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Israeli Occupation Forces’ Assault on Places of Worship in Gaza

The machine of destruction and havoc belonging to the Israeli occupation army has not ceased in the past days from bombarding and destroying places of worship in the Gaza Strip, especially targeting dozens of mosques with missiles of significant destructive power. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Waqf in Gaza, Adel al-Hour, affirmed that targeting places of worship, especially mosques, which contradicts all international laws, is “part of the aggressive and criminal behaviour of the enemy towards our people, expressing the ethical nature that the occupation lives and enforces in the field.” He explained that “the Israeli enemy, by its nature, targets civilian citizens and public facilities and vital places such as hospitals, and among these targets, it bombs places of worship in the Gaza Strip.” Al-Hour warned that “there is no place in the Strip safe from the malice of this arrogant enemy, which has found no deterrent from countries claiming to stand for human rights, citizenship rights, freedom, and freedom of worship, which they constantly advocate.” Israeli airstrikes bombed the minaret of the Grand Al-Omari Mosque, one of the prominent historical mosques in Palestine with a history dating back over 14 centuries.

MP Mustafa Bakri commented, saying: “Israeli Zionist occupation planes destroy the minaret of the Grand Al-Omari Mosque, which has a history of 1400 years. This is a new crime by the Zionist enemy seeking to control geography, erase people and history, amid Western American support where there are no longer any prohibitions.”

In turn, the head of the Christian National Assembly in the Holy Land, Dimitri Deliani, confirmed that “the occupation deliberately targets the shelters where the citizens in Gaza seek refuge during the genocide war carried out by the occupation government”. He explained that “targeting various churches and their affiliated institutions is the implementation of threats issued by the occupation at the beginning of its genocidal war on Gaza.” Deliani warned that churches, through official statements issued by “patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem,” have declared their “absolute rejection of complying with Israeli threats, insisting on their ethical role, and affirming that churches will remain open to those who seek refuge in them.” He added, “In the implementation of Israeli threats and the refusal of churches to comply with them, the Israeli occupation forces bombed the compound of the Church of Saint Porphyrius, the Orthodox church considered the third oldest church in the world, built between 402 and 407 AD, in Gaza City. Prior to that, by 48 hours, they targeted the Baptist hospital and systematically destroyed every church institution that could shelter those who seek refuge.”

Churches in the Gaza Strip were not spared from the occupation’s missiles, as a horrific massacre was committed against displaced citizens in the Orthodox Roman Church in central Gaza, resulting in the martyrdom and injury of dozens of Muslims and Christians who were present in the church. According to data announced by the government media office in the Gaza Strip, 76 mosques were completely destroyed in the Israeli occupation attacks, and 165 mosques were partially damaged.

In addition, 3 historical churches were damaged in various areas of the Gaza Strip. The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor stated that Israel’s targeting of places of worship violates a fundamental right enshrined in international human rights law, namely the right to freedom of religion and belief and the non-interference in their places of worship according to this right.

Article 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice, and teaching.”

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor documented cases of killing and injuries to dozens of Palestinians during Israel’s attacks on mosques, as happened in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City when the mosque of “Ahmed Yassin” was destroyed, and in the town of Beit Lahia in the north of the Strip when the mosque of “Saleem Abu Muslim” was destroyed, and in Khan Yunis when the mosque of “Khalid ibn al-Walid” was destroyed. The Euro-Mediterranean Monitor warned that Israel’s repeated targeting of places of worship in its current war and its previous wars in Gaza is linked to repeated incitement by Israeli official officials who have consistently linked the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to religious dimensions, using religious symbols and texts to incite attacks on Palestinians and deprive them of their rights.

The Euro-Mediterranean Monitor emphasized that international laws and conventions prohibit targeting places of worship in wars and fall within the framework of promoting the increasingly prevalent language of religious hatred, fuelled by the current Israeli extreme right-wing government, which provides cover for escaping punishment for attacks against Palestinians. The Euro-Mediterranean Monitor called on the United Nations and the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief to fulfil their responsibilities in protecting places of worship and sacred sites in the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Palestinian territories, and to hold Israel accountable for its indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks on civilians and civilian objects, considering it constitutes war crimes.

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Palestinian-Israeli Prisoner Exchange Deals: A Historical Overview

Over the previous years, Palestinian resistance movements have carried out prisoner exchange operations with the Israeli occupation. As a result, thousands of male and female prisoners have been released, the majority of whom had high sentences and life imprisonment. One of the prominent deals carried out by Palestinian resistance movements with the Israeli occupation side began in 1968. Palestinian militants from the “Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine,” led by Yousef Al-Radie and Leila Khaled, hijacked an Israeli occupation plane belonging to El Al, the Israeli airline. The plane was en route from the Italian capital Rome to “Tel Aviv,” and they forced it to divert and land in Algeria, with over 100 passengers on board. At that time, the “Front” stipulated the release of the passengers in exchange for Israel releasing 37 Palestinian prisoners with high convictions.

In 1970, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, led by Leila Khaled, successfully hijacked an Israeli El Al plane, which landed in Britain. Comrade “Patrick Argüello” was killed during the operation, and Leila Khaled was arrested. Subsequently, a British plane was hijacked by a group affiliated with the same organization, leading to an exchange operation resulting in the release of the activist Leila Khaled.

In January 1971, a prisoner exchange deal took place between the Palestinian National Liberation Movement (Fatah) and Israel. Mahmoud Bakr Hijazi, the first Palestinian prisoner in the contemporary Palestinian revolution that began in January 1965, was released in exchange for the release of Israeli occupation soldier Shmuel Fais, who was abducted by Fatah in late 1969.

In March 1979, the operation “Operation Nours” was conducted, where the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine released an Israeli occupation soldier it had captured during the Litani operation on April 5, 1978. In return, Israel released 76 Palestinian prisoners. In mid-February 1980, the Israeli occupation government released detainees Mahdi Bassiso and William Nassar in exchange for the release of Jordanian citizen Amina Dawood Al-Mufti. She had worked as a spy for the Israeli occupation Mossad, being held by the Palestinian National Liberation Movement “Fatah,” and is considered the most famous Arab spy working for Mossad.

In November 1983, the “Jalil Exchange” deal took place. The Israeli occupation government released all detainees from Ansar prison in southern Lebanon, totalling 4,700 Palestinian and Lebanese detainees, and 65 prisoners from Israeli occupation prisons. This was in exchange for the release of six Israeli occupation soldiers captured by the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Fatah movement on September 4, 1982, in the Bhamdoun area of Lebanon. The released Israeli occupation soldiers were Yeho Avotfoul, Dani Golboa, Rafi Hazan, Robin Cohen, Abraham Montbliski, and Avi Kornfeld. Additionally, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s General Command captured two other soldiers.

In May 1985, the Israeli occupation conducted an exchange operation with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, named “Operation Jalil.” In this operation, 1,155 Palestinian and Lebanese prisoners were released from Israeli occupation prisons in exchange for three Israeli occupation soldiers who were in the hands of the Front. In 1997, an exchange operation took place between the Jordanian government and the Israeli occupation. Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), and two of his associates were released in return for the release of Israeli Mossad agents who had been arrested by the Jordanian security forces after their failed attempt to assassinate the head of the political bureau of Hamas at that time, Khalid Mashaal.

