Myers: Egypt pressured to allow Palestinian displacement to Sinai in exchange

(1) USA vetoes third UNSC Gaza ceasefire; vote was 15-1 with UK abstaining
(2) Will Egypt allow Palestinian displacement to Sinai in exchange for debt relief?
(3) NYT publishes opinion piece by Jewish Holocaust prof, denying Gaza genocide
(4) Bernie Sanders & AOC stop short of accusing Israel of Genocide
(5) Sanders says Israel is starving Gaza, but fails to call genocide
(6) AOC declines to accuse Israel of genocide in Gaza
(7) ICJ provisional ruling on Genocide has started the clock on Israel’s future—Jeffrey Sachs
(8) Israel attacked hospitals, but refused independent investigators access to them, to verify allegations

And RFKjr is scared to criticize Israel; he knows that the Lobby could destroy his campaign.

(1) USA vetoes third UNSC Gaza ceasefire; vote was 15-1 with UK abstaining

World slams US ceasefire veto at UN Security Council on Israel’s Gaza war

Russia pledges not to give up as China says US veto gives a green light for Israel’s continued slaughter in Gaza.

Published On 21 Feb 2024

21 Feb 2024
11:06 AM (GMT)

The United States has again vetoed a draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution on Israel’s war on Gaza, prompting widespread criticism from rivals and allies alike.

The move on Tuesday was the third US veto of a UNSC resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza, and came a day after Washington circulated a resolution that would support a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of all Israeli captives from the Palestinian enclave.

The vote in the 15-member council was 13-1, with the United Kingdom abstaining, reflecting the strong support from countries around the globe for ending the devastating conflict that has killed more than 29,000 Palestinians.

(2) Will Egypt allow Palestinian displacement to Sinai in exchange for debt relief?

Will Egypt accept Palestinian displacement in exchange for debt relief?

Egypt’s stability is crucial for Saudi Arabia and the UAE, but now they’re linking financial aid to the mass displacement of Gazans to Sinai, which poses an even greater threat to Cairo’s national security.

Mohamad Hasan Sweidan

FEB 26, 2024

As Israel’s brutal military assault on Gaza escalates, <>reports continue to swirl about a big Egyptian trade-off in the works: the absorption of large numbers of displaced Palestinians from the Strip in exchange for easing Cairo’s massive debt load – which <>surpasses $160 billion.

Yet more than four months after the war’s onset, Egyptian parliamentarian Mustafa Bakri says President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has rejected $250 billion from foreign states as payment to allow Gazans to flood the Sinai.

Despite Cairo’s repeated <>rejection of forcibly transferring Palestinians into Egyptian territory, ongoing fears of a potential influx of Gazans fleeing Israeli atrocities, the viability of their return, and the destabilization of the Sinai border have continued to beset the Egyptian government. And important questions linger about <>who truly stands to gain from the displacement of Palestinians beyond Gaza’s confines.

As the conflict grows in both ferocity and breadth, it has become evident that for many Arab leaders, the Palestinian cause has become a secondary concern, if not a burdensome inconvenience. Arab states that normalized relations with Israel in 2020 – such as the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan – currently view Palestine as an obstacle to their diplomatic flexibility.

The plan: cash for displacement

As Israel advances militarily into Gaza’s southernmost territory, Rafah, <>photos and videos published by the Sinai Foundation for Human Rights reveal that Egypt has begun constructing a closed zone on its border with Gaza – ostensibly aimed at sheltering Palestinians fleeing the anticipated Israeli attack on Rafah.

The images show workers using heavy machinery to install concrete barriers and security towers around a strip of land on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing.

There is little doubt that the mass displacement of Palestinians poses a threat to Egypt’s national security in the long term. Still, the Saudis and Emiratis appear to be prioritizing this Israeli objective, and so Egypt faces a dilemma:

Either continue to reject displacement or accept a mass exodus to Sinai – even temporarily – in exchange for economic incentives that include offsetting a major part of its accumulated debt, which also threatens the Egyptian economy significantly and, by extension, its social cohesion.

Cairo has been <>complicit in Israel’s blockade of Gaza since 2007 and has played an active role in countering Palestinian resistance by <>flooding tunnels connecting the Strip to Sinai.

