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 A child eats amid the rubble of destroyed buildings following Israeli bombardment in Rafah
Further

Get Out, You Animals, Get Out: We Are Humans, Starved

The grotesque madness of history's first live-streamed genocide persists as Israel daily commits acts once unimaginable. They are bombing hospitals, shooting doctors, forcing Palestinian prisoners to issue evacuation orders before murdering them, starving women and children before targeting them as they scavenge for grass, leaves, animal feed, terrorizing civilians desperately fleeing first south, then north when in truth "there is no sanctuary." And still - what the ever-loving-fuck - America sends more arms.

The numbers stun. The total of Palestinians killed nears 30,000, including at least 13,000 children; almost 70,000 wounded; at least 8,000 more unaccounted for and presumed dead, now decomposing, under rubble. Hundreds more have been shot in random violence in the West Bank. Every day sees "an undetermined number" of more dead or wounded. And a heedless Netanyahu repeats his savage, hollow, phantasmagoric edict, "We will continue to fight until total victory" even in the face of furious global condemnation, a Hague ruling confirming genocidal acts, and more reports from both Israeli and U.S intelligence that Israel is "not close to eliminating" Hamas, which regardless will survive as "a terror group and a guerrilla group.” At this weekend's Munich Security Conference in Germany, Israeli's coordinator for the so-called effort to return captives declared Israel and Hamas remain far apart on ceasefire negotiations because "Hamas' demands are disconnected from reality - delusional." Mournful pot/kettle.

This week, after days of shelling, Israeli ground forces attacked Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, the largest of Gaza's few hospitals still functioning, where conditions were already "catastrophic." Word that hundreds of exhausted staff, critically wounded patients and about 10,000 Palestinians sheltering there would be forced to flee posed what Doctors Without Borders called "an impossible choice" - stay and become potential targets or leave "into an apocalyptic landscape" of bombings, snipers and dead bodies. The IDF promised a "precise and limited mission" and "secure passage." But surviving staff described panicked, pushing, screaming people who, once they left, were often shot at within the gates; many of those who reached checkpoints beyond were arrested, and the hospital was quickly stormed by soldiers shooting and police dogs. Video inside shows a chaotic hellscape of smoke and noise, with staff frantically trying to roll bedridden patients to safety and shouting, "Gunfire, gunfire! Heads down, everyone!"

Palestinian officials reported the deaths of at least six patients in intensive care and three in the children's nursery; most died of lack of oxygen after an Israeli-imposed power shortage. Video shows staff scrambling to treat a bloodied doctor shot in the chest by a sniper through a window of the operating room, and two women were said to have given birth in "abhorrent conditions, without electricity, water, food, or heat." Amidst the sound of gunfire, staff reported bodies lying outside in the courtyard where over a dozen people have been shot, or left in the street after trying to get to shelter. "We can see from the hospital a lot of dead bodies...and cats and dogs around these bodies." The Israeli military, who refused WHO entry, said they captured "dozens of terror suspects" in the assault, claims Hamas refuted as "lies to justify war crimes." Before they entered, video from Palestinian journalist Mohammed El Helou shows, IDF soldiers manning bulldozers outside yelled through loudspeakers, "Get out, you animals! Get out!"

One of just two remaining journalists at Nasser, El Helou reported having seen Jamal Abu Al-Ola, a young wide-eyed Palestinian, arrive at the entrance dressed n white PPE, his hands bound in front of him. Abu Al-Ola had evidently tried to leave the hospital earlier when Israeli soldiers seized him, beat him, and sent him back in to tell those remaining they had to leave the hospital "because they are going to blow it up." After he relayed the evacuation order, El Helou said, Abu Al-Ola'a mother, also sheltering there, begged him not to go back out, but he said soldiers had told him he must or the civilians would be in danger. Video by Mohammad Salama, the other journalist there, shows Abu Al-Ola walking out with several people who then trail away; when he is still inside the gates, he is shot three times in the chest by an Israeli soldier. (An IDF spokesman later said "the incident in question (is) being reviewed.") El Helou ended his video quietly noting people were leaving "in search of safety that does not exist in Gaza."

