Thursday, November 23, 2023

It was sixty years ago today . . .

. . . that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Kamal Sultan (DAILY MAIL) reports:

Actor and film director Rob Reiner has claimed there were four shooters involved in the murder of President John F Kennedy and insists the reason the first bullet missed is key to his theory. 

Kennedy was shot as his open-top motorcade rolled through Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963 and he was pronounced dead after arriving at the Parkland Memorial Hospital. 

Official investigations concluded that he was assassinated by lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald from a sixth floor window of the Texas School Book Depository. 

But Reiner claims there were more people involved in the fatal shooting of Kennedy who he names in his 10-episode podcast titled 'Who Killed JFK?' recorded with journalist Soledad O’Brien. 

He questioned reports that Oswald was solely responsible for the murder and believes the pair have finally solved the puzzle.

Reiner developed a fascination with the murder of Kennedy ever since he heard the news in high school, aged 16. 

The only thing that surprised me about the above is that I am only two years older than Rob Reiner.

I was a freshman in college when President Kennedy was shot.  I cannot believe that all these years later we have to fight for the truth about what happened that day.

Tom Carter (WSWS) notes a new documentary:

A new documentary, JFK: What the Doctors Saw, directed by Barbara Shearer, was made available for streaming online on Paramount Plus on November 14. At roughly 90 minutes, the documentary is a tightly constructed forensic examination of a limited category of evidence relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Jr. on November 22, 1963. Its subject matter consists of the observations of the doctors at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, where Kennedy was taken after he was shot.

With this narrow scope, the documentary does not substantively explore the political motives for a conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy within the American state apparatus. In fact, behind the idealized public façade of “Camelot,” there were violent political vendettas within the Kennedy administration over the Bay of Pigs, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Nuclear Test Ban treaty and Vietnam. But while it confines itself to a forensic study of a limited range of evidence, what this new documentary does reveal is disturbing and explosive.

The official government account of the assassination, which was advanced within hours of the shooting and which has been maintained ever since, is that Lee Harvey Oswald, acting alone, shot Kennedy from behind with a rifle from a window of the Texas School Book Depository Building after the presidential motorcade had passed the building and was driving away.

But what the doctors all say they saw when Kennedy arrived at the trauma room at Parkland Memorial Hospital was a bullet entrance wound in the front of Kennedy’s neck, with an exit wound at the back of his head. The doctors unanimously recall seeing that.

One of the most striking moments in the film is when the doctors are shown photos purportedly from the autopsy of Kennedy performed in Washington D.C. They shake their heads and express disbelief, and one doctor says incredulously, “That’s not what I saw.”

If Kennedy was shot from the front, that not only decisively rebuts the official story, it points to a government conspiracy, spanning years and decades, to cover up what really happened.

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

Tuesday, November 21, 2023.  The assault on Gaza continues and expands. 

The assault continues on Gaza.  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."  AFP notes, "At least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, 30,000 injured, says Gaza's Health Ministry."  In addition the dead and the injured, there are the missing.  AP notes, "About 4,000 people are reported missing." The world watches as the US government is exposed as just another part of the killing machine.  And the see those who stand up and those who just go along. 

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

To talk more about the dire situation in Gaza, we’re joined by Muhammad Shehada, a writer and analyst from Gaza, chief of communications at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor and a columnist at The Forward newspaper, a Jewish weekly in New York. He’s joining us from Copenhagen, where there have been a number of protests.

In fact, Muhammad, can you start with those protests? We are covering the protests here in the country and around the world. What’s happening in Copenhagen?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: It was actually pretty remarkable. I’ve never seen a protest of that size in Denmark for at least the last two years. There was the climate march last year in November around elections time, so every political party was very keen to show up there, including the prime minister. But the demonstration yesterday for Gaza was almost twice the size of Denmark’s climate march, and the climate is a very huge topic here. And it’s been a tremendous ongoing daily movement where people move with demonstrations every night to different locations of Denmark’s capital to make a statement about the necessity of a ceasefire and to stop the bloodshed in Gaza. So it’s been extraordinary.

