Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: February 24-March 1, 2024


1. New from FMEP
2. Gaza
3. River to the Sea
4. Region/Diplomacy
5. US Scene
6. Media/Activism/Redefining Antisemitism
7. Long Reads/Perspectives

New from FMEP

Four new Occupied Thoughts podcast episodes: 

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: March 1, 2024 (Lara Friedman) – 1. Bills, Resolutions; 2. Letters; 3. Hearings & Markups; 4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

Settlement & Annexation Report: March 1, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy) – 1) Israel Declares 652 Acres of “State Land” Near Ma’ale Adumim Settlement & E-1 Site; 2) Israel Approves Municipal Boundaries for Outpost to be Authorized as a New Settlement; 3) Defense Ministry Demolishes Two Outposts; 4) Settlers Enter Gaza During Rally at Erez Crossing; 5) Settler Head Calls for Genocide Against West Bank Palestinians – Akin to Gaza – In Response to Palestinian Attack Near Eli Settlement; 6) Blinken: New Israeli Settlements are Inconsistent with International Law; 7) Bonus Reads


Gaza in numbers: 30,000 dead, 80% displaced, half million on brink of famine (Al Monitor) – “‘Since early October, over 100,000 people have been killed or wounded. Let me repeat that: About one in every 20 children, women, and men are now dead or wounded,” Volker Turk, UN high commissioner for human rights, said on Thursday.” See also US defense chief: Over 25,000 Palestinian women and children killed in Gaza (Al Monitor); “Famine is a Massacre in Slow Motion:” On Mass Hunger & Israel’s Culpability in Gaza (FMEP podcast FMEP Fellow Yara Asi & Alex de Waal)

In deadly Gaza aid delivery, Palestinian officials blame Israeli gunfire, Israeli officials blame stampede (WaPo) – “Officials in the Gaza Strip said more than 100 people were killed and more than 700 were injured in Gaza City on Thursday, as a gathering of people around a rare humanitarian aid convoy turned into a deadly incident. Israeli and Gazan officials traded blame.” See also Palestinians say Israeli troops fired at people seeking food. Israel says scene was deadly stampede (AP); Biden says Gaza aid convoy incident will complicate hostage talks (Axios); IDF on deadly Gaza stampede: ‘We didn’t fire at humanitarian convoy, we secured it’ (Ynet); Flour massacre: How Gaza food killings unfolded, and Israel’s story changed (Al Jazeera); Israel faces mounting pressure to investigate Gaza food aid deaths (Guardian)

Israel is deliberately starving Palestinians, UN rights expert says (Guardian) – “Israel is intentionally starving Palestinians and should be held accountable for war crimes – and genocide, according to the UN’s leading expert on the right to food…“Intentionally depriving people of food is clearly a war crime. Israel has announced its intention to destroy the Palestinian people, in whole or in part, simply for being Palestinian. In my view as a UN human rights expert, this is now a situation of genocide. This means the state of Israel in its entirety is culpable and should be held accountable – not just individuals or this government or that person.” See also Gaza’s spiraling, unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe (Ishaan Tharoor//WaPo); 

These words are penned in hunger from northern Gaza. I have little energy to go on (Mahmoud Mushtaha//+972) – “My life in northern Gaza since October 7 has been one unending nightmare. Fear, anxiety, hunger, thirst, and cold have become my daily companions. I am unable to comprehend the gravity of our situation, nor come to terms with the losses. Our lives here cannot be understood or explained in any rational way. Nearly 150 days of brutal war have deprived me of everything I had. Literally, I’ve lost it all — not only my home and belongings, but also my identity, my spirit, my mind, my dreams, my aspirations. And it has forever changed me. It made me selfish, only thinking about my own family’s survival…Exhausted by the hardships surrounding me, I can no longer bear it: I have decided to try to leave the Gaza Strip. I understood that the only solution is to preserve your soul and escape this dark injustice. It doesn’t matter how much you may lose or what you risk by leaving; what truly matters is the preservation of your inner self. There’s nothing left to forfeit.” See also Starvation Is Stalking Gaza’s Children (NYT); 

