No safe space: Palestinians in Gaza are at serious risk of being pushed to Sinai, Arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, The Iranian control over Lebanon’s future, Hezbollah supporters’ defaming campaign targets Lebanese journalists, Ongoing Israeli artillery attacks on south Lebanon, UNIFIL peacekeeper Rooney’s death’s indicted released, No solutions for Lebanon’s economic crisis, On its wartime push Israel enforces Counterterrorism law, Forensic Architecture proves Israeli responsibility in Al-Ahli hospital blast, The future of Gaza is discussed without consulting Palestinians’ hopes
It’s kind of grotesque, the polyvalent meaning of some words. Strike is one of those.
Strike for Gaza: Friday, November 17, was a day of global strike for the world. Celebrated as the International Day of Student Struggle – marked since the 1939 execution of nine anti-fascist Czech student leaders by Nazi occupation authorities, the shutdown of all Czech universities and the forced displacement of 1,200 students to concentration camps – student movements in Palestine as well as student organizations in 16 countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East have issued calls to hold actions.
Protests across the world have erupted over the last few weeks in the wake of Israel’s genocide against Gaza, with November 4 seeing the largest pro-Palestine demonstration in U.S. history, with 300,000 people converging in Washington, D.C., marking an unprecedented global momentum of Palestine solidarity.
The international call to action, raised by the collective Shut It Down For Palestine, also plans to disrupt economic activity. It urged small businesses and media organizations to shut down operations and refuse to continue business as usual, carrying out actions directed at any political or business body that funds or collaborates with Israel. In the absence of any meaningful action by government officials, these plans are part of a growing grassroots movement to increase pressure and build “a political climate that makes Israel’s business of genocide unsustainable,” as the group’s manifesto states.
Strikes on Gaza: On the other hand, the sharp escalation of Israeli retaliation on Gaza, that since October 7 has caused 13,000 victims, 5,000 of whom are children, continues to mark the daily tragedy faced by the Palestinian people.
International organizations claim that what used to be the biggest Palestinian city in the world, Gaza City, is now totally unlivable.
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the Gaza Strip is facing widespread hunger, with supplies of food and water almost exhausted. “With winter fast approaching, unsafe and overcrowded shelters, and the lack of clean water, civilians are facing the immediate possibility of starvation,” said WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.
Moreover, Gaza’s service provider Paltel Group, which includes the telecommunications companies Jawwal and Hadara, said all telecom services in Gaza had gone down, as all energy sources supplying the network had run out, Human Rights Watch denounced.
With more than two-thirds of the Strip’s 2.4 million residents displaced by the war, according to the UN, doubling the number of displaced Palestinians in the 1948 Nakba, the Israeli army’s ground operation seems not over with the occupation and isolation of the northern Strip, nor with the taking-over and the destruction of the Parliament building, nor with the deadly bombing on Al-Fakhoura UNRWA school in Jabalia refugee camp and other schools in Tal al-Zaatar.
Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the Strip, has become a “death zone,” according to the World Health Organisation, which requested its safe evacuation. With evident signs of shelling and gunfire, the WHO team reported the presence of a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital, where more than 80 people were buried.
As of Saturday, November 18, there were 25 health workers and 291 patients remaining in Al-Shifa, with several patient deaths having occurred over the previous days due to the shutting down of medical services. Patients, the organisation states, include 32 babies in extremely critical condition, two people in intensive care without ventilation, and 22 dialysis patients whose access to life-saving treatment has been severely compromised; while the vast majority of them are victims of war trauma, including many with complex fractures and amputations, “who are unable to move without medical assistance.”
Given the current state of the hospital, which is no longer operational or admitting new patients, the WHO team was requested to evacuate health workers and patients to other facilities, pending guarantees of safe passage, and in particular to Nasser Medical Complex and European Gaza Hospital in the south of Gaza. On Sunday, 31 premature babies in extremely critical condition were taken to Al-Helal Emirati Maternity Hospital in Rafah, in the enclave’s south, the Palestine Red Crescent Society posted on X.