The critical role played by Saudi Arabia and Egypt in shaping post-war Gaza cannot be overstated. Riyadh’s embrace of normalization sets a dangerous precedent, fulfilling a long-held US–Israeli desire to integrate the occupation state into West Asia – to the detriment of Palestine.

This shift in dynamics represents a concerted effort to sideline the Palestinian cause in favor of broader regional political and economic guarantees from Washington. Speaking at this year’s Munich Security Conference, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there is an “extraordinary opportunity” in the coming months for the recognition of Israel among Arab states:

Virtually every Arab country now genuinely wants to integrate Israel into the region to normalize relations … to provide security commitments and assurances so that Israel can feel more safe.

It seems clear that Riyadh decided, from the beginning of the Gaza war, to prepare the internal environment for the post-Gaza phase, that is, the phase of normalization and settlement. Saudi Arabia insisted on not postponing any festival or celebration, prevented participating artists from showing sympathy for the Palestinians, punished those who sympathized with the martyrs of Gaza from a Saudi platform, and even banned the wearing of the Palestinian Kufiyyeh at Mawsim al-Riyadh, a state-funded annual festival.

Saudi Arabia’s meticulous plan to relegate the Palestinian issue to the annals of history comprises five strategic steps:

First, insulate domestic affairs from Gaza’s turmoil. Second, promote the two-state solution as a precursor to normalization with Israel. Third, coerce other Arab countries into following suit while isolating dissenting voices. Fourth, facilitate the displacement of Palestinians, both in the short and long term, by leveraging soft power incentives and economic inducements. In December, the French newspaper Le Monde leaked a controversial <>Saudi–French proposal to end the Gaza war by displacing Hamas leaders and members to Algeria.

Fifth, the kingdom seeks to foster economic ties with Israel to integrate it as a normal part of West Asia.

The success of Riyadh’s plan hinges on the compliance of key stakeholders Israel and Egypt, whose approval is paramount for normalization and the execution of Palestinian displacement.

Closing the file on the Palestinian cause and forging ties with Tel Aviv is an ambition the Saudis share with the UAE in pursuit of economic and political gains. Despite official Arab declarations rebuffing displacement plans, behind-the-scenes maneuvers suggest a different reality, one that veers towards the gradual dissolution of the Palestinian cause.

Saudis and Emiratis buy Egypt’s sovereignty

Riyadh’s sudden eagerness to bolster economic ties with Cairo is palpable. With <>unprecedented directives from both governments, mutual investments are set to soar, with Saudi Arabia aiming to ramp up trade to $100 billion.

Recent collaborations include a <>$4 billion deal with Saudi-listed ACWA Power for the Green Hydrogen project. Moreover, strategic initiatives like the <>memorandum of understanding between the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production and the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries and agreements in petroleum and mineral resources signal deepening economic integration.

Ongoing negotiations between Cairo and Abu Dhabi to develop a substantial tract of land along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, potentially valued at $22 billion, could be a game-changer for Egypt’s beleaguered economy.

According to the <>CBE report, the proposed contract’s value encompasses a significant portion of the Egyptian government’s external debt due in 2024, totaling $29.229 billion. This includes interest payments totaling $6.312 billion and debt installments amounting to $22.917 billion.

Economic lifeline or political liability?

There is no doubt that the Saudi–Emirati interest in investing in Egypt is mainly driven by these two countries’ fears of Egypt’s economic collapse, which could destabilize a key, friendly Arab state in the region.

But information has surfaced that the two Gulf states’ offers to Egypt now tie the displacement of Gazans to a proposal to alleviate Cairo’s staggering debt burden. The reported US offer to wipe out <>$160 billion of Egyptian debt in exchange for hosting 100,000 Gazan refugees has a dangerous historical precedent. In <>1991, Washington forgave Egypt’s debt in return for its support of the US-led coalition against Iraq.

Egypt’s monumental national debt ranks <>second globally in risk of default after Ukraine. Notably, Arab countries hold a significant portion of Egypt’s debt, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE alone accounting for approximately 20.3 percent.

Egypt’s looming economic collapse is not in the interest of either the Persian Gulf’s Arab states or their US ally due to the country’s strategic significance in the Arab world and North Africa – hence, the resolution of the Palestinian issue emerges as a shared priority among Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and the US.

