Planet Watch
Chad

Record 117 million forcibly displaced worldwide: UN

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) reported that a record number of 117.3 million people around the world were forcibly displaced as of the end of 2023. The agency expects this number to rise to over 120 million cases by the end of this year, especially noting the situations in Sudan, Burma and Palestine. The conflict in Sudan that began in April 2023 has led to 6 million becoming internally displaced persons (IDPs) with 1.2 million people forced into neighboring countries as refugees. In Burma, conflict since the military coup of 2021 has resulted in 1.2 million IDPs, while over 75% of the population in Gaza was displaced between October and December amid the ongoing bombardment of the enclave. (Photo of Sudanese refugees in Chad: Henry Wilkins/VOA via Wikimedia Commons)

Palestine
Gaza

UN commission accuses Israel of war crimes

Israeli forces have committed war crimes and violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, and there are “reasonable grounds” to conclude Hamas and loyalists have done the same, a UN inquiry concluded in a new report. The report, which covers Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israeli civilians and the initial phase of Israel’s retaliatory invasion and bombardment of Gaza, was produced by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, & Israel (Commission). The UN Human Rights Council established the Commission in 2021 to monitor rights and humanitarian concerns in the region. (Photo: badwanart0/Pixabay via Jurist)

Palestine
Gaza

Hostage rescue for Israelis; ‘massacre’ for Palestinians

A joint operation by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Shin Bet, and Israeli police in the Nuseirat refugee camp of central Gaza rescued four hostages—and killed over 200 Palestinians amid pitched gun-battles in a heavy populated area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “saluted” those involved in the operation, saying: “We will not relent until we complete the mission and return all our hostages home.” The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, described the operation as a “gruesome massacre.” Abbas has instructed Palestine’s envoy to the United Nations to request an emergency session of the Security Council over the matter. (Photo: WAFA via Jurist)

Greater Middle East
Sahrawis

Podcast: from Palestine to Western Sahara

Benjamin Netanyahu’s gaffe on French TV, displaying a map of the “Arab World” that showed the occupied (and illegally annexed) Western Sahara as a separate entity from Morocco, sparked a quick and obsequious apology from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. But the snafu sheds light on the mutual hypocrisy at work here. There is an obvious hypocrisy to Moroccan protests that demand self-determination for the Palestinians but not the Sahrawi, the indigenous Arab inhabitants of Western Sahara. The hypocrisy of Israel is also obvious: Israeli commentators and hasbara agents are the first to play the “whataboutery” game—relativizing the plight of the Palestinians by pointing to that of Kurds, Berbers, Nubians, Massalit and other stateless peoples oppressed under Arab regimes. But, as we now see, they are just as quick to completely betray them when those regimes recognize Israel and betray the Palestinians. Yet another example of how a global divide-and-rule racket is the essence of the state system. Bill Weinberg breaks it down in Episode 229 of the CounterVortex podcast. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Kirby Gookin/Western Sahara Resource Center)

Greater Middle East
sahara

Netanyahu’s new map flap: multiple ironies

Israel was forced to apologize to Morocco after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seen in a video displaying a map of the Middle East and North Africa—that failed to show the occupied (and illegally annexed) territory of Western Sahara as within the kingdom’s borders. Netanyahu brandished the map in an interview with a French TV channel, showing what he called “the Arab world” in green, a swath of near-contiguous territory from Iraq to Mauritania—contrasting small, isolated Israel, “the one and only Jewish state.” The goof was especially dire because in 2020 Israel joined the US as the only two countries on Earth to recognize Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara, in exchange for Moroccan recognition of the Jewish state under the Trump administration-brokered Abraham Accords. This was a cozy mutual betrayal of both the Palestinians and Sahrawi Arabs, the indigenous inhabitants of occupied Western Sahara. (Image: Twitter via Middle East Eye)