However, these hospitals are already working beyond capacity, and while the search in Al-Shifa has been ongoing for five days, providing underwhelming evidence to the Israeli claim that it unequivocally was a Hamas command centre, Israel’s invasion plan on Gaza seems to be moving south.
The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, have ordered civilians to leave four towns in the southern part of the Gaza Strip, raising fears its war against Hamas could spread to areas it had told people were safe, while in the north of the enclave its soldiers were still present at Al-Shifa, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, November 16, an Israeli strike in Rafah killed 10 people; while overnight, from Friday to Saturday, an Israeli strike against three buildings in Khan Younis, in the south of the Gaza Strip, killed 26 people and seriously injured 23.
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement Israeli forces had cleared the entire west part of Gaza City and that the “next stage has begun.” Humanitarian agencies issued some of their direst warnings about the harm Israel’s military campaign in Gaza was causing to civilians since it began retaliation against Hamas for its rampage in southern Israel. At this point, outbreaks of disease and hunger seemed “inevitable” in Gaza, and the depletion of fuel would be “catastrophic,” according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, leading to the collapse of sewage systems and healthcare. And as diplomats start discussing a potential political future for Gaza, humanitarian workers wonder whether or not there will be tomorrow.
Defamed: Over the past week, social media has been flooded with posts featuring Lebanese figures, including well-known journalists, their images marred by the imposition of a Star of David on their faces. They had criticized Hezbollah’s approach in clashes with Israel along the Lebanese southern borders, sharing the hashtag #لبنان_لا_يريد_الحرب, (Lebanon does not want war) and echoing Lebanon’s desire to avoid a total war.
In response, supporters of Hezbollah have issued calls to retaliate against the perceived ‘traitors’, raising the risk of an inner conflict with opposing factions. Targeted journalists included Dima Sadek, Rami Naim, Tony Boulos, Nadim Koteich, Mariam Majdoline Laham, Layal Alekhtiar, Makram Rabah, and the President of the Lebanese Centre for Human Rights, Wadih Asmar.
Interviewed by NOW, some of these figures have spoken out, highlighting how, despite being pro-Palestinian and having largely denounced Israeli crimes committed in Gaza, as the case of Dima Sadek, they have been harassed for being critical of Hezbollah.
Mariam Majdoline Laham, for instance, found herself in the crosshairs of this campaign when she took to social media to express her opinion that men from the Sunni sect should refrain from aligning themselves with Hezbollah and the political factions engaged in border conflicts; while Wadih Asmar was labelled as ‘traitor’, implying collaboration with Israelis by the Minister of Social Affairs Hector Hajjar, after he questioned the minister about the Syrian regime’s failure to facilitate the return of Syrian refugees to Syria, ensuring their safety.
By looking for a scapegoat to deflect attention from the growing sense of mistrust within the party, especially after the below-expectation-speeches of Secretary General Nasrallah, Hezbollah supporters’ strategy might be establish new rules of what will and won’t be acceptable in the political discourse once the war will be over: although that moment seems far to be reached.
Until Nabatieh: On the early morning of Saturday, November 18, two missiles launched from an Israeli drone targeted an aluminium factory located between the towns of Kfour and Toul, west Nabatieh, resulting in a fire that didn’t cause victims. It is the first time since July 2016, according to the state-run National News Agency, that Israel has targeted the outskirts of Nabatieh.
This adds to the ongoing escalation on the southern border, which has been targeting the districts of Marjayoun, Bint Jbeil and Sour, especially the outskirts of Labbouneh and Naqoura, with artillery shelling and white phosphorus munitions, resulting in the deaths of at least 88 people in Lebanon since the start of hostilities, including 74 Hezbollah fighters and 14 civilians, as well as the burning of more than 4.6 million square metres of forests and of tens of thousands of olive trees, as Caretaker Environment Minister Nasser Yassin previously denounced.
This comes after an Israeli warplane destroyed a solar energy project in the southern Lebanese town of Tair Harfa, NNA reported, a project whose cost was estimated at 300,000 USD, which was used to supply the town’s water well with electrical power.
