URGENT: Gaza is burning. The MSM is not just missing the story, it’s a propaganda arm of Israel as it prepared a genocide. I break stories that Israel doesn’t want anyone to know, including its own citizens.
Through all this, Tikun Olam is live-blogging the war. I bring you the latest media coverage from Israel and Palestine. You will be better informed here than almost anywhere else on the internet. Please donate now.
A few days ago, Israel threatened 21 Gaza hospitals with destruction if they did not evacuate immediately. Gazans refused. It also threatened all the 1.1-million residents of northern Gaza with attack, causing a mass exodus of new refugees. Two days ago, the IAF bombed a truckload of these fleeing Gazans, killing 70. An even more massive tragedy today:
Hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge in al-Ahli and other hospitals in Gaza City in past days, hoping they would be spared bombardment after Israel ordered all residents of the city and surrounding areas to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip.
The hospital could not close down. There was simply no place for the hundreds of dead, dying and wounded patients to go. Hospitals, as it was, had no electricity, water, or supplies since all these had been cut off by Israel.
As far as I can tell, this video, confirmed by the @washingtonpost, is the only close up footage of the strike. The whistle before the blast does not seem consistent with the remnants of a falling rocket, or a misfire. Comparison in next tweet. pic.twitter.com/kUKtyvnqcB
— Jason Paladino (@jason_paladino) October 17, 2023
Today al Ahli Hospital (affiliated with the Anglican church) in northern Gaza was bombed. At least 500 people died. That would indicate that the numbers likely will be even higher. We won’t know precise figures until rescue workers shift through all the rubble. This raises the death toll to 4,500 (1,200 are estimated to still be buried under rubble). 1,500 of the dead are children.
There are two conflicting accounts of what happened. The Israeli military claims that the Islamic Jihad rockets fired nearby failed and crashed into the hospital causing the explosion. Pres. Biden said that US intelligence agreed with the Israeli account.
The Palestinians, of course, blame Israel. In such cases, I’m always inclined to disbelieve such public statements from Israel since they’re almost always self-serving.
UPDATE: Today, Forensic Architecture released its finding using audio, drone and photographic evidence. It finds the IDF account to be false. It argues that the blast was likely caused by an Israeli artillery shell, and not by an Israeli missile fired from an IAF warplane.
It finds that a recording the IDF released, purporting to be Hamas operatives discusing the blast and declaring IJ responsible, to be manipulated.
This is the strongest evidence to date determining who fired the weapon which devastated the hospital. I can understand Israel falsifying data to absolve itself of guilt. But Biden announcing publicly that Israel was not responsible is inexcusable. Unless US intelligence itself was wrong. My best guess is that whoever told Biden the Palestinians were at fault lied in order to further reinforce US support for Israel.
The NSC released its own statement reported by CNN, which, if FA is correct, further implicates the US in a coverup:
A spokesperson for the NSC…said the assessment was based on available reporting, including “intelligence, missile activity, and open source video and images of the incident.”
“…Our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open-source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” Watson said in a statement on Wednesday.
The NSC followed up with an additional statement…leaning further into its assessment. “Intelligence indicates that some Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip believed that the explosion was likely caused by an errant rocket or missile launch carried out by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). The militants were still investigating what had happened,” Watson said.
Israeli officials have released audio of what they say is Hamas militants discussing the blast and attributing it to a rocket launched by PIJ.
Officials told CNN separately that the initial evidence gathered by the US intelligence community suggests that the hospital strike came from a rocket launched by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group.
I know that many of us, including myself are skeptical of this assessment for obvious reasons. But it has to be taken seriously as a likely explanation. Further, the US has two aircraft carrier strike groups which possess the most advanced surveillance capabilities. They would be monitoring every Gaza strike on either side including the one that destroyed the hospital. That would enable them to assess what caused the explosion. This offers strong evidence that it was not caused by Israel. But I remain open to evidence to the contrary.
