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Israeli court sentences Palestinian politician Khalida Jarrar to two years

2 Mar

The decision comes as Palestinians gear up to vote in long-overdue legislative elections in May

Khalida Jarrar arrives at Israel’s Ofer military court during a previous stint in prison in 2015 (AFP)


By MEE staff, Middle East Eye, 2 March 2021

An Israeli military court sentenced Palestinian politician Khalida Jarrar to two years in prison on Monday for “inciting violence” and belonging to a “banned organisation”.

Jarrar, a prominent political activist and member of the Marxist-Leninist organisation the Popular Front for Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was arrested at her home in Ramallah on 31 October 2019, and has since been in detention. 

The court at the Ofer military base northwest of Jerusalem also ordered her to pay a fine of $1,300.

Jarrar, who is also a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Palestine’s suspended parliament, has been arrested numerous times and done several stints in Israeli administrative detention.

In February 2019, she was released from Israel’s Damon prison, outside Haifa, after 20 months in administrative detention without charge.

Medic shot in Gaza returns to UN Human Rights Council to call for accountability

1 Mar

“I am one of the 810 health workers shot, wounded or killed during the 2018-2019 ‘Great March of Return’ protests in Gaza by Israeli forces.”

Dr Tarek Loubani

Medical Aid for Palestinians, 26 February 2021 (map.org.uk)

This week, emergency physician Dr Tarek Loubani, who was shot by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2018, returned to the UN Human Rights Council to highlight how international inaction to ensure accountability for attacks is keeping Palestinian health workers in the firing line.

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We cannot remain silent on issues like the seizure of Ata Khatab

1 Mar
Ata Khatab (left) and Sharaf Dar Zeid in the award-winning film Dancing7Cities.

Ata Khatab (left) and Sharaf Dar Zeid in the award-winning film Dancing7Cities.

By Nicholas Rowe, 1 March, 2021

Nicholas Rowe

Dr Nicholas Rowe is Professor of Dance Studies at the University of Auckland and UNESCO Chair in Dance and Social Inclusion. 

The seizing and jailing of a Palestinian dancer is part of the silencing of cultural critics in Israel, writes the University of Auckland’s Professor Nicholas Rowe

At 4am on February 2, Palestinian dancer and choreographer Ata Khatab was awoken roughly by Israeli soldiers in his home in the West Bank city of Al-Bireh, blindfolded, handcuffed, shoved into the back of a jeep and taken to the Al Moscobiyeh detention centre.

I found that opening sentence very difficult to write. Not because I have known Ata for 15 years, seeing him grow from a conscientious 13 year-old attending my dance classes and more recently working alongside him as a co-author and artistic collaborator. It is also not because I know that since 4am on that Tuesday morning he has been intimidated, interrogated, deprived and tortured by foreign soldiers.

No, my problem is more technical: as a writer I want to be concise, and yet convenient words like arrested, captured and imprisoned are so strongly wedded to other concepts like crime, due-process and justice. If I was to more simply write “Ata was arrested”, then queries like “Why? What did he do?” would inevitably gallop forward in the minds of readers not privy to daily life in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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Celebrating Palestinian poet and novelist Mourid Barghouti

28 Feb

Opinion: Lois Griffiths

The renowned Palestinian poet and novelist Mourid Barghouti died on 12 February 2021, at the age of 77 in Amman, Jordan.

He was born in the village of Deir Ghassaneh, near Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank in 1944, 4 years before the State of Israel came into existence.

In 1963, Barghouti travelled to Cairo to study English Literature. After Israeli authorities occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war, they banned him from returning back to his village near Ramallah.

Barghouti spent most of his life in exile in Egypt, Hungary, Lebanon and Jordan.

Wherever he was, under whatever circumstances, he wrote poetry. “I gave everything to poetry, which is the centre of my life. All my travels, writings and readings are about poetry,”

Barghouti published 12 poetry collections. Some have been translated into English.

