What We’re Tracking

A forum for aggregating stories Jewish Currents staffers are tracking, with plenty of links to other publications so you can keep up with everything happening on our beats.

Dec
19
2023

  • Since October 7th, Israeli bombardments and shootings have killed nearly 20,000 people in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported on Monday. An estimated 8,000 additional Palestinians are still buried under the rubble, where they “endure prolonged suffering and eventually die because of Israel’s intentional and deliberate denial of access to assistance,” according to Palestinian human rights groups. Experts say the rate of death in Gaza has few precedents in modern warfare: In ten weeks, Israeli strikes have killed more women and children—around 14,000—than US and allied forces killed during nearly 20 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan.
  • The Israeli army announced on Friday that its troops had shot dead three Israeli hostages in Gaza City after “mistakenly [identifying them] as a threat.” It is not clear whether the hostages escaped captivity or were abandoned by Palestinian fighters; however, a preliminary Israeli army investigation found that the three men had raised a white flag. Two of the hostages were shot dead immediately, while a third escaped to a building and called to the soldiers in Hebrew before being killed. The incident sparked a spontaneous protest in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening, with thousands gathering and calling for a deal to exchange Palestinian prisoners for the more than 100 remaining hostages held in Gaza. On Monday, Mossad chief David Barnea flew to Warsaw to begin negotiating such an exchange deal with Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.
  • The World Health Organization reported on Tuesday that 27 of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals are no longer operating due to Israeli bombardment, or because of fuel and staff shortages. Only around a third of Gaza’s health workers—who numbered 20,000 before the war—are still working; the others have been killed, injured, or detained. Meanwhile, Israel’s military has continued to attack medical facilities. Eyewitnesses told Al Jazeera on Saturday that Israel used bulldozers to crush to death 20 Palestinians who had taken shelter in the courtyard of Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza. The Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila called for an “urgent probe” to investigate the incident. According to the World Health Organization, the hospital is no longer functioning after last week’s raid. The Israeli army did not respond to specific allegations, but said that the hospital was used by Hamas militants. At least 26 Palestinians were also killed in a separate Israeli attack on Al-Shifa hospital on Monday, while an Israeli tank shell killed a 13-year-old girl and wounded several others in the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis the day prior.
  • On Saturday, Israel’s army attacked the Holy Family Parish in Gaza, where most of the enclave’s Christian families have taken refuge. Israeli snipers killed an elderly mother and her daughter and injured seven others, according to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Pope Francis responded to the attack by issuing a rare condemnation, calling the shooting “terrorism.” Israeli officials said there was no fighting in the area where the church is located, and that claims that Israeli troops killed Christian women are “not true.”
  • Israel killed Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abudaqa as he was reporting from a school in Khan Younis on Friday. Abudaqa was injured by shrapnel from an Israeli drone attack and bled to death over the next five hours; due to heavy Israeli bombardment, rescue workers were unable to reach him. The drone strike also wounded the Al Jazeera network’s Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh and several other civilians. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has reported that at least 64 journalists—57 of them Palestinian—have been killed by Israeli forces since October 7th. Israeli forces have also attacked Palestinian journalists in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem. On Friday, Israeli officers beat and injured Palestinian photojournalist Mustafa Alkharouf in a neighborhood near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Video footage shows a group of officers punching Alkharouf, hitting him with a rifle, throwing him to the ground, and kicking him. As a result of the beating, Alkharouf went to the hospital for injuries to his head and face. CPJ said that the beating of Alkharouf is part of a “pattern of physical attacks, assaults, and threats by Israeli soldiers and settlers on journalists that have dramatically increased since October 7.”
  • Following Houthi rebels’ repeated attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea—a major international trade route—the US has announced “Operation Prosperity Guardian,” a multinational project “to uphold the foundational principle of freedom of navigation.” Since October, the Houthi rebels, an Iran-backed group in control of large parts of northern Yemen, have been targeting shipping vessels to protest Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip. As a result of the attacks, several shipping companies, including oil giant British Petroleum, have suspended their operations in the Red Sea, citing the “deteriorating security situation.” The new US-led coalition, over half of whose members are European countries, seeks to discourage such attacks, with some countries set to patrol the waters with their navies while others provide intelligence support. For their part, the Houthis described the alliance as “unnecessary,” saying that they were only attacking Israeli ships.
  • Last week, during a three-day Israeli army raid in the West Bank city of Jenin that killed at least 12 people, soldiers commandeered a mosque and sang Hanukkah songs and the shema prayer, which is recited daily by Jews all over the world. Footage also shows troops in footwear in the mosque; Muslim worshippers typically remove shoes before entering a mosque to pray. In response to the footage, the Israeli army removed several soldiers involved in the incident from duty and said the behavior captured on video “is completely contrary to IDF values.” The incident in Jenin was only the latest instance of Israeli soldiers engaging in desecration and vandalism while conducting operations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Recent videos from Gaza show Israeli soldiers “rummaging through private homes in Gaza,” “destroying plastic figurines in a toy store,” “trying to burn food and water supplies in the back of an abandoned truck,” and “chanting racist slogans as they dance in a circle,” according to an Associated Press report.
  • A poll of Palestinian public opinion published on Wednesday found that support for Hamas had risen in both the occupied West Bank and Gaza. The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPS), revealed that 44% of Palestinians in the West Bank back Hamas—an increase from 12% in September. In Gaza, 42% support the Islamist group, up from 38% in September. The poll also found that 57% of respondents in Gaza and 82% in the West Bank say Hamas was correct in launching the October 7th attack on Israel that killed over 1,100 people, including 695 Israeli civilians. (The vast majority of the Palestinian respondents said they did not see videos showing the militants committing atrocities, and only 10% said Hamas had committed war crimes.) The PCPS poll also found widespread dissatisfaction with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which many Palestinians view unfavorably because of its “security coordination” with Israel and its inability to protect them from Israeli attacks; about 90% of respondents said they want Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resign from his post.
  • On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a resolution that will force a Senate vote on assessing Israel’s human rights record amidst what Sanders called “a humanitarian cataclysm” in Gaza “being done with American bombs and money.” Sanders is invoking a rarely used provision of the Foreign Assistance Act. Under this provision, if the vote passes, the Secretary of State must provide a report on Israel’s human rights record within 30 days; Congress could then decide to condition, reduce, or terminate aid to Israel based on the findings. However, the resolution is unlikely to pass, given Congress’s overwhelming support for unconditional military aid to Israel.