Released: The Lebanese Military Court stated that Mohammad Ayad, the indicted individual detained in the attack that killed UNIFIL peacekeeper Private Seán Rooney on 14 December 2022 and injured 3 others, has been released on bail due to his deteriorating health. Ayad reportedly paid bail of LL1,200,000,000 the equivalent of nearly $13,500. He remains required to appear before the Court at the next hearing scheduled on 15 December 2023.
The one that killed Private Seán Rooney, Irish, 23 years old, was the first fatal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015. The five formally accused, members of Hezbollah and the allied Amal Movement, the armed groups that control the part of southern Lebanon where the attack took place, near the village of Al-Aqbiya, were among seven already charged by Lebanon’s judiciary in January.
UNIFIL continues to demand accountability for the killing of Private Rooney, which, like all attacks on peacekeepers, is considered a crime under both international and Lebanese law.
“Other individuals charged in the 14 December attack remain at large. We continue to urge Lebanese authorities to bring them to justice and ensure all who contributed to the death of Private Rooney are held accountable for their crimes,” UNIFIL staff wrote in a statement shared on their official Telegram channel.
This is added to the fact that UNIFIL bases have already been hit several times since hostilities began on October 8 across the Blue Line between north Israel and south Lebanon. Only two weeks ago, a Nepalese soldier was wounded near Naqoura by an Israeli shell that failed to explode, while on Sunday, November 12, another peacekeeper was hit during a gunfire and underwent surgery in a UNIFIL position near Al-Qawzah.
To the streets: On the afternoon of Tuesday, November 14, some 300 demonstrators protested against the war in Gaza outside the British Embassy in Beirut. According to a statement of Hezbollah, the protest was held at the invitation of “Lebanese parties and Palestinian factions.”
Imminent ceasefire, liberation of Palestine and return of the refugees were the issues claimed by the demonstrators, waving flags of different parties and factions, including the PFLP [Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], Hamas, and of course the Palestinian flag.
Tensions escalated when demonstrators threw stones in the direction of the embassy, and police responded by firing a stun grenade, quickly ending the escalation, L’Orient Today reported.
The protest occurred less than one month after the major demonstration at the US embassy, in the aftermath of the Israeli deadly attack on Gaza’s Al-Ahli hospital, on October 17. On that occasion, Lebanese security forces used teargas and water cannons to repel scores of protesters demonstrating, according to Reuters.
The United States and the UK have both been targeted for criticism across the region for pledging ironclad support for Israel in its ongoing strikes on Gaza, as well as being well-known supporters of Israel throughout all the years of the state’s existence.
Elephant in the room: In the afternoon of Thursday, November 16, activists protested outside the Military Tribunal Court in Beirut. Protesters were demanding full access to their bank deposits amid the country’s deteriorating economic situation, and showed support for an arrested activist, as reported by Crisis 24, that expected dozens to a hundred individuals to attend the demonstration.
In the meanwhile, the economic crisis that has been hitting the country for four years is far from being solved. Despite the state-run National News Agency having reported on Friday that gasoline and diesel prices have edged lower, the country’s economy is defying gravity and triggering spillovers, following the escalation across the southern borders.
As experts notice, inflation has surged to all-time high levels this year: even before the Al Aqsa Deluge and the ensuing conflict, the whole MENA region’s inflation was projected to peak at 17.5 percent on average, easing to 15 percent in 2024, with a small variance across countries, according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) figures.
And while the escalating conflict can potentially have far-reaching impacts on energy prices, food costs, international trade, food production and diplomatic ties, the government’s proposed state budget seems merely focused on taxes.
On Thursday, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, in presence of head of the General Labor Confederation Bishara Al-Asmar, welcomed a delegation representing the Federation of Trade Unions and Employees in North Lebanon, headed by Shadi Al-Asmar. “We’ve demanded that the 2024 state budget proposed today at the House of Parliament be considerate in terms of taxes and fees because people could no longer bear the increasing financial burdens,” Al-Asmar said on emerging.
The meeting, moreover, as reported by the National News Agency, discussed the logistical preparations intended to be made for Independence Day, on November 22, to celebrate the end of the French mandate over the country.
