The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

December 9, 2023

Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement

“Wisconsin All Out For Palestine”
Saturday, December 9, 2023, 1 p.m
State Capitol, Madison, WI

Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine (WCJP), representing more than 50 organizations throughout the State, sponsors the “Wisconsin All Out For Palestine” rally and march on Saturday, December 9 at the Capitol. We welcome all to join in voicing our urgent demands. This family-friendly event begins at 1 pm at the Capitol.

Our diversity of speakers demonstrates widespread opposition to US policies toward Palestine and the whole region. Coalition convener Janan Najeeb joins speakers from co-founding organizations, including Jewish Voice for Peace, and Milwaukee Muslim Women Coalition, as well as representatives from Indigenous, Black, LGBTQ+, Labor, and other BIPOC and workers’ communities Coalition demands:

  • Permanent ceasefire in Gaza
  • Lift the siege of Gaza
  • End all USA aid to Israel
  • End Israeli occupation of Palestine
  • End criminalization of speech in support of Palestine
  • Free all political prisoners in Israeli prisons
  • Reparations and reconstruction for Gaza

The WCJP was formed on Oct 8 in response to Israel’s declaration of war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, where civilian deaths and injuries have reached a level without historic precedent. The UN Secretary-General declared, “Palestinians in Gaza are suffering a humanitarian catastrophe. Almost 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes – but nowhere is safe.”


The UN Executive Director on Women, Sima Bahous, estimates 67% of the civilians killed are women and children. She concluded, “Women and girls are paying the biggest price. Two mothers were killed every hour, seven women every two hours.” Thousands of women deliver babies in Gazan hospitals without adequate water, medicines, or energy to power medical equipment. Women undergo dangerous c-sections without anesthesia or antibiotics. No incubators or formula are available for the hundreds of babies who lost their mothers.

Half of all housing units in Gaza are damaged or destroyed by US-supplied planes flown by the Israeli military, with more than a million people internally displaced. President Biden signed off on brutal bombing campaigns, including targeting the remaining Gazan hospitals housing refugees, and injured and ill people. This inhumane destruction inflicted on a civilian population must end.

For seventy-five years, the government of Israel forcibly expanded an apartheid regime, destroying Palestinian homes and villages, stealing Palestinian land, and segregating and fragmenting Palestinian families and communities. Palestinians are killed with impunity, leaving the entire populace in a state of constant fear and insecurity.

This year, under the most racist, far-right government in Israeli history, the theft of Palestinian lands accelerated at a furious pace. Heavily armed Jewish settlers, living in hundreds of illegal settlements on stolen lands, killed countless Palestinians and terrorized communities, while Israeli Occupation Forces protected the aggressors. Israeli forces repeatedly storm the holiest Christian and Muslim sites in Jerusalem. These wanton human rights abuses must stop!

The events of October 7, 2023, did not happen in a vacuum. They were the result of decades of brutal oppression, starvation, surveillance, imposed poverty, mass incarceration, and frequent bombardment. Resistance to oppression is not terrorism. The United Nations affirms the right to self-determination and the right to a people under foreign occupation to resist the occupiers. Palestinians fight for liberation, self-determination, and the right to return to their land. The Palestinian struggle is akin to the Black struggle in apartheid South Africa. The actions of the Israeli government are akin to the US Government’s treatment of the Native American population. Seventy-five years of oppressive occupation must end!

While the Israeli government wages a genocidal war in Gaza under the guidance of the Biden administration and with the support of most Wisconsin Senators and Representatives, we stand in solidarity to demand change. We stand in unity to say “Never again for anyone!” We stand together to demand our federal and state representatives position themselves on the right side of history.

Special interests and lobbies must not displace the just demands of the public. We stand in solidarity with the just struggle of the Palestinian people and in recognition of the tens of thousands of Palestinians killed to maintain Israel’s brutal apartheid system. We are a broad representation of Wisconsin people who will not rest until Palestine is free – from the river to the sea!


