News highlights on week 35 of Israel’s genocide in Gaza

The following is from the news roundup during the 5 June livestream. Watch the entire episode here.

Israeli occupation forces pounded areas across the Gaza Strip this past week, from Gaza City in the north to Rafah in the south.

Early in the morning on Wednesday, Israel struck the al-Sardi school in Nuseirat refugee camp, where thousands of displaced Palestinians have been sheltering in central Gaza. The school is run by the United Nations agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA).

At least 33 people – including children – were killed while they were sleeping.

“This horrible massacre committed by the Israeli occupation is clear evidence of genocide, ethnic cleansing against civilians, including women and children and displaced people in the Gaza Strip,” stated Ismail al-Thawabta, a spokesman for Gaza’s government media office.

Between Monday and Wednesday, Israel bombed central Gaza’s Bureij and Maghazi refugee camps over three consecutive days as Israeli troops began a ground invasion into the eastern part of the area.
Al Jazeera reporter Hani Mahmoud reported on Tuesday that “Entire families in Bureij refugee camp are caught in the line of fire right now; they cannot leave the targeted areas due to the presence of attack jets, quadcopters and the constant artillery shelling. Ambulances and paramedics are unable to get to these areas.”

He added that these attacks further increase “the difficulties of the situation for people who have already moved from Rafah and the western part of Rafah seeking shelter in the central area.”

Journalist Maha Husseini reported on Tuesday that residents were evacuating Bureij refugee camp as the Israeli attacks escalated.
Israel had bombed Bureij camp days earlier as well, on Sunday, killing six, including children.

Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières stated on Wednesday that “At least 70 dead people and over 300 wounded, the majority of whom are women and children, have been brought to Al-Aqsa hospital since [Tuesday] following heavy Israeli strikes in the Middle Area of the Gaza Strip.”

The group’s medical advisor, Karin Huster, said “The odor of blood in the hospital’s emergency room this morning was unbearable. There are people lying everywhere, on the floor, outside … bodies were being brought in plastic bags. The situation is overwhelming.”

“With the insane escalation of violence in various locations in the Gaza Strip over the last 48 hours, and while the Rafah crossing point has remained closed for a month, the health system has been stretched to the point of collapse. The situation is apocalyptic.”

Israeli airstrikes and tanks attacked areas in central Gaza, including Nuseirat refugee camp, on Tuesday.

And on Thursday, Israeli forces continued attacking Deir al-Balah, also in central Gaza, following a series of strikes earlier in the week.

On Tuesday, Israel killed Palestinians in Deir al-Balah, including eight policemen who were killed when Israeli occupation forces bombed their car.
Gaza’s interior ministry office stated Tuesday that the airstrike on the police officers occurred in front of a displaced persons shelter, where the police were reportedly working.

The ministry stated that “The occupation’s perpetuation of the crime by continuing to target members of the police force with the aim of spreading chaos … will fail, and the police force will continue to carry out its duty in serving the citizens, no matter the sacrifices.”

Nowhere is safe

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN agency for Palestine refugees, stated over the weekend that over the last month, more than 1 million people, most of whom have been displaced several times, were forced to flee once again, in search of safety that they never find.

The United Nations said that to date, about 78 percent of the Gaza Strip has been placed under evacuation orders by the Israeli military.

The charity Oxfam stated on Tuesday that “Israel’s relentless air and land bombardment and deliberate obstruction of the humanitarian response is making it virtually impossible for aid agencies to reach trapped, starved civilians in Gaza, as the latest ceasefire deal negotiations continue.”

The charity added that “A lethal combination of closed border crossings, ongoing airstrikes, reduced logistical capacity due to evacuation notices and a failing Israeli permission process that debilitates humanitarian movement within Gaza, have created an impossible environment for aid agencies to operate effectively.”

Helmi Hirez, a 19-year-old computer science student from the al-Rimal neighborhood in Gaza City, told Al Jazeera that he and his family fled the city during Israel’s attacks on al-Shifa hospital in March. He walked all the way from Gaza City to Rafah, about 32 kilometers.

A few days after he left, 14 members of his family who stayed in Gaza City were killed in an Israeli airstrike. He was sheltering for three months in Rafah, until another airstrike targeted a building next to him, burying him, his siblings and parents under the rubble. He survived, but his mother was killed.

He then fled to al-Mawasi and has been sheltering in a tent in the sand dunes there. He spoke to Al Jazeera on Monday from Deir al-Balah.

