Palestine
Rafah

Netanyahu orders ‘evacuation’ of southern Gaza

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military 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—and how—remains unclear. Over one million Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel’s military campaign—now entering its fifth month—have 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, and aid operations are struggling to meet even basic needs. A ground invasion would “exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare,” UN Secretary-General AntĂłnio Guterres said. (Photo: Yousef Hammash/NRC)

Greater Middle East
syria

Gaza: flashpoint for regional war? (redux)

The Pentagon carried out air-strikes on Iran-backed militia forces in Iraq in retaliation for a drone attack on a US airbase in Erbil, while a senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps was killed in a presumed Israeli strike in Syria. Israel continues to trade cross-border fire with Lebanon’s Hezbollah, while Yemen’s Houthi armed movement claimed responsibility for drone attacks targeting the Israeli port city of Eilat. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel is now fighting on “seven fronts”—Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran and Yemen. (Image: Pixabay)

Southern Cone
AMIA

Hezbollah operative indicted in Buenos Aires bombing

The US District Court for the Southern District of New York unsealed an indictment filed against Hezbollah operative Samuel Salman El Reda for his alleged involvement in a bomb attack on a Jewish community center in Argentina three decades ago. The 20-page indictment concerns the 1994 bombing of the AsociaciĂłn Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people and caused hundreds of injuries. The US government claims El Reda collaborated with the Hezbollah-linked Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) in the attack.

Palestine
Gaza

Israeli official broaches nuclear strike on Gaza

A member of the Israeli cabinet broached a nuclear strike on the Gaza Strip, making outraged headlines in the Arab world. Jerusalem Affairs & Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu of the ultra-nationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party said in a radio interview that there are “no non-combatants in Gaza,” and using a nuclear weapon on the Palestinian enclave is “one of the possibilities.” The comment was immediately repudiated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who issued a statement saying that Eliyahu has been suspended from cabinet meetings “until further notice.” Nonetheless, this comes as the death toll in nearly a month of Gaza bombardment approaches 10,000, with increasingly genocidal rhetoric voiced by Israeli officials up to and including Netanyahu. And despite a supposed relaxation of international tensions after Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s highly anticipated speech was less bellicose than expected, the nuclear-powered (and presumably nuclear-armed) submarine USS Florida has arrived in the Middle East. The Ohio-class submarine is now operating under the command of the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which polices the Persian Gulf, Red Sea and Arabian Sea—a clear signal to Iran and its regional allies. (Photo: Maan News Agency)

Greater Middle East
syria

Gaza: flashpoint for regional war?

As Israel intensifies air-strikes in the Gaza Strip, a northern front appears to be opening in the war.  Civilians are fleeing both north Israel and south Lebanon as Israeli and Hezbollah forces exchange fire across the border. Following Israeli air-strikes on targets in Syria, drone attacks by presumed Iranian-backed forces hit US military bases and outposts in both Syria and Iraq. The US responded with air-strikes on Iranian Revolutionary Guards positions in eastern Syria. The Iranian military has announced that it will launch large-scale maneuvers, involving infantry, air and naval forces. (Image: Pixabay)

Palestine
Gaza

Israel orders north Gaza evacuation —but to where?

One week after the unprecedented and bloody Hamas incursion, Israel has ordered 1.1 million people living in the north of the Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south of the enclave within 24 hours, ahead of an expected ground invasion. The UN is calling on Israel to rescind the evacuation order, with a spokesperson saying it is “impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.” Since the Hamas incursion, which left some 1,300 dead, Israel has imposed a complete siege on Gaza, cutting off electricity and water, and blocking the entry of food and fuel. It has dropped more than 6,000bombs on the enclave, killing more than 1,500 people—a third of them children. The evacuation order has created fear and confusion, as north Gaza residents flee south with little idea of where they will find shelter or how their basic needs will be met. All the borders of the enclave are now closed to civilians trying to flee. (Photo: Maan News Agency)