Wisconsin Coalition for Justice in Palestine

Madison City Council calls for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

The Madison City Council passed a symbolic resolution Tuesday night calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, joining the ranks of other local governments throughout the country demanding an end to the conflict. 

The council unanimously backed the call for a ceasefire following nearly an hour and a half of impassioned comment from residents who were overwhelmingly in support.

Many of the speakers were Palestinian residents of Madison, some of whom shared stories of relatives being killed by Israeli airstrikes in the densely populated enclave that is controlled by Hamas, an armed Palestinian militant group. 

“I have no information about many of them in Gaza,” Madisonian Samir El-Omari said of his family members there. 

Laurie Zimmerman, a rabbi at Shaarei Shamayim, said her faith taught her “to not stand idly by” while innocent civilians are killed by the Israeli military. 

“The destruction of Gaza has caused suffering on such a massive scale it is hard to comprehend,” Zimmerman said.

Ald. Nasra Wehelie, who represents the Southwest Side and proposed the resolution, charged the Israeli military with “a collective punishment on the civilian population of Gaza.” 

“It’s important that we use our voices as policy makers to stand up for justice,” Wehelie said of the war, noting that city governments from Seattle to Detroit have also backed the call for a ceasefire. 

Some residents Tuesday night criticized the council’s resolution for not explicitly condemning Hamas’ violent incursion into Israel on Oct. 7 that saw about 1,200 Israeli civilians and soldiers killed and about 240 others kidnapped into Gaza, triggering Israel’s ongoing invasion and bombing.

The resolution didn’t directly condemn Israel’s actions in the war either but rather called for “political action to both de-escalate the crisis and to prioritize truth, reconciliation, restitution and the building of a future for the Palestinian and Israeli people.” 

Jeremy Tunis, who sits on the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Madison, called the resolution “pathetic.”

“Hamas unleashed a genocidal attack on Oct. 7,” Tunis said. “Any country in the world would have a right to respond in the way that Israel did.” 

In addition to the call for a ceasefire, the council backed a statement condemning antisemitism and Islamophobia. 

“While we’ve just passed a resolution that is primarily a subject of foreign affairs, I want to make sure that our council, with our finite resources and time, is prepared to do the work necessary here at home to keep our communities safe and free from hate,” said Ald. Regina Vidaver, who represents the Near West Side in District 5. 

Housing, density boosted

In other business, the council made an interim update to the city’s 2018 comprehensive plan Tuesday night. The updated plan mirrors land-use and streets recommendations from 17 area and neighborhood development plans adopted in the past five years. Notably, the update now allows for buildings up to 12 stories to be built on parts of Regent Street.

The council also finalized $11.3 million in funding from the city’s Affordable Housing Fund for five low-cost housing projects. The funding secures about 300 low-income units across Neighborhood House Apartments on the Near West Side, and the Ellis Park Apartments, University Park Commons II, the Yellowstone Apartments, and Merchant Place Apartments, all between Midvale Boulevard and Gammon Road on the West Side.


Editorial | Local cease-fire resolutions can move Congress

Cease-fire protest
Members of international humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders hold placards during a protest for an end to the war in Gaza and for an immediate cease-fire, at Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, on Dec. 4. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

More than 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have called for a permanent cease-fire to end the death and destruction in Gaza and to forge a path for the long-term resolution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. So, too, have three U.S. senators.

They have recognized the importance of condemning the horrors associated with the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and the Israeli bombing campaign that has targeted Gaza. They want to see the release of all hostages. And they believe, correctly we think, that this crisis will not be resolved without a cease-fire.

While we know that many of these officials have been moved to speak up by the call of conscience, we recognize that encouragement from constituents can move members to make bolder and more public stands. That’s why it matters when city councils endorse ceasefire resolutions, as Madison council members proposed to do this week. And that’s why we hope councils, village boards, town boards and county boards across Wisconsin will join local government bodies across the country in urging federal officials to support a humane and necessary cease-fire.

Wisconsin U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan is already a cease-fire proponent. But Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, need to know where Wisconsinites stand, and resolutions passed at the grassroots level deliver an important message on behalf of peace and justice.