‘Not a teaspoon of sugar’: As Gaza starves, Israeli protesters are blocking vital aid (New Arab) – “Over the last two months, Israelis have gathered at Nitzana and Kerem Shalom – which borders Gaza and is roughly eight kilometres from Rafah – crossings to prevent supplies like food, fuel, water, and medicine, largely administered by the United Nations, from entering the besieged enclave. According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Kerem Shalom is encountering closures because of these Israeli demonstrators…As the protests grow in size, so does their support. While those on the frontlines may be from the far-right, the general Israeli public is in favour of their efforts. According to a recent Israel Democracy Institute poll, 68% of Israeli Jews oppose transferring aid to Gaza.” See also Far-right activists break into Gaza, try to reestablish Israeli settlement (Times of Israel); Israeli settlers cross into Gaza, build ‘symbolic’ outpost (Oren Ziv//+972)

As besieged Gaza grows desperate, donors drop aid from the sky (WaPo) – “Jordanian air force pilots dropped 33 tons of medical supplies, food and other necessities on Gaza on Thursday — vital support for those it reaches, but nowhere near enough to meet the widespread need in the besieged enclave of more than 2 million people…“I think the airdrop is a last-resort, extraordinarily expensive way of providing assistance,” Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the principal U.N. agency for Palestinian affairs, told reporters Thursday in East Jerusalem. “I don’t think that the airdropping of food in the Gaza Strip should be the answer today. The real answer is: Open the crossings and bring convoys and medical assistance into the Gaza Strip.” See also A Second Day of Aid Airdrops Underscores the Urgency of Gazans’ Need (NYT); UN’s Palestinian aid agency ‘at breaking point’ after $450m budget shortfall (Guardian); US intelligence casts doubt on Israeli claims of UNRWA-Hamas links, report says (Guardian); 

Biden announces US airdrops of humanitarian aid to Gaza (Al Monitor) – “President Joe Biden announced on Friday the United States would air drop humanitarian aid into Gaza as his administration faces withering pressure over its support for Israel’s war. Sitting alongside Italy’s Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni in the Oval Office, Biden said the air drops will start in the “coming days.”’

‘Wounded Child, No Surviving Family’: Gaza’s doctors spell out a crisis (WaPo) – “Gaza is the most dangerous place in the world to be a child, the United Nations says. It’s a place where thousands of children have been killed, part of the soaring death toll from Israel’s military campaign since Hamas attacked the country on Oct. 7. But survival is no guarantee of an escape from the horror summed up by medical workers in a grim new initialism: WCNSF. Wounded Child, No Surviving Family…The 10 doctors and aid workers interviewed by The Washington Post for this report said the raging conflict made it difficult to provide a complete count of all WCNSF cases across the Strip.…UNICEF estimated this month that about 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families.” See also How indiscriminate Israeli fire killed half a family in Gaza (CNN)

Hamas leader hiding in Gaza, but killing him risks hostages, officials say (WaPo) – “The Israeli military is confident that Hamas leader Yehiya Sinwar, the alleged architect of the Oct. 7 attacks, is hiding inside a labyrinthine network of tunnels beneath southern Gaza. But he is surrounded by a human shield of hostages intended to deter an operation to capture or kill him, frustrating Israel’s efforts to dismantle the terrorist organization and bring the more than four-month-long war to a close. The Israeli operation in Gaza cannot conclude until Sinwar is either captured, killed or no longer in a position to run the organization, current and former Israeli officials said in interviews.” See also After four months of war, how much of Gaza’s terror tunnel network remains? (Jewish Insider); As Gaza War Grinds On, Israel Prepares for a Prolonged Conflict (NYT)