AMY GOODMAN: And do people there face the same issue that they face in the United States, being accused by some that if they criticize Israel, they’re automatically antisemitic?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. There’s plenty of that. Even the Danish prime minister, she laid a wreath of flowers at the Israeli Embassy, and then she was asked, “Would you do the same to Palestinian victims?” And she said, “There is no comparison whatsoever. Israel is defending itself. Hamas is a terrorist organization.” So, that was basically the sentiment. It’s the same in Danish media. So, for instance, the question of “Do you condemn Hamas?” is, again, the same question asked to any person of color whenever they want to talk about what Israel has done to them and their own families in Gaza. And the media bias is very visible, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: In the last few days — well, the Israeli military completely controls the media of international journalists in Gaza, does not let them in unless they are embedded with the Israeli military, and they review their video, unless they’re, you know, journalists, Gazan journalists, Palestinian journalists inside Gaza, of course, are there operating. So many of them, more than 30 of them, have been killed. But in the last few days, the Israeli military has brought in journalists from BBC, from CNN, and they show them a hole at Al-Shifa Hospital, where they say this goes directly down, right near Al-Shifa, into the ground and then underneath Al-Shifa. Can you talk about what we understand at this point?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Yeah, absolutely. As you said, Amy, it’s very horrendous to see journalists agreeing to these humiliating conditions that basically mean anything they convey is literal propaganda, because there are three conditions. You are not allowed to speak to any Palestinian or Gazan to challenge what the IDF is spoon-feeding you. You are not allowed to go beyond the tour that the IDF has staged, so you stick to what the IDF wants to show you and where they take you. And you have to review the material with them before you publish, so that the result of that is not journalism. It’s propaganda.

But with Al-Shifa Hospital, what we’ve seen is, basically, for Gaza’s main medical complex, of giant symbolic value and of important, crucial necessity to the lives of thousands — there were about 50,000 people sheltering there — for Israel to say that it has lost its protected status, it has a huge burden of proof to show that the hospital was used to direct or engage in hostilities against it. But up until now, what we have, the facts that we know, is that not a single bullet was fired against the IDF from the hospital over the last week or they have operated in the hospital completely. Not a single bullet. Not a single footage of a Hamas rocket being fired from the hospital. And not a single incident of the sprawling — alleged sprawling command-and-control centers that Israel has published as CGI-animated footage of and claimed that they knew the precise entrance to. They have not shown any of that. And they have not shown or captured any Hamas militants in the hospital or Hamas members. So, basically, there is no satisfying proof for the hospital to lose its protected status and for what Israel has inflicted on the hospital for the last week. They starved, literally starved, everyone inside. About eight babies were suffocated to death. Twenty-two people in the ICU units were killed, and six dialysis patients were killed. The overall totality of how many people killed were there were 53 in total. So, that is very atrocious.

And as you said, the only evidence that Israel had to show for it was a hole in the ground. And I consulted with experts in Gaza, experienced engineers who are familiar with sort of different structures that were observed — for instance, Hamas tunnels — and they said that does not look like a Hamas tunnel whatsoever, because you have two very giant, very solid concrete columns on both sides of the entrance, the shaft’s entrance, and these can only be built by pouring cement down in a mold and vibrating every time you pour a little bit, and vibrate it with a concrete vibrator, and wait for it to dry. And that takes days, and it makes a huge noise. In a hospital in full view of thousands of people going in and out on a daily basis, that’s not how you build a secret tunnel. And the IDF has not allowed anyone to go inside the alleged tunnel to see what’s in it. But even if you presume that it is a tunnel, the IDF would still have a burden of proof to show that Hamas was actually using it at the time of the IDF raid to essentially legitimize their raid, or using it at all during that war. They have not shown any evidence of that.

AMY GOODMAN: I saw one Israeli military spokesperson showing a CNN reporter and saying, “We believe that at the bottom there,” where you see a metal door — they haven’t opened it, because they say they’re afraid there are explosives that are attached to it — it would make some kind of sharp turn, and that would then go under the hospital. So, they haven’t shown that the tunnel itself is under the hospital. They say what’s behind it, what they can’t see, they think, makes a turn.

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Yeah, but even with that door, I know [inaudible] that Hamas and other militant groups were abiding by a very strict decision, since 2014 at least, to not have any military activities in or around hospitals, because that was previously Israel’s pretext for bombing medical facilities and schools and homes. So they say they had a strict decision not to use it. You don’t need to believe Hamas, but you take a statement that Gaza’s Ministry of Health and Hamas, as well, have made. They said that we would allow any international expedition, a group of experts, to come into Gaza and vet and scrutinize every little aspect of the hospital, without any of the patients dying. And Israel’s answer to that has been a resounding refusal.

