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13,000+ Gazans killed since US vetoed last ceasefire; another veto expected this week – Day 135

12:00 Feb 20 2024 Gaza (غزة)

13,000+ Gazans killed since US vetoed last ceasefire; another veto expected this week – Day 135
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"Dire shortages of food, water, shelter,safely in Gaza- especially for children." Screenshot published by IMEMC News
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by IMEMC News
Feb 20, 2024

UN Security Council to vote on ceasefire (US will veto); Israeli snipers open fire on Gazans congregating for food aid; Khan Younis hospital sinking deeper into chaos; the Pope declines to pray for Israel after it badmouthed the Vatican; Israel plans 4-hour pauses in fighting so Gazans can stock up on food – but there isn’t any; Israel’s cabinet refuses to have a Palestinian state “imposed” on them; historic ICJ case starts Monday on the legality of Israeli occupation; estimate of how many Hamas fighters have been killed; risky plans to limit Muslim attendance at Al Aqsa Mosque during Ramadan; record hunger levels in Gaza; West Bank news, and more

By IAK staff, from reports:

Associated Press reports: The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Tuesday on an Arab-backed resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, which the United States announced it will veto.

In addition to a ceasefire, the final Algerian draft, obtained by The Associated Press, reiterates council demands that Israel and Hamas “scrupulously comply” with international law, rejects the forced displacement of Palestinian civilians, demands the release of all hostages taken by Hamas, and calls for greater humanitarian aid throughout Gaza.

U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that, should the resolution come up for a vote as drafted, it will not be adopted.” She claimed that the Algeria-led resolution would not achieve the “outcomes” that the US wants.

Al Jazeera adds context: On October 18, the US vetoed a Security Council draft resolution calling for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting in Gaza. On December 8, Washington vetoed a call for ceasefire.

On December 22, the US abstained from a Security Council resolution calling for aid to Gaza after working behind the scenes to water it down.

At the UN General Assembly, where no country has veto power, the US joined Israel and eight other (mostly tiny) countries on December 13 to vote against a nonbinding resolution calling for a ceasefire.

That measure was adopted with the support of 153 countries.

Al Jazeera reports: Footage verified by Al Jazeera shows hundreds of Palestinians in Gaza City rushing towards aid trucks on al-Rasheed Street before fleeing after Israeli forces open fire.

Ramy Abdu, the Head of the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, commented on the incident in a post on X saying, “What our team documented on Al-Rasheed Street, west of Gaza City, is terrifying, painful, and brutal”.

Previously, the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) documented four incidents up to and including 30 January, where the Israeli army fired on civilians as they waited for humanitarian relief lorries to arrive.

This had resulted in 72 deaths and hundreds of injuries, some critical, according to Lima Bustami who heads the legal department at Euro-Med.

Andalou Agency reports: At least 150 patients in need of medical care are crammed in rooms and corridors of the Nasser Medical Complex in the city of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

The Israeli occupation forces arrested 70 medical staff and refused to evacuate the patients so that they could receive treatment in other hospitals, the Gaza Health Ministry said in a statement.

Among the patients are seven in intensive care, five undergoing dialysis, three children in the neonatal unit, as well as cases of burns, amputations, quadriplegia and childbirth, the statement added.

The Israeli army has turned the hospital into military barracks, the ministry said in a previous statement on Sunday.

The Israeli army on Thursday stormed the hospital, forcing everyone inside to evacuate and flee for their lives. Yet a small medical team stayed inside to take care of patients in critical condition, who were all held in one building of the hospital by the Israeli army amid a lack of basic needs.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reports: Since the war began, B’Tselem’s field researchers in Gaza, Olfat al-Kurd, Khaled al-‘Azayzeh and Muhammad Sabah, have lost many family members to Israeli bombings. Two of them have lost their homes in northern Gaza and are now displaced.

Nevertheless, they have worked hard to convey personal stories and difficult sights from the ground, in almost impossible conditions.

To see several short videos describing the horrific abuse they were subject to in Israeli detention, and others speaking of their struggle to feed their children in a camp for the displaced in Khan Younis, go here.