Returning to Jabaliya and Gaza City

In northern Gaza, Palestinians returned to their neighborhoods following the Israeli army’s withdrawal from Jabaliya and Gaza City.

Journalists captured video of the Israeli army shelling people as they attempted to inspect their homes near the destroyed University College of Applied Sciences, where bodies were discovered to have been crushed by tanks.

The Gaza municipality organized a public campaign to clear the streets of Gaza City following the Israeli army’s withdrawal. Dozens of Palestinians active with their neighborhood committees worked to remove the mountains of rubble and debris.
Last week, the Israeli army withdrew from Jabaliya refugee camp after a 20-day operation that left the area, the largest of the Gaza Strip’s eight camps, almost unrecognizable.

Tamara Nassar reported that the Israeli army had ordered residents of Jabaliya to evacuate the area earlier in May, following a previous invasion that ended in December, and that this latest ground invasion was combined with aerial bombardment. Israel conducted 200 airstrikes in the area during a period of less than three weeks.

Photos and videos circulated on social media as Palestinians started to return to their neighborhoods in and around Jabaliya and the Jabaliya refugee camp on 30 May.

However, people were still shot at by Israeli quadcopter drones on their way to return to their homes.
On Thursday, Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Shaheen reported from Jabaliya and explained the vast scale of the destruction.
Satellite imagery showed the amount of Israel’s destruction of Jabaliya between mid-April and the end of May.

On Sunday, Gaza’s Civil Defense corps said that they had been working three days in a row to recover bodies buried under the rubble.

Israel escalates use of armed quadcopters

A new report released by the Geneva-based Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor says that Israel is ramping up its use of armed quadcopter drones to kill, injure and terrorize Palestinians across Gaza.

These drones have killed dozens of civilians, as confirmed by Euro-Med Monitor in earlier reports, by firing automatic machine guns mounted beneath an aircraft at random gatherings, or shooting directly at people, Euro-Med reports.

“Israel has used quadcopter drones in a systematic and widespread manner lately to carry out extrajudicial executions and premeditated killings of Palestinian civilians, according to testimonies gathered by Euro-Med Monitor,” the group states.

“These drones are used, in particular, against civilians who attempt to return and inspect their homes after the Israeli military retreats from areas it has attacked by land or air.”

The group says that “some drones … were made mainly for use in photography and other industries, but were converted by the Israeli army into intelligence aircraft and instead used for extrajudicial killings and executions.”

Rafah crossing has been closed for one month

The United Nations agency for Palestine refugees stated this week that all of the agency’s 36 shelters in Rafah are empty now, after Palestinians had been forced to flee, and all health and critical services had been forced to stop.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s humanitarian chief, said that the UN does not have the capacity to deliver humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Rafah in southern Gaza and in the enclave’s central area.

“We know what we need, and we know what we haven’t got,” Griffiths said. “We need fuel and it’s not being brought in in great numbers. We need truckloads of food that get through.”

According to the United Nations, aid deliveries have dropped by two-thirds since Israel’s invasion of Rafah.

Oxfam stated that at the Rafah Crossing, which has been closed for a month now since 7 May, “there are more than 2,000 aid trucks – the majority of which are carrying food – stuck in a 28-mile traffic jam back to the Egyptian city of Arish.”

The World Health Organization stated that since 7 May, when Israeli forces seized control of the Rafah crossing, Israel has blocked all medical evacuations from taking place.

The WHO estimates there are as many as 11,000 Palestinians who need urgent medical evacuation out of Gaza.

Twenty international aid agencies issued a joint warning on 28 May on the further disintegration of access to humanitarian aid.

The statement notes that Doctors Without Borders, “one of the largest humanitarian and medical providers in Gaza, has been unable to get any supplies into the enclave since 6 May. The lack of clean water supplies puts patients at high risk of disease.”

Yet, the groups say, “desalination kits and submersible pumps to set up sustainable water systems to provide water are almost always denied by the Israeli authorities.”

The aid agencies state that they “now fear an acceleration in deaths from starvation, disease and denied medical assistance, while land and sea entry points remain effectively shut to meaningful humanitarian assistance, most desperately fuel, and attacks in areas sheltering civilians intensify.”

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, stated that children are still dying of hunger in Gaza.

One baby died of starvation and lack of available medical treatment at the Al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-Balah on 30 May, and another 13-year-old child died on 1 June.