About independence: Although the French have gone, Iran’s influence on Lebanon has never been so evident. On Monday, November 13, the commander of the aerospace division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, stated that “Today, we can see that the war has expanded, with Lebanon being embroiled in it,” as reported by the semi-official Tasnim news agency.
Hajizadeh speculated on the possibility of further escalation, stating, “The future is uncertain, but Iran is prepared for all circumstances.”
The recent stance from Hajizadeh sharply contrasts with his remarks from the previous week, where he had suggested a degree of apprehension, revealing that Iran chose not to retaliate against the US for the killing of Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani in 2020, deeming it illogical. A short video released by Etemadonline, an Iranian daily, showed Hajizadeh explaining that a war at that time could have resulted in significant casualties for Iran, both civilian and military, and set the nation back by two decades, Iran International reported.
The decision to avoid full-scale confrontation with the US was based on the assessment that such a conflict would not yield the desired results, according to Hajizadeh.
On a statement level, Iranian officials continue to issue threats against the Jewish state and the US, confirming Iran’s long standing support for its allied groups spread across the region, including the Palestinian Hamas.
Asked about the US threat to Iran, Hajizadeh said: “The US is not threatening Iran […] Iran is not in a position where anybody would seek to threaten it, as we are currently at the peak of our military strength.” However, the US conducted on Sunday military strikes targeting IRGC and Iran-affiliated facilities in Syria, the latest response to a series of attacks against US forces in Syria and Iraq amid an escalation of tensions in the region owing to the ongoing war.
In this scenario, Lebanon’s position is strictly dependent on Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, which since October 7 has maintained a support front for Hamas. Hajizadeh’s remarks seem to be more than a simple description of the realities on the ground, and could be indicative of Tehran’s desire to increase Lebanon’s involvement in the conflict. The comments come amid heightened tensions on the border, where both sides have undermined the rules of engagement.
However, that of Tehran could be part of the same psychological warfare that Hezbollah has been engaged in since October 8, reminding its adversaries, namely Israel and the US, the threatening possibility of a second warfront’s opening in northern Israel, knowing that the the resulting conflict would be destructive for Lebanon, as it would likely involve the Americans who have already dispatched their navy’s flagships to the eastern Mediterranean.
In The Region
Wanted: On Tuesday, November 14, French judges issued an international arrest warrant for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his brother Maher al-Assad and two other senior officials for the use of chemical weapons against civilians, as occurred in the city of Douma and the Eastern Ghouta district in August 2013, causing more than a thousand victims. Prohibited by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention, the Paris court’s unit concerned with crimes against humanity has been investigating the chemical attacks since 2021. France, as in some other states, applies the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction, which allows prosecutors to investigate particular crimes committed abroad.
The probe was sparked by a legal complaint filed by the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM), the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI) and the Syrian Archive.
This is “a new victory for the victims, their families and survivors and a step forward on the road to justice and sustainable peace in Syria,” wrote lawyer Mazen Darwish, founder and director-general of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression (SMC).
This is in fact the first international arrest warrant issued against the Syrian head of state. The government’s response to the protests that began in 2011 was characterised by brutal repression, which UN experts have framed as war crimes.
The arrest warrants also concern General Ghassan Abbas, director of section 450 of the Syrian Study and Research Centre (Ssrc), and General Bassam al-Hassan, presidential advisor for strategic affairs and liaison officer between the presidential palace and the Ssrc. These arrest warrants relate to complicity in crimes against humanity and war crimes, that the Syrian government has always denied responsibility for, speaking instead of an alleged ‘foreign plot’ to sow discord in the country.
South into the Sinai: On Saturday, Israel warned Palestinians in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, to move out of the fire line and get closer to the Egyptian border, pushing nearly 400,000 displaced Palestinians towards the Rafah crossing, where the only humanitarian aid has been delivered, despite it being just a fraction of pre-conflict needed supplies.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Gaza Director, Thomas White, announced on Saturday that Israel has only permitted half of the daily fuel requirement for lifesaving humanitarian aid. The official pointed out that “as Israeli authorities restrict fuel entering Gaza – this means reduced capacity at the Rafah Crossing to receive aid trucks,” as UNRWA trucks had already run out of fuel.