The latter states’ normalization efforts align with their broader geopolitical strategies aimed at containing Iran and neutralizing the <>Axis of Resistance. Despite Saudi Arabia’s rhetoric endorsing normalization in exchange for Palestinian rights, its actions during the Gaza war confirm that Riyadh has, since day one, been working to sideline the Palestinian cause and inhibit any positive engagement with it.

In the long term, the establishment of a Palestinian state poses a threat to efforts aimed at permanently extinguishing the Palestinian issue. Thus, the prospect of displacing Palestinians to Egypt, despite the formidable obstacles, remains a viable strategy for Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

As geopolitical interests intertwine with economic imperatives, the fate of millions of Palestinians hangs in the balance, subject to the whims of power politics and strategic calculus.

(3) NYT publishes opinion piece by Jewish Holocaust prof, denying Gaza genocide


What I Believe as a Historian of Genocide
Nov. 10, 2023

By Omer Bartov

Mr. Bartov is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University.

Israeli military operations have created an untenable humanitarian crisis, which will only worsen over time. But are Israel’s actions — as the nation’s opponents argue — verging on ethnic cleansing or, most explosively, genocide?

As a historian of genocide, I believe that there is no proof that genocide is currently taking place in Gaza, although it is very likely that war crimes, and even crimes against humanity, are happening. That means two important things: First, we need to define what it is that we are seeing, and second, we have the chance to stop the situation before it gets worse. We know from history that it is crucial to warn of the potential for genocide before it occurs, rather than belatedly condemn it after it has taken place. I think we still have that time.

It is clear that the daily violence being unleashed on Gaza is both unbearable and untenable. Since the Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas — itself a war crime and a crime against humanity — Israel’s military air and ground assault on Gaza has killed more than 10,500 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, a number that includes thousands of children. That’s well over five times as many people as the more than 1,400 people in Israel murdered by Hamas. In justifying the assault, Israeli leaders and generals have made terrifying pronouncements that indicate a genocidal intent.

Still, the collective horror of what we are watching does not mean that a genocide, according to the international legal definition of the term, is already underway. Because genocide, sometimes called “the crime of all crimes,” is perceived by many to be the most extreme of all crimes, there is often an impulse to describe any instance of mass murder and massacre as genocide. But this urge to label all atrocious events as genocide tends to obfuscate reality rather than explain it.

International humanitarian law identifies several grave crimes in armed conflict. War crimes are defined in the 1949 Geneva Conventions and subsequent protocols as serious violations of the laws and customs of war in international armed conflict against both combatants and civilians. The Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court, defines crimes against humanity as extermination of, or other mass crimes against, any civilian population. The crime of genocide was defined in 1948 by the United Nations as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”

So in order to prove that genocide is taking place, we need to show both that there is the intent to destroy and that destructive action is taking place against a particular group. Genocide as a legal concept differs from ethnic cleansing in that the latter, which has not been recognized as its own crime under international law, aims to remove a population from a territory, often violently, whereas genocide aims at destroying that population wherever it is. In reality, any of these situations — and especially ethnic cleansing — may escalate into genocide, as happened in the Holocaust, which began with an intention to remove the Jews from German-controlled territories and transformed into the intention of their physical extermination.

My greatest concern watching the Israel-Gaza war unfold is that there is genocidal intent, which can easily tip into genocidal action. On Oct. 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Gazans would pay a “huge price” for the actions of Hamas and that the Israel Defense Forces, or I.D.F., would turn parts of Gaza’s densely populated urban centers “into rubble.” On Oct. 28, he added, citing Deuteronomy, “You must remember what Amalek did to you.” As many Israelis know, in revenge for the attack by Amalek, the Bible calls to “kill alike men and women, infants and sucklings.”

The deeply alarming language does not end there. On Oct. 9, Israel’s defense minister, Yoav Gallant, said, “We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly,” a statement indicating dehumanization, which has genocidal echoes. The next day, the head of the Israeli Army’s coordinator of government activities in the territories, Maj. Gen. Ghassan Alian, addressed the population of Gaza in Arabic: “Human animals must be treated as such,” he said, adding: “There will be no electricity and no water. There will only be destruction. You wanted hell, you will get hell.”

The same day, retired Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland wrote in the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, “The State of Israel has no choice but to turn Gaza into a place that is temporarily or permanently impossible to live in.” He added, “Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieving the goal.” In another article, he wrote that “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.” Apparently, no army representative or politician denounced this statement.