Palestine
Philadelphi

Israel seizes ‘buffer zone’ on Gaza-Egypt border

The Israel Defense Forces took “operational control” of the Philadelphi Corridor, the strip of territory running along the border between Egypt and Gaza, claiming it was being used by Hamas to traffic weapons into the Strip. In the operation, the IDF’s 162nd Division said it uncovered dozens of rocket launchers in a network of tunnels under the Corridor. The Corridor, known to the Egyptians as Salah al-Din, had been established as a demilitarized zone under the 1978 Camp David Accords, and its re-occupation by Israel as led to fears that Egypt will “tear up the peace treaty” between the two countries. (Photo: IDF via JNS)

Palestine
Standing Together

Israeli activists mobilize to protect aid trucks

For months, groups on the Israeli far right have traveled to the crossings where aid is moved from the West Bank to the Gaza border in an effort to disrupt the shipments—even attacking drivers and attempting to destroy the supplies. But now, other groups of Israelis are boarding buses from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and heading to those crossings to try and help the trucks complete their passage into Gaza to deliver the aid. This has sparked stand-offs near the border between right-wing groups such as Tzav 9 and pro-coexistence groups such as Standing Together. Activists from Standing Together have helped clear roads and reload boxes of humanitarian aid that had been thrown off trucks by Tzav 9 followers. (Photo: Standing Together via Times of Israel)

Palestine
Palestine

More advances for Palestinian statehood

Colombian President Gustavo Petro has ordered the opening of an embassy in Palestine, joining a handful of other nations around the world that have done so. The announcement comes after Petro’s government withdrew its diplomats from Israel and broke relations with the country, describing Israel’s actions in Gaza as a “genocide.” The Colombian embassy is to be installed in Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority’s capital on the West Bank. The move also comes as Spain, Ireland and Norway have announced their recognition of Palestine as a state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of course opposed these decisions, charging that “the intention of several European countries to recognize a Palestinian state is a reward for terrorism.” (Image: Nicolas Raymond via Flickr)

Palestine
ICC

ICC prosecutor seeks arrest warrant for Netanyahu

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim AA Khan announced that he has applied for arrest warrants against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as senior Hamas leaders, for crimes committed during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. The officials face various charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute. (Photo: OSeveno/WikiMedia)

North America
Kent State

Podcast: Four dead in Ohio. And two in Mississippi.

As the police crackdown on the Gaza protests continues coast-to-coast—drawing concern from Amnesty International—Bill Weinberg notes that this repression comes in the month marking the 54th anniversary of slayings of student protesters at Kent State University in Ohio and Jackson State University in Mississippi. With police now unleashing violence on student protesters in Paris, Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe, as well as in Jordan and Lebanon, there is an unsettling sense of deja vu. In Episode 225 of the CounterVortex podcast, Weinberg warns that the world could be headed toward an historical moment that rhymes with May 1970. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Photo: Kent State University Libraries via Britannica)

Palestine
almawasi

Hamas accepts ceasefire; Israel strikes Rafah

Hamas has announced that its leaders have told Egyptian and Qatari mediators that they accepted the most recent Gaza ceasefire proposal. Israel’s war cabinet responded by voting to continue the planned military operation in Rafah, and the IDF announced air-strikes on targets in the southern Gaza city. The strikes came as Palestinians in Gaza were celebrating Hamas’ announcement, and Israeli protestors joined families of the hostages to demand that Israel accept the deal. (Image: Workers set up tents donated by the Qatari Red Crescent in al-Mawasi, an Israeli-designated “safe zone” in Gaza. Credit: Mohamed Soulaimane/TNH)

Planet Watch
Gaza

How to break cycle of rising global hunger?

More countries facing crises; more people going hungry. Some 281 million people were locked in high levels of acute hunger last year, according to the latest Global Report on Food Crises—a benchmark analysis of food insecurity by a network that includes UN agencies, donors, and famine analysts. The figure is 24 million higher than the previous year—a rise driven in part by Sudan’s civil war and Israel’s destruction of Gaza. Global hunger numbers have spiked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and continue to rise. A mix of conflict, extreme weather, El Niño, inflation, and volatile food prices suggest there won’t be a reprieve by the time 2024’s numbers are tallied. (Photo: Maan News Agency)