Moreover, in a previous post on X, White explained that “No fuel means a lack of drinking water – leading to a 40% increase in diarrhoea for people taking shelter in UNRWA schools. In Gaza now with poor sanitation and limited health services diarrhoea can be deadly.”
Israel’s military has called on civilians in north Gaza to evacuate to the south for their own safety via a so-called ‘humanitarian corridor’. Despite having ensured that the IDF would suspend military activities during fixed times to allow safe passage, local sources reported the ongoing shelling on shelters, human convoys, and ambulances, leaving no safe space in the Strip, with a growing risk of civilians’ massacres in the densely-populated south, where people have sought refuge from fighting.
“We are determined to advance our operations. It will happen wherever Hamas exists, including in the south of the Strip,” Israel’s chief military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said during Friday’s regular briefing.
Civilians in parts of south-east Gaza were told in leaflets dropped by Israeli aircraft to move into a smaller ‘safe zone’ in the coastal town of Mawasi, which covers just 14 sq km (5.4 sq miles), prompting warnings from the heads of 18 UN agencies and international aid groups. Mawasi is a sandy area vulnerable to flooding, especially now that torrential rains have begun.
Now that they are pushed westwards, Palestinians in Gaza fear the repetition of a second Nakba, the catastrophe of 1948 where, following the establishment of the state of Israel, nearly 800,000 Palestinians were forced to leave, without being allowed to return.
Despite Egypt opposing the idea of a second massive cross-border displacement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly lobbied Western nations in private to support its plan to resettle Palestinians in Sinai.
A leaked document produced by Israel’s intelligence ministry has in fact proposed the ethnic cleansing of Gaza with the enclave’s 2.3 million Palestinian population expelled to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula: an act that, if realized, would constitute a war crime, according to UN Special Rapporteur for the Occupied Territories Francesca Albanese. Intelligence ministry sources have confirmed to multiple news sites that the report is real, but claim it was only meant to serve as a basis for government discussions.
The report, titled ‘Options for a policy regarding Gaza’s civilian population’, was allegedly published on October 13, six days after Israel began its ruthless bombardment of the Strip. The document was revealed in full by the site Local Call (Sikha Mekomit in Hebrew) on October 28, and translated into English on the channel +972. Its option C suggests that Gazans – more than half of whom have already been displaced by more than one month of Israeli bombardment – would temporarily be herded into ‘tent cities’ in the desert peninsula, before cities are constructed in a ‘resettled area’.
During last month’s Cairo Peace Summit, Egypt’s President Sisi told attendees that Egypt will continue to reject the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza and their transfer to Sinai. As for now, in fact, only foreigners, dual citizens and a limited number of patients in dire need of urgent medical treatments were allowed to flee south into Egypt.
While the European Union accelerates Sisi’s aid package to prevent a fresh wave of refugees, hosting Gazans would be considered unacceptable for a country like Egypt, that already hosts nine million refugees, and especially in a critical region like the Sinai peninsula, already facing water, electricity, and food shortages, as well as a decade-long history of security threats by the Islamic State group (IS) militants.
Reckoning without their host: On November 16, a statement of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) reported that “Humanitarian Chiefs will not participate in the establishment of any safe zone in Gaza that is set up without the agreement of all the parties, and unless fundamental conditions are in place to ensure safety and other needs are met.” No safe zone, according to the statement, is truly safe when “it is declared unilaterally or enforced by the presence of armed forces.”
After the killing of more than 13,000 civilians and the massive displacement of 1.6 million, according to Palestinian figures, it remains unclear who will be the counterpart for an impossible dialogue to implement a ceasefire to the Israeli bombardments.
In a long column published by The Washington Post, US President Joe Biden ensured that, as part of his travel to Israel, he worked closely with the leaders of Israel and Egypt to reach an agreement to restart the delivery of essential humanitarian assistance to Gazans.