In 1993, after the peace agreement signed between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, he was able to return briefly to his birthplace.

The visit led to Morid Barghouti’s writing his autobiographical novel I Saw Ramallah.

This book in particular, sharing the sadness and longing of a life in exile, has struck a chord with readers around the world as it ‘humanises’ the Palestinian people, what they have had to, and continue, to endure for so many years.

Barghouti’s death will be mourned by many people, Arabic speakers and Arabic Studies students. Poetry is a valued cultural tradition, that goes back many, many years.

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Video report: Life under occupation

24 Feb

Video report by Rania Zabaneh, a Palestinian journalist/producer with Al Jazeera. 29 January 2021

Rania takes us through the barriers she faces as a Palestinian journalist – both physical and unseen – on the ground from the occupied West Bank.

Israeli forces open floodgates, destroy Gaza crops – again

22 Feb

Palestine Information Centre, 20 February 2021

The Israeli army on Friday opened floodgates near the eastern borders of Gaza Strip for the second day running flooding hundreds of dunums (124 acres) of Palestinian cultivated land lots.

Local sources said that the water devastated vast tracts of land in eastern Gaza City while dozens of other cultivated lands were flooded near Beit Hanun in northern Gaza Strip.

The farmers incurred heavy losses as a result of the devastating floods.

The Israeli army each winter opens the floodgates on Gaza borders and causes heavy losses to the farmers.

Read more at: https://english.palinfo.com/46305

Sources: Palestine Information Centre, Palestine Chronicle, MEMO, social media.

Video: Apartheid reality faced by Palestinians

19 Feb

Co-produced by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (UK) and Makan, this video explores the apartheid reality faced by Palestinians on the ground in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, in Israel and in exile. Published 19 February 2021.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign: http://www.palestinecampaign.org

Makan: http://www.makan.org.uk

Video by Rainbow Collective. Music by Kareem Samara

Gaza’s first Covid vaccine shipment arrives

19 Feb

Video: CGTN report 18 February 2021

Israel blocks shipment of Russian Covid vaccine to Gaza

17 Feb

Palestinian medics in Gaza city convert an empty mosque into a COVID-19 testing center.(Photo: Fawzi Mahmoud, The Palestine Chronicle)

Palestine Chronicle, 17 February, 2021

Palestinian authorities denounced on Monday that Israel is blocking access to COVID-19 vaccines to Gaza.

“Today, 2,000 doses of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine were transferred to enter the Gaza Strip, but the occupation authorities prevented their entry,” Palestinian Health Minister Mai al-Kaila said in a statement.

“These doses were intended for medical staff working in intensive care rooms designated for Covid-19 patients, and staff working in emergency departments,” the official added.

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, explained that it tried to send 2,000 doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine to the Gaza Strip as the territory, home to about 2 million Palestinians, has not received any vaccines yet.

Although the Israeli government has not commented on the prohibition, news agencies such as Reuters, AP, and AFP said that COGAT, “the Israeli authority that runs civilian affairs in the occupied Palestinian territories,” confirmed that the PA had asked for authorization to carry the vaccines but “this request is waiting for a political decision.”

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Israel insisted that the immunization of Palestinians is the responsibility of the PA. However, since it occupies its territory, the international community has mostly criticized Israel for this position noting that it has is a legal obligation to provide the vaccines.

After growing pressure, which included the United Nations, Israel sent the PA only 5 000 doses to be administered in the West Bank in early February.

Link to original post: https://www.palestinechronicle.com/israel-blocks-shipment-of-russian-vaccine-to-gaza/

(TeleSur, PC, Social Media)

Come on Minister – sort this out!

16 Feb

The Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa has asked the government to stop buying weapons from a crooked Israeli company – but almost four months on and no response from the minister’s office.