River to the Sea

In Jenin, brazen Israeli raids fuel fiercer Palestinian resistance (Mariam Barghouti//+972) – “Incessant Israeli incursions into Jenin refugee camp since October 7 have killed nearly 100 Palestinians, including many civilians. But as repression surges, the children of the Second Intifada are taking up arms.” See also Two Israelis Killed in Shooting Attack Near West Bank Settlement of Eli (Haaretz)

Settlers and army blocking West Bank roads to Palestinians (Yuval Abraham//+972) – “Citing intensified security concerns and coming under pressure from settlers, the Israeli army has constructed or permitted the construction of makeshift barriers and checkpoints to prevent dozens of Palestinian villages, towns, and cities from accessing major West Bank arteries. In some cases, villages have been blocked off from every direction. Major roads are now virtually inaccessible to Palestinians, almost exclusively servicing settlers. In order to travel around the West Bank, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are now forced to drive along unpaved, narrow, and winding roads.” See also In Israeli-occupied Hebron, Palestinians describe living in ‘a prison’ (WaPo)

Israel Blocks Work Visas From International Aid NGO Workers in West Bank and Gaza (Amira Hass//Haaretz) – “The Population and Immigration Authority is refusing to grant work visas to employees of international non-governmental organizations operating in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, precisely when the International Court of Justice is supposed to examine whether Israel is complying with its order on ensuring humanitarian aid arrives into Gaza…The refusal to grant visas to these international aid workers has disrupted the activities of dozens of organizations involved in bringing and distributing medical care, food, and water to Gaza residents, most of whom suffer from acute hunger and dehydration. These bureaucratic measures also undermine the NGOs efforts in assisting dozens of Palestinian communities in the West Bank who have been forcibly displaced by settler violence and pressures from the Civil Administration and the IDF or are facing such violence by settlers and the authorities’ pressures.” See also Humanitarian workers face deportation from Israel after freeze on visas (Guardian)

The Israeli Settlers Attacking Their Palestinian Neighbors (Shane Bauer//New Yorker) – “Since October 7th, when Hamas-led fighters broke through the fence on Gaza’s border with Israel and killed some twelve hundred people and took some two hundred and fifty hostages, attacks near Qaryut have become routine. Settlers have burned cars and houses, blockaded roads, damaged electricity networks, seized farmland, severed irrigation lines, attacked people in their fields and olive groves, and killed, all without repercussion. Ma’amar told me that a thousand acres had been cut off from Qaryut. The U.N. has recorded five hundred and seventy-three attacks by settlers in the West Bank since the war began, with Israeli forces accompanying them half the time. At least nine people have been killed by settlers, and three hundred and eighty-two have been killed by Israeli forces.” See also ‘They took our home, our land, everything’: Palestinians speak out against settlers on UK sanctions list (Guardian); Settlers Attack Israeli Soldiers Helping Palestinian Shepherds Look for Stolen Goats (Haaretz); The West Bank: Settler Colonial Spillover of the Gaza Genocide (Al Shabaka)

Israelis take little heed of global anger. But their contempt for Netanyahu is growing (Dahlia Scheindlin//Guardian) – “In a mid-January survey from Tel Aviv University, more than half of Jewish Israeli respondents thought Israel was using the right amount of force, but another 43% said that it had not used enough. In a survey last week by the Israel Democracy Institute, a majority of Jewish Israelis opposed a detailed political agreement to end the war, and two-thirds opposed humanitarian aid to Gaza. This data is sobering, though mirrored by trends among the Palestinian public, during the war, where polls show high support for Hamas and for the 7 October attacks…It’s not that Israelis don’t care about global attitudes. Global protests, and particularly the international court of justice hearings, shook them – with anger. Their conclusion is not that Israel’s war has gone too far; rather, that their suspicions that the world is always against them have come true.”