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

Madison Common Council members call for ceasefire in Gaza

Vote to condemn Antisemitism & Islamophobia

MADISON (WKOW) — Members of Madison’s Common Council had the conflict in the Middle East on their minds Tuesday night as they approved a resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and a separate resolution that condemns Antisemitism and Islamophobia.

The resolution on the ceasefire calls for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and urgent political action to both de-escalate the crisis and to prioritize truth, reconciliation, restitution, and the building of a future for the Palestinian and Israeli people.” 

The measure also urges support for the immediate release of all hostages.

The resolution condemning Antisemitism and Islamophobia says the crisis in the Middle East is “creating fear and distress throughout the United States and our local community.” It also points out an increase in Antisemitism and Islamophobia since the Israel-Hamas war began.

The resolution declares the Madison Common Council is dedicated to fostering a community that embraces diversity and upholds the principles of equity and human rights and that the council recognizes the importance of creating a community where every resident can live free from fear and discrimination.


Update: Madison Common Council Votes for Gaza Ceasefire

December 5, 2023

December 3, 2023

As Israel once again expands its murderous assault on the people of Gaza, creating what is being called a mass assassination factory, we need your help.

If you are a resident of the City of Madison, we need you to ask the Common Council to pass the proposed resolution calling for a ceasefire. The resolution comes up for testimony and a vote at the Tuesday, December 5 virtual meeting which begins at 6:45 pm.

As of this writing, it has 11 co-sponsors, the minimum needed for passage.

We need you to contact alders ahead of the meeting and also to register and/or to speak in support of the resolution at Tuesday night’s meeting. Directions for both are below.

City councils have been passing ceasefire resolutions around the US, for example Atlanta, Detroit and three other Michigan cities, Oakland and Richmond, CA; and others. The goal is to put pressure on the Biden administration and Congress to halt the slaughter and destruction in Gaza.  It is the very MINIMUM that our elected officials can do.

Follow the link below; click on the box labeled “Register for Public Comment”. You will have the option to register to speak or to just register your support for the resolution, which is agenda item number 108​.

As always, thanks for your support.

November 28, 2023

A resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza has been introduced into the Madison Common Council.  It is scheduled to be voted on next Tuesday, December 5 in a virtual council meeting. While limited in scope, it’s consistent with resolutions around the country calling on the Biden administration to secure a ceasefire and stop the killing.
Here’s the resolution text and an updated tally of alders who have signed onto it. It has 10 co-sponsors with 11 alders — a simple majority — needed for passage.
As we know from past experience, alders will be receiving enormous pressure to withdraw their support. In addition to getting more alders on board we’ll need to persuade those signed on to stay and vote for it.
If you are a resident of Madison, please take 5 minutes to contact the Common Council in support of this resolution. You can contact your alder and the entire Council with one email. 
(1) Look up your alder by your home address here. Check the resolution link above to find out if they are already a sponsor.
(2) Compose and send ONE email to <>. We understand this is more effective than using the contact form, but that’s an option. Use your own words; there are some suggestions below.
(3) Include your alder’s name and that you are a constituent of theirs, and:
If your alder is a sponsor, thank them for signing on and urge them to continue supporting the resolution.
If your alder is not yet a sponsor, ask them to become a sponsor or at least pledge to vote for the resolution. 
Messaging: Keep it short and simple and emphasize that this is the least that they can do to save lives and end the catastrophic destruction of Gaza. Tell them why this is important to you and to any organizations that you belong to. Ask for a reply.
For quick reference here is a complete list of all alders with their emails and phone numbers. If you know an alder personally, you could give them a call.


December 1, 2023

Dear Members of the Madison Common Council,

We want to thank all the alders who have signed on in support of the recent resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Today’s resumption of the massive bombardment of civilians in Gaza shows the absolutely urgent need for the ceasefire, and we urge those who have not yet signed on to do so immediately.