So, if Israel had more than a week — they had eight days inside the hospital, daily operations, uninterrupted, unattacked, unimpeded, going through every single room, every single detail — and still unable to show any traces of Hamas using the hospital for military activities, the IDF propaganda becomes more or less a laughingstock than actual sort of evidence or communication. Especially when last week they went to a children’s hospital, the Rantisi Hospital, after doing the same, surrounding it, besieging it, starving people inside, forcing them out at gunpoint, and then, once they went inside, the spokesperson of the IDF, he went to the basement, and he showed a piece of paper on the wall, and he said, “This shows the names of Hamas terrorists that were guarding hostages here.” And he showed a baby nappy and a bottle of milk, and he said that’s proof — a bottle of milk in a children’s hospital, where thousands of people were taking refuge. But even with the list that he showed on the wall, it was basically a calendar with the names “Saturday,” “Sunday,” “Monday.” So, if you believe Monday is a terrorist, a legitimate target, go ahead and kill Monday. You would have my utmost sympathy.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you have any information on the latest negotiations, the deal where dozens of hostages would be released by Hamas, particularly women and children, prisoners would be released by Israel — there are thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails — and there would be some kind of ceasefire?

MUHAMMAD SHEHADA: Yeah, yeah. There’s plenty of proposals that have been put on the table, and I’ve been following them up very meticulously. So, the priority right now is to get Israeli children, women and elderly, and civilian hostages altogether, especially foreigners, released and returned to Israel. And Hamas alleges that some of them were kidnapped by other groups, once the fence collapsed, and that they still need to audit and collect these hostages and release them, which is why they’ve been asking for a temporary ceasefire for five days, to allow them to go and find the hostages held by more minor and less known groups, and with Nasser Salah al-Deen, Saraya al-Quds, Kitab ul-Mujahideen, etc. So, basically, that’s one of the reasons.

The other is, the negotiations, where it stopped is Hamas promised to release about 50 to 70 civilian hostages on stages during a five-day ceasefire, in return mainly for Israel to allow food and humanitarian aid and fuel to go to all of Gaza, especially the north, because now the northern half, Israel has not been allowing any food, water, electricity or fuel to go inside the north for the last 44 days. It has become a death zone to force people out and to defeat Hamas militarily by besieging and starving and randomly even killing everyone inside. So, basically, Hamas’s condition was that Israel allows aid to go to the north for people that are still there, tens of thousands, if not over 100,000 people, and to allow fuel to go through the United Nations to run, for instance, Gaza’s sole power plant to power water distillation facilities and water sewage treatment facilities, etc., to prevent diseases and a humanitarian catastrophe. So, that has been the demand.

There are two logistical stumbling blocks that are obstructing the talks. They say the two sides are almost in agreement, but the two major blocks is basically Hamas asking that people who fled to the south be allowed during these five days of ceasefire — they should be allowed to go back if they wanted to, or people in the north to go south. And Israel is objecting to that. And Hamas is asking the Israeli military tanks and vehicles on the ground to pull back a little bit to allow for the hostages to be taken out and to be moved to Rafah, where they would be released, and also in the south, as well. And they’re asking the Israelis to suspend their drone surveillance on top of Gaza, because they are afraid that Israel would use that moment of the hostage release to find out the hideouts of Hamas and their military infrastructure. So it’s more of a logistical militant demand than sort of a substantial block. But Israel is still refusing, as I said, the entry of humanitarian aid and fuel to the northern half, and they are refusing the return of people that were displaced south to return back to the north.

AMY GOODMAN: Muhammad Shehada, I want to thank you for being with us, writer and analyst from Gaza, chief of communications at Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, columnist with The Forward newspaper, a Jewish weekly here in New York, joining us from Copenhagen.

The Israeli government is in violation of international law.  That's a fact.  Here's another, they've been expanding the war with attacks on other areas -- such as the country of Leganon. 

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has condemned the Israeli attack that has killed two Al Mayadeen TV employees in southern Lebanon and a number of civilians.

“This attack proves once again that there are no limits to Israeli crimes, and that its goal is to silence the media that exposes its crimes and attacks,” broadcaster NBN Lebanon quoted him as saying on X.

“We extend our condolences to the Al Mayadeen family and the families of the two media martyrs, asking God to shower them with His mercy and grant their families patience and solace.”