In October 2009, Israeli occupation forces released 20 Palestinian female prisoners from the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for a newly recorded video lasting two minutes showing the Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured by the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas” on June 25, 2006.

In October 2011, the “Wafaa Al-Ahrar,” deal took place, involving the release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners by the Israeli occupation authorities in exchange for the release of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by the Hamas movement. The deal was mediated by Egypt, marking the first instance in the history of the Palestinian issue where the process of capture, detention location, and negotiation occurred within Palestinian territory.

The Wafaa Al-Ahrar deal included the release of 450 detainees serving life sentences, and the release of all female detainees in Israeli prisons, totalling 30 women, including those serving life sentences. The agreement also covered the release of elderly detainees, all sick detainees, and detainees from Jerusalem, totalling 45 individuals. Additionally, an agreement was reached for the release of detainees from Occupied Palestinian territories in 1948. Moreover, 200 detainees, to be released agreed to be deported, residing either in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, or to Arab countries.

Since October 7, a military operation, named “Al-Aqsa Flood,” led by the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” has been underway. Around 1,500 Palestinian fighters crossed the massive separation barrier between Gaza and Israeli occupation, resulting in the killing of hundreds of Israelis and the injury of thousands. Hamas captured over 250 Israelis from settlements and Israeli occupation military points around Gaza, including high-ranking military officers. Since then, the Israeli occupation army has waged a destructive war on Gaza, causing over 14,000 martyrs and more than 34,000 injuries, mostly among women and children.

A humanitarian ceasefire agreement was announced in the Gaza Strip on November 22, with joint mediation efforts by Egypt and the United States between the Israeli occupation and the Hamas movement. The agreement includes the exchange of 50 Israeli prisoners, including women and children in Gaza, in the first phase, in return for the release of 150 Palestinian women and children detained in Israeli occupation prisons.

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Gaza Crossings: Lifelines Closed by the Zionist Entity

Gaza is surrounded by eight crossings, six of which connect the Gaza Strip to the lands occupied in 1948, controlled by Israeli occupation authorities. Four of these crossings are completely closed, with intermittent openings for the remaining two: “Beit Hanoun” and “Kerem Shalom.” Additionally, Egypt, along with other parties, controls two crossings: “Rafah” and “Salah al-Din Gate.”

Open Crossings

The four intermittently open crossings serve as the main gateways for Gaza to and from the outside world. Two are primarily designated for individual movement: “Beit Hanoun” and “Rafah,” while the other two facilitate commercial activities: ” Kerem Abu Salem ” and “Salah al-Din Gate.”

Israeli occupation authorities impose stringent conditions on the movement of these crossings, subjecting imports and exports between Gaza and the West Bank markets, as well as external destinations, to whimsical Israeli approvals. The crossings are also prone to sudden decisions based on flimsy justifications. Since the Israeli occupation withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the Gaza Strip has transformed into a large-scale prison, encircled by wires and barriers from all directions.

Since the victory of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in the 2006 elections and its assumption of power, Israel tightened the blockade on Gaza. Egypt also implemented strict measures on its borders with Gaza. The suffocating blockade has subjected Gaza to deteriorating economic and humanitarian conditions. The measures enforced serve as collective punishment for the population, where freedom is severely restricted, and the daily lives of over two million Palestinians, nearly half of them children, suffer significant damage.

  • Crossings with the Egyptian Side

Gaza is connected to Egypt through two crossings: “Rafah Crossing” and “Salah al-Din Gate.” Officially, neither crossing falls under Israeli occupation control.

1. Rafah Crossing

    Rafah Crossing is located in the southern part of Gaza, on the Palestinian-Egyptian border, acknowledged under the peace treaty between the Israeli occupation and Egypt in 1979. The crossing operates under the Crossing Authority, part of the Ministry of Interior and National Security, overseen by the Palestinian and Egyptian administrations in partnership, and under the scrutiny of the European Union. After Hamas took control of the Palestinian side of the crossing in 2007, it opposed Israeli occupation participation in its operation. The European supervision ceased due to the absence of Palestinian Authority forces, and Europeans refused to engage with Hamas-affiliated staff. This led to the closure of the crossing. Hamas demanded the unconditional opening of Rafah Crossing and considered it a condition for any truce with the Israeli occupation or reconciliation with the Palestinian Authority. Egypt, on its part, deemed the conditions for the agreement unmet in the absence of Palestinian Authority control and European supervision. Despite having the actual capability to open Rafah Crossing, Egypt closed it due to external pressures. Over the years, the crossing alternated between openings and closures, depending on the dynamics of relations between Egypt and Hamas, often viewed as a means of pressure on Hamas by Egypt. However, Egypt typically opened the crossing for humanitarian cases during Israeli occupation attacks on Gaza, allowing the entry of humanitarian aid. On October 12, 2017, Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation agreement in Cairo, under which the Palestinian Authority took control of the Gaza Strip, aiming to end the ongoing internal division since mid-2007.

    • The Significance of Rafah Crossing: A Lifeline to the Outside World

    Rafah Crossing serves as Gaza’s gateway to the Arab Republic of Egypt, connecting the Gaza Strip to the external world. The crossing is designated for individual movement, while all cargo movement has been redirected to the Kerem Abu Salem border crossing. Egypt occasionally allows the export of Palestinian goods, especially agricultural products, a move contested by the Israeli occupation.

    Following the Crossings Agreement signed between the Israeli occupation and the Palestinian Authority in November 2005, the use of the crossing is restricted to holders of Palestinian identity cards, with occasional exceptions, subject to prior notification to the Israeli occupation government and approval from the higher authorities in the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority informs the Israeli occupation government about the expected crossings of individuals from various categories, including diplomats, foreign investors, foreign representatives of recognized international bodies, and humanitarian cases, 48 hours before their crossing. The Israeli occupation government responds within 24 hours if there are any objections, specifying the reasons for objections.

    • Continuous Zionist Interventions and Closures

    Despite the absence of the Israeli occupation forces permanently stationed on the Egypt-Gaza border, the occupation authorities exert direct and indirect control over the opening of the crossing. The Palestinian Authority is required to inform the Israeli occupation government of the names of those wishing to use the crossing 48 hours in advance for approval or denial. The Israeli occupation suspended operations at the crossing on September 7, 2005, in preparation for its disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

    On November 27, 2005, operations resumed under the Crossings Agreement, initially for 4 to 5 hours per day for three weeks due to the incomplete deployment of the Border Assistance Mission personnel from the European Union. In mid-December 2005, the working hours increased to 8 hours per day and continued at this rate into early 2006. On June 25, 2006, following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit at the Kerem Abu Salem crossing, the Israeli occupation intensified its siege on Gaza unprecedentedly.

    The Israeli occupation completely closed the crossing, except for limited hours during scattered periods, insufficient to meet the needs of Gaza’s residents, aiming to pressure Palestinians for the release of Shalit, in clear violation of the Crossings Agreement. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, between November 26, 2005, and December 31, 2006, there were 159 days of complete closure, with partial openings for 31 days for limited hours. From the beginning of 2007 until January 9, 2008, the Israeli occupation authorities closed the crossing for 308 days, with the closure rate reaching around 59% from the signing of the Crossings Agreement until January 9, 2008. The crossing remained mostly closed throughout the year, opening on specific days and hours for medical cases and special situations.