Minister of Defence Peeni Henare

For almost four months new Minister of Defence Peeni Henare’s office has stalled replying to the PSNA request they stop purchasing military equipment from Israeli weapons manufacturer Elbit Systems Limited – a notorious international lawbreaker which “battle-tests” its weapons on Palestinians. Four separate requests and reminders have been sent from PSNA but nothing in response.

Dear readers: PSNA needs you to help get the right response from the Minister.

Please copy and paste this email to the minister now.

Peeni Henare
Minister of Defence
p.henare@ministers.govt.nz
cc secretary@PSNA.nz

(date)

Kia ora Mr Henare,

Stop the double standards in government

Please respond urgently to my request the government cease all purchases from notorious Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems Limited.

Elbit Systems helped build Israel’s “apartheid wall” which was declared illegal under international law by the International Court of Justice in 2003.

The New Zealand Superfund and ACC have withdrawn investments from Elbit Systems because of this but in a spectacular double standard the Defence Force has continued buying weapons from this crooked company which “battle-tests” them on Palestinians. This must stop.

For almost four months your office has failed to respond to numerous requests for action on this. I request you respond without further delay.

Regards,

(your name)

When you email the minister please CC it to secretary@PSNA.nz

You can read more about this double standard in a blog by PSNA National Chair John Minto here.Meanwhile in Britain Extinction Rebellion members have joined with Palestine solidarity activists in direct action against Elbit Systems in the UK.

‘Mutawasiloun’: Palestinians resist Israeli attempts to encage them

16 Feb

Palestinian citizens of Israel protested in dozens of towns across the country on Friday, 5 February, 2021 against Israeli police violence and the failure of Israeli authorities to confront the growing threat of crime in their communities. [Photo by Mati Milstein, NurPhoto via Getty Images]

BY YOUSEF ALJAMAL, Opinion, Politics Today, 12 February 2021

Mutawasiloun is a manifestation of Palestinian collective memory. The more Israel becomes racist and imposes laws that enforce apartheid, the more Palestinians realise the nature of mutawasiloun.

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ICC probe brings some hope to the Palestinians at last

16 Feb

Palestinian students walk near the debris of destroyed houses which were destroyed in the Israeli airstrikes in Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, on November 3, 2014. [Photo by Ashraf Amra, Anadolu Images]

BY SAUL JIHAD TAKAHASHI, Opinion, Politics Today, 15 February 2021

On February 5, the judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced their decision that the court holds jurisdiction over war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Palestine. While the court did not elaborate on what steps would follow, it is expected that international criminal investigations will be commenced, and that, potentially, Israelis (and Palestinians) guilty of crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court will be indicted and, hopefully, put on trial.

Understandably, there has been great excitement for this decision amongst human rights advocates and proponents of Palestinian rights, especially because it comes after a long period of foot-dragging on the part of the ICC. People have been disappointed before – the ICC Prosecutor repeatedly refused to investigate the Freedom Flotilla case, where Israeli commandos had forcibly stopped ships with humanitarian supplies headed for Gaza and killed ten persons in international waters.

Instead of examining the case in the context of the ongoing blockade of Gaza by Israel and the many violations inflicted upon the population of that territory, the prosecutor viewed the incident in isolation, and stated that the gravity of the violations did not reach the level required by the ICC Rome Statute.

In late 2019, on the basis of a protracted, nearly five-year-long preliminary investigation, the prosecutor stated she was “satisfied” that war crimes were being committed in Palestine. However, in recognition of the “unique and highly contested legal and factual issues” with regard to Palestine, she requested the court to ascertain whether the ICC did indeed have jurisdiction over Palestine – a move that, in the eyes of many, appeared as an attempt at passing the hot potato. Many feared another disappointment, and have been elated with the recent decision.

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Another NZ Middle East military deal fails Prime Minister’s ‘sniff test’

12 Feb

By John MintoDaily Blog, 11 February 2021

Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa says the Prime Minister should apply the ‘Middle East sniff test’ again.  This time to a New Zealand government military deal with Israel.