Last week, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari threatened, “Lebanon’s citizens will bear the cost of this recklessness and of Hezbollah’s decision to be the defender of Hamas-ISIS. … The IDF has operational plans for changing the security situation in the north.”

On Monday morning, Israel carried out another round of provocative shelling. Hezbollah returned fire against Arab al-Aramshe and Bar’am, as well as the Biranit army base. No injuries were suffered, though heavy damage was caused to the barracks.

Further exchanges of fire followed between IDF artillery, helicopters, fighter jets and tanks and Hezbollah missiles and drones.

Since October 7, nearly 100 have been killed in Lebanon, including 74 members of Hezbollah, and nine in Israel, including six IDF soldiers.

On Friday, Britain’s leading foreign policy think tank Chatham House published, “The closer Israel gets to destroying Hamas, the more likely war with Hezbollah becomes.” It noted, “There are those in the Israeli government, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, who want to more aggressively punish Hezbollah for its shelling of Israeli military positions along the border.”

People are watching this and they're rightly outraged.  Hilary Goodfriend (ZNET) notes:

As the United States and its European allies continue to pledge unconditional support for Israel’s unconscionable campaign of collective punishment and ethnic cleansing in Gaza, the Latin American left has become a beacon of moral and diplomatic leadership in the ongoing crisis.

From Brazil to Honduras, recently elected progressive administrations in South and Central America are mobilizing in defense of Palestinian lives. Their courage and clarity are a source of hope in an otherwise bleak geopolitical landscape.

On October 18, as Israel denied responsibility for bombing Gaza’s al-Ahli Hospital, Brazil put forward a conservative resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for “humanitarian pauses” in the assault. According to the Brazilian foreign ministry, the draft balanced forceful condemnations of Hamas’s attack on civilians with calls for Israeli restraint, “reflected the ethical necessity to provide civilians in Gaza with electricity, water, fuel, food and medical supplies, [and] the necessity to be protected from forced relocation when the prevailing conditions on the ground do not ensure a safe and secure displacement.” The United States vetoed the resolution. “Sadly, very sadly,” the ministry responded, “silence and inaction prevailed.”

The defeated United Nations resolution was moderate, balancing forceful condemnations of Hamas’s attacks on civilians with calls for Israeli restraint. But on October 25, Brazilian president Luiz Ignacio “Lula” da Silva was blunt. “What Is happening is not a war, it is a genocide,” he stated, reiterating calls for a cease-fire.

Israel appeared to retaliate against Brazil’s position by repeatedly blocking the evacuation of thirty-four Brazilians from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. On November 8, the Israeli ambassador further rebuked the Lula administration in a visit to Brazil’s congress, where he was received by far-right politicians including former president Jair Bolsonaro in a private meeting.

As multilateral efforts failed, Latin American governments turned to individual diplomatic action. On October 31, the Bolivian government of President Luis Arce of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) party severed diplomatic relations with Israel, citing “crimes against humanity against the Palestinian people.” Israel had already been without a permanent ambassador in the country since 2009, when MAS president Evo Morales broke ties in response to the Israeli offensive in Gaza known as “Operation Cast Lead” that killed over a thousand Palestinians. Relations were restored in 2020 under the far-right coup government of Janine Áñez.

AP reports, "Senior officials from eight Muslim countries and territories are visiting the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and other nations in an attempt to secure an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid, a Turkish official said Tuesday.  The official said the group -- made up of representatives of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, Nigeria, Qatar, Jordan and the Palestinian territories -- has already visited China and is due in Russia on Tuesday. The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation was also taking part in the talks."

While leaders use the process to try to end the assault, others resort to violence.  THE CRADLE notes, "The Islamic Resistance in Iraq announced on 17 November its forces attacked three US bases in Syria and Iraq."  The Mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq issued a statement, "In response to the crimes committed by the enemy against our people in Gaza, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq targeted the American occupation base, Tal Baidar, west of the Syrian city of Hasakah, with two drones, and they directly hit their targets."  Iraq knows all about occupation -- the US government has spent the last 23 years with its foot on their throats.  An independent nation doesn't need permission from the US government to buy gas from a  country they share a border with.

We'll again note that US President Joe Biden's actions have put a target on the back of US service members in the Middle East.


