News highlights for week 30 of Israel’s genocide in Gaza

The following is from the news roundup during the 1 May livestream. Watch the entire episode here.

Israeli airstrikes and shelling have continued across the Gaza Strip. In the north, Israel targeted residential blocs in Jabaliya, Gaza City and Beit Lahiya.

On Friday, Israel murdered the daughter, grandson and son-in-law of Refaat Alareer, the beloved writer, poet, educator and our de facto Gaza editor, who was assassinated by Israel in December.
In central Gaza over the last few days, Israeli forces have continued to strike Deir al-Balah and Nuseirat refugee camp.

Our contributor Abubaker Abed took this photo of Deir al-Balah on Tuesday, saying that Israel bombed a home very close to his house. He added that amongst the casualties was one child:

On Wednesday morning, Abed texted us this update:

“The Al-Zwayda Area, north of Deir al-Balah, is being repeatedly targeted as a huge, terrifying missile has just now hit a residential building. Warplanes continue to closely hover above the area. Drones are continuing to buzz. Ambulances’ sirens, the normal tone in Gaza, are back again for casualties,” he reported.

Israel also continued to target areas in and around the southern city of Rafah relentlessly, as Israeli officials ramp up threats of a ground invasion.

Dozens of Palestinians in Rafah have been killed over the past few days in multiple bombings of apartment blocs and homes.

On Tuesday, Israel struck tents of displaced people in Rafah with incendiary weapons.

Israel insists on invading Rafah

Meanwhile, Israel is reportedly setting up a complex system of checkpoints that will prevent men of “military age” from fleeing Rafah in preparation for its offensive on the southern Gaza border city, according to a report published on Tuesday in Middle East Eye, citing an unnamed senior western official.

According to the report, “The checkpoints are designed to allow some women and children to leave Rafah ahead of an expected Israeli offensive, but unarmed, civilian Palestinian men will likely be separated from their families and remain trapped in Rafah during the assault.”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Tuesday that the Israeli army will move ahead with a ground invasion into Rafah, “whether or not there is a [ceasefire] deal” that would include a prisoner swap.

The extremist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who had reportedly warned Netanyahu that if the Rafah invasion did not happen it would mean the dissolution of the prime minister’s government, said on Tuesday that he was pleased with Netanyahu’s statement.

Ben-Gvir said he had “warned the prime minister [of the consequences] if, God forbid, Israel does not enter Rafah, If God forbid, we end the war. If, God forbid, there will be a reckless deal.”

“The prime minister heard my words, promised that Israel would go into Rafah, promised that the war would not end and promised that there would be no reckless deal. I welcome these things. I think the prime minister understands very well what it will mean if these things do not take place,” he added.

Ben-Gvir’s colleague, Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, called for the “total annihilation” of Gaza on Tuesday, adding that Israel’s war cabinet should not agree to political concessions in any ceasefire negotiation.

Addressing Netanyahu, Smotrich said, “Don’t wave a white flag. Don’t let Yahya Sinwar humiliate us again and win the war. A government that submits to international pressure and stops the war in the middle will, at that moment, lose its right to exist.”

Palestinian human rights organizations have said that an attack on Rafah, which is where half the population of the Gaza Strip has already fled, would be catastrophic.

Al-Haq, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Al Mezan said last week that “[o]ur organizations warn of the threat of an Israeli ground invasion on Rafah.”

“Such an attack would represent the peak of the Israeli attack on Gaza, with the intent of inflicting the highest number of casualties and civilian victims, potentially leading to mass forcible displacement towards the Egyptian borders, located mere meters away.”

“This scenario threatens the acceleration of the Nakba on the Palestinian people and is an approaching reality,” the groups added.

37 million tons of rubble, thousands of decomposing bodies

The United Nations stated that across Gaza, there are more than 37 million tons of debris and rubble, and that much of it also contains unexploded ordnance.

The United Nations Mine Action Service reported that it could take up to 14 years to clear all the explosive threats once the war is over.

And according to the Palestinian Civil Defense in Gaza, an estimated 10,000 bodies are decomposing under the rubble.

In a press release published on Tuesday, Gaza’s civil defense warned that the decomposing bodies will likely increase the threat of diseases, especially as the summer temperatures rise.

Pressure on international agencies such as the UN is needed, the civil defense added, to “allow the entry of heavy equipment necessary to enable our crews to save the lives of those wounded by the ongoing Israeli bombing, as well as to extract the bodies of the martyrs that are decomposing under the rubble, and are causing a health disaster for the population.”

The US military, meanwhile, began construction of a pier off the coast of northern Gaza this week, in coordination with the Israelis and USAID, the State Department’s development agency.