Shortly after, two Israelis were killed and four wounded at a bus stop when a Palestinian attacker arrived in a car and opened fire; he was shot and killed by an IDF soldier. An almost gleeful Netanyahu used the incident to again reject the nation of a ceasefire - "Now is not the time to be speaking about gifts for the Palestinian people" - and argue, "The entire country is a front and the murderers, who come not only from Gaza, want to kill us all." His rabid rhetoric was echoed by former Mossad official Rami Igra, who both repeated and wildly inflated the genocidal claim of President Herzog that there are “no uninvolved (civilians) in Gaza." "Every house in Gaza is a Hamas HQ, weapons, Al Aqsa, everything, all the signs are there," Igra said in an interview. "In Gaza, everyone is involved. Everyone voted Hamas. Anyone over the age of four is a Hamas supporter." When the not-quite-yet-Nazi interviewer clarified that perhaps kids under four could be deemed innocent, a big-hearted Igra agreed, albeit reluctantly.



Still, America is obscenely, reportedly preparing to send Israel more genocidal weaponry, including a thousand each of MK-82 500-pound bombs and KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs), without which Israel might have to curtail its slaughter in 19 weeks. The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill excoriates Biden for refusing to "use his leverage as Israel’s arms dealer," evidently because, "There is no Israeli war crime too extreme for (him) to consider pausing," never mind ending, the flow of weapons. Besides timid ceasefire requests to his "great, great friend" Netanyahu, Biden and his spin doctors merely issue "occasional public platitudes" about Gaza's suffering, and gently denounce Israeli attacks as not quite "surgical" enough. It didn't help that on Super Bowl night, as Israel launched its "next stage of genocide" with air strikes on Rafah, a "night full of horror" that killed over 70 - "there were a lot of body parts," said one hospital - Biden released one of his jokey Dark Brandon memes ripped as "tone-deaf to the cries of humanity."

Meanwhile, the mournful, bloody evidence of Israel's less-than-precise campaign of annihilation is everywhere in Gaza. Along with its murder of journalists, doctors, aid workers, grandmothers "older than Israel" and academics in a place with one of the world's highest literacy rates to "inflict maximum damage on the Palestinian community," there are, of course, the children. Perhaps 20,000 children, many wounded, who've been orphaned; up to ten a day losing limbs to massive injuries from air strikes; an entire young population of over a million, already emotionally battered by years of violence, facing more trauma "beyond their age and endurance," needing support scarce at best. And, now, children homeless, hungry, thirsty, sick, so famished they go scouring for food under skies full of Israeli planes. Hit by bombs, they lie at one hospital wounded, bandaged, spectrally skinny, faces blurred. "Our children are dying," says one father. "No one is helping us...But they are children just like any other child in the world."

In Rafah, a "25-square-mile death cage" where 1.5 million Palestinians have fled and are trapped, people are "desperate, hungry and terrified." Having been told by Israel to "evacuate" to the south, "Rafah is as far south as anyone can go - they have nowhere else to evacuate to." A reported Israeli ground assault looms; so does starvation. With Israel using hunger as a weapon and blocking most aid, rights groups say “every single person in the Territory is now experiencing extreme levels of hunger." Hungry children fight over stale bread, walk and scavenge for hours, cry dazed in the rain until, given a can, they retreat to their tent.People often block the rare aid truck - twice a week, UNRWA tries to bring each 2 water bottles, three biscuits, an occasional can of food - and devour what they find. Children suffer from diarrhea, turn yellow from malnutrition, wake up screaming for food; in the north, some go without food for days. One elderly man: "We live in complete hunger." One mother: "We are dying slowly." Another:"We are humans, starved."

People have resorted to grinding animal feed into flour, but supplies are dwindling. They are combing fields to eat grass, weeds, leaves. A daughter angrily notes, "We are eating leaves from the trees"; her mother mournfully adds there isn't even water to cook them. Some families have sought shelter if not food at empty farms outside Rafah, turning chicken cages into children's beds; from the cages - "they are very cold and dark at night" - kids can see the border where Egypt is ominously building an enclosed refugee camp. Others who've moved "from one place to another like chess pieces" are leaving Rafah - "We eat grass and drink polluted water" - to return north to bombed-out homes. Months ago, Abu Ahmed Jaber pulled his pregnant daughter and her one-year-old from the rubble; they fled south to a packed U.N. school with no food, water, toilets; now they're back in the ruins of the house "I built with my hands, stone by stone." At night, unable to sleep, he cries, asking, "What have I and my family done?" Nothing, just like the 66 Palestinians most recently killed by Israel in "a very bloody day." How many, we wonder, were children.


The Poem

by Lisa Suhair Majaj

The poem was found in the rubble
of a six-story residential building
in Khan Yunis, destroyed by a 2000
pound bomb that sent fire to the sky
and death to the burning earth.