I could quote many more.

Taken together, these statements could easily be construed as indicating a genocidal intent. But is genocide actually occurring? Israeli military commanders insist that they are trying to limit civilian casualties, and they attribute the large numbers of dead and wounded Palestinians to Hamas tactics of using civilians as human shields and placing their command centers under humanitarian structures like hospitals.

But on Oct. 13, the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence reportedly issued a proposal to move the entire population of the Gaza Strip to the Egyptian-ruled Sinai Peninsula (Mr. Netanyahu’s office said it was a “concept paper”). Extreme right-wing elements in the government — also represented in the I.D.F. — celebrate the war as an opportunity to be rid of Palestinians altogether. This month, a videotape emerged on social media of Capt. Amichai Friedman, a rabbi in the Nahal Brigade, saying to a group of soldiers that it was now clear that “this land is ours, the whole land, including Gaza, including Lebanon.” The troops cheered enthusiastically; the military said that his conduct “does not align” with its values and directives.

And so, while we cannot say that the military is explicitly targeting Palestinian civilians, functionally and rhetorically we may be watching an ethnic cleansing operation that could quickly devolve into genocide, as has happened more than once in the past.

None of this happened in a vacuum. Over the past several months I have agonized greatly over the unfolding of events in Israel. On Aug. 4, several colleagues and I circulated a petition warning that the attempted judicial coup by the Netanyahu government was intended to perpetuate the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land. It was signed by close to 2,500 scholars, clergy members and public figures who were disgusted with the racist rhetoric of members of the government, its anti-democratic efforts and the growing violence by settlers, seemingly supported by the I.D.F., against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

What we had warned about — that it would be impossible to ignore the occupation and oppression of millions for 56 years, and the siege of Gaza for 16 years, without consequences — exploded in our faces on Oct. 7. Following Hamas’s massacre of innocent Jewish civilians, our same group issued a second petition denouncing the crimes committed by Hamas and calling upon the Israeli government to desist from perpetrating mass violence and killings upon innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza in response to the crisis. We wrote that the only way to put an end to these cycles of violence is to seek a political compromise with the Palestinians and end the occupation.

It is time for leaders and senior scholars of institutions dedicated to researching and commemorating the Holocaust to publicly warn against the rage- and vengeance-filled rhetoric that dehumanizes the population of Gaza and calls for its extinction. It is time to speak out against the escalating violence on the West Bank, perpetrated by Israeli settlers and I.D.F. troops, which now appears to also be sliding toward ethnic cleansing under the cover of war in Gaza; several Palestinian villages have reportedly self-evacuated under threats from settlers.

I urge such venerable institutions as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to step in now and stand at the forefront of those warning against war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and the crime of all crimes, genocide.

If we truly believe that the Holocaust taught us a lesson about the need — or really, the duty — to preserve our own humanity and dignity by protecting those of others, this is the time to stand up and raise our voices, before Israel’s leadership plunges it and its neighbors into the abyss.

There is still time to stop Israel from letting its actions become a genocide. We cannot wait a moment longer.

Omer Bartov {Jewish} is a professor of Holocaust and genocide studies at Brown University.

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(4) Bernie Sanders & AOC stop short of accusing Israel of Genocide

Haaretz Today |

Why Bernie Sanders, AOC Won’t Accuse Israel of Genocide in Gaza

Two of the progressive left’s most iconic torchbearers – Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – have intentionally stopped short of matching rhetoric from their colleagues and much of their base

Ben Samuels
Feb 20, 2024

WASHINGTON – The progressive left, long critical of Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians and the U.S. government’s static approach to the conflict, has become increasingly emboldened in its criticism of both as the Gaza war continues.

(5) Sanders says Israel is starving Gaza, but fails to call genocide–fails-to-call

Sanders says US must not be complicit in Gaza, fails to call genocide

ByAl Mayadeen English
Source: Agencies
21 Feb 2024 12:55

US Senator Bernie Sanders posts on X a video talking about the need to make sure the US ends its complicity in Israeli crimes across the Gaza Strip.

< Senator Bernie Sanders, speaks during a news conference on January 25, 2024, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP)

US Senator Bernie Sanders announced that the US cannot be complicit in the “horrific” aggression perpetrated by “Israel” in the Gaza Strip against the Palestinian people, however, Sanders made no reference to a genocide happening in the strip.