UNICEF’s communications chief Jonathan Crickx stated that “If nutrition supplies, especially ready-to-use therapeutic food, used to address malnutrition among children, cannot be distributed, the treatment of more than 3,000 children with acute malnutrition will be interrupted. The ongoing situation in Rafah is a disaster for children.”

He explained that in the agency’s experience, in similar crises around the world, “usually children don’t die from malnutrition and dehydration in hospitals, they die at home, in the street or where they have taken shelter.”

“This means reported deaths of children from malnutrition only show part of the whole toll. There is a reasonable concern that in Gaza too, there are significant numbers of children affected by malnutrition who are not represented in reported figures,” Crickx added.

Israeli forces assassinate fighter in Nablus

Turning to the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces stormed Ramallah and the adjacent town of al-Bireh on 30 May, causing a devastating fire in the main vegetable market that destroyed dozens of shops.

Middle East Eye reported that Israeli soldiers “raided the neighboring West Bank cities at dawn, firing live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas in residential areas and the local market,” known as al-Hisbah.

“Wooden carts caught on fire and the flames spread throughout the market and to nearby commercial buildings, wounding at least one person and ravaging over 100 stalls and shops, according to al-Bireh’s acting mayor, Robin al-Khatib,” Middle East Eye reported.

Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti stated that Israeli forces also stole money from currency exchange offices during the raid.

In May, Israeli forces stormed 11 branches of the same money exchange company, stealing more than $1 million in currency.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians and injured at least nine others during an invasion into the northern city of Nablus.

One of those killed was Adam Farraj, a 23-year-old former prisoner and fighter with the Balata Battalion, who was shot by Israeli troops to his sister’s wedding.

Video of the killing of Adam Farraj showd the Israeli soldiers desecrating and kicking his body, and then dragging it away.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian men by firing at their car in the city of Tulkarem.

More than 20 Palestinians were swept up in mass arrest campaigns by Israeli forces on Tuesday, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Society and the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs.

The groups said that arrests took place across the occupied West Bank governorates of Ramallah, Bethlehem, Nablus, Salfit, Tubas, Jericho, and Jerusalem. The raids were accompanied by widespread raids and abuse and threats against detainees and their families, the WAFA news agency reported.

The total number of Palestinians detained in the occupied West Bank has risen to more than 9,000 since 7 October.

In the West Bank, since 7 October, more than 500 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers, and nearly 5,000 others have been injured by Israeli army fire, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

And in the South Hebron Hills, Israeli forces demolished a home in Al-Jawaya and assaulted the owner of the house, hitting him with a rifle, according to the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq.

At least 250 homes have been destroyed by Israel since the beginning of the year, Al-Haq stated.

Highlighting resilience

Finally, here are some images and videos from journalists and others in Gaza who are not just relentlessly documenting the unspeakable atrocities but also making sure to highlight the resilience, joy and determination of the Palestinian people.

A Palestinian youth showed off a little library of books in Deir al-Balah:

A pharmacist, Omar Hamad, who is sheltering in Deir al-Balah, filmed himself and his father using a manual sewing machine to help displaced people repair their torn clothes.
A woman created a short video of herself while she cleaned and cleared debris in her home in Jabaliya, following the Israeli army’s withdrawal. You can hear the Israeli drones hovering above while she works, but she added music to her video as well.
Youth in Jabaliya, upon returning to their neighborhood, fed stray cats and took a selfie.
Our contributor Abubaker Abed made a short video report with kids in Deir al-Balah this week, thanking professional soccer players who participated in the children of Gaza charity match that took place on 1 June in London.
Abubaker Abed also took these photos of displaced people in tents in Deir al-Balah watching the UEFA champions league game on Saturday, as he said, under Israeli bombings and buzzing drones:
Other photos and videos of displaced Palestinians, finding a way to watch the match, circulated on social media.
We liked this one, of children watching the match and rooting for Real Madrid, which won the championship.
And finally, Steve Sosebee, formerly of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund who now runs the HEAL Palestine project, shared this video of a girl, Sara, who is successfully recovering from extreme burns after her home in Gaza was bombed in December, an attack that killed two of her brothers.

Steve says that HEAL Palestine flew her by medical plane to New York three months ago, and now, she is quote “dancing her way out of the hospital, thanks to the amazing staff at Northwell and Staten Island burn center.”

(Photo: 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).