The follows revelations Air New Zealand was servicing equipment for the Saudi Arabian navy, while Saudi Arabia attacked civilians in Yemen, precipitating a severe humanitarian crisis.

PSNA Chair, John Minto says the Prime Minister’s nose should sniff the New Zealand Defence Force purchases of military equipment from Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems Limited.

“Elbit Systems is acting illegally under international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.’

“This was too much for the New Zealand Superfund which withdrew its investments from Elbit Systems in 2012.”TDB Recommends NewzEngine.comnull

The Superfund found Elbit was helping build Israel’s so called ‘security wall’ inside the Israeli Occupied West Bank.  In 2003, the International Court of Justice declared the wall illegal under international law.

John Minto says Elbit Systems boasts its weapons have been ‘battle-tested’ on Palestinians. 

“However, despite the stance taken by the Superfund, and the ACC as well, the Ministry of Defence ignored the requirements of New Zealand and international law, not to say basic morality, and continued to purchase military equipment from Elbit Systems.”

“Previous Defence Minister Ron Mark thumbed his nose at international law and the brutal suppression of the Palestinians.”

Former Defence Minister Ron Mark visited Elbit Systems in Tel Aviv in January 2019

“The purchases went ahead,” John Minto says.  “There’s blood on this equipment.”

“The PM must follow her nose and sort this out quickly – the new Defence Minister’s office has not responded to four PSNA communications on this issue since last year’s election.”

“New Zealand defence and foreign policy must have an ethical and moral basis which aligns with international law, United Nations resolutions and specifically New Zealand’ obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Israel lashes out as ICC okays war crimes probe

10 Feb

Palestinian human rights groups welcomed the ICC’s determination of territorial jurisdiction as a “critically important step” towards ending Israeli impunity. [Karen Manor/ActiveStills]

The International Criminal Court has territorial jurisdiction to investigate suspected war crimes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a panel of judges affirmed last week.

Israeli government figures condemned the ICC judges’ decision, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it “pure anti-Semitism.”

The ruling, which took months to hand down after being requested by the court’s chief prosecutor, was welcomed by human rights groups who called for expeditious proceedings.

Fatou Bensouda, the ICC chief prosecutor, concluded a five-year preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine at the end of 2019, stating that criteria for war crimes investigations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip had been met.

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The Hague Ruling on Israel Is Cause for Hope

9 Feb
Damage inside the al-Aqsa hospital in Deir al-aBalah, central Gaza, following an Israeli attack. The direct strike killed five Palestinians and injured seventy. (Anne Paq / ActiveStills)

Gideon Levy, Opinion, Haaretz (Israeli daily newspaper), 8 February 2021

Every decent Israeli should be happy to hear the good news from The Hague Friday: The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Israel in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Finally, after 53 years.

It is true that the path to prosecuting the perpetrators is still long, and perhaps impossible, but a new idiom – one that will be impossible to ignore – is coming to Israel’s boastful, bullying conversation, which thumbs its nose at international law.

Quite a few Israelis in the military and the political establishments will begin to sweat in the months to come. Seasoned lawyers will be hired to defend them. Some of them will be afraid to travel abroad for fear of arrest. That is good news. Perhaps that way they’ll begin to think differently about their actions. Perhaps the fear of prosecution will constrain them in the future. Perhaps in the next election season a “centrist” candidate like Benny Gantz will not stand up and boast about the number of graves in Lebanon for which he is responsible. Perhaps another “centrist” candidate, Moshe Ya’alon, who murdered Khalil al Wazir (Abu Jihad) in his bed and who, as defense minister, conducted Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014, will begin to feel slightly ashamed of his actions.

The worry expressed after the ruling – that the anticipated investigation could have a chilling effect on the Israel Defense Forces that would deter officers from involvement with West Bank settlements and perhaps move them to think twice before the next airstrike in Gaza – is not fear, but the beginning of hope.