A large majority of Americans support a ceasefire, and this is the very MINIMUM that you as elected officials can do in opposition to the death and devastation that our tax dollars are unleashing upon 2.3 million human beings trapped in an area just slightly larger than the City of Madison. Since the resolution was drafted, the death toll is approaching 20,000, of whom over 6,000 are children. Every day that Israel’s assault continues, more people die from bombing and shelling, from untreated injuries, from disease, from lack of medical care, food, water, shelter and fuel. This is a crime against humanity that nothing can justify. It must stop.

Again, we ask you to pass this resolution, and then to forward it to our elected federal representatives including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Mark Pocan.


Rowan Atalla
Tsela Barr
Cassandra Dixon
Samir El-Omari
Lisa Masri
Barbara Olson
Donna Wallbaum
Kathy Walsh

Members of the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

December 1, 2023

Thank you – Ceasefire for Gaza Resolution

Good evening,

My name is Alder Nasra Wehelie serving in District 7. I am one of the sponsors for the resolution for the Immediate Ceasefire in Gaza. I have read each and everyone of your emails and was really moved and appreciate your time, insight and support. The council meeting for Tuesday 12/5 is virtual. For those who are interested in registering to support or to speak, here is the link. The agenda item number is 108​.

Thank you again.

Nasra Wehelie

Madison Common Council – District 7 Alder

Gaza, Biden, and a Path Forward

The president’s approach to Gaza has been a moral and political catastrophe that has made Trump’s return to the White House much more likely. What can be done about that?


Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greets US President Joe Biden upon his arrival at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport on October 18, 2023. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images)

The Gaza crisis and the Biden administration’s response to it has significantly altered the pre–October 7 dynamics of US politics. Two big challenges have now become central to left and progressive strategy.

US policy toward Israel-Palestine must change, both regarding today’s immediate priority–a durable cease-fire now!—and in the long term, when the decades-long habit of issuing a blank billion-dollar check to Israel needs to end.

However, the task of getting all constituencies who make up the anti-MAGA majority to vote for the Democratic presidential nominee has become much harder—if that nominee is Joe Biden. Widespread revulsion at Biden’s embrace of overwhelming Israeli violence has cost him support among important Democratic constituencies in key battleground states even as Trump and the GOP speak openly of the ruthless repression that is central to their authoritarian agenda. Whether such revulsion will continue as we approach November 2024 is anyone’s guess—but it could certainly encourage abstention or third-party voting—either of which would, in effect, be a vote for the Republican nominee.

To deal with these challenges, the left needs to adjust the political and electoral strategy that was dominant in our ranks before October 7. We need an approach that both advances the movement for Palestinian rights and increases the pressure on Biden to withdraw or forces him aside in favor of a nominee more capable of winning the 2024 presidential election.


Biden’s approach to Gaza has been a moral and political catastrophe. Hugging Netanyahu and pledging billions in new military aid to Israel has positioned the US and the president personally as champions of Israeli mass murder. Rhetorical expressions of concern for Palestinian civilian lives accompanied by no meaningful actions amount to little when stacked up against support for a government whose leaders voice overtly genocidal statements.

Biden’s stance has deeply alienated crucial constituencies in the coalition that carried him to his 2020 win over Trump. As James Zogby warns in his November 8 piece in this magazine: “Some Democratic strategists claim that Arab Americans, people of color, and progressive young voters will soon forget their disappointment and vote in 2024 as they did in 2020. This stance is insulting—and fraught with danger.”

The stakes in 2024 are too high to ignore Zogby’s alarm bell. Since it appears that there’s very little Biden can do from here to win those voters back—even if he seemed to be inclined to try, which so far he doesn’t—we need to consider ways to push him aside.

It is a difficult but not impossible task. For months there have been reports of anxiety in high-level Democratic Party circles about Biden’s being a weak candidate. David Axelrod, top strategist in Obama’s successful campaigns, recently floated the idea that Biden should consider stepping down. Thomas Friedman’s recent columns indicate that at least some in the foreign policy establishment recognize that tethering Washington to Israeli policies is severely damaging US standing throughout the Global South. If a large and energized layer of likely anti-MAGA voters mobilizes to demand that Biden withdraw, that might turn those elite qualms into a high-level tough-love conversation with Biden—or spark another ambitious Democrat to throw her or his hat into the ring.