  1. Region/Global

Palestinian PM Shtayyeh resigns paving way for technocratic government (Al Monitor) – “Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh submitted his resignation to President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday, amid reports that a new government made up of technocrats will be formed to oversee the Gaza Strip after the Israeli war in the enclave ends…He said his resignation will pave the way for a new government formation and political arrangement that would take into account the new reality imposed in the Gaza Strip and the need to achieve Palestinian reconciliation, all the while extending the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) rule over all of the Palestinian territories…Monday’s move comes as Abbas is reportedly mulling the formation of a nonpartisan government made up of independent figures who are not affiliated with any Palestinian faction in order to oversee post-war Gaza and its reconstruction, as well as reforming the PA’s institutions.” See also Palestinian Authority gets a shake-up, but Abbas clings to power (WaPo)

Israel strikes deeper, hits Lebanon’s Baalbek in first since 2006 war (Al Monitor) – “Israeli fighter jets struck several Hezbollah positions near Lebanon’s northeastern city of Baalbek on Monday, in the deepest strikes inside Lebanese territory since the cross-border hostilities began in October and the first time Israel has hit Baalbek since the 2006 war. Monday’s strikes mark a serious escalation in the fighting. They are the first to hit in the Bekaa region, a major Hezbollah stronghold, since the two parties fought a deadly war in July 2006.”

U.S., Britain launch new wave of strikes against Houthis in Yemen (2/24/24 WaPo) – “The strikes, carried out shortly before midnight in Yemen, mark the largest military action against the Houthis in weeks, though U.S. forces have launched smaller attacks against various targets, such as Houthi missiles prepared to be launched. The new wave, U.S. officials said, was meant to target infrastructure and weapons that the Houthis have used to carry out attacks.” 

Majority of countries argue Israel violated international law in last historic hearing at UN court (AP) – “The United Nations’ highest court on Monday wrapped up historic proceedings into the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of lands sought by Palestinians for a future state, with most voices at the hearing arguing against the Israeli government. Over six days, the International Court of Justice heard from an unprecedented number of countries and the majority argued Israel was violating international law and called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state…The hearings addressed a request by the U.N. General Assembly for a non-binding opinion on the legality of Israel’s policies. The court says it will issue its opinion in “due course.” On average, advisory opinions are released six months after oral proceedings.” See also After dozens of countries testify, week of world court public hearings on Israel’s occupation of Palestine concludes (Al Anadolu); An Assessment of Visual Material Presented by the Israeli Legal Team at the ICJ, 12 January 2024 (Forensic Architecture); ‘Lawfare’ on Israel’s war on Gaza reaches Germany. Will the case succeed? (Al Jazeera)

US Scene

‘Groundbreaking’: Michigan’s uncommitted vote for Gaza should ‘worry’ Biden (Al Jazeera) – “In the Michigan city known as the capital of Arab America, United States President Joe Biden came second in the Democratic primaries, in a vote hailed as “groundbreaking”. Most Democratic voters in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn chose “uncommitted” over the incumbent, as part of an organised effort to denounce his “unwavering” support for Israel’s war on Gaza. And it wasn’t just Dearborn. Initial results, released early on Wednesday, reveal that more than 101,000 people across the state joined the protest campaign at the ballot box. Advocates said the numbers serve as an enormous rebuke to Washington’s backing of Israel, not to mention a warning sign for Democrats heading into the general election in November.” See also Michigan’s “Uncommitted” Democrats Send a Message to Biden (New Yorker); ‘Uncommitted’ vote in Michigan a warning shot over Biden’s support of Israel (Guardian); 

Aaron Bushnell’s Act of Political Despair (Masha Gessen//New Yorker) – “Under conditions of democracy, people act politically because they think that their actions can lead to change. They cannot effect change alone, and change is never immediate, but their experience tells them that change is possible and that it is brought about by the actions of citizens…Totalitarian regimes mobilize their subjects to imitate political action, but in a way that never brings about change. The vast majority comply. But a small minority can’t stand it…Within this minority, there seems to be an even smaller group of people who find their individual helplessness so unbearable that they are willing to do something as desperate as self-immolate…What does it mean for an American to self-immolate?…We know that Bushnell belonged to a generation of Americans—adults under the age of thirty—who express more sympathy with Palestinians than with Israelis in the current conflict. Perhaps…he was surrounded by people who thought as he did yet was constantly reminded of his helplessness…What did it matter that Bushnell had the right to vote if he had no real choice? That he was a member of the military surely made matters worse. His final message on Facebook read, “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”See also Aaron Bushnell: The US air man who shouted ‘Free Palestine’ before lighting himself on fire (Middle East Eye) 