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Israeli artillery invade & trample Palestinian fields

5 Feb

Report from Breaking the Silence. 4 February 2021 https://www.breakingthesilence.org.il

Today, large-scale IDF Artillery Corps forces entered the Palestinian village of Jinba in the South Hebron Hills. They entered with heavy armored vehicles as part of a training exercise. Jinba is one of a handful of villages in the area that has been designated as ‘Firing Zone 918’. Military maneuvers in the backyard are allowed. Not only allowed – encouraged.

Before the exercise began, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel wrote to the IDF to remind them that in previous exercises in the area, armored vehicles had trampled and destroyed the fields of Palestinian residents of the villages and had caused damage to several buildings, including their homes. Somehow, despite the promises, this morning we saw armored vehicles destroying fields and damaging buildings.

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The first Palestinian child killed by Israeli forces in 2021

29 Jan
Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan [Defense for Children/Twitter]

UK citizen serving in Israel occupation forces named as killer of 17-year-old Palestinian boy Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan [Defense for Children]

Middle East Monitor, 29 January 2021

A Briton serving in the Israeli occupation forces has been identified by the Jerusalem Post as the killer of the Palestinian boy Attallah Mohammad Harb Rayan. The 17-year-old teenager from Qawarat Bani Hassan, a town located southwest of the occupied West Bank city of Nablus, was shot on Tuesday.

Citing Israeli army radio, Defence for Children International – Palestine (DCIP), an independent non-governmental organisation set up to monitor Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian children, said that occupation troops shot Attallah at a junction near the Barkan settlement near the occupied West Bank town of Salfit, after he allegedly carried a knife and attempted to attack an Israeli soldier stationed at the junction.

Details of Rayan’s activities prior to his killing show that he had completed a computer science exam. An image of his exam paper was circulated by local media. Commenting on his killing, the Accountability Program Director at DCIP, Ayed Abu Eqtaish, said: “Israeli forces frequently resort to lethal force in circumstances not justified by international law. Children suspected of committing criminal acts should be apprehended in accordance with international law and afforded due process of law.”

Under international law, intentional lethal force is only justified in circumstances where a direct threat to life or of serious injury is present. However, investigations and evidence collected by DCIP regularly suggest that Israeli forces use lethal force against Palestinian children in circumstances that may amount to extrajudicial or wilful killings.

Attallah’s killer was identified as a British female Cpl Lian Harush. The 22-year-old travelled by herself from the UK to serve as a “lone soldier” in Israel’s occupation army. As many as 6,000 such soldiers with dual citizenship belong to the controversial programme. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin calls them “true Zionists”, while Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog has described them as “a true example of what Zionism is all about.”

Their recruitment has also been a cause of controversy. An Al Jazeera report found that far-right radical organisations in Europe were recruiting western citizens to serve in the Israeli army. Many of these foreign fighters took part in the 2014 war on Gaza.

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Israel declares war on its own civil society

27 Jan

Palestinians walk near an opening in Israel’s security wall in East Jerusalem. (Reuters)

By RAMZY BAROUD, Arab News, 26 January 2021

However one interprets the findings of Israeli human rights group B’Tselem’s Jan. 12 report, it is earth-shattering.

[See earlier post: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2021/01/20/a-moment-of-moral-clarity-in-israel-palestine/

The official Israeli response merely confirmed what B’Tselem stated in no uncertain terms.

Those of us who have repeatedly claimed that Israel is not democratic, is governed by an apartheid regime, and that it systematically discriminates against its ethnic and racial minorities in favor of the country’s Jewish majority, purportedly have nothing to learn from B’Tselem’s declaration. Thus, it may seem that the report, which highlighted racial discrimination in four major areas — land, citizenship, freedom of movement, and political participation — merely stated the obvious. In reality, it went much further.