    In May 2018, Egypt partially reopened the crossing after years of near-permanent closure, allowing passage for five days a week with limited capacity. Rafah Crossing has been targeted multiple times by Israeli occupation forces during the “Al-Aqsa Flood” operation that began in October 2023, leading to its closure. Israel threatened to target trucks carrying fuel and humanitarian aid from Egypt to Gaza, prompting Egypt to retreat from operating Rafah Crossing. The closure of Rafah Crossing has severe consequences for Gaza’s residents, obstructing access to medical services unavailable in Gaza, undermining academic or job opportunities abroad or in the West Bank, causing significant damage to trade and business, and perpetuating the continuous separation of family members on both sides of the border, reinforcing a sense of confinement and isolation in the Gaza Strip, even in times of imminent danger.

    2. Salah al-Din Gate

    Located 4 kilometres from the Rafah Crossing, Salah al-Din Gate derives its name from “Salah al-Din Street,” considered the main artery connecting the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip. The crossing is managed by the security apparatus of the Hamas government on the Gaza side, while Egypt oversees the Egyptian side of the crossing. Salah al-Din Gate likely required implicit approval from the Israeli occupation before its opening.

    Before the opening of Salah al-Din Gate, the only crossing point between Gaza and Egypt was the primarily individual-use Rafah Crossing, with Egypt allowing small quantities of goods and humanitarian aid to be delivered. Salah al-Din Gate was introduced as a commercial crossing to alleviate restrictions on the Gaza Strip, fearing a severe deterioration in the humanitarian situation. Although not a true commercial crossing, it addresses some basic needs of Gaza’s residents. Commercial activity with Egypt through Salah al-Din Gate has seen a significant development, with Gaza’s total imports through the gate increasing from 13% in 2018 to 37% in 2022. Traffic through Salah al-Din Gate constitutes 42.5% of Gaza’s commercial activity, with around a thousand trucks entering the Gaza Strip through it each month. The imported goods include food items, building materials, raw materials, fuel, and cement. The gate played a crucial role in securing a strategic stockpile of flour, rice, legumes, and oils, contributing to protecting the internal front during crises and wars. On the other hand, Israeli occupation authorities prohibit the entry of many items, claiming they have “dual-use” and fear they may reach resistance factions for weapon manufacturing and development.

    • Traffic Movement

    After Hamas took control in Gaza, the blockade on the Gaza Strip was tightened. Despite some easing of restrictions following the Israeli aggression on Gaza in 2014, Israel and Egypt maintained strict limitations on the entry of goods into the Gaza Strip. With the deterioration of conditions inside Gaza in early 2018, the “Great Return March” protests, and short-term escalations between the occupation and resistance factions, indirect negotiations began for a long-term ceasefire to ease the siege’s intensity. Negotiations led to the opening of Salah al-Din Gate between Gaza and Egypt in February 2018. Egypt quietly opened the crossing, which had previously been a humanitarian entry point for residents on both sides of the Gaza-Sinai border. The crossing serves as a small trade passage, one-way only, between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. A private company in Gaza and another in Egypt manage the cargo transport under the supervision of the Egyptian army and Hamas in Gaza. Goods are transported in limited quantities from Egypt to Gaza through the crossing, which lacks the infrastructure to qualify as a full-fledged commercial crossing. It does not provide most of the essential needs for Gaza’s residents. The crossing opens for about ten to fifteen days a month, during which fuel and goods are brought from the Egyptian side to Gaza without undergoing Palestinian Authority customs procedures.

    Open Crossings

    1.  Beit Hanoun/Erez Crossing

    Located on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, it separates the Gaza Strip from the territories occupied in 1948. The Israeli occupation authorities fully control the crossing, having the absolute freedom to allow or prevent the travel of citizens to and from the Gaza Strip. The crossing is primarily designated for the movement of vehicles and individuals, including citizens and foreigners, between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Diplomats, journalists, foreign missions, important personalities, workers, and Gaza traders (wishing to enter Israel with permits), as well as workers from the Gaza Strip, pass through it. It is also used for the passage of Palestinian medical cases requiring treatment outside the Gaza Strip in Israeli-controlled areas, the West Bank, or Jordan. It facilitates humanitarian cases that are granted permits to visit family, and religious sites, such as Islamic and Christian holy places, and allows residents of the Gaza Strip to visit their relatives in Israeli occupation prisons or for students to reach their universities in the West Bank.

    • Traffic Movement

    The opportunities for residents of the Gaza Strip to enter Israel diminished over time. Since 1991, they have been required to obtain permits to exit the Gaza Strip to Israel, and the number of these permits has been reduced over the years. In 1993, a comprehensive closure was imposed on Palestinian territories, effectively applied especially to the Gaza Strip starting in 1995, in addition to the construction of an electronic wall and a cement wall around the Gaza Strip. With the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000, the Israeli occupation revoked many existing exit permits, reduced the issuance of new permits, and closed the crossing for longer periods. In the first year of the Intifada, the crossing was closed to Palestinian movement 72% of the days in the year. These restrictions led to a sharp decline in the number of Palestinian people in Gaza who can leave daily, dropping from around 26,000 Palestinians in the summer of 2000 to less than 900 by the end of that year. After Hamas took control of internal affairs in the Gaza Strip in 2007, the Israeli occupation imposed a comprehensive closure on the Gaza Strip and allowed Palestinians to exit the Strip based on a list of specified criteria focused on “humanitarian and exceptional cases.” Although the Israeli occupation authorities have changed some of these criteria over time, the movement of people between the Gaza Strip and the occupied land, including the West Bank and 48 territories has remained extremely limited. Most Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are not allowed to exit at all through the crossing. With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Israeli occupation authorities restricted movement through the Beit Hanoun crossing except for critical medical cases, their companions, and a few other exceptional cases.

    • Occupation Harassment

    The crossing suffers from frequent long closures, in addition to restrictions on the movement of Palestinian traders and workers to pass to the occupied territories and the West Bank. Palestinians need permits from the occupation authorities to pass through the crossing, and obtaining these permits involves complex and slow procedures that take a long time. Palestinians undergo humiliating inspections during the passage process and are forced to wait for long hours until they are allowed to pass. When passing through Beit Hanoun Crossing, travellers are required, even if they are sick, to walk a distance of over a kilometre to reach the Israeli occupation side of the crossing. Citizens or traders are often detained and interrogated by intelligence agencies that exploit the needs of citizens to travel for information, extortion, threats, or even to prevent travel or arrest.

    Closure Damages

    Closures hinder the daily life of the Gaza Strip, preventing the entry of traders, journalists, foreigners, and other travellers. They also cause harm to humanitarian situations, preventing the entry of patients and their companions. Closures result in significant economic losses. According to the General Union of Palestinian Workers in Gaza, the closure costs the Gaza Strip losses exceeding one million dollars daily, due to preventing about 19,000 workers from commuting to their workplaces inside the occupied territories and the West Bank.