The best way to get to that mobilization is to launch an insurgent campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. (For an explanation of why the campaign would need to be for the Democratic nomination rather than a third-party challenge, see here.) Such an effort would give Biden credit for beating Trump in 2020 and starting to move the Democratic Party away from neoliberalism. But it would critique his blank check support for Israel and hawkish foreign policy in general—and argue that replacing him offers Democrats their best chance of holding the presidency and Senate and winning back the House in 2024.

Such a campaign would have other benefits—whether or not it succeeded in pushing Biden aside. It would make defense of every elected official who supports a cease-fire a nationwide cause, upping the energy for what is already emerging as a top progressive priority. It could bring constituencies that have a big stake in both beating MAGA and pressing for deep structural change under a common umbrella, adding to the momentum for change after the 2024 election.

Admittedly, it’s late in the game and the practicalities of launching such an effort—starting with finding a willing and able candidate—are daunting. But if the conversations exploring this path that are already taking place are accelerated, and there are indications of broad support, those hurdles may be overcome.

Even if they are not, backup plan approaches to implementing the same basic strategy are also possible. An organized “replace Biden to beat MAGA” campaign can demonstrate its strength in other ways (including calling for write-in votes or blank ballots in Democratic primaries), keeping up pressure right up through the Democratic National Convention.

Finally, the fight to make Palestinian rights a recognized component of the anti-MAGA effort is important for reasons beyond getting more Muslim, Arab, and youth votes in 2024. Current US policy on Israel-Palestine is a pillar of US militarism and a gateway for a new version of McCarthyism to become normalized in US politics and culture. Fighting against Israeli apartheid means making a dent in policies that benefit the military-industrial complexand ensure that the Middle East is in constant danger of exploding into a regional or even international war. It is a crucial pivot point in beating back attacks on freedom of speech and freedom to protest.

Any anti-MAGA coalition that excludes that component of the battle for peace and democracy will lose more than the allegiance of several million voters. It will lose the moral high ground on which any durable victory must rest.

Palestine Solidarity and the Fight Against MAGA, Max Elbaum, November 8, 2023

Max Elbaum

Max Elbaum is on the Editorial Board of Convergence Magazine and is the co-editor, with Linda Burnham and María Poblet, of Power Concedes Nothing: How Grassroots Organizing Wins Elections.

Bill Fletcher Jr.

Bill Fletcher Jr. is a past president of TransAfrica Forum, a longtime trade unionist, and a cofounder of the Ukrainian Solidarity Network. He is a member of the editorial board of The Nation.

A Gaza hospital evacuated, four fragile lives, and a grim discovery

A nurse at al-Nasr hospital was caring for premature babies. Then he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

Medical staff evacuate premature babies from Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital on Nov. 20. Staff were unable to evacuate four babies from al-Nasr Children’s Hospital nearby. (Loay Ayyoub for The Washington Post)

JERUSALEM — The nurse in the besieged hospital was caring for five fragile babies. Infants, born premature, their parents’ whereabouts after a month of war unknown. Now he faced the most difficult decision of his life.

It was the height of Israel’s assault on northern Gaza last month, and al-Nasr Children’s Hospital was a war zone. The day before, airstrikes had cut off the Gaza City facility’s oxygen supplies. Israeli tanks had surrounded the hospital complex, and the Israel Defense Forces were calling and texting the doctors, urging them to leave.

But ambulances couldn’t safely reach al-Nasr to transport the wounded, and doctors refused to leave the facility without their patients.

The five premature babies were particularly vulnerable. They needed oxygen, and medication administered at regular intervals. There were no portable respirators or incubators to transport them. Without life support, the nurse feared, they wouldn’t survive an evacuation.

Then the IDF delivered an ultimatum, al-Nasr director Bakr Qaoud told The Washington Post: Get out or be bombarded. An Israeli official, meanwhile, provided an assurance that ambulances would be arranged to retrieve the patients.