The poem was alive, but bloodied
beyond recognition, trapped
beneath heavy chunks of concrete.
The blast had severed its legs and arms.
The poem could not move.
It could not reach out to rescuers.
It could not find its wounds.

The poem’s face was unrecognizable.
A deep gash across its forehead
revealed the bone within.
The poem’s eyes were filled with blood.
It could not see. The poem’s mouth
was a gaping wound. When it tried
to scream, no sound came out.

The rescuers knew it was important
to save the poem. They dug frantically
with bare hands in the debris, begging
the poem to hold on. When they finally
extracted it from the rubble, passing it
hand to hand to the waiting stretcher,
watchers erupted with joy. The poem
was alive, was returned to its people!

Later, in the hospital, the poem lay
on the bloodied ground, listening
to the screams of children undergoing
amputations without anesthetic,
to the wails of mothers clutching
the bodies of babies to their chests,
refusing to allow them to be taken
to the refrigerated ice cream trucks,
pleading that it was too cold there,
that they could not leave them alone,
that the children would be frightened.

The poem tried to move its absent legs,
its arms, to sense what was left.
It understood that something
had been irrevocably ripped away.
That even if it lived, there were things
it would never do again. The poem
closed its eyes and tried to imagine
a body of light filling the gaping absence
where its limbs used to be.

The poem’s pain was beyond anything
it had experienced before. It tried
to imagine its mouth moving without
pain, tried to imagine a voice emerging
from the bloodied crevice of its jaw,
wondered if it would ever speak again.

The poem wanted it all to stop—
the enormous pain, the cries
of anguish, the echo of how
it had sounded when the bomb
hit with its unimaginable fury,
how it felt when walls crashed down
like the hand of death.

Just then aid workers brought in
a wounded child, laying it
on the floor nearby. The child
was covered in blood, screaming
for its mother. The poem
lay there listening. Slowly
it mustered every bit of strength
it had, and began to hum.
It couldn’t get a voice out;
This was the best it could do.

The child’s whimpers subsided
a little, and it turned its face toward
the sound. The poem realized
that even without arms or legs,
even with its face practically torn off,
it still had a job to do. The poem
searched inside itself for the body
of light that had stayed with it
in the rubble, the body of light
it could barely imagine.

Exhausted but determined, the poem
continued to hum. It was difficult,
but better than staying silent. The poem
thought to itself that later on, when
it could manage, it would try to sing
a lullaby, something to comfort the children
whose light still shone in their bodies, who
would need some kind of music to survive.

Copyright 2024 Lisa Suhair Majaj

Lisa Suhair Majaj is a Palestinian-American writer living in Cyprus.


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Two workers install solar panels on a home in Oak View, California on August 23, 2011.
News

New Bill Seeks to Salvage Rooftop Solar for Working Class in California

Backed by two climate action groups, Democratic state lawmakers in California on Tuesday launched an effort to reverse the damage done by state regulators last year when they slashed incentives for residents to install rooftop solar panels—wreaking havoc on the once-thriving industry even as the state faces an energy crisis.

Introduced by state Assemblymembers Laura Friedman (D-44) and Marc Berman (D-23), Assembly Bill 2256 would unwind the policy put in place last year by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which was supported by the state's three investor-owned utilities and sharply reduced the amount utilities pay people with solar panels when they sell surplus power to the grid.

The policy applied to homeowners as well as renters in disadvantaged communities, and critics warned it would put solar panels even further out of reach for low- and middle-income Californians.

A.B. 2256, sponsored by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and Environment California, would require the CPUC to "consider the wider community benefits of rooftop solar" in its policymaking, said CBD.

"This bill will force state regulators to stop shirking their duty and consider renewable energy's wide-ranging benefits so rooftop solar is available to everyone," said Roger Lin, a senior attorney at CBD. "The commission's decision to tank the state's rooftop solar policy was a gift to corporate utilities and a gut punch to communities and our environment. We're in a climate emergency, and it's reckless for the commission to ignore the harm fossil fuels do to our health and environment when it's making energy decisions."

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), said earlier this month that "rooftop only pencils out for the wealthy" under the CPUC policy, which has caused solar companies to lay off 17,000 workers in less than a year and pushed 75% of firms toward bankruptcy.

Rooftop solar power had "been making great strides in low-income communities," state Sen. Josh Becker (D-13) told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month, but "this [CPUC decision] makes it harder."

A.B. 2256 was introduced weeks after CBD, EWG, and the Protect Our Communities Foundation asked the California Supreme Court to overturn the CPUC policy following unsuccessful challenges at the commission and a state appeals court.