“The whole world is watching. (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu is starving the children of Gaza. We cannot be complicit in this atrocity,” Sanders said in a video message on X, adding “I cannot find words to describe how horrific the situation is and could become.”

Due to the Israeli occupation’s airstrikes and restrictions on humanitarian aid reaching Gaza, Sanders emphasized that only a minute portion of the urgently required supplies, including food, water, medicine, and fuel, can make their way into Gaza.

“Today, hundreds of <–us-sen–demands-halting-uncapped-aid-t thousands of children are starving and lack clean drinking water. The United Nations says the entire population of Gaza is at imminent risk of famine and some 378,000 people are starving right now,” stressed Sanders.

This comes after widescale backlash against Sanders for actively avoiding calling the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip a genocide, despite being asked “three times whether he thinks Israel’s assault on Gaza constitutes a genocide.”

(6) AOC declines to accuse Israel of genocide in Gaza

AOC says no one should be ‘tossed out of public discourse’ for accusing Israel of genocide

Congresswoman declined to accuse Israel of genocide in Gaza, but said ‘large amounts of Americans’ believe it’s the right term

< Chris Michael
< @chrismichaelgdn
Mon 29 Jan 2024 23.39 AEDT

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Sunday declined to join critics who accuse Israel of genocide in its actions in Gaza, but said American society should not “toss someone out of our public discourse” for doing so.

Following the International Court of Justice’s order to < Israel to work to prevent genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza, the Democratic representative from New York argued on Meet the Press that “large amounts of Americans” think “genocide” is the right term for what is happening in Gaza.

“The fact that [the ICJ] said there’s a responsibility to prevent it, the fact that this word is even in play, the fact that this word is even in our discourse, I think demonstrates the mass inhumanity that Gazans are facing,” she said.

“Whether you are an individual that believes this is a genocide – which by the way, in our polling we are seeing large amounts of Americans concerned specifically with that word. So I don’t think that it is something to completely toss someone out of our public discourse for using.”

Ocasio-Cortez has condemned Hamas’s attack on 7 October “in the strongest possible terms” and has at the same time been a < vocal proponent of a ceasefire in Gaza, where the Israeli military has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians.

“We are not just seeing 25,000 people that have died in Gaza,” she said. “We are seeing the starvation of millions of people, the displacement of over 2 million Gazans.”

Some of Ocasio-Cortez’s allies in Congress, such as the progressive Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, < have gone further, arguing that Joe Biden is supporting genocide in Gaza. Asked to respond, Ocasio-Cortez said: “I think what we are seeing right now throughout the country is that young people are appalled at the violence and the indiscriminate loss of life.”

On the Democrats’ policy agenda and messaging, she argued that the party “can certainly do more to be advancing our vision” but added: “I believe we have a strong vision that we can run on.” She praised Biden for his promise to enshrine reproductive rights in law should he remain president and Democrats take hold of both chambers of Congress, and affirmed that Biden is the strongest candidate among current Democratic political leaders to defeat Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee.

“I think we can do more,” she added. “I think we need to be talking more about healthcare. Of course me, as a progressive, I want to see the age of Medicare drop – whether it’s to 50 [years old] as the president has discussed earlier, or to zero, as is my preference.”

(7) ICJ provisional ruling on Genocide has started the clock on Israel’s future—Jeffrey Sachs

Israel Cannot Hide From the International Court of Justice

Common Dreams

January 29, 2024

It is easy to be cynical about the international rule of law. No sooner had the <>International Court of Justice (ICJ) found that Israel is plausibly committing genocide against the Palestinian people than the U.S. State Department declared, “We continue to believe that allegations of genocide are unfounded and note the court did not make a finding about genocide or call for a ceasefire in its ruling…” Israeli leaders declared the case to be “<>outrageous” and “<>antisemitic.” Yet the risks for Israel of the ICJ ruling, and its follow-up in the next year or two, are profound. If Israel spurns the Genocide Convention, it imperils its place within the community of nations.

True, the ICJ provisional ruling by itself will not end Israel’s war in Gaza or perhaps the mass killing of the Palestinian people, <>already at 26,000 and rising (with 70 percent women and children). The ruling by itself will not end America’s complicity in Israel’s slaughter of Palestinians. Israel could not fight the war in Gaza one more day without the U.S. providing the munitions and other military support.