The nurse, a Palestinian man who works with Paris-based Doctors Without Borders, saw no choice. He assessed his charges and picked up the strongest one — the baby he thought likeliest to bear a temporary cut to his oxygen supply. He left the other four on their breathing machines, reluctantly, and with his wife, their children and the one baby, headed south.

“I felt like I was leaving my own children behind,” said the nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect his privacy. “If we had the ability to take them, we would have, [but] if we took them off the oxygen they would have died.”

Two weeks later, the pause in hostilities allowed a Gazan journalist to venture into the hospital. In the neonatal intensive care unit, Mohammed Balousha made the awful discovery.

The decomposing bodies of the four babies. Eaten by worms. Blackened by mold. Mauled, Balousha said, by stray dogs.

“A terrible and horrific scene,” he told The Post. He took video.

The grim discovery was a reminder of the harrowing civilian toll of Israel’s war to eradicate Hamas, a campaign that has spared neither hospitals nor children. Thousands have been killed.

The current hostilities erupted on Oct. 7, when Hamas and allied fighters streamed out of Gaza to attack Israeli communities near the enclave, killed around 1,200 Israelis and kidnapped 240 more. Israel responded with a full siege, airstrikes and ground operations that have killed more than 15,200 Palestinians, according to the Gaza health ministry, including thousands of children.

Israel has long accused Hamas of hiding command-and-control centers in hospitals; the Biden administration has backed the claim. Hamas and Gaza medical staff deny it.

Still, Israeli commanders have made the territory’s health care infrastructure a focus of the military campaign. A month into the war, that included al-Nasr.

It was Nov. 10 when Israeli forces told al-Nasr’s staff they had to leave, according to Qaoud, the hospital director. “They sent us a map for a safe route,” he told The Post in a WhatsApp message. “They gave us half an hour to go out. Otherwise, they will bombard the hospital.”

An official at the adjacent al-Rantisi pediatric cancer center seemed to receive an assurance that ambulances would retrieve patients from both al-Rantisi and al-Nasr. In a telephone conversation with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories [COGAT], an arm of Israel’s defense ministry, the al-Rantisi official requested ambulances. In a recording of that call released by the Israel Defense Forces, a senior COGAT officer responds in Arabic: “No problem.”

The senior COGAT officer tells the al-Rantisi official that he will “arrange coordination” for ambulances. He gives the precise route that medical staff should take out of the complex.

The al-Rantisi official reminds COGAT that staff will also be evacuating al-Nasr. The COGAT officer acknowledges the reminder.

Qaoud, too, said there was “coordination with the Red Cross and Israeli army that we will go out and then these cases will be later evacuated to another hospital that was safe.”

COGAT spokeswoman Shani Sasson told The Post that Israeli forces neither directed al-Nasr’s staff to evacuate nor operated inside the facility. She declined to answer whether COGAT or the Israeli military had been told about the babies or taken any action to care for them.

Sarah Davies, a spokeswoman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Jerusalem, said the agency made no guarantees and could not safely reach the hospital.

The evacuation was painful. There was no way to reach the babies’ families, the nurse said. He had no contact information, and communications in much of Gaza were down. Their parents had been “displaced people,” he surmised, “who knew their children were in the hospital and didn’t think the hospital would be hit or raided by the occupation.

“They thought they left them in safety.”

It was time to leave. The nurse gathered up the strongest baby, made sure the others’ respirators were working, and, still wearing his scrubs, walked with his family out of the hospital to begin the 18-mile journey, much of it on foot, south to Khan Younis.

On the road, the nurse found an ambulance to take the baby in his arms to al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest. Israeli forces would raid that facility days later. The World Health Organization eventually evacuated 31 premature babies from al-Shifa. By then, several others had died.

On Nov. 24, after nearly seven weeks of fighting, Israel and Hamas began a week-long pause to exchange captives and allow more aid into Gaza.