Anti-Palestinian Animus at Root of U.S. Anti-Terrorism Laws, New Report Reveals (Palestine Legal) – “Opposition to Palestinian rights has shaped U.S. federal anti-terrorism law from its beginnings, according to a briefing paper released today. Dating back to the 1960s, the government has used anti-terrorism law to target the Palestinian movement and supporters and to stigmatize Palestinians as terrorists, the paper says. Published by Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, the paper provides historical and political context for the escalating effort to restrict the rights of activists protesting Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza – and those that extend well beyond the movement for Palestinian rights.”

ADL to honor Jared Kushner for Israel work, calling it ‘pivotal’ for hostage negotiations (Forward) – “The Anti-Defamation League will deliver an award to Jared Kushner for his diplomatic work related to Israel at its annual conference next month in New York City.” See also Nazis mingle openly at CPAC, spreading antisemitic conspiracy theories and finding allies (NBC News)

Media/Activism/Redefining Antisemitism“Between the Hammer and the Anvil”: The Story Behind the New York Times October 7 Exposé (The Intercept) – “The resulting report, published in late December, was headlined “‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7.” It was a bombshell and galvanized the Israeli war effort at a time when even some of Israel’s allies were expressing concern over its large-scale killing of civilians in Gaza. Inside the newsroom, the article was met with praise from editorial leaders but skepticism from other Times journalists. The paper’s flagship podcast “The Daily” attempted to turn the article into an episode, but it didn’t manage to get through a fact check, as The Intercept previously reported…The fear among Times staffers who have been critical of the paper’s Gaza coverage is that Schwartz will become a scapegoat for what is a much deeper failure. She may harbor animosity toward Palestinians, lack the experience with investigative journalism, and feel conflicting pressures between being a supporter of Israel’s war effort and a Times reporter, but Schwartz did not commission herself and Sella to report one of the most consequential stories of the war. Senior leadership at the New York Times did…The question has never been whether individual acts of sexual assault may have occurred on October 7. Rape is not uncommon in war, and there were also several hundred civilians who poured into Israel from Gaza that day in a “second wave,” contributing to and participating in the mayhem and violence. The central issue is whether the New York Times presented solid evidence to support its claim that there were newly reported details “establishing that the attacks against women were not isolated events but part of a broader pattern of gender-based violence on Oct. 7” — a claim stated in the headline that Hamas deliberately deployed sexual violence as a weapon of war.”

Authorities to Investigate Berlinale Cases of Onstage Criticism of Israel’s Gaza Conduct (Haaretz) – “Germany’s culture minister said on Monday that an investigation into the onstage criticism of Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip during Berlin’s annual international film festival, the Berlinale, will be held…In an awards ceremony concluding the Berlinale, Palestinian filmmaker Basel Adra accepted an award for his documentary about the West Bank and called on Germany to stop sending weapons to Israel, in remarks that were met with applause and cheers from the audience. “It is very hard for me to celebrate when there are tens of thousands of my people being slaughtered and massacred by Israel in Gaza,” said Adra, whose film “No Other Land” depicts the Israeli settler displacement of Palestinians in villages in the West Bank. ​​During the awards ceremony on Saturday evening, several other filmmakers criticized Israel over the bombing of Gaza, which has seen more than 29,600 people killed, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry in the strip. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday condemned the statements criticizing Israel’s mass bombing of the Gaza Strip. According to deputy government spokeswoman Christiane Hoffmann, Scholz agrees “that such a one-sided position cannot be allowed to stand.”’ See also this Tweet for video of Basel Adra’s speech.

