Ramadan coming. Gazans starving. U.S. policy in chaos. Hamas sketches political future.

The image above is of Dr. Khaled Qadomi. It’s a screengrab from the recent interview he gave to British Channel 4 tv

These past couple of days have seen several important revelations and analyses related to Israel’s still-continuing genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza. I don’t have time to delve deeply into any of them. But here, to help establish a record, is information about four such revelations/analyses that I see as most consequential:

The WaPo’s (still incomplete) revelations about the scale of Washington’s recent arms transfers to Israel

This report appeared on the WaPo’s website yesterday. The lede was:

The United States has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel since the Gaza war began Oct. 7, amounting to thousands of precision-guided munitions, small-diameter bombs, bunker busters, small arms and other lethal aid, U.S. officials told members of Congress in a recent classified briefing.

The reporter there, John Hudson, who presumably got leaked to by someone in one of the briefed congressional offices, notes that the administration did notify Congress and the public about two arms transfers to Israel since October 7: “$106 million worth of tank ammunition and $147.5 million of components needed to make 155 mm shells.”

But, Hudson writes,

[I]n the case of the 100 other transactions… the weapons transfers were processed without any public debate because each fell under a specific dollar amount that requires the executive branch to individually notify Congress…

We might conclude, therefore, that that “dollar amount” could well be $100 million… and also, that all the other “more than 100” arms transfers had been carefully configured to each, individually, fall somewhere just under that sum (to avoid the necessity of public notification.) A policy of slicing-and-dicing the arms transfers, you could say, in an effort to avoid full transparency.

Hence if we’re talking about “more than 100” transfers, with each fall just shy of $100 million, then we’re probably talking about something like $10,000 million-worth of transfers, or possibly even more than that. That is, more than $10 billion-worth.

I looked at the FAS portal where they present all the reports that Congress’s own research service (CRS) produces on matters Middle Eastern/ West Asian. The only recent report I found there on the arms-to-Israel issue was this one (PDF), dated February 6. The only reference they had there to US arms shipments was a quotation from the Israeli news outlet Ynet that indicated that, “As of late January 2024… since October 7, the United States had dispatched 280 transport planes and 40 ships to deliver 25,000 tons of armaments and equipment to Israel.” But no dollar figure was provided.

One last note here. The waPo report and several others refer to these arms transfers as “Foreign Military Sales”. They are not “sales” in terms that Israel would have bought and paid for those items. They have been– and continue to be– paid for by the U.S. taxpayers.

Biden admin whisperer reveals the chaos in U.S. policy

The veteran WaPo columnist David Ignatius can aptly be described as close to significant powers within the Biden administration– if not, perhaps to the president himself given the fact that last summer he openly called for Biden to step aside and not run for re-election.

David had a column in today’s WaPo that, whether wittingly or not, served to reveal the deeply muddled thinking within the Biden administration on the continuing, totally horrific crisis unfolding in Gaza.

His lede is:

The Biden administration, worried about a new humanitarian catastrophe, appears to be considering ways to prevent Israel from using U.S. weapons if it attacks the densely populated area around the city of Rafah.

First of all, this would not be a “new” humanitarian catastrophe, but merely a continuation/intensification of one that has already been underway for nearly five months.

Second, I have long viewed all the focus on “preventing an Israeli move against Rafah” as a diversion. Israel’s PM and Defense Minister have for some weeks now been openly explaining to their public that they want to keep up the threats against Rafah, in the south of Gaza, in order to force Hamas’s hand in the still-continuing but thus far quite unsuccessful negotiations over a ceasefire. And meantime, two things have been happening: The humanitarian crisis in Northern Gaza has gotten exponentially worse; and the Israeli military have actually been moving large numbers of their troops away from Rafah, indicating that a ground invasion of that zone is not at all imminent.

But David Ignatius– and quite likely also his sources in the administration– seem to have fallen for Netanyahu/Gallant’s “let’s pretend to threaten Rafah” ploy.

The whole of David’s column is worth reading, for the chaotic thinking it reveals within the Biden administration. (The worst thing his sources could mention to him that the USG might do to pressure Hamas was “perhaps squeezing Qatar to expel Hamas representatives from Doha if they can’t persuade their Gaza colleagues to release hostages.” Really? To be honest, I find that pretty hilarious.)

I’ll just close this section with two other quick excerpts from the column:

Another sign of realism is the administration’s recognition that its complex “day after” plans — for Saudi normalization with Israel, accompanied by a pathway toward a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank — might not be achievable this year, even if the war ended tomorrow.

You don’t say!

Then, this:

Behind the growing tension with Netanyahu is Biden’s feeling that Israel hasn’t been listening to U.S. warnings and advice, and that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has been a one-way street.