Middle East Monitor reports: The Pope called for peace in Sudan and Mozambique, and asked not to forget the conflicts in Africa and various parts of the world – but he left out Israel.

“In Europe, Palestine and Ukraine… do not forget that war is always a defeat,” he added.

Pope Francis has always included Israel in his traditional Sunday prayers and other important events.

The Pope’s failure to include Israel in his prayers coincided with diplomatic tension that occurred a few days ago between the Vatican and Israel.

On 13 February, the Vatican Secretary of State , Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said, “There is a demand that Israel’s right to defend itself be proportionate, and it is clear that this is not the case with the killing of 30,000 people.”

The next day, the Israeli embassy to the Vatican issued a statement that strongly criticized Parolin’s statements, describing them as “shameful”, causing backlash from the Vatican.

The Israeli embassy had to immediately retract the statement and issued another on 15 February, claiming it wanted to use the word “unfortunate” instead of “shameful”, and an error occurred while translating the original text of the statement, prepared in English, into Italian.

Al Jazeera reports: Gaza’s Health Ministry says an eighth person has died in Nasser Hospital since the Israeli military cut electricity and oxygen supplies at the medical facility.

The head of the World Health Organization says the Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younis in Gaza is no longer functioning due to the Israeli army’s weeklong siege followed by the ongoing raid.

He said there were still about 200 patients in the hospital and at least 20 of them needed to be urgently referred to other hospitals to receive healthcare.

He added: “Medical referral is every patient’s right. The cost of delays will be paid by patients’ lives. Access to the patients and hospital should be facilitated.”

Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands reports from occupied East Jerusalem: Israel plans to ‘pause fighting’ for 4 hours a day in one part of Gaza at a time.

From Sunday to Friday, there will be a four-hour pause in fighting a day, from 10am to 2pm local time. These will be taking place in different parts of Gaza on each day.

Hani Mahmoud from Rafah adds: Israel’s pauses in fighting are supposed to allow people to resupply. But we are looking at rubble-filled roads, we’ve seen children looking for scraps of food, and markets are empty in Rafah.

If food is available, it is at a very high price. Not everyone has the means to buy food. With no pay for five months, their financial capabilities are drained.

On top of that, the number of aid trucks that have been allowed into the Gaza Strip so far is not enough. Even if there were 300 trucks a day, it would still not meet the needs of an entire population that has been displaced, traumatized and without any essentials.

In the northern part of Gaza, there is an actual famine. People have resorted to eating plants and animal feed.

Reuters reports: Israel on Sunday formalized its opposition to what it called the “unilateral recognition” of Palestinian statehood, and said any such agreement must be reached through direct negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought the “declaratory decision” to a vote in cabinet, which unanimously approved the measure, according to a statement.

Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly meeting that the move comes after “recent talk in the international community about an attempt to unilaterally impose on Israel a Palestinian state.”

Al Jazeera adds: The Palestinian Foreign Ministry responded to this symbolic vote by Netanyahu’s cabinet: “the full membership of the State of Palestine in the United Nations and its recognition by states do not need a license from [Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu”.

Associated Press reports: The United Nations’ highest court opens historic hearings Monday into the legality of Israel’s 57-year occupation of lands sought for a Palestinian state, plunging the 15 international judges back into the heart of the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Six days of hearings are scheduled at the International Court of Justice, during which an unprecedented number of countries will participate, as Israel continues its devastating assault on Gaza.

Palestinian representatives, who speak first on Monday, will argue that the Israeli occupation is illegal because it has violated three key tenets of international law: Israel has violated the prohibition on territorial conquest by annexing large swaths of occupied land, has violated the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and has imposed a system of racial discrimination and apartheid.

The court will likely take months to rule. But experts say the decision, though not legally binding, could profoundly impact international jurisprudence, international aid to Israel and public opinion.

CONTEXT: In 2004, the court said that a separation barrier Israel built through east Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank was “contrary to international law.” It also called on Israel to immediately halt construction. Israel has ignored the ruling.

READ MORE ABOUT THIS ICJ CASE (Al Jazeera): What’s the ICJ case against Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine?

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