Things in Gaza have been in constant deterioration. Every single day that passes, new crises are compounded over the crises that already exist. It’s been over 40 days of non-stop bombardment. I’ve been saying many times throughout my coverage that what we have seen in this war, what we are witnessing is unlike any other war in any other place that anyone else has witnessed or lived through. The bombardments of hospitals, of UNRWA schools, residential homes—there’s no place that is not under fire. There’s no place that is not targeted from day one.
And the amount of people, the amount of casualties, the numbers of civilians that are being killed in this war is just enormous. It’s a crisis in itself that the entire world is watching all these civilians being killed and not doing anything about it and justifying for Israel that it is actually defending itself. This is not defending itself. I’ve said it many times, in many interviews: This is not a war against Hamas militants or against Palestinian fighters. This is a war on the civilians of Gaza. This is a genocide.

No one is spared in this war. Journalists are being deliberately attacked and deliberately killed. There are no crossings; there’s no food in the Strip. We’re talking about over 2.5 million people who are systematically being starved. There’s no water, no electricity. Any means of life in the Gaza Strip are running out. We’re struggling to eat. We’re literally struggling to drink, to find water to drink. We’re struggling to find water to bathe. The amount of pressure that this war is conducting on people is not just physical; it’s not just the fear of bombardment; it’s emotional, psychological, mental, you name it. You’re asking thousands to live together in open tents without water, without electricity, without any means of life, and diseases are spreading. My kids are at home but I fear every single time I go back home that I could transmit a disease to my kids.

It’s indescribable. Not finding a place that you can call safe, or that you can leave your family in safely—this is something that we have never experienced before. Having to leave your homes and evacuate all the way to the south on foot—this is something that we would have never imagined could ever happen to us. The press vest and the press helmet that we wear—we think that we’re protected as journalists, [but] almost 50 now have been killed in over 40 days of war. This hasn’t happened anywhere else in the world. No matter how [many] wars we’ve covered before, no matter how [many] escalations, no matter how bad they were, nothing compares to what we have been living these past 40 days.

This morning, THE GUARDIAN notes:

Unicef, the UN children’s agency, has said there is a serious threat of a mass disease outbreak in besieged Gaza.

“It’s a perfect storm for tragedy,” Unicef spokesperson James Elder said. “Without enough fuel, we will see the collapse of sanitation services. So we have then, on top of the mortars and the bombs, a perfect storm for the spread of disease.”

“We have a desperate lack of water, faecal matter strewn across densely populated settlements, an unacceptable lack of latrines, and severe, severe restraints on hand-washing, personal hygiene and cleaning.”

Speaking in Geneva via videolink from Cairo, Elder said the potential for wider loss of life in Gaza was being significantly exacerbated because an estimated 800,000 children are displaced from their homes.

“If children’s access to water and sanitation in Gaza continues to be restricted and insufficient, we will see a tragic yet entirely avoidable surge in the number of children dying,” AFP reports Elder said.

“It’s also important to note it’s starting to rain in Gaza. Now combined, children face a serious threat of mass disease outbreak. This, of course, would be lethal.” for tragedy' in Gaza amid warning on serious threat of mass disease outbreak.  This, of course, would be lethal."

The government of Israel does not seem able to grasp that the tide has turned.  This isn't 1978, they can't scapegoat Vanessa Redgrave and bully everyone into submission.  The bulk of the people across the world are watching in horror as a genocide is carried out.  And there is no comeback from this.  This is an indelible impression left upon the world.  This is not "defense" and the world is not fooled by that term.  This is a non-stop attack on an occupied people.  

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

Health officials in Gaza say the overall death toll from Israel’s 45-day bombardment has topped 13,000. More than 1.7 million Palestinians have been displaced, with many fearing they’ll never be allowed to return home.

In Gaza City, Israeli tanks have surrounded the Indonesian Hospital. Palestinian officials say at least 12 people have already been killed in Israeli strikes on the hospital. The government of Indonesia has condemned Israel’s targeting of the hospital, saying it’s a clear violation of international humanitarian laws.

Meanwhile, 31 premature babies were evacuated from Al-Shifa, the largest hospital in Gaza City, which has been seized by the Israeli military. The babies, who are suffering from dehydration, hypothermia and sepsis, have been taken to Rafah. Some have already been moved across the border.

On Saturday, an Israeli airstrike killed at least 50 Palestinian civilians at a U.N.-run school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, though some estimates put the number as high as 200. A second UNRWA school was also hit Saturday. This comes as the World Food Programme is warning residents of Gaza may soon face starvation due to a massive shortage of food.

We begin today’s show with Tamara Alrifai, spokesperson for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees. She’s joining us from Jordan.