    • Crossing “Kerem Abu Salem”/”Kerem Shalom”

    Located in the far southeast of the Gaza Strip, approximately 4 kilometres west of Rafah, at the junction of the borders between Egypt, the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli-occupied territories. The Israeli occupation controls the crossing in coordination with Egypt, and the “Presidential Committee for the Entry of Goods,” affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, oversees the commercial movement. After the closure of Al-Montar Crossing (northern Gaza), Kerem Abu Salem became the main gateway for the passage of goods between the occupation and the Gaza Strip. It serves as a lifeline for the residents of the Gaza Strip and is sometimes used for the passage of aid. Additionally, some Palestinians use it when they cannot use the nearby Rafah Crossing.

    Approximately 57.5% of the commercial traffic in the Gaza Strip passes through it. It allows the entry of trucks carrying essential products, raw materials for industry, medical equipment, food products, livestock, fruits, fuel, and building materials. Farmers, factory owners, and traders in Gaza, who employ thousands of workers in the Strip, rely on Kerem Abu Salem Crossing to market their goods to the West Bank and foreign countries. Despite being used as an alternative to Al-Montar Crossing, its efficiency is lower. Al-Montar Crossing is only about 5 kilometres from the centre of Gaza City, while Kerem Abu Salem is about 40 kilometres away from the city centre, which is the most densely populated area in the Gaza Strip, housing most factories and commercial warehouses. The considerable distance between Kerem Abu Salem Crossing and the trade and industrial centres in the Gaza Strip, the seaports, oil refineries, and commercial crossings in the West Bank, has led to a significant increase in the transportation costs of goods to and from the Gaza Strip.

    According to the “Mesarv” organization, the cost of transporting goods through Kerem Abu Salem Crossing is more than 50% higher than the cost of transportation through Al-Montar Crossing. Moreover, Kerem Abu Salem Crossing is small compared to Al-Montar Crossing, lacks suitable infrastructure for an active trade movement, operates with very limited capacity, and, on its best days, can handle only about 400 trucks, in contrast to Al-Montar Crossing, which operated with a capacity of a thousand trucks per day.

    • Traffic Movement

    The Israeli occupation began operating the Kerem Abu Salem Crossing for the first time in 2005 to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. It then initiated the closure of commercial crossings with the Gaza Strip, keeping only Kerem Abu Salem open, which was not originally designated as the exclusive crossing for the transport of goods to and from the Strip. Since the Israeli tightening of the closure on the Gaza Strip in June 2007 until October 2014, approximately 14 trucks per month left the Gaza Strip for export, most of them loaded with agricultural products.

    On November 6, 2014, for the first time since the closure, the Israeli occupation allowed the regular marketing of goods from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. Initially, only agricultural products were allowed to be marketed, and later products from the textile and furniture industries were also permitted. In 2019, the number of cargo trucks passing through the crossing reached about 262 trucks per month.

    • Occupation Harassment

    The crossing is subject to frequent closures, and work is restricted to specific hours. Israeli occupation authorities impose complex conditions that hinder imports and stifle exports. They occasionally use it as a card for extortion and pressure on the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas.” Despite the donation of a container X-ray inspection device by the Netherlands government, the cargo is unloaded and then reloaded, even if the truck has undergone a scan. There are no fuel storage tanks at the crossing, so the transport of fuel requires the presence of both an Israeli and a Palestinian truck at the same time, which slows down procedures and wastes a lot of time for coordination. The fuel transfer process from one truck to another does not allow for an accurate measurement of the quantity of fuel being transferred. Palestinian traders complain of losing thousands of litres, resulting in material losses they have to bear every month. On the other hand, Palestinians passing through Kerem Abu Salem Crossing undergo complicated procedures, humiliation, and extortion by Israeli security and intelligence agencies.

    • Closure Damages

    Since Kerem Abu Salem Crossing is the main commercial crossing for the Gaza Strip, through which building materials, goods, fuel, and food needed by the Gaza Strip are imported, its closure causes a significant economic and livelihood crisis. Closures and restrictions affect the agriculture and industry sectors, as well as the fish farming sector. Closures disrupt commercial and industrial life, resulting in significant losses and serious economic damage to industries, businesses, and traders. Closures prevent the marketing of goods from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank and abroad, preventing goods from reaching their natural markets. Traders and marketers suffer irreparable damages, leading to the collapse of many commercial interests, widespread unemployment, contributing to economic deterioration, and deepening reliance on humanitarian aid.

    Closed Crossings

    1.  Al-Montar /Karni Crossing

    Located to the east of Gaza City, on the demarcation line between the Gaza Strip and the Israeli occupation, it is entirely controlled by the Israeli occupation. The crossing was established in 1994 after the signing of the Oslo Accords. Before its closure, it was the main and most equipped commercial passage, with advanced equipment, machinery, and infrastructure enabling active two-way trade, both imports and exports. It was designated for commercial traffic to and from the Gaza Strip, as well as for exporting vegetables to the West Bank.

    According to the Crossing Agreement, it allowed the passage of 150 trucks per day, the minimum required to sustain the Palestinian economy based on World Bank estimates. The number was later increased to 400 trucks in 2006.

    • Occupation Harassment

    The crossing underwent rigorous inspections, and Israeli occupation authorities required an inspection for everything passing through, exposing any goods to potential damage and wasting a significant amount of time. The crossing imposed a financial burden on the residents of the Gaza Strip, especially traders and farmers. They were required to pay substantial amounts for transporting and importing goods. The delivery of goods from the port of Isdud was considered the most expensive in the world. Additionally, they paid Israeli occupation truck drivers more than the normal rates. Israel violated the terms of the Crossing Agreement by closing the crossing for most days of the year, opening only 150 days throughout 2007. The Israeli occupation authorities allowed only a few trucks to pass daily. The crossing operated at only about 23% of its capacity due to Israeli occupation complications, leading to a slowdown in economic growth, an increase in unemployment rates, and a significant shortage of various goods, food, and medicines in Gaza markets.

    • Closure of the Crossing

    Israeli occupation authorities temporarily closed the crossing along with other crossings connecting it to Gaza in response to the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Palestinian resistance forces. In 2011, the occupation authorities permanently closed the crossing, leaving Kerem Abu Salem Crossing as the only commercial crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip. In early December 2022, the Israeli occupation army initiated an operation called “Karni Auz” to dismantle the Karni Crossing on the Gaza border. This was done to complete the construction of a land barrier, in the form of a cement wall, under the pretext of “strengthening the defence line along the border with Gaza.”

    •  Crossing “Al-Awda”/”Sofa”

    Located east of the city of Rafah, southeast of Khan Yunis, it is entirely controlled by the Zionist entity. This crossing is considered small, connecting the Gaza Strip with the occupation, designated mainly for commercial movement. Most of the traffic consists of construction materials moving in one direction toward the Gaza Strip only. Occasionally, it is used for the entry of workers. The crossing was subject to closures based on the mood of the Israeli occupying security, with extremely complex inspection procedures.

    Israeli occupation security intentionally empties trucks coming from the occupation in a large yard and conducts prolonged inspections before allowing them to proceed. In 2008, the occupation authorities permanently closed it. In 2011, they used it once to bring in shipments of building materials specifically for UNRWA.

    • Crossing “Al-Shuja’iya”/”Nahal Oz”

    Located in the Shuja’iya neighbourhood east of Gaza City, it is entirely controlled by the Israeli occupation. Fuel and gas used to pass through it to the Gaza Strip under the supervision of an Israeli occupation company. The crossing had tanks dedicated to petroleum products (diesel and gasoline) in its western part, while the eastern part had tanks for natural gas, supplied through pipes from the Israeli occupation side to the Palestinian side of the crossing. The occupation authorities regularly closed the Shuja’iya crossing for two days each week, leading power plant workers in Gaza to cut small quantities and store them to cover the days when supply is halted. In January 2010, the crossing was completely closed, turning it into a military site.

