Netanyahu orders ‘evacuation’ of southern Gaza

Rafah

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military on Feb. 9 to draw up plans for the “evacuation” of Palestinians from Rafah in southern Gaza as it prepares to launch a full-scale assault on the area. Where people would be evacuated to‚ÄĒand how‚ÄĒremains unclear. Over one million Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel’s military campaign‚ÄĒnow entering its fifth month‚ÄĒhave been pushed into Rafah. Aid groups warn that there is nowhere left for people to flee to. People in Rafah are already experiencing disease and starvation, with aid operations struggling to meet even basic needs. A ground invasion would “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare,” UN Secretary-General Ant√≥nio Guterres said.

On Feb. 7, Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire proposal put forward by Hamas, the Palestinian political and militant group that governs Gaza. Resisting growing US pressure for a long-term pause in fighting, he vowed that Israel will continue the war until it achieves “absolute victory.” Many experts, however, believe the goal of completely destroying Hamas is unachievable, while others accuse Israel of waging a disproportionate response that could amount to ethnic cleansing or even genocide.

From The New Humanitarian, Feb. 9

See our last report on genocide accusations against Israel.

Photo: Yousef Hammash/NRC

  1. Gaza atrocity reports mount; political contestation in Israel

    Reports of Israeli atrocities continue to mount in Gaza. Palestinian authorities are demanding an international investigation after a mass grave was found at a school in Beit Lahia, in the north of the Strip, with at least 30 decomposing bodies of detainees who were blindfolded and handcuffed an placed in black plastic bags. Palestinian officials accuse Israeli soldiers of killing non-combatants ‚Äú”execution-style.” (MEE, Al Jazeera,¬†972)

    UNRWA says one of its trucks waiting to take aid to northern Gaza was hit by Israeli naval fire on Feb. 5.

    Just over 9,800 trucks carrying humanitarian aid have entered the besieged Gaza Strip between Oct.¬†21 and Feb.¬†1, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, averaging 94.5 trucks per day. Before Israel’s current onslaught on the Gaza Strip, approximately 600 trucks were reportedly entering Gaza daily. (CNN, Palestine Chronicle)

    Protests in Israel ‚ÄĒand Gaza
    Families of the hostages have been holding weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv against te Net government for failing to prioritize bringing home their loved ones. The protesters increasingly embrace the¬†“all-for-all” solution‚ÄĒexchanging¬†all Israelis held by Hamas for all Palestinians held by Israel, many of whom have been detained for years without charge.

    On Jan. 22, families of the hostages broke into a Knesset committee meeting, demanding that all government energy go toward freeing the hostages. Splits on te question have started to emerge in the War Cabinet. Gadi Eisenkot, a former army chief whose son was killed fighting in Gaza in December, has publicly criticized Netanyahu and said the best way to release the hostages was a cease-fire. (ToI, ToI, PRI, PBS)

    The Israeli Public Defender’s Office warned in a report Feb. 6 of worsening conditions of incarceration in prison service facilities. The report stated that the overcrowding in prison service facilities violated a prior High Court ruling and international standards. It called for immediate actions to improve prison conditions in Israel. (Jurist)

    Other Israeli protesters have been blocking the roads to the Gaza crossings to prevent aid trucks from entering, even pitching tents in the road. A road blockade on Feb. 6 succeeded in stopping a convoy of UNRWA aid trucks at the Kerem Shalom Crossing into the southern Strip. (JNS, MEE)

    Protests have meanwhile been breaking out against Hamas in Gaza, blaming the organization for unleashing the Israeli onslaught against the Strip and taking no measures to protect or even inform the populace beforehand. (NPR) 

    There has been only one significant attack from within Israel since the new war began. At least one person has been killed and 17 wounded in car-ramming attacks in ceRaanana north of Tel Aviv, Jan. 15. Israeli police said two Palestinian suspects from the West Bank were arrested in connection with the attack. (Al Jazeera)