Welcome back to Democracy Now!, Tamara. If you can talk about the situation right now in Gaza? We understand U.N. workers were allowed in to help transport these premature babies from northern Gaza to southern Gaza. Some have crossed over into Egypt right now. And then you have the bombing of the UNRWA schools — you work for UNRWA — in the Jabaliya refugee camp.

TAMARA ALRIFAI: I do work for UNRWA. And sadly, the bombing of an UNRWA school in Jabaliya is the 85th incident against an UNRWA building. We have 67 UNRWA buildings. Many of them are actual shelters that have sustained damage because of strikes nearby or direct hits, killing 176 people who were displaced inside the U.N. building, under the U.N. flag, in search for safety. So nowhere is safe in Gaza. This is, in a nutshell, the situation. Especially, as you so rightly mentioned, Amy, 1.7 million Gazans, of a total population of 2.2 million — that’s roughly 77% of the Gazan population — is now displaced outside of their homes, not knowing whether they’re going to go back, especially if they have moved from the north of the Gaza Strip to the south, noting that the north has been completely sealed for the last few weeks.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what these schools did before, and now what’s happening.

TAMARA ALRIFAI: UNRWA has a system of education, schooling, where 300,000 girls and boys in Gaza receive quality education, very much focused on human rights, tolerance, conflict resolution. This is before the war. During this war, so for the last now six weeks, these schools have turned into shelters. People in Gaza, sadly, are used to wars, and they’re used to sheltering in UNRWA schools, because this is where they feel that there’s sanctity, a U.N. and a global understanding that when someone is in the protection of the U.N., that these buildings will not be targeted. Sadly, this is not the case. So, not only are three-quarters of the Gaza population now made forcibly displaced, some of them for the second or third time, but also their access to basic, basic food and humanitarian assistance is very, very restricted, given the low level of supplies that have been coming into the strip despite an agreement to get trucks in.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the children — well, I should say the infants — who were at Al-Shifa? We have all seen the pictures of them not in incubators, but huddled together, I think wrapped in aluminum to try to maintain their heat. Now U.N. workers getting in and bringing them south, and now, just as we’re broadcasting, apparently, some are being taken over the border into Egypt. What did that whole journey involve? How did the U.N. workers also get in?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: So, I think this picture of these premature infants will remain as one of the most compelling ones of this conflict. And I think it’ll come back to remind us that Gazans really hold onto life.

It took a very, very complex and elaborate U.N. operation to be able to go to Al-Shifa Hospital and remove these premature babies. The mission was led by the World Health Organization’s colleagues, actual heroes, with support from several U.N. organizations, including UNRWA.

But these kids, I’m afraid, these babies, might be joining their peers in Gaza, who before the war we had already identified that most children in Gaza suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder because of having grown up within a choking blockade on the strip, where they cannot leave the strip, and because of having survived so many conflicts at such a young age. I really, really hope that these kids’ parents are alive and that they will be taken care of, but that’s something to remember about the long-term impact on the psychology of children of all these wars.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to play for you a clip. This is Mark Regev, senior adviser to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He recently spoke on MSNBC, where he was interviewed by Mehdi Hasan.

MEHDI HASAN: I have seen lots of children with my own lying eyes being pulled from the rubble. So —

MARK REGEV: Now, because they’re the pictures Hamas wants you to see. Exactly my point, Mehdi.

MEHDI HASAN: And also because they’re dead, Mark. Also —

MARK REGEV: They’re the pictures Hamas wants — no.

MEHDI HASAN: But they’re also people your government has killed. You accept that, right? You’ve killed children? Or do you deny that?

MARK REGEV: No, I do not. I do not. I do not. First of all, you don’t know how those people died, those children.


AMY GOODMAN: That was Mehdi Hasan saying, “Oh wow,” when Mark Regev said he did not accept that children have died in Gaza. Tamara Alrifai, your response?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: There are enough — there is enough footage, and there is enough documenting from credible sources, including the U.N., of children dying. Save the Children already a few weeks ago said that at least 4,000 children died. It is a reality. Every war in Gaza sees scores of children dead. And those who do not die, most of them have long-term impact on their psychological and mental well-being.

AMY GOODMAN: I’m wondering if you can talk about UNRWA, your agency, that serves Palestinians, warning that you’ll have to stop life-saving operations in Gaza unless you receive more fuel.