On a political-diplomatic level, the Biden administration previously stated that it would not support an indefinite Israeli military presence in the territory, as it opposes downsizing the besieged strip or permanently displacing its population. Seeking for solutions, Biden recommended that, “as we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority,” claiming that all the parts are working towards a two-state resolution.
Though, as Al Jazeera reported, analysts consider the plan of Abbas’ Palestinian Authority governing a destroyed post-conflict Gaza as premature and unrealistic, the Israel-Hamas war having entered its seventh week.
Even if Israel manages to dislodge Hamas from Gaza — a goal that is far from guaranteed, according to Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi — bringing the Palestinian Authority (PA) back to Gaza would face many hurdles, including Israeli opposition.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose right-wing Likud Party opposes establishing a Palestinian State, has all but dismissed the assertions of his US allies, saying that Israel would maintain security control over Gaza. “Gaza has to be demilitarised and Gaza has to be de-radicalised,” he told NBC News last week. “And I think, so far, we haven’t seen any Palestinian force, including the Palestinian Authority, that is able to do it.”
Netanyahu also indicated Israel would oppose the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza following the war as the territory cannot be ruled by “a civil authority that educates its children to hate Israel, to kill Israelis, to eliminate the State of Israel,” that “pays the families of murderers [amounts] based on the number they murdered”, and “whose leader still has not condemned the terrible massacre,” referring to the Hamas attacks of October 7.
On the other hand, earlier this month, PA President Mahmoud Abbas suggested the authority’s return to Gaza on the condition that a political solution to the conflict is reached, one that would include the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
In this regard, President Biden clarified that “The United States is prepared to take our own steps, including issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank,” claiming that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable.
The Times of Israel recently published an article stating that Jerusalem has not actually ruled out the idea of the Palestinian Authority ever returning to govern the Gaza Strip, as desired by the US. According to the Israeli newspaper, what Prime Minister Netanyahu suggested only indicated that the PA will “need to undergo significant reforms in order to do so.”
However, the significant reforms Israel suggests for a future Palestinian state might be very far from those desiderable for the Palestinian Authority: not to mention that all these debates are not taking into consideration the Palestinian people, largely disappointed by Mahmoud Abbas’ fifteen-year-long rule over the occupied West Bank.
According to a poll published last September by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) and conducted among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, if new presidential elections were held today, the preferred candidate would be Marwan Barghouti, who has been detained by Israel since 2002 – followed by head of Hamas’ political bureau Ismail Haniyeh, whose popularity is stronger over Abbas’ ones. The events of October 7 further tarnished the image of the authorities in Ramallah, as Hamas gained strength and once again presented itself as the defender of the Palestinian cause on a national scale.
Proving liability: It’s not too late to prove the truth. Forensic Architecture, together with Al-Haq, is continuing monitoring cases of reported attacks by Israel on medical facilities and hospitals in Gaza. Despite this task being made harder by the disinformation carried out by the Israeli propaganda, the research agency has demonstrated the misleading statements of the IDF following the Al-Ahli hospital blast, which happened on October 17, causing, according to preliminary US intelligence, between 100 and 300 victims, while health officials in Gaza report the number of 471 dead.
The Israeli military and media stated that the blast at Al-Ahli was caused by a misfiring rocket launched by either Hamas or the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] based on two videos, “neither of which in fact shows what they claim,” Forensic Architecture posted on X.
However, through 3D reconstruction and trajectory analysis, Forensic Architecture proved that the missile originated outside Gaza near a reported Iron Dome launch site, exploding at a height of 5 km, 5.7 km from the hospital. According to their analysis, any freefalling debris from the explosion would have taken at least 30 seconds to reach Al-Ahli, but the blast occurred just 8 seconds later.
Channel 12, a popular Israeli TV channel, defending the ‘misfiring rocket’ theory, reported a misleading video referring to an incorrect location and incorrect timing, which documents an explosion occurred 24 seconds before the actual explosion, and over 1 km away. As for now, the IDF has yet to provide any conclusive evidence to support their claim.