  2. Scores killed in Rafah ‘massacre’

    More than 100 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli air-strikes on Gaza’s southern Rafah city,¬†wit WAFA¬†calling¬†it a¬†“massacre,” Since Oct. 7, Israel’s war on the besieged enclave has killed over 28,000 people‚ÄĒmostly women and children. (TNA)

    Israel claims its troops rescued two hostages from Hamas militants in Rafah during the operation. The Biden administration meanwhile warned Israel against proceeding with a ground invasion of Rafah unless tere are measures to guarantess that the displaced Palestinians there must be protected. (PBS Newsour)

  3. Netherlands court orders halt to export of jet parts to Israel

    The Appeals Court in The Hague ruled Feb. 12 that the Dutch government must stop the export of F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel over concerns that Israel is using the aircraft in violation of international law. (Jurist)

  4. Amnesty unveils evidence of ‘unlawful’ Israeli attacks in Gaza

    Amnesty International¬†released new evidence on Feb. 11 of “unlawful”¬†Israeli attacks in Gaza. The report warns of a “real risk of genocide”¬†as Israeli forces continue to “flout”¬†international humanitarian law and obliterate entire families.

    The report focuses on four strikes that occurred between December 2023 and January 2024 in Rafah. These strikes resulted in the deaths of at least 95 civilians, including 42 children. According to the report, despite being located in what was considered a “safe”¬†area, the strikes targeted civilian residences. (Jurist)

  5. Inside the siege on Gaza’s largest remaining hospital

    Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis was until recently the largest medical facility still functioning in the Gaza Strip, despite facing severe challenges. But at the end of January, the Israeli military intensified ground operations in Gaza’s second largest city, ordered civilians to evacuate, and began laying siege to the hospital. The humanitarian situation inside is now catastrophic, with shortages of fuel, anaesthesia, and medical supplies, Gaza health ministry spokesperson Dr Ashraf al-Qudra told The New Humanitarian in a video interview. The Israeli military is preventing ambulances and wounded and sick people from reaching the medical complex, he added.

    Israeli snipers are also reportedly shooting at people in the vicinity of the hospital. Twenty-one displaced people have allegedly been killed while trying to reach the facility, and at least seven others have been killed and more than a dozen wounded on the hospital’s grounds. On Feb. 8, a nurse was reportedly shot inside an operating theater.

  6. Egypt threatens to abandon Camp David Accords

    Egypt is threatening to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if IDF troops are sent into the densely populated Gaza border town of Rafah, and says fighting there could force the closure of the Strip’s main aid supply route, Egyptian and Western¬†officials told AP.

  7. Israel launches air-strikes on Lebanon

    At least seven civilians have been killed in Israeli strikes in Lebanon¬†after Hezbollah rocket fire killed a soldier in Israel’s north. A woman and two children were killed in Souaneh, and at least four members of a family were reported killed in Nabatieh. At least two Hezbollah fighters were also killed in the strikes on southern Lebanon. (BBC News)

  8. State Department investigating Israel’s use of US weapons

    The State Department is reviewing reports that Israel has harmed civilians in Gaza with US-suppied arms. Te review comes under the rubric of the Department;s Civilian Harm Incident Response Guidance (CHIRG). (Reuters)

  9. Israel raids Gaza’s largest remaining hospital

    Israeli forces said Feb. 15 they had raided the biggest functioning hospital in Gaza, as footage showed chaos, shouting and gunfire in dark corridors filled with dust and smoke. Te IF called the raid on Nasser Hospital “precise and limited”¬†and said it was based on information that Hamas militants were hiding and had kept hostages in the facility, with some bodies of captives possibly there.¬†(Reuters)

  10. Egypt building massive Sinai ‘enclosure’ for fleeing Gazans

    Egyptian authorities, fearful that an Israeli military push further into southern Gaza will set off a flood of refugees, are building an 8-square-mile walled enclosure in the Sinai Desert near the border, according to Egyptian officials and security analysts.