It also comes a day after Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group published a report marking the dramatic growth of rooftop solar nationwide over the past decade, with 10 times as much power produced in 2022 than 10 years prior.

California ranked as the state with the largest growth in small-scale solar generation, producing 24,121 gigawatt hours (GWh) in 2022—just before the CPUC policy was introduced. In 2012 the state produced just 2,453 GWh.

"Rooftop solar is good for the environment and consumers," reads the report. "It reduces our dependence on fossil fuels, eases strain on the grid during periods of high demand, can increase resilience to threats like extreme weather, and limits the amount of land needed for clean energy—all at steadily falling costs."

The California Air Resources Board suggested in 2022 that disincentivizing solar power for residents was the wrong direction for the state to go in, saying the state needed to double its rooftop solar to meet its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.

"How can we weigh the costs and benefits of rooftop solar without considering all the benefits to our health, our neighbors, and what's left of our open spaces?" said Lin. "This is not a zero-sum game. We can't ignore our climate, the urgent need for energy justice, and the significant community benefits of rooftop solar and expect to have a fighting chance against climate change."

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Jeff Bezos and his fiancée Lauren Sánchez
News

Tax-Dodging Jeff Bezos to Save $610 Million With Move to 'Billionaire Bunker' in Florida

Jeff Bezos, founder of the e-commerce behemoth Amazon and one of the richest men in the world, is poised to save at least $610 million in taxes by moving from Washington state to a hyper-exclusive Miami island that's been dubbed "Billionaire Bunker."

Bezos announced the move from Seattle—home to Amazon's headquarters—to Miami in an Instagram post on November 2. The previous month, Bezos purchased two mansions in Indian Creek Village for $68 million and $79 million. Other prominent figures, including retired NFL superstar Tom Brady and billionaire investor Carl Icahn, own properties on the island, which is only accessible to those with invites.

Bloombergreported last month that "Bezos emissaries have reached out to at least three other homeowners on the island about purchasing their properties, according to people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters. Conversations are ongoing."

While Bezos didn't mention the potential tax savings as one of the reasons for his move, the announcement came after Washington state's new 7% capital gains tax on the sale or exchange of stocks and other assets worth more than $250,000 took effect after a lengthy court fight. The tax brought in far more revenue in its first year than supporters expected.

As CNBCreported Monday, Bezos has been selling Amazon shares nearly every year for more than two decades—but he stopped in 2022, the first year of Washington's new tax.

Now that he's in Florida, which doesn't tax income or capital gains, Bezos has resumed selling his Amazon stock, dumping around 12 million shares worth roughly $2 billion last week. CNBC pointed to recent U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings showing that Bezos has "launched a pre-scheduled stock-selling plan to unload 50 million shares before Jan. 31, 2025. At today's price, that would total more than $8.7 billion."

"On the $2 billion sale last week, he saved $140 million that he would have paid to Washington state," CNBC observed. "On the entire sale of 50 million shares over the next year, he will save at least $610 million. And that's assuming Amazon shares remain flat. If they continue to rise, the value of his shares—and his tax savings—will be even higher."

"If Bernie's Make Billionaires Pay Act was signed into law during the pandemic Bezos would have paid $42,800,000,000 more in taxes and everyone in America would have had healthcare as a right."

According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Bezos' new home state has the most regressive tax system in the U.S.—a title that was held by Washington prior to the enactment of the 7% capital gains tax.

Bezos is currently worth around $197 billion, a number that can fluctuate significantly on a given day based on the movement of Amazon's stock price.

Warren Gunnels, staff director for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), argued in a social media post late Monday that Bezos' exorbitant wealth cries out for more aggressive taxation at the federal level.

"If Bernie's Make Billionaires Pay Act was signed into law during the pandemic Bezos would have paid $42,800,000,000 more in taxes and everyone in America would have had healthcare as a right," Gunnels wrote, noting that revenue from the 2020 bill would have been enough for Medicare to fully pay out-of-pocket healthcare expenses for all Americans for a year.

Right-wing commentators, such as the Cato Institute's Scott Lincicome and FreedomWorks' Stephen Moore, used Bezos' move to suggest that taxing the wealthy only pushes them to move elsewhere in search of lower tax rates.

But ITEP research director Carl Davis told Common Dreams that "when you look at the data, there isn't much support for the view that high-income people are moving in meaningful numbers because of taxes." A 2016 study by Stanford University researchers found that while "millionaire tax flight is occurring," it is "only at the margins of statistical and socioeconomic significance."