Despite the source of the Al-Ahli blast remaining uncertain, however, what is evident is that it is not unusual for Israel to attack healthcare facilities, workers, patients and health supplies. Since October 7, according to a statement by the government media office in Gaza, the Israeli army has so far targeted 52 health centers and 55 ambulances across the Strip, while 25 hospitals have run out of service due to bombardment or lack of fuel and medical supplies. On Wednesday, November 15, Gaza’s largest Al-Shifa hospital was raided by the Israeli army, after it went out of service under the Israeli siege and lack of electricity.
As for today, one month after the deadly blast, Al-Ahli Baptist hospital remains the last hospital partially functioning in the Strip, despite a lack of equipment and medical supplies and facing a threatening surgical shortage, as Ahmed Al-Louh, the Director of Operations, Emergencies, and Medical Services at Al-Ahli, told the Turkish news agency Andalou.
Je suis terrorist: The Israeli Knesset passed a law letting Israel declare foreign nationals as terror operatives, The Times of Israel reported, as part of its wartime push following October 7 attacks.
The new law, which has passed the final vote with the support of 17 MKs and over the opposition of one lawmaker, amends Israel’s existing Counterterrorism Law.
Originally passed in 2016, the Counter-Terrorism Law allowed for the defence minister to designate an association as a terrorist organisation or its activities as terrorist acts. Under that law, groups that work directly or indirectly to assist terror organisations or that promote or finance their activities are also considered terrorist organisations. Previously, moreover, non-Israeli individuals could only be deemed terrorists if a qualified international entity first made the designation.
The expanded version of the law, advanced in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, would “thwart the financing of individuals operating in various organisations, and in particular the Hamas terrorist organisation,” Defense Minister Gallant and Minister of Justice Levin explained in a joint statement, prosecuting not only the actual completion of terrorist acts, but also the suspected intention.
“The amendment to the law will strengthen the administrative measures that can be used against the terrorist organisations and terrorist operatives, and will enable a more effective suppression of channels of recruitment, financing and transfer of funds for terrorist purposes,” they said.
This means that now passed in the Knesset, the law allows for the State of Israel to designate individuals, rather than just organisations, as terror operatives, without the accord of any qualified international entity, and ensure that they are subject to the same sanctions that have been applied to terror organisations in the past. The law also expands the definition of “terror operative” to include financiers who are not formal members of a terror organisation.
In addition to that law, which is legally empowering the Zionist policies of suppression of dissent under the excuse of counter-terrorism, the Knesset has also advanced a measure to grant honorary citizenship to foreigners who died while fighting with Israel’s security services, taking advantage of the current emergency to implement its settler colonial strategy.
Under the pretext of the ongoing war, it seems, lies the only possible political survival for Netanyahu, whose mandate before and in the immediate aftermath of October 7 was believed to have reached an undoubted end.
What We’re Reading
The Hippocratic sacrifice: In light of the imminent collapse of Gaza’s hospital under sustained Israeli attacks, NOW’s Robert McKelvey interviewed Jamil, a Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff member, on the catastrophic conditions of Al-Shifa hospital, and the unspeakable struggle of doctors and nurses on the ground sacrificing their lives to help the wounded.
The dance of history and geopolitics: On Iran’s tangible influence, America’s unpredictable involvement in the Middle East, and their repercussion on the complex socio-political and pluri-religious fabric of Lebanon. Ramzi Abou Ismail offered NOW an analysis on the uncertainty of the country, offering a key to understanding Lebanon’s complex geopolitical situation.
Goodbye natural gas: Maan Barazy’s opinion for NOW Lebanon explores the full story of Bloc 9, located in the south of the exclusive economic zone (EEZ), whose drilling was halted due to Total Energies’ recent decision. Taken in the same week as the ‘Aqsa Deluge,’ the conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, the decision taken by the French giant raises questions about potential political influence rather than genuine non-gas findings, after the United States had mediated for the first time a deal establishing a maritime border between Lebanese and Israeli waters.
Ronnie Chatah’s latest episode for MTV Podcast tackled the topic of the psychological toll of covering the ongoing Hamas-Israel war, including a look at a recent piece written by Wael Taleb for L’Orient Today, on the deadly risks undertaken by journalists covering the conflict.r