    The compound, to be capable of holding more than 100,000 people, will be surrounded by concrete walls, and will be located far from any Egyptian settlements. (WSJ, Haaretz)

  11. ICJ urges Israel to implement measures to prevent genocide

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Feb. 16 ordered Israel to implement a set of provisional measures aimed at preventing the genocide of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The order states:

    The Court notes that the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip, and in¬†Rafah in particular, ‚Äėwould exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian¬†nightmare with untold regional consequences‚Äô, as stated by the United Nations¬†Secretary-General…¬†

    This perilous situation demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024, which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah.

  12. US readies more weapons for Israel‚ÄĒdespite ceasefire push

    The Biden administration is preparing to send a new shipment of weapons to Israel even as the White House ostensible pushes for a ceasefire in the Gaza, according to officials. The proposed arms delivery includes roughly a thousand each of MK-82 bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions. The proposed delivery is still being reviewed internally by the administration. The planned weapons transfer comes as Israel prepares to launch an assault on the city of Rafah.

    An assessment of the proposed arms transfer drafted by the US Embassy in Jerusalem, and viewed by The Wall Street Journal, said the Israeli government requested “rapid acquisition of these items for the defense of Israel against continued and emerging regional threats.”

    The assessment asserted there were no potential human rights concerns with the sale. “Israel takes effective action to prevent gross violations of human rights and to hold security forces responsible that violate those rights. In the past, Israel has been a transparent partner in US investigations into allegations of defense article misuse,” the assessment states.

  13. US vetoes Gaza ceasefire resolution at UN Security Council

    The US on Feb. 20 vetoed a draft UN Security Council resolution put forth by Algeria calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Although the resolution garnered a 13-1 vote, with the UK abstaining, it failed to pass, as the US is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power.

    Explaining the veto, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace,”

    The US proposed its own draft resolution the day which called for “a temporary ceasefire in Gaza as soon as practicable, based on the formula of all hostages being released.” This does mark the first time the US has used the word “ceasefire” in a draft resolution.

    Algerian UN Ambassador Amar Bendjama reacted to the US veto by saying:¬†“Unfortunately, the Security Council failed once again to rise to the calls and aspirations of peoples of the world‚Ķ It is high time for the aggression to end.”

    Israel’s UN ambassador Gilad Erdan rejected calls for a ceasefire. “A ceasefire achieves one thing and one thing only: the survival of Hamas, exactly the opposite of how it’s portrayed. A ceasefire is a death sentence for many more Israelis and Gazans,”¬†Erdan said. (Jurist)

    The US has vetoed similar resolutions twice before, in December and in October. It has also now twice abstained from “diluted” resolutions stopping short of a call for an immediate ceasefire‚ÄĒin December and in November.

  14. Palestine calls for end to Israeli occupation at ICJ

    Representatives for Palestine called for the International Court of Justice to order a halt to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory, and to declare that states have obligations to refrain from supporting the occupation. The request came as hearings commenced Feb. 19 in a case brought by the UN General Assembly.

    The General Assembly requested an advisory opinion from the court in January 2023 on the legal consequences for Israel and other states regarding both the occupation itself and Israel’s administration of the occupied territory. While more than 50 states and organizations are slated to speak at the hearings, today’s inaugural hearing featured seven speakers arguing for three hours on Palestine’s behalf. (Jurist)

  15. South Africa accuses Israel of apartheid

    South Africa accused Israel of implementing apartheid against Palestinians during a hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Feb. 20, asserting that Israel subjects Palestinians to “discriminatory land zoning and planning policies, punitive and administrative house demolitions and violent army incursions into their villages towns, cities and refugee camps.” (Jurist)

  16. More drone terror in Jenin

    Two Palestinians were killed¬†and others wounded Feb. 22 when an Israeli drone targeted a car in the Jenin refugee camp, on the occupied West Bank¬†The victims were both 17¬†years¬†old, according to WAFA. The¬†Jenin Brigade of Saraya al-Quds, armed wing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, confirmed that one of its “field commanders”¬†was killed in the attack. ¬†(Palestine Chronicle)

    Over the escalated violence of the past months, Jenin has been targeted by IDF raids repeatedly.