"Without good data to back them up," said Davis, "the folks who want to use migration fears to argue against taxing the rich often end up relying on anecdotes to make their point."

Americans for Tax Fairness, a progressive advocacy group, wrote on social media Tuesday that "if we had a national billionaire income tax, we'd collect that revenue no matter where he lived."

"Billionaires can't quit America to avoid paying," the group added. "If they left, we'd collect a fortune in exit taxes."

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U.S. House Intelligence Chair Mike Turner and Ranking Member Jim Himes
News

GOP House Intel Chair Urged to Resign Over Russian Space Nuke Scare

Advocacy groups who support changes to a U.S. government spying program that targets foreigners but sweeps up Americans' data on Friday joined calls for Congressman Mike Turner to step down from his leadership role in the House of Representatives after the Ohio Republican made moves suspected as an attempt to kill bipartisan surveillance reform efforts.

In a letter to Turner first reported by Politico, Demand Progress, Due Process Institute, FreedomWorks, and Restore the Fourth called for his resignation as chair of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), writing that "it appears you exploited your privileged access to intelligence to scare your colleagues in an effort to undermine reform of warrantless surveillance laws—and in so doing have undermined your credibility, your committee, and national security."

"It is unconscionable that he would exploit his privileged access to classified information to undermine House consideration of FISA reform."

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who was sent a copy of the letter, delayed action on Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) after Turner announced Wednesday that the HPSCI had provided all members of Congress with "information concerning a serious national security threat," which multiple news outlets—citing unnamed intelligence sources—reported was that Russia has made concerning progress on a space-based nuclear weapon designed to target U.S. satellites.

The timing of Turner's statement and the leaks led lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to urge an investigation into him or call for his resignation as the HPSCI leader. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), the committee's ranking member, has also come under fire for his role in what Wired called "a sabotage campaign," reporting Friday that Capitol Hill senior aides accuse the pair of trying "to instill paranoia in members that would inevitably raise doubts as to whether popular private reforms were simply too great a risk."

Sources said that HPSCI leaders "abandoned a deal that had been agreed to in private after weeks of negotiation," according to Wired. The chair "personally exploded the deal while refusing to appear for a hearing on Wednesday in which lawmakers were meant to decide the rules surrounding the vote. A congressional website shows that HPSCI staff had not filed one of the amendments meant to be discussed before the Rules Committee, suggesting that at no point in the day did Turner plan to attend."

The advocacy groups wrote to Turner: "The damage you have done to the United States' methods of intelligence collection may have caused serious harm. Moreover, the near-panic you caused by exploiting this potential future threat for immediate political gain is beneath a member of Congress, and in particular the committee you currently lead, which was formed to rein in—not be a mouthpiece for—warrantless domestic spying. This week is the culmination of months of bad-faith tactics that collectively demonstrate you should not continue as chairman."

The organizations also reiterated their demands for specific reforms:

As you are aware, we support legislation that reauthorizes and reforms FISA's controversial Section 702, namely the Protect Liberty and End Warrantless Surveillance Act, H.R. 6570, as well as amendments to the base text of the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act, H.R. 7320. The proposals we support would end warrantless surveillance of Americans, prohibit federal agencies from circumventing the Supreme Court's decision in Carpenter v. United States (2018) by purchasing Americans' data from third-party brokers, and strengthen the amici curiae of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. You have, also falsely, said that these amount to an evisceration of the surveillance authorities they—in fact —reauthorize.

We are aware that you are in the midst of an effort to force House leadership to include FISA in a must-pass bill, which would deprive your colleagues of the chance to vote for critical and overwhelmingly popular privacy protections. We will work with our allies in Congress to prevent that from happening. We demand votes on these reforms to warrantless surveillance—a long-overdue debate you have wrongfully wielded your chairmanship to deny your colleagues and the American people.

Taking aim at Turner in a statement Friday, Demand Progress policy director Sean Vitka said that "it is unconscionable that he would exploit his privileged access to classified information to undermine House consideration of FISA reform."

"If Mike Turner actually cares about America's security, he should allow for his colleagues to vote on the overwhelmingly popular reforms to FISA instead of bringing down Rules Committee hearings, which would have allowed his colleagues to vote on both reform and reauthorization," he added. "This further suggests the Intelligence Committee is trying to force House leadership to jam reauthorization into upcoming must-pass legislation, which would be a betrayal of the American people."

FreedomWorks policy adviser Eric Harrison asserted that "in a time where trust in government is at a historic low, Chairman Turner should resign so that maybe, just maybe, some of that trust can begin to be restored."

