(The above charts are taken from UN-OCHA’s summary report of December 29, on the casualties in the Gaza-Israel crisis. The following essay was first distributed in my newsletter series for Just World Ed.)
The humanitarian crisis in Gaza of course should stay top of mind, but I’ve always been very wary of attempts to divorce intense humanitarian crises from the very real political factors that so often, as in this case, underlie them. The intense crisis that Gaza’s 2.3 million people are suffering is absolutely not the result of a “natural” disaster, but the result of very deliberate policies– political projects– pursued by the leaders on both the Israeli and Palestinian (Hamas-led) sides, as well as those pursued by influential allies including, on the Israeli side, primarily the United States.
Hence, the ending/resolution of the crisis requires political decisions, not just “humanitarian” action. (And as has been clear all along even the attainment of humanitarian goals in this crisis, such as the release of hostages/prisoners or the delivery of aid, requires clear political decisionmaking by many of the involved parties.)
Continue reading “The politics of ending Gaza’s misery”
At noon ET today, the Security Council finally adopted a (notably watered-down) resolution on the Gaza crisis, resolution 2720. Unlike the resolution passed by the General Assembly earlier this month, it did not call for a ceasefire in Gaza, or even (as an earlier draft of the UNSC resolution had) for a “suspension” of hostilities in Gaza. Instead, it called only on all parties to “create the conditions for a sustainable cessation of hostilities.”
Even with this highly watered-down version, the U.S. ambassador would not vote FOR the resolution. She abstained, citing as her main criticism the fact that it made no mention of “condemning” the actions that Hamas and its partners engaged in in Israel on October 7.
Thirteen of the SC’s 15 members voted for the resolution. Only two abstained: the United States and Russia. Russia had wanted a much stronger resolution.
You can read the UN news center’s account of the day’s events, and find the whole text of resolution 2720, here.
Here are the operational parts of the resolution (after all the preamble, that is):
Continue reading “U.N. Security Council resolution on Gaza: text”
The above image shows a Yemeni Coast Guard vessel guarding the hijacked Israeli-owned vessel Galaxy Leader
This is a Twitter thread I posted Wednesday, about the (economic!) effectiveness of the attacks and threats that Yemen’s Houthis have been making against Israel-related shipping trying to transit the Bab el-Mandeb straits.
Just in case it’s not accessible there I have uploaded the PDF of that thread here. And below, you’ll find (non-clickable) screengrabs of those pages. If you want clickable, go to the first link I put above.
(Just an update Friday afternoon: Reuters reported that France, Italy, and Spain– all of which SecDef Lloyd Austin had earlier announced would be members of the counter-Houthi ‘Operation Prosperity Guardian’ coalition– had all declared that they would not be; but their navies would continue coordinating with the U.S. Navy under previously existing arrangements. France and Norway also seemed to be pulling back from Austin’s OPG bravura…)
Continue reading “On the Houthi shipping threats”
Yesterday, I wrote a fairly substantial Twitter thread on the freight-crossings monitoring mechanism that’s a critical point of contention as the UN Security Council this week attempts to pass a meaningful resolution on a ceasefire (or even just a “suspension of hostilities”) in Gaza.
It’s a bit of a wonkish, insidery issue but since it has acquired such importance at the SC, I took that deep dive into it yesterday. You can read the whole thread here. That’s where you’ll need to access it if you want clickable links.
By the way if you’re interested in Israeli controls of *people* needing or wanting to cross into or out of Gaza, go read this excellent thread that the currently exiled Gazan Sarah Ali posted yesterday.
Anyway, here’s the content of my thread from yesterday, non-clickably (with two typos corrected):
Continue reading “On the Gaza crossings monitoring mechanism”
For the most of the 2.3 million Palestinians of Gaza, time has entered a horrifying and quite disorienting warp. How long since they were able to feed their children? How long to remain crammed into an insecure tent as winter’s rains lash? How long till the dysentery takes a loved one? How long since a father, uncle, brother was taken away, stripped nearly naked, and trucked to a distant prison camp? Above all: How much longer now till the crashing of Israeli bombs and bulldozers, the crack of sniper fire, the relentless buzz of drones all finally fall silent?
How long till a ceasefire? How long?
Pres. Joe Biden has, as we know, firmly blocked all the moves the Global Majority has taken to achieve a ceasefire in the Gaza-Israel fighting. Well-connected reporters in Israel have written that the message Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave during the meeting he held yesterday with Israel’s war cabinet was that Biden could only “allow” Israel a few more weeks before he starts calling for a ceasefire.
Continue reading “The clocks ticking for Gaza (political and otherwise)”
The high-profile former Meta exec Sheryl Sandberg headlined an event on this issue for the Israeli Mission to the U.N., December 4
Suddenly, a few days ago, and just as the Israeli military was resuming and indeed intensifying its operations in Gaza, Israel’s worldwide PR machine leapt into life with a large-scale campaign asserting as proven “fact” unproven claims that during the October 7 breakout from Gaza, the Hamas operatives had engaged in a broad campaign of rape and other forms of sexual violence against Israeli women.
What a coincidence. “Hey folks, don’t look at what’s happening to the civilians inside Gaza. Look over here instead!” (And a worrying proportion of Western media outlets did just that. Sigh.)
As a sometimes adventurous professional woman I’ve had to fend off a number of unwanted sexual advances over the years, on occasion a little forcefully. And I’ve done enough interviewing of survivors of rape and sexual violence in Rwanda and elsewhere that I well understand the grave harm that such acts cause. Obviously I would hate it intensely if my children or grandchildren were subjected to such harm.
But you know what? I’d hate it even more if they were killed. Murder is, I think, a very much graver harm than rape.
So first, a few facts. Al-Jazeera is now reporting that Israel has killed more than 17,000 people in Gaza since October 7. Most UN bodies estimate that about 70% of those killed are women and children. That would be ~ 11,900. Conservatively, let’s say that Israel has killed 3,000 to 4,000 women in Gaza. And those who are still alive are barely surviving amid the most God-awful circumstances imaginable.
Let’s think of each of those women’s lives lost or gravely harmed as being just as valuable as the lives of Israeli women?
And here are some facts and figure about the people killed in Israel during the Hamas-led breakout of October 7—which is what we can know about, with much more certainty than we can know about women (or men) who may have been subjected to sexual assault.
Continue reading “On claims of rape during Hamas’s October 7 breakout from Gaza”
Over the weekend, I became intrigued and impressed by some very substantial commentaries on the Gaza crisis that the super-smart Palestinian analyst Mouin Rabbani has been posting on Twitter. Today, he has two more. I invite you all to read them, which even if you’re not on Twitter you can do in these downloadable PDFs:
Each of these threads is very well worth reading.
Continue reading “Commentaries on Gaza, on Twitter”