Balousha, a journalist with the Dubai-based Al-Mashhad channel, took advantage of the relative calm to venture into Gaza City and report on corpses left out. On Nabil Tammos Street, he found two bodies, a man and a woman. Someone had covered them in a blanket.

“People [were] telling me that the strongest story is found in al-Nasr Hospital,” Balousha said. “They told me that premature babies were left in intensive care and that they were supposed to be rescued,” but with the fighting, “no one took them out.”

During the pause, Israeli forces remained near the hospital, cutting off civilian access. Balousha, undeterred, “jumped from wall to wall” through broken buildings to reach the medical complex.

As he approached the neonatal intensive care unit, he said, he “started to smell a foul odor.” He turned his camera on.

When Al-Mashhad aired the report, it blurred the remains. The channel gave an unaltered copy of the video to The Post, which verified that it was recorded inside al-Nasr’s neonatal intensive care unit by comparing it with images of the facility from before the war.

The remains, still hooked up to respirators, bear little resemblance to bodies. They appear as piles of rotting flesh, bones protruding, body parts difficult to make out. Soiled-looking diapers remain wrapped around their middles.

Balousha described the scene on camera and hurried out of the unit.

The nurse, who reviewed the video, said the corpses were found where he had left the babies. No one had come for them.

Qaoud, the al-Nasr director, said the Israeli military “was informed there were cases” left inside the hospital, but “was determined to evacuate.”

Davies, the Red Cross spokeswoman, said the organization “received several requests to evacuate hospitals in the north of Gaza, but due to this security situation, we were not involved in any operations of evacuations, nor did teams commit to doing so.”

No one has emerged to claim the bodies. There has been no indication, the nurse said, that the parents know their children are dead.

He remains haunted by the event. He believes he needs psychiatric treatment.

Of what, he asks, were the babies guilty?

“Were they fighters?” he asked. “Were they holding weapons? Were they firing rockets?

“Why does the army hit the oxygen and electricity? Why did the army target them?”

Heba Farouk Mahfouz contributed to this report from Cairo.

Largest U.S. union yet calls for ceasefire as Israel resumes genocide

wire header-draft 1_1e (1)

The movement for ceasefire got a lot bigger today, when the United Auto Workers announced their support outside the White House.

They’re now the largest U.S. national union to join the call for ceasefire: a major win for solidarity between the labor and Palestinian liberation movements.

The union made the announcement this morning in D.C., alongside Palestinian organizers and solidarity activists who have been on a week-long hunger strike to demand an immediate ceasefire.

Given the avalanche of international support for a permanent ceasefire, and the devastation that the Israeli military’s genocidal campaign has already wreaked on Gaza, it may seem shocking that Israel allowed the temporary ceasefire to end today. The Israeli military has already resumed airstrikes, killing dozens of Palestinians in mere hours.

The truth is that the Israeli government is feeling the immense international pressure for a permanent ceasefire. The window of time for the Israeli military to continue its genocidal campaign in Gaza is closing. So their campaign of death and destruction has resumed with new urgency.

But while they’re fighting to destroy as many lives as possible, our movement for ceasefire and Palestinian liberation is fighting on the side of life. Our pressure is working, but just as it’s clear that the Israeli government is hell-bent on genocide, it’s also clear that we must push for an immediate end to the violence with more urgency than ever.


Free Palestine Lights in Sun Prairie! 💟

Cassandra Dixon

‘We are overwhelmed’: southern Gaza’s exhausted doctors forced to leave children to die

A surgeon at one of the territory’s last functioning hospitals tells of desperate conditions amid an acute lack of medicine

A member of the Red Cross attempts to attend to an injured small child at the European hospital in Khan Younis on Tuesday. Photograph: Mohammed Talatene/Avalon

Jason Burke, The Guardian, 24 Nov 2023

In the crowded corridors of the European hospital in Khan Younis, exhausted doctors decide who among the huge influx of patients arriving from the north of Gaza should live or die.