Nevertheless, remember that Israel is attacking Gaza. There would be no defense mounted without such an act of aggression and genocide against Gaza. So despite the catastrophic result at the hospital, Israel is still responsible for its own continuing crimes against humanity. We must continue to keep its feet to the fire, holding it accountable for the confirmed, documented war crimes it has committed; regardless of who is responsible for this tragedy.
Lest anyone blame the media for getting it wrong in this case, the reason the world blamed Israel so readily was that it has perpetrated so many such massacres over such a long period of time, that when yet another one happens, it becomes that much easier to assume it is responsible once again. In other words, if Israel didn’t commit war crimes on such a regular basis, the world would maintain skepticism until further evidence was available.
It does seem difficult to account for 500 people could be killed by a single IJ rocket, given that they have killed at most a single Israeli and done only moderate damage to structures when they have struck a target. They also carry limited explosive capability. So I’m waiting for an explanation about this.
The director of Sheba Hospital, where most of the wounded were taken, pleaded for help:
Ambulances and private cars rushed some 350 casualties from the al-Ahli blast to Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, already overwhelmed with wounded from other strikes, said its director, Mohammed Abu Selmia. The wounded were laid onto bloody floors, screaming in pain.
“We are squeezing five beds into a single tiny room. We need equipment, we need medicine, we need beds, we need anesthesia, we need everything,” Abu Selmia said, warning that the fuel supply for the hospital’s generators will run out Wednesday. “I think Gaza’s medical sector will collapse within hours.”
As I mentioned, Israel threatened northern Gaza residents with attack and warned them to head south. But today’s bombing struck in the very place it told refugees to go, southern Gaza, with many dead. There is no escape. Death is everywhere.
Hundreds gathered in Ramallah and other major West Bank towns to protest the bombing. They demanded the ouster of Mahmoud Abbas, viewed as a corrupt Israeli collaborator. His Fatah is discredited and ineffectual. The only thing it’s good at is cooperating with Israeli security forces. Similar protests happened in Beirut and Jordan, where crowds gathered outside the Israeli embassies. In Amman, they stormed the embassy attempting to break in. Police used tear gas to disperse them. There were also protests in Syria, Turkey and Iraq. This may only be the same start.
Just when Biden thought he had Saudi-Israel normalization in the bag, it blows up in his face. Century-old grievances fester deeply, while artificial constructs like normalization falter at the least obstacle.
Biden administration faltering efforts
Today, at our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) October 17, 2023
The US is pressuring Israel to permit humanitarian relief enter Gaza. Secretary of State Blinken trumpeted a supposed agreement that would “develop a plan” for aid and explore the “possibility” of creating safe zones for refugees. Given that this is Israel, possibilities and plans are meaningless. As if to bear this out, Israeli immediately issued conditions which eliminated the proposed US deal:
Still, as of late Tuesday, there was no deal in place. A top Israeli official said Tuesday his country was demanding guarantees that Hamas militants would not seize any aid deliveries. Tzahi Hanegbi, head of Israel’s National Security Council, suggested entry of aid also depended on the return of hostages held by Hamas.
Both conditions are an absolute non-starter. Who would deliver the aid if not Hamas? Foreign aid workers? The UN, whose staff have been murdered? Qatar? And why would Hamas release hostages in order to obtain the aid? These are deliberate conditions to sabotage the American intent.
US officials attempted to put a positive spin on the purported agreement:
U.S. officials said the gain might appear modest, but stressed that it was a significant step forward.
“Modest” is a polite way of putting it. It certainly isn’t a “significant” step. That would be a ceasefire. An end to the killing.
To add insult to injury, Pres. Biden is slated to travel to Israel tomorrow. In the midst of the worst war crime in recent memory, Biden will touch down in Tel Aviv and toast bubbly with Netanyahu, telling him what a stellar job he’s doing in protecting Israelis. Palestinians? Not so much. A heartless, badly-timed trip. One that will make Biden look like an Israeli patsy.
UPDATE: King Abdullah has cancelled an Arab-US summit with Egypt, UAE, Jordan and Palestinians that was to be held in Jordan. Biden will not make a stop there. If he continues with his trip anyway, he’s not only a fool; he will lose face in the Arab world for choosing Israel and insulting them.