TAMARA ALRIFAI: A couple of days ago, there was an agreement on letting fuel into the strip, after many weeks, since the beginning of the war, of not allowing fuel in. The Israeli authorities had not allowed fuel in. I want to say a word about the centrality of fuel to humanitarian operations. Trucks that bring the aid from the Rafah crossing, and electricity generators that provide electricity to water pumping and water desalination so that people can have access to clean drinking water, life-saving machines at hospitals, bakeries that run — everything needs fuel.

The agreement of two days ago is an agreement to bring in 120,000 liters of fuel to cover two days. We require that same amount every single day. So, effectively, we’re getting half of what we need for our humanitarian operations, for the bakeries, the hospitals, the trucks and the clean water, which then will force us to have to take very difficult decisions as to what do we — what do we diminish? Do we diminish access to clean drinking water at the risk of skin and gastro diseases, especially in overcrowded shelters? Do we diminish the bread and the bakeries, especially to people, I just heard you say, that World Food Programme is warning of famine? And what do we diminish? Do we diminish bringing the trucks in from the Rafah border? If we do not get the exact amount we need for a minimal humanitarian response, then we’re going to have to function halfway and only provide half of what these people need.

AMY GOODMAN: If the IDF knows the coordinates of UNRWA locations, you know, among them, schools, can you explain how at least 40 UNRWA buildings have been hit?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: Sixty-seven buildings now, that we’re speaking. I cannot explain militarily how decisions are taken, but I can reiterate that UNRWA provides very regularly, every two weeks, the GPS locations of all its installations to both parties, so to the Israeli authorities but also to the de facto Hamas authorities, so that no one can say, “We did not know.” Every one of our schools and installations and warehouses are very clearly marked, and that marking is communicated.

AMY GOODMAN: What is the UNRWA mandate, Tamara?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: The UNRWA mandate is to provide basic services, schools, health services, social protection to Palestine refugees until there is a political solution whereby 5.9 people who are the descendants of the original Palestine refugees who were expelled or fled in 1948 — there’s a solution that takes them into account so that they’re no longer refugees. These Palestine refugees are not citizens of a country, and therefore UNRWA runs services that are like public services — schools and health centers — until there’s a political solution and, hopefully, they no longer have that status in limbo of a refugee.

AMY GOODMAN: How do you respond to Republicans who — Senate Republicans who introduced a bill to block funds for UNRWA, accusing it of teaching antisemitic school curricula and harboring terrorists in its facilities, Tamara?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: I respond by reminding of the extremely thorough reviews we do of all our teaching material. Page by page is reviewed to ensure that nothing we teach in our school, over 700 schools, runs against the U.N. values and principles. But I also respond that if UNRWA ceases to exist tomorrow, then there is a huge layer of stabilizing and stability that UNRWA usually offers in a very, very, very volatile area that also collapses. It is in everyone’s interest that the UNRWA schools, the health centers, the food assistance and the protection continues, because besides its humanitarian and human rights value, it has a stabilizing impact on the region.

AMY GOODMAN: And what do you say to the Israeli military, that says they won’t allow in fuel because Hamas will take it?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: I will say that our trucks take the fuel from the borders into our depots, into our warehouses, and that we use it directly, or we deliver it directly to the bakeries and the hospitals. So there is no intermediary between the fuel and the beneficiaries. We are the only entity responsible for using that fuel.

AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Tamara, the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly called for a ceasefire. That has not been accomplished at this point. There have been protests around the world demanding a ceasefire. The first Jewish American congressmember, Becca Balint of Vermont, has joined scores of other congressmembers in calling for a ceasefire. But especially around the U.N., at this point, what can it do?

TAMARA ALRIFAI: It can continue calling for a ceasefire. I want to notice that several countries have called for a ceasefire, including France, and that without a ceasefire, it’s going to be very difficult to come back from the brink or to deescalate. So, the U.N., on the political side, must — different U.N. member states must continue to push for a ceasefire. And on the humanitarian side, we must continue to advocate for more funding and for more access to different parts of the Gaza Strip, because right now the access of aid agencies is almost entirely restricted to the south. The north is completely sealed. But we have to be able to reach people where they are, and for that, we need a ceasefire.

AMY GOODMAN: We thank you so much for being with us, Tamara Alrifai, spokesperson for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees. We’re going to break now. When we come back, we’ll talk more about what’s happening in Gaza. Stay with us.

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