Syria
Jisr al-Shughur

Russia, Israel both still bombing Syria

At least 13 people, nine of them civilians, were killed in Russian air-strikes within the so-called “de-escalation zone” in northern Syria’s Idlib province, with some of the strikes hitting a crowded vegetable market. The area targeted in the raid, already suffering a severe displacement crisis, is controlled by the Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) Islamist faction. Meanwhile, sporadic Israeli air-strikes on regime-held Syrian territory also continue—with apparent tacit approval from Russia, as long as they target the Iranian military presence in the country. (Photo: @SyriaCivilDef)

Palestine
Jerusalem

Israel’s paramilitary plan advances

The Israeli cabinet authorized plans for a paramilitary “National Guard” sought by far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to target violence and unrest in Palestinian communities within Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that a committee comprised of Israel’s existing security forces is to determine the Guard’s responsibilities, and whether it will be subordinate to the Israel Police or take orders directly from Ben-Gvir, as he demands. Opposition leader Yair Lapid responded by calling the plan an “extremist fantasy of delusional people,” and slammed a decision to cut budgets from other ministries “to fund Ben-Gvir’s private militia.” (Photo: RJA1988 via Jurist)

Syria
Daraya

Syria: 2012 Daraya massacre documented

Human rights organization the Syrian British Consortium published the findings of its investigation into the massacre of civilians by the Syrian government and allied forces in the town of Daraya a decade ago. The investigation found that in August 2012, government forces killed at least 700 people, including women and children, through indiscriminate shelling and mass executions. Daraya, southwest of Damascus, was one of the most prominent centers of the uprising against Bashar Assad in 2011, and was widely recognized as the frontline of nonviolent resistance in the country. (Photo: Daraya, 2011 via Leila’s Blog)

Syria
idlib

Russian warplanes bomb Idlib water station

Russian warplanes are reported to have carried out an air-raid on the main water pumping station for the city Idlib, capital of the besieged province of that name in Syria’s north. Witnesses on the ground said Russian Sukhoi jets dropped bombs on the water plant as well as several towns outside the provincial capital. A UN humanitarian official acknowledged the air-raid without naming the perpetrators, tweeting: “The country is already facing a water crisis & continued destruction of civilian infrastructure will only cause more suffering of civilians.” An official in the opposition administration of the city said the plant is now out of operation, charging: “The Russians are focusing on infrastructure and economic assets. This is to add to the suffering of people.” (Image via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
tripoli

Anti-lockdown protests rock Lebanon

Frustration over a strict COVID-19 lockdown and a collapsing economy exploded into protests in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, where a government building was set aflame, and several days of clashes between security forces and demonstrators left one person dead and more than 100 injured. Lebanon is in the midst of a 24-hour curfew, with even supermarkets closed—a measure that authorities defended as necessary given a surge of coronavirus cases that has left the healthcare system struggling to cope. But crippling poverty is on the rise in Lebanon—thanks to an ongoing financial crisis, compounded by the global pandemic and an August explosion at the Beirut port—and some argue that the strict containment rules go too far. Some local aid groups say they have been denied permission to bring help, including much-needed food, to vulnerable families. (Photo via Twitter)

Greater Middle East
Bierut blast

What Beirut blast could mean for battered Lebanon

As rescue workers continue to look for survivors amid the rubble of a massive explosion that killed a reported 130 people in Beirut’s port, the implications of the blast for Lebanon appear grim. Lebanon’s economy has been in freefall for months, unemployment is rising, and the foreign minister Nassif Hitti resigned one day before the blast, warning that the country risks becoming a “failed state.” Now hundreds of thousands more have been left homeless, critical port facilities are destroyed, and local hospitals are overwhelmed. Lebanon was already battling COVID-19 before the blast, and last week it instituted a new lockdown to try to control a spike in new infections. (Photo via Beirut.com)