    • Crossing “Al-Qarara”/”Kissufim”

    Located to the east between the areas of Khan Yunis and Deir al-Balah, it is entirely controlled by the Israeli occupation authorities. This crossing is designated for the military movement of Israeli occupation forces. The crossing has been closed since the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, only opening for the passage of tanks and vehicles in case the occupation decides to launch an aggression on the Strip.

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    Palestinians Stand Firm Against Israeli Plans

    The steadfast resistance of the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people, both within their homeland and scattered across the diaspora, stands as a resolute rejection of any nefarious Israeli plans to displace Palestinians. The proposed schemes include relocating them from Gaza to Egypt or from the West Bank to Jordan, actions that are feared to fragment the Palestinian cause—a cause that Israel actively seeks to obliterate, disregarding any rights of Palestinians to establish their independent state.

    Israel’s longstanding strategy to rid itself of Palestinian residents in Gaza and the West Bank involves coercive displacement beyond Palestinian territories. This aligns with malicious Israeli plans to annex the remaining Palestinian lands, facilitated by the continuous expansion of settlements orchestrated by the Israeli occupation war government.

    The Zionist entity’s objective of expelling Palestinians approaches what can be described as a form of ethnic cleansing, a practice condemned by international law and norms. The occupation army presents the Palestinian people with a harrowing choice: either endure a committed Holocaust or leave their ancestral land. This choice reflects the occupation’s intent to purge Gaza of its inhabitants, making way for more settlers and reinforcing the area with additional fortifications and security measures.

    In a resolute stand against Israel’s occupation strategies, Palestinian officials have unequivocally rejected plans to uproot the people of Gaza from their homes and expel them from the region. This counters Israel’s objective of depopulating Gaza, a scheme actively pursued by ministers in the right-wing government governing the occupied territories. Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, made it clear that there would be no migration of Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt. He commended Egypt’s firm rejection of migration, resettlement, and displacement, underscoring Egypt’s role as a hospitable refuge for Palestinians.

    Highlighting the recent Al-Aqsa Flood operation, Haniyeh emphasized that the Israeli occupation faced a strategic setback. Accusing Israel of perpetrating massacres and genocide, he pointed out the regime’s attempts to displace Gaza’s residents after its military forces failed to confront Palestinian factions. Haniyeh highlighted the international support these Israeli actions receive, singling out backing from the United States and certain European countries. This, he argued, exposes the glaring double standards and hypocrisy in play. The Palestinian street’s discourse rejecting the displacement of citizens from Gaza to Egypt aligns with the will of the Palestinian people and other Arab nations. Palestinians choose not to leave their land, homes, and livelihoods, affirming their commitment to live or sacrifice on their soil, avoiding a repetition of the Nakba scenario that occurred in 1948.

    Leaving Gaza would mean ending the Palestinian cause, disregarding the substantial sacrifices of th thousands of martyrs who died for Palestinian freedom. In the tapestry of the Palestinian narrative, a new slogan emerges: “One Nakba is enough.” These words, articulated by writer Abdulnaser Salama, encapsulate the resilience and determination echoing through the decades of political and armed struggles in the region.

    The Nakba of 1948, a pivotal moment marked by displacement and migration, unfolded either within the confines of Palestinian territories or towards neighbouring countries. Now, after 75 years, this historic catastrophe has left an indelible mark on the Palestinian experience, resulting in dispersal and diaspora, all against the backdrop of a world seemingly devoid of a global conscience.

    As events continue to unfold, particularly in the tumultuous landscape of Gaza, it becomes apparent that the collective understanding of the Palestinian psyche remains elusive to the West and Israelis alike. Salama contends that the intricacies of Palestinian psychology and religiosity are yet to be comprehended fully, a void that persists despite ongoing political developments.

    One poignant aspect Salama highlights is Israel’s failure to recognize the historical mistake embedded in accepting the land of Palestine for the establishment of a Jewish state. This oversight, he suggests, forms a crucial element in the protracted Palestinian struggle, emphasizing the significance of acknowledging past missteps for a more informed future. Salama adds depth to the narrative by framing the Palestinian cause not merely as a political or military endeavour but as the longest liberation war in history. Driven by psychological, religious, and historical imperatives, this protracted conflict surpasses conventional political theories and military calculations.

    The recent Al-Aqsa Flood operation stands as a testament to the resilience of Palestinian youth, inscribing a powerful chapter in the 75-year saga of struggle. Salama argues that these ground-level expressions of resilience should prompt a reconsideration not only within the West but also within the United States. The challenge, he suggests, lies in approaching the Palestinian issue and its multifaceted personality with a holistic perspective that transcends geopolitical divides.

    “One Nakba is enough” echoes not just as a slogan but as a poignant call for reflection, challenging the global community to engage with the Palestinian narrative in its entirety, with due consideration for the complexities that define this enduring struggle.

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    Gaza’s Desperate Plight: Humanitarian Crisis Deepens Amid Israeli Occupation Aggression

    Salamah Marouf, Head of the Government Information Office in Gaza, stated that Israel’s occupation is waging a war of starvation on the besieged population of the Gaza Strip, indiscriminately affecting residents in the north and south alike. Marouf warned that signs of malnutrition and dehydration are emerging among children in Gaza. He noted that the aid entering the Gaza Strip so far is equivalent to what used to enter in a single day before the Israeli occupation aggression, emphasizing that these aid shipments do not meet the real and urgent needs of the people.

    Water and Electricity

    In Beirut, Hamas leader Basem Naeem stated that potable water in Gaza is now over 90% scarce. Naeem, in a joint press conference with the movement’s representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, added that Gaza residents often resort to seawater, leading to health issues. He accused the Israeli occupation of intentionally cutting off water to the Gaza Strip, a crime against humanity. He expressed shame on the international community for allowing the occupation to use water as leverage against Gaza’s residents. Naeem also mentioned that Gazans are facing a crisis in securing bread due to the occupation’s bombardment of bakeries.

    He accused the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) of collusion with Israel by neglecting its established role in international law, calling on the global community and the United Nations not to succumb to the occupier’s will. Naeem highlighted that 2% of Gaza’s population has become either martyrs, wounded, or missing.

    Jalal Ismail, the head of the Palestinian Energy Authority in Gaza, stated that 70% of the electricity distribution networks in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed due to the ongoing Israeli occupation aggression. Ismail added that the losses in the electricity sector in Gaza are estimated at over $80 million.

    Hospital Shutdowns

    The hospitals in the Gaza Strip continue to suffer from a complete absence of fuel, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. The Director-General of Hospitals in the Gaza Strip, Dr. Mohammed Zakout, has issued a stark warning, emphasizing the dire situation in the region. Specifically, he highlighted the imminent risk to children’s lives due to the forced evacuation of hospitals, notably the Rantisi and Al-Awda Hospitals. Moreover, he underscored the alarming lack of a safe space at the Al-Shifa Medical Complex, making it impossible to access the bodies of the martyrs.