Oh god, those poor babies, there in the White House. Just turn off the goddamn arms spigot and withhold your veto in the United Nations, people! Those are the actions needed in order to end the genocide in Gaza.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza, especially in the north, worsens

Whichever way you look at it, the situation in Northern Gaza is spectacle of unceasing horror. For the first five days of March, the number of aid trucks that the Israeli authorities allowed to pass into all of Gaza averaged 145 trucks per day. (That compares, remember, with 500 trucks/day allowed to enter chronically aid-dependent– because systematically de-developed– Gaza during the months prior to October 7.)

But the situation in the north is much worse. On March 5, the World Food Program reported this:

A 14-truck food convoy — the first by WFP since it paused deliveries to the north on 20 February — was turned back by the Israeli Defence Force after a three-hour wait at the Wadi Gaza checkpoint...

After being turned away the trucks were rerouted and later stopped by a large crowd of desperate people who looted the food, taking around 200 tons, from the trucks.

Road routes are the only option to transport the large quantities of food needed to avert famine in northern Gaza.

Earlier today, with the help of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, WFP food supplies for 20,000 people (6 tons) were dropped in northern Gaza.

And the WaPo– and other corporate news outlets– are reporting some of the effects: “16 children have died of malnutrition in aid-starved Gaza, health officials say… “

Spox Dr. Khaled Qadomi lays out Hamas’s negotiating terms

Dr. Khaled Qadomi has been Hamas’s representative in Tehran for some years and is a savvy member of the organization’s leadership team. At some point late last week– I’m guessing February 29 (the day of the Flour Massacre in Gaza), or March 1– he gave an intriguing interview in Tehran to a reporter (un-named) from Britain’s Channel 4 news program, of which Channel 4 released this 18-minute segment.

We’ve done the best job we can to unscramble the transcript of the interview– which was one in which both participants, but especially the interviewer, engaged in considerable verbal jousting… And you can now download our cleaned-up, but we hope nearly accurate, version of the transcript here (PDF.)

Early on, Qadomi makes clear, by implication, that Hamas is interested at this point only in a “permanent”, lasting ceasefire, not a mere “humanitarian pause”; and he provides the list of political topics (“titles”) that he says should be a “prerequisite” to any ceasefire agreement:

We said to stop the genocide, lifting the siege, stopping the incursions to Al-Aqsa Mosque, having the rebuild of Gaza, making the people of Gaza feel that they are normal human being, living as any human being.

He also clearly says that releasing all the Israeli hostages is “one of the topics [included in] this whole package.”

The whole interview is worth reading/watching. (I myself interviewed Qadomi about a dozen years ago, and I found him thoughtful and smart. He still is. He didn’t let last week’s bullying interviewer interrupt him too much or put words into his mouth, but held his own throughout the conversation.)

In this latest interview, he provides (at 04:11) just a quick glimpse of the fact that Hamas might be ready to talk about a two-state situation in Palestine/Israel– as an interim step. When the interviewer asked him about it directly, he answered, “Now, how, do you eat an elephant? Bite by bite… ” He then explicated that concept a little further before engaging in a little more of a dance of the veils over it:

I didn’t say two-state solution is possible. I said, for the sake of the stopping the blood shedding, there is a will, there is a desire of a nation who will say what they want to do.

Toward the end of the interview, at 16:00,the interviewer concedes a major point to Qadomi, and an intriguing dialog follows:

Interviewer (16:00):
… And, you know, apart from– There is no military solution to this. So you’re gonna have to be part of the process.

Khaled Qadomi (16:08):

I agree with you on the last thing that– Let us start from that point. That there is no military solution for that. And we believe that resistance is a tool. Military is a tool. It’s not a target. Our goal is to achieve independence.

Interviewer (16:22):
Yeah, but you wanna be in the room, don’t you? You don’t wanna be outside the room as a pressure group.

Khaled Qadomi (16:25):

We are part and parcel. Nobody can exclude Hamas and exclude resistance from that. But for the sake of this debate, again, forget about Hamas. Convince my nation for the next [step], what they want. And we will abide by it. I mean, don’t ask Hamas as a movement what they are looking for, what they think about so-called “Israel”. That is different. Ask the Palestinians now. If, if the day comes that Palestinians will be respected as a nation, there will be many ideas, I tell you. I’m telling you that my people, they do not know what is the meaning of freedom. What is the meaning of an independent state? For a student who has finished his school and he wants to study in any university in the neighborhood, he or she, they will not be able to know what card they should carry for the a first flight to take them away. What type of visa will be granted to them? They don’t know how to live. You in the international community did not grant our nation that opportunity to live as human, as any human nation in the world, as peaceful as any peaceful nation in the world. Forget about the political entities. Political entities. Today, Hamas is no more… a political party. It’s a trend. The slogans of Hamas, the slogan of resistance is being repeated by the youngsters from Washington to Jakarta.

(See also this recent interview with Dr. Qadomi.)

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