B’Tselem is a credible organization. However, like other Israeli human rights groups, it has rarely gone far enough in challenging Israel’s basic definition of itself as a democratic state. Yes, on numerous occasions it rightly accused the Israeli government and military of undemocratic practices, rampant human rights violations, and so on. But to demolish the basic premise that gives Israel its legitimacy in the eyes of its Jewish citizens, and many others around the world, is a whole different story.
“B’Tselem rejects the perception of Israel as a democracy (inside the Green Line) that simultaneously upholds a temporary military occupation (beyond it),” the report states. This was based on the fact that the “bar for defining the Israeli regime as an apartheid regime has been met after considering the accumulation of policies and laws that Israel devised to entrench its control over Palestinians.”
Let it be clear about what this actually means. Israel’s leading human rights organization was not arguing that the country was turning into an apartheid state, that it was acting contrary to the spirit of democracy, or that it is an undemocratic apartheid regime only within the confines of the Occupied Territories. According to B’Tselem — which has for decades diligently documented numerous facets of Israeli government practices in the realms of politics, military, land ownership, water distribution, health, education, and much more — Israel is run by a wholly apartheid, undemocratic regime.

B’Tselem’s assessment is most welcome, not as a belated admission of a self-evident reality, but as an important step that could allow both Israelis and Palestinians to establish a common narrative on their relationship, political position, and collective action in order to dismantle this Israeli apartheid.

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Israeli Occupation Forces demolish Al-Araqeeb village for 182nd time

25 Jan

A woman stands in front of an Israeli bulldozer in Al-Araqeeb. (Photo: via Social Media)

Palestine Chronicle, 22 January 2021

Israeli occupation forces demolished the village of Al-Araqeeb, in the Negev Desert, on Tuesday, for the 182nd time, Anadolu and other agencies have reported.

Local sources said that the Israeli forces entered the village with a number of bulldozers and demolished homes and tents. The residents were displaced. One of them, Aziz Al-Touri, explained that the demolition went ahead despite the awful weather.

“It was raining and cold,” he said, “but the Israeli forces still demolished our homes.” He pointed out that this is the seventh time that Israel has destroyed their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The people of Al-Araqeeb affirmed their steadfastness and determination to stay on their land and rebuild their homes and tents yet again. They stressed their rejection of Israel’s plans to destroy dozens of villages in the Negev with the aim of displacing their people and seizing their land. Israel plans to build Jewish towns in their place.

Al-Araqeeb was demolished for the first time in 2010. Israel does not “recognize” the village, but its residents point out that they own the land and have done since the Ottoman period, decades before Israel was created in occupied Palestine. They intend to remain there despite the repeated demolitions.

(MEMO, PC, Social Media)

Israel will be responsible for more Palestinian deaths if it withholds COVID-19 vaccine

21 Jan
Paramedics vaccinate elderly people nursing home in Tel Aviv on 13 January 2021 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

Paramedics vaccinate elderly people nursing home in Tel Aviv on 13 January 2021 [Nir Keidar/Anadolu Agency]

By Anjuman Rahman, Middle East Monitor, 21 January 2021
Israel is refusing to provide Palestinians with Covid-19 vaccine in the occupied territories where it controls every aspect of their lives. This is in addition to helping to destroy the Palestinian health sector, especially in the Gaza Strip, with bombs and blockades.

At least one vaccine dose is being provided to more than two million Israeli citizens, including the 600,000 settlers who live illegally on occupied Palestinian land. The Palestinians, though, are yet to receive any vaccine.

“Israel has a legal responsibility to provide us with the vaccine,” insisted Dr Majdi Dheir, Deputy Director-General of Primary Health Care at the Ministry of Health in Gaza, when I spoke to him. “It is, after all, the occupying power in practice and according to international law.”

The occupying state has, though, failed to support the Palestinians from the very start of the pandemic. “It is not helping or supporting the devastated healthcare system in Gaza in any way. Israel is nowhere to be found on the ground.”

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