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International Court of Justice
News

At ICJ, Lawyer for Palestine Rips US for Defending 'Whatever Offenses' Israel Commits

An attorney representing Palestine at the United Nations' highest court called out the U.S. on Monday for routinely defending Israel's violations of international law, including its brutal 57-year occupation of Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem.

Paul Reichler, an American lawyer who has a record of success at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), said during a historic hearing on Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory that the U.S. is nearly alone in attempting to provide legal cover for the Israeli government's actions over the past six decades.

The "two outliers" among nations that have intervened in the ICJ case on Israel's occupation are Fiji and the United States, said Reichler.

"This is not surprising: Whatever offenses against international law Israel commits, the United States comes forward to shield it from accountability," he continued.

In its written submission to the ICJ, Reichler noted, the U.S. "argues that belligerent occupation is governed exclusively by international humanitarian law and not by the U.N. Charter or general international law."

"Here the United States attempts to defend Israel not by arguing that the occupation is lawful but that it is neither lawful nor unlawful," Reichler said, adding that such a position runs directly counter to that of its allies, including France and Switzerland.

"Just how far in disregarding the international legal order will the United States go to exempt Israel from the consequences of its ongoing violation of peremptory norms, including the prohibition on acquisition of territory by force?" Reichler asked. "Apparently very far indeed."

Reichler's presentation followed remarks by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki, who said that "the genocide underway in Gaza is a result of decades of impunity and inaction" in the face of Israel's illegal occupation and seizure of Palestinian land.

"Ending Israel's impunity is a moral, political, and legal imperative," said al-Maliki.

Monday's presentations kicked off a week of public ICJ hearings examining the legality of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory.

The U.S. is set to deliver its arguments in the case on Wednesday. Israel will not be participating.

The proceedings began less than a month after the ICJ handed down an interim ruling ordering the Israeli government to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, a decision that Israel has repeatedly flouted as it continues committing atrocities in the enclave and targets the severely overcrowded city of Rafah.

Israeli forces have killed more than 29,000 people in Gaza since October 7.

Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said Monday that "the current conflict raging in the occupied Gaza Strip, where the ICJ has ruled there is a real and imminent risk of genocide, has brought into sharp focus the catastrophic consequences of allowing Israel's international crimes in the [occupied Palestinian territories] to continue with impunity for so long."

"The world must recognize that ending Israel's illegal occupation is a prerequisite to stopping the recurrent human rights violations in Israel and the OPT," Callamard added.

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Wounded Gazans
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UN Experts Demand Investigation Into IDF Abuse of Women and Girls in Gaza

A group of United Nations experts on Monday demanded an immediate and thorough investigation into reports that Israeli forces have arbitrarily detained, sexually abused, and executed Palestinian women and girls in the Gaza Strip.

"We are shocked by reports of the deliberate targeting and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian women and children in places where they sought refuge, or while fleeing," said Reem Alsalem, special rapporteur on violence against women and girls; Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories; and Dorothy Estrada Tanck, Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi of the working group on discrimination against women and girls.

"Some of them were reportedly holding white pieces of cloth when they were killed by the Israeli army or affiliated forces," the U.N. experts continued. "We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence."

Palestinian women and children have borne the brunt of Israel's large-scale assault on Gaza, making up around 70% of the more than 29,000 people who have been killed by Israeli forces since the Hamas-led attack on October 7.

The Israeli military has arrested thousands of Gazans—including many women and children—without charge across the besieged enclave over the past four months. Detainees have reported torture and other abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers, some of whom have posted evidence of their odious actions online for the world to see.

"On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food."

Tamam al-Aswad, a Palestinian mother who was arrested in December and freed earlier this month, toldReuters following her release that she was handcuffed, blindfolded, and placed on a bus with other detainees. At one point, al-Aswad said, an Israeli soldier slammed her head into a wall and hit her on the back after she refused to kiss an Israeli flag.

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, which estimates that Israeli forces have detained more than 3,000 Gazans since October, said late last year that it had received testimony confirming that Palestinian women have been abused and threatened with rape while in Israeli custody.

The U.N. experts said Monday that they have seen "credible allegations of egregious human rights violations" by Israeli forces against women and girls in Gaza.

"Many have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten," they said. "On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food."

"Taken together, these alleged acts may constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to serious crimes under international criminal law that could be prosecuted under the Rome Statute," the experts continued. "Those responsible for these apparent crimes must be held accountable and victims and their families are entitled to full redress and justice."

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