    He also mentioned that critical issues, including the hazardous accumulation of garbage and medical waste, a shortage of water, and persistent power outages, pose a severe threat to everyone’s well-being. He mentioned that approximately 1,500 displaced individuals in the Al-Shifa Medical Complex are in immediate danger. Urgently, a plea is made to the Egyptian authorities to organize an ambulance convoy for the transportation of 650 patients without adhering to the current bureaucratic mechanisms. Meanwhile,

    Destruction of Housing Units

    In another development, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression, Irene Khan, revealed that Israeli occupation attacks on Gaza have resulted in the destruction or damage of 45% of all housing units in the Gaza Strip. Khan added that this has led to the internal displacement of 1.5 million people and the death of over 10,000.

    The UN official described the destruction of civilian homes and infrastructure in Gaza as an international war crime. Irene Khan called on the world to act immediately to end the widespread attacks on civilian homes and infrastructure in Gaza, which have incurred a high cost in lives.

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    Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis Deepens as Casualties Mount and Healthcare System Struggles

    The Ministry of Health in Gaza stated that the toll of the Israeli occupation aggression on the Gaza Strip reached 11,451 martyrs, with 80% of them being women, children, and the elderly. The Ministry affirmed that the occupation forces deliberately terrorized the healthcare system in Gaza and its workers, warning of a major health catastrophe shortly.

    The government media office in Gaza reported on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, that 25 hospitals and 52 health centres were out of service as a result of the Israeli occupation aggression. Moreover, the Israeli occupation killed 202 health personnel and 36 civil defence personnel, in addition to wounding more than 200 health personnel. More than 60 ambulances were attacked, 55 of which were damaged and put out of service.

    The Director of Al-Shifa Medical Complex, Mihammad Abu Salmiya, has asserted that dozens of martyrs have been buried in a mass grave on the hospital grounds due to the continued Israeli occupation siege and aggression on the Strip for the 39th day. Abu Salmia said that at least 179 bodies were buried in a mass grave at the hospital yesterday, explaining that among them were 7 children who died due to power outages.

    Thousands of patients require life-saving medical care, including those in need of dialysis, advanced cancer treatment, insulin for diabetic patients, and over 50,000 pregnant women facing challenges in accessing healthcare.

    With the ongoing power outage and fuel shortages, all sectors, especially the healthcare sector, are on the verge of collapse, tantamount to a death sentence for the wounded and sick. The scarcity of drinking water, unavailability of personal care supplies, and the deterioration of parts of the sewage system led to the spread of infectious diseases, signaling an impending health catastrophe, especially with the continuous blockade of water and medicine.

    The Ministry of Health in Gaza has declared the collapse of the healthcare system due to the acute shortage of medical supplies, their prevention from reaching Gaza, and the depletion of healthcare supplies and medications. Hospitals cannot admit any more patients or wounded due to the lack of resources and beds, reaching a point where surgeries are performed by the light of mobile phones and without anesthesia, creating a tragic situation beyond human imagination.

    Despite the psychological and physical pressures and the lack of resources, medical and healthcare professionals continue to provide their services, resorting to prioritization in treatment due to the catastrophic conditions. Hence, the Ministry of Health in Gaza has called upon the retired medical staff to join the workforce due to the shortage of personnel immediately, the increasing numbers of wounded and sick, and the difficulties in accessing treatment areas due to roads destroyed by bombings.

    Thousands of Palestinian displaced families who had been sheltering at Al-Shifa, along with patients and wounded who were not able to move or escape, had been trapped inside the hospital under heavy bombing and shootings by the Israeli occupation troops surrounding the hospital.

    The Israeli occupation forces last night raided Al-Shifa Hospitals, firing smoke bombs into the emergency department before carrying out armed military intrusion. Doctors said not a single shot was fired from within the medical complex, but they heard Israeli forces shooting into it everywhere. So far, it’s unclear if or how many people were killed or injured in the raid, as communications channels were blocked as it was taking place.

    These heinous crimes of the Israeli occupation’s ongoing aggression, including the deliberate targeting of medical facilities, are blatant violations of international humanitarian law, ethical values, and principles that cannot be ignored or tolerated.

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    Before al-Aqsa Flood “Taufan” : A Year of Israeli Occupation Crimes Against Palestinians

    Western leaders who visited “Tel Aviv” after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation on October 7th expressed complete support for the Israeli occupation, aligning with its narrative. Their positions were solely based on the immediate outcomes of the military and political attack, disregarding the deeper conflict history and the nature of the Israeli occupation. This operation, part of a longstanding pattern of brutal aggressions predominantly initiated by the Israeli occupation, embarrassed the Israeli occupation government and army led by Benjamin Netanyahu. The leaders’ limited perspective resulted in unconditional support for the Israel occupation, even amidst its massacres and mass killings in the besieged Gaza Strip, with only occasional remarks urging more caution in targeting operations.

    The responses of Western leaders visiting “Tel Aviv” after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation suggest a reduction of Israeli occupation’s actions to mere reactions, isolating the event from its historical context in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and framing it as an “unjustified and unethical” assault. This viewpoint deliberately separates the West Bank and Gaza, reinforcing the notion that Gaza is detached from the broader conflict, aligning with the Israeli occupation narrative. The Al-Aqsa Flood operation, sparked by the occupation’s continuous violations of international decisions and provocative policies, unfolded in 2023 under Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, resulting in over 180 Palestinian casualties in the West Bank.

    The Israeli Extreme and Provocative Government

    The current Israeli occupation government, led by Netanyahu since December 2022, is comprised of six right-wing parties, including Likud, Shas, Jewish Home, Yamina, Religious Zionism, and Jewish Power. Described by Western, Arab, and Israeli occupation media as the “most extreme in Israel’s history,” this coalition marked the return of religious parties to the political scene. Even before becoming the Minister of National Security in Netanyahu’s government, right-wing extremist Itamar Ben Gvir brandished a gun in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, amid clashes between Palestinians and Israeli occupation forces, accompanied by his supporters. Escalations in the West Bank, al-Quds, and Gaza have surged since the formation of Netanyahu’s government, resulting in record numbers of Palestinian casualties, desecration of their sanctities, assaults on women, and the destruction of towns and wells.

    In the first half of 2023 alone, Israeli occupation forces killed over 220 Palestinians, including around 40 children and 11 women. Human Rights Watch highlighted routine unlawful killings of Palestinian children by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF), demanding an end to the routine and illegal use of lethal force. Regarding Palestinian prisoners, Israeli occupation authorities issued over 2600 administrative detention orders since early 2023, with around 5200 Palestinian prisoners, including 36 women and about 170 children. In September 2023, Ben Gvir reduced family visits for some Palestinian prisoners from once a month to every two months, part of a series of punitive measures against prisoners. Additionally, in August 2023, the Israeli Minister of National Security called for arming more Israelis in response to Palestinian gunfire in the West Bank.