A thousand US soldiers and sailors will be involved in the pier project, military officials said. Meanwhile, Israel refuses to allow thousands of aid trucks to enter and distribute food, medicine and supplies inside Gaza through the various land routes.

Protests in West Bank

In the occupied West Bank, hundreds of students at Birzeit University near Ramallah protested a visit by the German ambassador to the Palestinian Authority on Tuesday and forced him to leave the campus.

The ambassador was visiting the on-campus Palestine Museum to attend a conference with international representatives, but, learning of his presence, and since Germany remains a major supporter of Israel’s genocide in Gaza, students kicked him out.

Germany remains the second-largest exporter of weapons to Israel, behind the US.

Also on Tuesday, in Ramallah, protesters held a demonstration outside of the office of Canada’s representative to the Palestinian Authority, over Canada’s role in supporting Israel’s genocide. Palestinian Authority security services and police shoved and beat protesters.

Protesters chanted: “Oh [Palestinian] Authority, what’s wrong with you? I don’t know what happened to you? You’re arresting those with honor, while the spies are in your midst.”

Record number of Palestinian children in administrative detention

Defense for Children International-Palestine reported this week that Israeli forces are holding 61 Palestinian children in administrative detention.

The rights group states that “This is a record number since DCIP began monitoring child administrative detainees in 2008. At least half of these children were detained after 7 October, 2023, as Israeli forces escalated military operations throughout the occupied West Bank.”

Ayed Abu Eqtaish, accountability program director at Defense for Children International-Palestine said that since 7 October, “Israeli forces have accelerated their arrest campaigns against Palestinian children and detained a record number of children without charge.”

The rights group says that about one in three Palestinian child detainees are held under administrative detention orders, according to the Israel Prison Service. At the end of March, Israeli forces were detaining 194 Palestinian children.

The rise in the number of Palestinian children subjected to administrative detention coincides with the alarming conditions faced by Palestinian detainees in Israeli prisons, Defense for Children International-Palestine added.

The situation of Palestinian prisoners has become increasingly worse, with children reporting very harsh conditions since 7 October.

Administrative detention is a form of imprisonment without charge or trial regularly used by Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians, including children.

Palestinian children held under administrative detention orders are not presented with charges, and their detention is based on secret evidence that is neither disclosed to the child nor their attorney, preventing them from preparing a legal challenge to the detention and its alleged basis.

Activists, students rise up against genocide

On Tuesday, CODEPINK’s Medea Benjamin disrupted Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a House meeting.

“I couldn’t just listen to him talk about US leadership while the whole world is watching US complicity in the genocide occurring in Gaza,” she tweeted.

And finally, on Tuesday night in New York City, throngs of police, including riot cops in a SWAT truck, stormed the campus of Columbia University and began violently arresting student protesters who have been holding an encampment for two weeks to demand that the university divest from companies that profit from Israel’s genocide.

Cops also violently arrested and beat students at the nearby City College of New York.

More than one hundred campuses around the country have begun their own encampments to demand an end to their university’s complicity in Israel’s crimes.

On Monday night, Columbia students took over Hamilton Hall, which they renamed after Hind Rajab, the six-year-old girl who was killed by Israeli soldiers at the end of January in Gaza City.

Hind was the sole survivor of a massacre of her family who were all killed in their car as they attempted to evacuate their neighborhood, but nearly two weeks later, the little girl’s body was found alongside those of her relatives in the car as well as the bodies of the two paramedics who were found in the ambulance that had come to her assistance.

Journalist Lama al-Arian filmed NYPD breaking into the Hind Hall building last night and forcing protesters out to be arrested.

Reporter Talia Jane filmed the NYPD making arrests at the gates of Columbia University “as students, faculty, and staff attempt to protect the university.”
On Wednesday morning, Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine said that multiple Columbia students were taken straight to the hospital due to severe injuries by the NYPD, and students had swollen faces from being kicked repeatedly by police.
The Columbia University student-run radio station, WKCR, reported that the administration asked the New York Police department not just to come and violently arrest the students but to also remain on campus until mid-May, which is after graduation.
Overnight at UCLA in California, student activists say that police, not surprisingly, stood by as a pro-genocide lynch mob attacked the student encampment, assaulted students, set off fireworks and sprayed mace into students’ tents.
We’ll continue reporting on the situation at Columbia and on campuses across the US and around the world, as students, activists and communities rise up against this genocide and fight state repression that is designed to silence these uprisings.

Other news covered in this week’s report

Photo by Omar Ashtawy / APA images


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Nora Barrows-Friedman

Nora Barrows-Friedman's picture

Nora Barrows-Friedman is a staff writer and associate editor at The Electronic Intifada, and is the author of In Our Power: US Students Organize for Justice in Palestine (Just World Books, 2014).