Yet the ruling has started the clock on Israel’s future. If Israel continues to act with impunity and finds itself declared as genocidaire in the ICJ’s final ruling, Israel will become a pariah state. Young Americans in particular will pull the plug on U.S. backing for Israel. Israel will stand utterly alone, condemned by the world.

Most of the 193 governments in the United Nations already disdain Israel’s behavior. …

(8) Israel attacked hospitals, but refused independent investigators access to them, to verify allegations

Israel has not allowed independent investigators to access the hospitals and verify the allegations

Middle East and Africa | Gaza’s devastated health system

The wrecking of Gaza’s health system goes beyond its hospitals
The strip could see 58,000 excess deaths over the next six months if fighting continues

Feb 22nd 2024

The injured lie over hospital floors, blood bubbling from untreated wounds. Doctors perform amputations without anaesthetic. For want of gauze, they rip up their gowns. After surgery, there is no water to wash the blood from their hands. Without sterilised equipment, hospitals spread disease rather than treat it. Many doctors who have worked in other war zones say that conditions in Gaza are the worst they have seen. “Hospitals, intended to be safe havens…have frequently turned into death traps,” says a report released in February by Physicians for Human Rights (phri), an Israeli watchdog.

Since Israel’s ground offensive began in October last year, medical facilities have been a key battlefield. Tens of thousands of Gazans have sought shelter in hospital compounds, many of which have been attacked by Israeli forces who say that Hamas operatives are sheltering there. According to the who, 85% of the nearly 800 health workers and hospital patients killed in conflicts around the world in the past year died in the occupied Palestinian territories, most of them in the ten-mile-wide Gaza strip. Some 60% of the 1,500 attacks on health-care facilities in all conflict zones occurred there, too.

After more than four months of war, only a quarter of Gaza’s 36 hospitals and less than a third of its 72 health clinics are operating—and those only partially. On February 18th a week-long siege by Israeli forces of Nasser hospital, which was the largest hospital still functioning in Gaza, ended with troops entering the facility and arresting several doctors, including its director. About 130 patients and at least 15 medics remain in the building, which has no electricity or running water.

Gaza’s health system is being destroyed at its roots. Health-workers are exhausted and traumatised, ambulances have been wrecked and the hospitals still standing may be structurally unstable. Even when hospitals have not suffered direct hits, shock waves from bombs have done damage to internal piping, such as gas lines, and left oxygen supplies shattered.

Some 29,000 people in Gaza have died in the war so far. But new research suggests that fatalities will continue to mount long after any fighting stops. A study published on February 19th by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Maryland and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine estimates excess deaths, the number of deaths beyond those expected in any normal year, would increase by 6,550 over the next six months even if there were an immediate ceasefire. If the fighting continues at its current level, that figure could reach over 58,000 over the same period. That is in part due to infectious diseases and in part to traumatic injuries that the few remaining hospitals are ever less able to treat. Other specialists predict the lack of proper health care could leave 280,000 people with life-changing injuries or illnesses.

Hospitals, which have special protection under the laws of war, have become a battleground in many recent urban conflicts. About 60% of Syria’s health system was destroyed in the four years after civil war erupted in 2011, according to the un. A quarter of Yemen’s health services closed in the first year of its civil war in 2014. In 2022, after Russia invaded Ukraine, 37 of Ukraine’s 1,600 hospitals were wrecked.

Still, Israel says Gaza’s hospitals are legitimate targets. It has published evidence that it says shows that Hamas fighters have hidden among patients and stored weapons in at least a few hospitals. It also says that Hamas maintained a tunnel under Gaza’s biggest hospital, al-Shifa, in Gaza city, that connected to its larger tunnel network. If a hospital is used for military purposes, it loses its special status. But Israel has not allowed independent investigators to access the hospitals and verify the allegations. After taking control of al-Shifa in November it dialled back its claim that it had uncovered evidence that there was a major command-and-control centre.

Many Palestinians say that Israel has a broader intent; to impair “Gazan society’s capacity to exist,” as phri puts it. Whether that is true is debatable. What is not debatable is that the war has already rendered much of Gaza uninhabitable. The collapse of the health system will make that even harder to reverse