most members of the U.S. Congress have thus far refused to support a cease-fire in Gaza as Israel's siege and airstrikes inflict horrific damage on the occupied territory.

But according to a Data for Progress survey released Friday, the tiny fraction of Congress that has backed a cease-fire is more in line with the views of U.S. voters than the overwhelming majority of lawmakers in the House and Senate—and President Joe Biden.

The poll shows that 66% of likely voters agree that "the U.S. should call for a cease-fire and deescalation of violence in Gaza" and "leverage its close diplomatic relationship with Israel to prevent further violence and civilian deaths."

IfNotNow, a Jewish-American group that has helped organize major demonstrations in support of a cease-fire this week, said in response to the survey that "it's past time for our political leaders to listen to their constituents and put a stop to this violence." 


The following sites updated:

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    Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide

    From the Center for Constitutional Rights:

    Israel’s Unfolding Crime of Genocide of the Palestinian People & U.S. Failure to Prevent and Complicity in Genocide

    Emergency Legal Briefing Paper

    As President Biden visited Israel, and the Palestinian death toll in Gaza passed 3,300, the U.S.-based Center for Constitutional Rights released a legal and factual analysis of Israel’s unfolding genocide against the Palestinian people and U.S. complicity. The emergency briefing paper came on the heels of the U.S. veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning both Hamas’s attack on Israel and all violence against civilians and calling for humanitarian access to Gaza.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights produced this legal analysis in the midst of a situation still unfolding with devastating speed, in response to questions from journalists, activists, and within the legal community. This analysis is necessarily incomplete. However, given the proclamations about the trajectory and intensity of the upcoming Israeli ground invasion and bombing of Gaza, we fear the unfolding genocide will not abate and may well intensify.

    The Center for Constitutional Rights recognizes that Palestinians and Palestinian human rights organizations have long warned of the likelihood of genocide being the inevitable frame through which to assess the widespread and systematic violations being committed against their people across the occupied Palestinian territory, and urged States to take action before it advanced.

    Since October 7, 2023, Israel has escalated its 16-year closure over 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza where approximately half the population is under 18, indiscriminately and repeatedly bombing civilians while cutting off access to all basic necessities, including food, water, electricity, and medical supplies, and on October 13 ordered a forced “evacuation” of 1.1 million Palestinians out of northern Gaza.

    As this briefing paper was being finalized on the evening of October 17, 2023, there were an estimated 500 fatalities following a reported Israeli airstrike at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City where many were seeking shelter. Excluding those killed at Al-Ahli Hospital, as of October 17, 2023, the Palestinian Ministry of Health had confirmed that 3,000 Palestinians had already been killed, including at least 1,030 children and hundreds of family units; in 11 days, more than 12,500 people had been injured, one million Palestinians displaced, and thousands of homes destroyed, with reports of 1,200 missing people believed to be trapped under the rubble. As set forth in the paper in both the detailed factual overview and the findings, there is clear evidence that Israel is attempting to commit, if not actively committing, genocide in the occupied Palestinian territory, and specifically against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. The gravest of crimes under international law, genocide refers to specific actions — such as killing or deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the destruction of the group in whole or in part — taken with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, the group targeted, including on ethnic or national grounds.

    The United States has been obligated, from the instant of learning of the serious risk of genocide of the Palestinian people, to exercise its influence on Israel to prevent the crime. The United States is not only failing to uphold its obligation to prevent the commission of genocide, but there is a plausible and credible case to be made that the United States’ actions to further the Israeli military operation, closure, and campaign against the Palestinian population in Gaza rise to the level of complicity. The United States — and U.S. citizens, including and up to the President — can be held responsible for their role in furthering genocide. 

    Read our full legal and factual analysis.

    We credit and honor Palestinian organizations such as Al-Haq, Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, Defense for Children International-Palestine, and Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and many others, for their tireless work under dangerous and unimaginably difficult conditions to gather information included in this paper and for their analysis of the human rights violations and crimes being committed by Israel and its officials. We also honor the people of Gaza who, despite being under constant bombardment with dwindling access to electricity, have nevertheless written, tweeted, posted, made calls, or otherwise reported on the Israeli assault, including when it has wiped out their own families.