    As for the Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich, who had his visits to Washington and Paris boycotted by American and French officials due to his racist and anti-Palestinian statements, he has actively supported settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, residing in the settlement of Kedumim in the northern West Bank. In a 2016 interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he stated, “If we show an iron fist, there won’t be children throwing stones. Those who throw stones won’t be here… Either shoot them, imprison them, or expel them.” In March 2023, Smotrich called for the “eradication” of the Palestinian town of Hawara following attacks by hundreds of settlers on the town on February 26, 2023, resulting in the killing of a Palestinian and the burning and destruction of dozens of Palestinian homes and cars. These attacks were followed by the killing of Israelis in a shooting on a car near the town, just days after the Israeli army killed 11 Palestinians during its raid on the city of Nablus in the northern West Bank. Smotrich also declared in Paris on February 19 that “there is no such thing as the Palestinian people,” a statement from a government official with an annulment character, unleashing a wave of hatred and deadly attacks.

    The Israeli occupation incursions into the Al-Aqsa Mosque increased under the Netanyahu government, fueled by right-wing ministers and protected by the occupation forces. A Palestinian official report stated that around 41,000 Israeli settlers invaded Al-Aqsa Mosque from the beginning of the year until the end of September 2023, resulting in the arrest of 464 residents of al-Quds in the past three months, including 62 children and 32 women, along with 54 house arrest orders.

    In the context of the Flag March, also known as the “Flag Dance,” a celebration marking the occupation of East Jerusalem, the Israeli occupation sought to claim ownership of the land, turning the march into a focal point of confrontation with Palestinians. Despite warnings from the resistance factions against “escalating tensions,” Netanyahu and his ministers insisted on holding the march in May last year. Netanyahu stated, “Despite the threats, I ordered the march to take place,” where participants often chant the slogan “Death to Arabs.” To secure the march, the Israeli occupation police deployed 3,200 officers and assaulted Palestinians in the Bab al-Amud area and the Old City. Ben Gvir, participating in the dance, shouted, “al-Quds is ours.”

    Settlements Expansion

    Israel pledged at least twice to freeze settlements in Palestinian territories this year, but this period witnessed a record rise in illegal settlement activities. The current Israeli occupation government initiated the largest settlement operation since 2012. In the West Bank, Israeli occupation bulldozers work day and night, leading to a surge in illegal settlements. The government approved plans for 12,885 settlement units and published tenders for an additional 1,289 units, bringing the total to over 14,000, according to Israeli Peace Now movement data.

    The largest plans include 1,475 units in Ma’ale Adumim near Jerusalem, 1,081 units in Eili north of Ramallah, and 350 units in Alkana near Nablus. Reports indicate that 506,000 settlers are in the West Bank, and 230,000 in East Jerusalem. The displacement of these settlers is considered ethno-religious cleansing and is deemed impossible from a Jewish perspective. In international reactions, a statement by the “Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory” issued at the end of September stated that Israel has violated and continues to violate the Palestinians’ right to self-determination through long-term occupation, settlement, and annexation since 1967. The committee emphasized that Israel’s 56-year-long occupation is illegal under international law, and the consequences of these illegal actions warrant legal repercussions for Israel to end “unlawful international conduct.”

    Another UN report stated that many Palestinians left their communities due to settler violence, calling on Israel to stop settlement activities and dismantle settlement outposts. In 2022, over 1,100 Palestinians were displaced from 28 communities due to escalating settler violence. Israeli authorities also issued demolition orders affecting 200 homes and structures near Jericho and others near Nablus. The settlement project east of Jerusalem, based on the green light given by the Israeli occupation Supreme Court years ago, includes the demolition and evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar. Minister Ben Gvir has repeatedly called for the demolition of the Bedouin community, claiming it was built without a permit.

    The name of Khan al-Ahmar returned to the forefront recently with the arrest by Israeli occupation police of two girls defending their younger brother (8 years old) from an attack by a settler. This incident shed light once again on the suffering of Bedouin communities east of Jerusalem, living in an area of extreme sensitivity completely controlled by Israeli occupation authorities. The settlers continuously harass them in an attempt to evict them. Inside the 1948 occupied territories, Israeli occupation authorities demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb in the Negev (south) 222 times in 13 years. Each time, the residents rebuild the village after its demolition. Israel has also demolished homes and structures in the West Bank, issuing demolition orders affecting 200 homes and structures near Jericho and others near Nablus.

    Without going back to past years and the factors of frustration, despair, and anger they left in the hearts of Palestinians, the toll of just one year of Israeli occupation violations alone was enough to serve as the catalyst that triggered reactions. It was one of the waves that turned the “Al-Aqsa Flood” into an anticipated battle, where the only change was the element of surprise, and the Israeli occupation suffered losses that were not taken into account.

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    Israel’s Use of White Phosphorus: Internationally Banned Weapons and Civilian Risks

    Human Rights Watch stated, in conjunction with the release of a document on white phosphorus, that Israel’s use of white phosphorus in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon poses a serious and long-term risk to civilians. Human Rights Watch examined videos taken in Lebanon and Gaza on October 10 and 11, 2023, respectively, showing multiple airbursts of white phosphorus artillery over the port of Gaza City and two locations along the Palestinian-Lebanese border. They conducted interviews with individuals who described the attack on Gaza.

    White phosphorus, which can be used for marking, signalling, obscuring vision, or as a weapon to ignite fires that burn people and objects, has a wide-reaching impact, causing severe burns and long-lasting suffering. Its illegal and indiscriminate use in urban areas with high population density, as seen in Gaza, exacerbates the risks faced by civilians and violates the prohibition imposed by international humanitarian law on unnecessary civilian harm.

    According to Lama Fakih, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch, “Each time it is used in densely populated areas, white phosphorus poses a significant risk of causing painful burns and lifelong suffering. When white phosphorus is illegally airburst in populated urban areas, it can burn homes and cause serious harm to civilians.”

    On October 11, Human Rights Watch conducted a phone interview with two individuals from the port area in Gaza City who described witnessing strikes consistent with the use of white phosphorus. One of them was in the street at the time, while the other was in a nearby administrative building. Both described continuous air raids before seeing explosions in the sky, followed by what they described as white lines descending to the ground. They estimated that the attack occurred between 11:30 AM and 1 PM. They both described a choking smell. The person in his office said the smell was so strong that he went to the window to see what was happening and filmed the strike.

    Human Rights Watch reviewed the videos and confirmed that they were filmed in the port of Gaza City and identified the munitions used in the airstrike as 155mm artillery white phosphorus shells that airburst. Other videos posted on social media and verified by Human Rights Watch show the same location. Dense white smoke and a strong garlic-like odour are characteristics of white phosphorus.

    Human Rights Watch also reviewed two video clips dated October 10 from two locations near the Palestinian-Lebanese border. Both show airburst 155mm artillery white phosphorus shells used apparently as smoke screens, signals, or markers.

    White phosphorus ignites upon contact with atmospheric oxygen and continues to burn until deprived of oxygen or consumed. Its chemical reaction can generate intense heat (about 815 degrees Celsius), light, and smoke.

    Upon contact, white phosphorus can burn people thermally and chemically, even reaching the bone because it is highly soluble in fat and, therefore, in human flesh. White phosphorus fragments can worsen wounds even after treatment and can enter the bloodstream, causing multiple organ failure. Burns previously dressed can reignite when dressings are removed, and wounds are re-exposed to oxygen. Even relatively minor burns can be deadly. For survivors, extensive scarring can tighten muscular tissue and cause physical disabilities. The shock of the attack, the painful treatment that follows, and the changing appearance of scars can lead to psychological trauma and social exclusion.