Israeli director receives death threats after officials call Berlin film festival ‘antisemitic’ (Guardian) – “An Israeli film-maker who won one of the top prizes at the Berlin film festival has said German officials’ description of the awards ceremony as “antisemitic” has led to death threats and the physical intimidation of family members, causing him to hold off plans to return to Israel. Yuval Abraham, 29, was on Saturday awarded the Berlinale’s best documentary award for No Other Land, which charts the eradication of Palestinian villages in Masafer Yatta in the West Bank. vAbraham’s acceptance speech, in which he decried a “situation of apartheid” and called for a ceasefire in Gaza, was one of several moments during the closing ceremony in which film-makers expressed solidarity with Palestine. It sparked an outcry in German media the following day, with several politicians alleging the speeches had been “antisemitic”...“To stand on German soil as the son of Holocaust survivors and call for a ceasefire – and to then be labelled as antisemitic is not only outrageous, it is also literally putting Jewish lives in danger,” Abraham told the Guardian…Abraham said he was concerned for the safety of Adra, who has since returned to his village in the West Bank, which is surrounded by Israeli settlements. “Basel lives under occupation and the army or settlers can take revenge against him at any moment,” Abraham said. “He is in much greater danger than me.”’ See also German minister says she clapped Israeli film-maker, not his Palestinian colleague, at Berlinale (Guardian); Criticism of Israel at Berlin Film Festival Stirs Antisemitism Debate (NYT); “There is No Nice Way to Bulldoze a School”: Basel Adra and Yuval Abraham on No Other Land (Filmmaker Magazine); ‘A Story About Power’ | Palestinian-Israeli Documentary on West Bank Occupation Wins Berlin Film Festival Award (Haaretz); +972 and Local Call stand with colleagues Basel and Yuval (+972 Magazine); ‘When My Speech Was Called Antisemitic, I Was Shocked’ (Haaretz)

Long Reads/Perspectives

Gaza: A Model of Exclusion and Its Implications for Global Politics (Jehad Abusalim//Jerusalem Fund) – “Palestinians in Gaza and beyond have recognized that Israel’s actions in Gaza are indicative of a broader agenda, not confined to the Gaza Strip alone. With the rise of Israel’s most right-wing government, the genocidal intentions of its leaders have become increasingly apparent, as they openly discuss the need for a second Nakba at worst, or at best, confining Palestinian communities in the West Bank to fenced-off towns and cities, or Bantustans, where Palestinians are expected to live indefinitely without political rights or prospects. Indeed, the denial of Palestinian political rights is rooted in the racist assumptions and beliefs of Zionist ideology. This ideology contends that Palestinians are undeserving of political rights, independence, self-determination, or statehood. This ideology’s practical implementation is evident in Gaza’s more than 17-year blockade, the ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israel, and the imminent threat of an all-out assault on Palestinian communities in the West Bank by Israel’s army and settlers as Israel veers towards complete fascism. For decades, many in the West have portrayed the situation in Palestine as a conflict, a narrative that suggests a symmetry between two equal parties. However, this narrative obscures the stark and overwhelming asymmetry between Israel, supported by the world’s superpowers, and the Palestinians, who possess minimal means to defend themselves against Zionist violence and aggression. This narrative has also played a role in obfuscating the Palestinian struggle for liberation.”

Opinion  ‘Reduced to dust’: An elegy for Gazan life (Negar Azimi//WaPo) – “Home. Park. Zoo. School. Bakery. Mosque. These are just some of the fundaments of Gazan life that have been blasted, bombarded and bulldozed since the Israeli siege began this past October. As of this writing, more than two-thirds of the buildings in the Gaza Strip have been damaged or destroyed by Israeli strikes. More than 4 out of every 5 Gazans — some 1.9 million people — have been displaced. Architectural historians have come to refer to infrastructural devastation at this scale as “urbicide,” or “violence against the city.” Sometimes, it can be hard to imagine what this place was like before the war…Over the past weeks, I invited Gazans to share memories of places they have lost. The result is an oral history of buildings and locales that are at once iconic and sentimental. Some of these are many centuries old, built and rebuilt after earlier devastations. Some are new, emerging only in the past decade. All of them testify to lives lived against terrible odds. Places that have become unrecognizable; in the words of one resident, “reduced to dust.” See also Israeli bombs are wiping out Gaza’s heritage and history (Le Monde) 