Today’s tragedy may have just destroyed Israel’s plans for a ground invasion. If it went ahead, it would kill far more than it already has. International uproar would ensue. The hospital catastrophe would spur even greater opprobrium. Israel also would lose its own soldiers in the ensuing conflict. It has already lost 300 in the Hamas attack on southern Israel.
As if to acknowledge this, an IDF spokesperson said it was a mistake to assume Israel would launch such an assault. He said there were other options it might pursue.
Israel’s humanitarian lie
People are dying on a massive scale. Decisive action is needed now. Not plans. Not possibilities. And even if Israel did permit the aid to enter, who would bring it? Which NGO would send its staff into the middle of a war zone.
For example, 24 UN facilities in Gaza have been attacked by Israel, and 14 of its staff have been murdered. Currently it and other Gaza NGOs are sheltering 400,000 refugees. If you ran an NGO would you put your staff in harm’s way, no matter how desperate the need among the victims?
Yesterday, Israel made good (slightly) on its promise to reopen Gaza’s water supply. But like all Israeli promises it was broken as soon as it was given. There was water for 3 hours and it reached only 14% of the population. 300 tons of humanitarian relief stand waiting at the Rafah crossing from Egypt. Israel of course blamed Hamas for the snafu, which is ridiculous since it is not in its interest to prevent aid from reaching the population. Israel confirmed its responsibility for preventing the delivery:
Israel was insisting to search all aid, and wants to “ensure that such aid won’t benefit Hamas.” He said Egypt proposed that the U.N. oversee the whole process, including inside Gaza.
Israel and its apologists regularly make the vain claim that Israel doesn’t occupy Gaza. This confirms that it does. Occupation means control, not necessarily presence.
Why should Israel determine what enters Gaza via an Egyptian crossing? Not to mention that if it did do the inspection it would guarantee weeks’ long delays in delivery. It would certainly throttle approval of shipments in order to do so. And why would Hamas agree to Israel’s proposed role? Why should it? Israel has killed thousands and now Hamas should bow down and thank it for offering crumbs to starving babies?
Ceasefire now. Lobby your senator or representative to sign the statement issued yesterday by 13 progressive Democrats. End the war now. Stop the genocide.
— Sam Husseini (@samhusseini) October 16, 2023
Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now co-sponsored a DC rally. They blocked entrances to the White House and 50 were arrestd. In Seattle, INN is sponsoring a 4pm rally at the Federal Building tomorrow. Attendees should register for the event online.
13 progressive Democrats signed a call for and immediate ceasefire. After this massacre, every member of the 100-strong Progressive Caucus should and must sign. Tell Biden he must take action. He must force Israel to stop the killing.
Wider War Threatened
The possibility of a three or even four-front war looms. Iran has threatened to intervene if Israel launches its ground invasion. It has also threatened to unleash Hezbollah on its northern border. Over the past week, it has infiltrated several units of fighters into Israel. About 10 of them were killed along with several Israeli soldiers. These incursions were meant as a warning of what may be to come. As many have noted, the Lebanese militia has far more powerful weapons than Hamas. Its 100,000+ missiles can read deep inside Israel and are far more advanced that what Hamas produces. As if to acknowledge the danger and possibility of impending attack, Israel evacuated 28 communities within a mile of the northern “border.”
Iran too has conventional missiles which could reach Israel. It also has allies and insurgents in numerous locations it could activate. They might engage in attacks against US or Israeli targets. Attacks like the ones today make such intervention far more likely. Israel’s Arab and Muslim enemies will not sit back forever as their Arab brothers and sisters die in the thousands.
In the meantime, the US has sent two aircraft carrier strike groups to the Mediterranean. They are there to serve as a warning to Iran and Hezbollah to stay out of the fight. But once the decision is made to intervene, neither will care much about US firepower. As soon as the first bomb hits, the world will be up in arms. Not to mention the total upheaval of Biden’s foreign policy objectives. The president who said he would take us out of the Middle East, will have gotten us mired in its desert sands once again.