    Human Rights Watch stated that Israel’s use of white phosphorus in densely populated areas in Gaza violates the duty to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm, as stipulated by international humanitarian law. This concern is exacerbated by the technology shown in videos of airburst white phosphorus shells. The explosion of airburst white phosphorus shells scatters 116 burning fragments soaked in the substance across an area with a diameter ranging from 125 to 250 meters, depending on the height of the explosion, thereby exposing more civilians and civilian structures to potential damage compared to ground-based localized explosions.

    Israel’s use of white phosphorus comes amid a brutal aggression on the Gaza Strip since October 7, killing more than 8,000 martyrs, including 3,324 children, 2,062 women, and 460 elderly, in Israeli barbaric airstrikes. Additionally, 20,242 civilians were injured to varying degrees. Israeli occupation forces cut off electricity, water, fuel, food, and internet access to Gaza, in violation of the prohibition imposed by international humanitarian law on collective punishment, worsening the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza under more than 16 years of Israel’s suffocating siege.

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    Operation Al-Aqsa Flood “Taufan” Daily Report (19)

    On the nineteenth day of the Israeli aggression in Gaza

    • The Israeli Occupation’s efforts to depict the Palestinian resistance as akin to ISIS failed, as evident in the statement of released Israeli captive Yocheved Lifshitz, who countered the Occupation’s narrative by highlighting the humane treatment she experienced while in captivity. The fact that the Israeli media criticized Mrs Lifshitz’s statements, which were not subject to censorship, underscores the deceit and manipulation at play.
    • Due to the Israeli Occupation’s blatant violations of international and humanitarian laws, the already struggling healthcare system in the besieged Gaza Strip, under a 17-year blockade, has collapsed.
    • In a separate incident, Palestinian detainee Arif Hamdan, aged 24, was subjected to systematic torture in Israeli Occupation prisons and died two days after his arrest. This tragic event followed the martyrdom of prisoner Omar Daraghmeh, part of a widespread arrest campaign that has affected over 1,200 Palestinian citizens in the West Bank since the start of the aggression.
    • The Israeli Occupation has intensified its direct attacks on food security in Gaza, including preventing the entry of food supplies and deliberately targeting bakeries and food stores.
    • The amount of explosives dropped on Gaza has exceeded 12,000 tons, equivalent to the size of the nuclear bomb the USA used on Hiroshima. Considering that Gaza’s area is only 365 square kilometres, this translates to 33 tons dropped per square kilometre.
    • The scarcity of electricity, water, and fuel means that the amount of water available to Gaza residents is less than a quarter of their daily water requirement, roughly half a litre per person.
    • Continuous Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) bombardment of homes and families has resulted in more than 37 targeted families, leading to 4,077 martyrs (representing 74% of the total number of martyrs).
    • In one day alone, the intensive bombardment of Gaza resulted in 756 casualties, including 344 children and over 159 women and elderly individuals, along with 1,142 injuries, 70% of whom are children, women, and elders.
    • The cumulative number of martyrs since the onset of the Israeli aggression until 11:59 pm yesterday reached 6,547, comprising 2,704 children (41% of total martyrs) and 1,741 women and elderly individuals (27% of martyrs), not including those still trapped under the rubble.
    • The total number of injured individuals since the beginning of the aggression until 11:59 pm yesterday reached 17,439, with 5,770 children (33% of total injuries) and 5,205 women and elderly individuals (30% of injuries). There are still many individuals at risk, and this figure does not encompass those trapped under the rubble.
    • The Israeli Occupation is intensifying its aggression against the Palestinian people in the West Bank, erecting 468 checkpoints that hinder movement between Palestinian villages, resulting in the martyrdom of 98 individuals, injuries to over 1,773, and the detention of 1,235 people since the commencement of the ongoing aggression. Additionally, Israeli settlers’ assaults have increased to 232.

    We call upon Arab and Muslim Ummah and the global community to take a firm and unambiguous stance in supporting the Palestinian resistance within international organizations. It is imperative to hold the international community accountable for its failure to implement UN resolutions aimed at a just resolution to the Palestinian issue, including the right of refugees to return, the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and exposing the false narrative propagated by the Israeli Occupation. Furthermore, we encourage these countries to reject any international resolution that compromises the Palestinian people’s right to resist the occupation, which lies at the heart of the region’s instability, using all available means. It is essential to activate international laws that recognize and uphold this right. The stated and unstated objectives of the ongoing Israeli Occupation’s aggression will ultimately prove futile in the face of the unwavering determination of our people and their resistance.

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    Operation Al-Aqsa Flood “Taufan” Daily Report (18)

    On the 18th  Day of the Israeli Genocide in Gaza

    • On the eighteenth day of the Israeli aggression in Gaza, the Israeli Occupation is accused of perpetrating genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. The Western countries are complicit in these actions by providing political support, which has been ongoing since the occupation’s establishment on Palestinian land in previous decades.
    • Additionally, the Israeli Occupation Authorities are blamed for the killing of Hamas member Omar Daraghmeh, who was killed in their custody within a week of his detention, even though he had no prior health issues. The responsibility for his murder is placed directly on the Israeli Occupation.
    • The Gaza Strip is facing severe challenges, including power shortages, a lack of fuel for generators, and shortages of medicines and medical supplies. As a result, 12 hospitals in Gaza, including Beit Hanoun Hospital, Martyr Muhammad Al-Durrah Hospital, Happy Yemen Hospital, International Eye Hospital, and others, are completely non-operational. Moreover, 32 primary healthcare centres are closed for the same reasons.
    • Hospital bed occupancy rates in Gaza have exceeded capacity, with rates reaching 112% in the Gaza Strip’s hospitals and 147% in the largest hospital, Al-Shifa Hospital. This has forced the treatment of patients and the wounded in tents and hospital corridors.
    • Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression, exhausted Gaza hospitals have performed over 2,600 emergency surgeries, significantly more than their capacity can handle. These surgeries took place in six hospitals, with the majority (38%) at Al-Shifa Hospital.
    • Furthermore, there have been continued Israeli bombardments of homes and families, resulting in more than 644 targeted families and 4,294 casualties, constituting 74% of the total number of casualties.
    • The situation is dire, with 704 citizens losing their lives in a single day due to 400 raids, while 1,024 individuals were injured, of which 70% were children, women, and the elderly. The total number of casualties since the aggression’s outset is staggering, with 5,719 casualties, including 2,360 children and 1,585 women and elders.
    • The Israeli Occupation’s aggression extends to the West Bank, where 468 checkpoints hinder movement between Palestinian villages, leading to 98 casualties, over 1,773 injuries, and 1,235 detentions since the start of the Israeli aggression. Additionally, settler assaults have reached 232 against Palestinian people.

    In a press statement, Salamah Ma’rouf, the Head of the Government’s Media Office, stated that the deliberate targeting of civilians by the Nazi occupation reflects their political, security, and military bankruptcy. He also expressed concern about the international community’s silence, which has emboldened the occupation to continue its aggression and urged the world to take action. Marouf highlighted the ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza, emphasizing the need for immediate intervention to stop the humanitarian crisis. He criticized the failure of international resolutions to address the situation and questioned the application of international laws and values when it comes to Palestinian rights. Marouf stressed that the world is closely watching the Israeli occupation’s crimes against humanity and called for a reevaluation of the international system’s credibility and countries’ commitment to human rights.

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