Israel Is Losing Its Greatest Asset: Acceptance (Tom Friedman//NYT) – “I don’t think Israelis or the Biden administration fully appreciate the rage that is bubbling up around the world, fueled by social media and TV footage, over the deaths of so many thousands of Palestinian civilians, particularly children, with U.S.-supplied weapons in Israel’s war in Gaza. Hamas has much to answer for in triggering this human tragedy, but Israel and the U.S. are seen as driving events now and getting most of the blame.”

Charlie Biton, co-founder of Israeli Black Panthers and first Israeli to meet Arafat, dies at 76 (Asaf Elia-Shalev//JTA) – “It was March 1971 and Charlie Biton and his friends had recently taken to calling themselves “the Black Panthers” in admiration for the revolutionary African-American group. The group, one of dozens of street gangs in Jerusalem at the time, was about to hold its first demonstration against the racism and poverty experienced by Mizrahi Jews in Israel. To Golda Meir, Israel’s American-raised — and Ashkenazi — prime minister, a Mizrahi rendition of the Black Panthers was intolerable. A few nights before the protest, she held an emergency meeting with the country’s top police officials and authorized the arrest of Biton and 14 others to prevent them from demonstrating. Her decision and the subsequent police raids were an unprecedented assault on the free speech of Israel’s Jewish citizens…From those arrests, the Israeli Black Panther movement emerged and Biton, as its co-founder, was set on a course of activism and politics that would have seemed unlikely for someone with limited schooling and a criminal background. Biton died on Saturday at age 76, having ridden the success of his protest group to a 15-year career as a member of Israel’s parliament, serving from 1977 to 1992 mostly alongside communists in the Hadash faction. Biton distinguished himself as a fighter for social change and an early voice for peace with the Palestinians.”

Dr. Mustafa Barghouti on the Struggle for Palestine’s Future Amid Gaza Genocide (The Intercept) – “This week on Intercepted, hosts Jeremy Scahill and Murtaza Hussain discuss the current state of the war as well as the ongoing Palestinian campaign for political unity with Dr. Mustafa Barghouti, a physician and general secretary of the Palestinian National Initiative. Barghouti speaks about the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the role of the U.S. in facilitating the war, and his own political future and that of the Palestinian national movement in the wake of this crisis.”

‘People say I’m naive, antisemitic, a traitor’: Israeli teen jailed for draft refusal (Oren Ziv//+972) – “Conscientious objector Sofia Orr explains why she never wavered in her decision despite the crackdown in Israel against opponents of the war.”

The Argany peninsula (Mada Masr) – “The precipitous rise of Ibrahim al-Argany, the figure behind it all, has raised many questions in recent years that have only grown sharper as the aggression’s violence mounted. Now, everything and everyone that passes into or out of Gaza does so almost exclusively through Argany’s companies and his network of connections…In the past months, Mada Masr spoke with dozens of sources, including 17 Palestinians who tried to pay coordination fees to secure their exit from Gaza, two Egyptian coordinators, two drivers working at Hala (one of Argany’s companies), a source working at the Awja crossing, two sources from the Egyptian Red Crescent Society and four members of different Sinai tribes. They explained how Argany built his empire in just a decade in a country whose state institutions are known for their ironclad control, and how he ultimately gained control of the sole crossing into Gaza and became the main arbiter of even the smallest sliver of life making its way into the strip, now drawing its final breaths under bombardment and hunger.” See also The Cost of Leaving Gaza (Lisa Goldman//New Lines Magazine); Meet Ibrahim al-Organi, the Sinai tribal leader under scrutiny over Gaza war (Middle East Eye)