Hundreds of casualties have moved south in recent days after the evacuation of hospitals in Gaza City, overwhelming medical staff already struggling with an acute lack of medicine, diminishing food rations and intermittent power and communications.

Injured people have joined thousands of displaced people seeking shelter and safety in medical facilities.

Paul Ley, an orthopaedic surgeon at the European hospital, said displaced people were sleeping in lifts, a small team was working round the clock in four operating theatres to amputate limbs infected after days without treatment, and there was an acute shortage of painkillers. Triage decisions had to be made instantly which, in one case, meant leaving a 12-year-old child to die with only palliative care in order to preserve dwindling resources.

Ley said the hospital had received 500 patients evacuated from hospitals in northern Gaza in recent days.


Two female medics and a male doctor examining small child screaming in pain.
A member of the Red Cross helps Palestinian doctors in Khan Younis to examine an injured child on Tuesday. Photograph: Mohammed Talatene/Avalon

“Many have not received treatment for nine or 10 days because hospitals there were non-functional even if they were open,” he said. “This is the situation that is happening here now. This is a functioning hospital but we are being overwhelmed. There is nowhere to evacuate to … There is no escape route. We are probably one of the last lines of defence.”

There was no independent confirmation of Ley’s account, but details match the accounts of other medical staff, as well as reporters in Gaza. Ley sent pictures of some of the injuries he described to the Guardian.

Israel launched its offensive on Gaza after Hamas, the extremist Islamist group which runs the territory, killed more than 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians in their homes or at a dance party, in an attack on 7 October.

Since then, more than 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza, most of them women or children, according to Palestinian officials.

Dr Paul Ley
Dr Paul Ley

In the burns unit of the European hospital are 78 patients, nearly two-fifths of them children under five.

“I have never seen anything like it,” said Ley a 60-year-old French citizen who arrived in Gaza with a team from the International Committee of the Red Cross almost four weeks ago. “I have been in many war contexts where the type of wounds are the same but the number is huge. We never leave the hospital. We work round the clock.”

Hospital staff hope the four- or five-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, due to begin on Friday, may lead to a durable end to hostilities – or at least the opportunity to receive supplies of humanitarian aid. However, they also fear the arrival of more patients as injured casualties are evacuated from northern Gaza during any pause.

Many of the casualties arriving at the hospital were injured days before, meaning wounds have become infected. Ley said some people’s dressings had not been changed for 10 days, so their wounds were full of worms. In other cases, surgeons were forced to amputate limbs that may otherwise have been saved.

Another problem is a lack of anaesthetics and painkillers.

“We do operations with minimal anaesthesia. If we run out, we can’t operate but there is no clear line. There are a lot of people crying, screaming with pain, but we don’t have enough analgesics. We keep them for the kids or very severe cases. [So] normally we would change dressings on patients with 40% burns with them under sedation and minimise the time by using more attendants … [Now] it has to be done with a lot of pain.”

Bus and people outside hospital at night
A screengrab of evacuated patients from the Indonesian hospital arriving at the European hospital in Khan Younis on Thursday. Photograph: European hospital/Reuters

In the grounds of the hospital compound, thousands of desperate families are packed into wooden or cardboard shelters. Israeli airstrikes have not targeted the hospital and respected the zone around the facility – though shrapnel has struck the building, and the blast from bombing has shattered windows.

Israeli military officials say they make every effort to avoid civilian casualties and observe international law. They say Hamas is using Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants as a human shield and claim to have found evidence of Hamas military facilities in or under hospitals, schools and homes.

On Thursday, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “The whole laws of war, humanitarian law, which we’re committed to completely, makes a simple distinction … They say on one line are combatants, and the other line are non-combatants. You can target the combatants … but don’t deliberately target the non-combatants. They can be hurt, unintentionally. That accompanies every legitimate war.

“[Hamas] deliberately implant themselves in hospitals, in schools, in residential areas, in UN facilities. They fire their rockets from there. Thousands of them. They deliberately target civilians and they deliberately hide behind civilians and use them as a human shield. That’s a war crime.”

Young girl with bandaged leg on chair with others in background
A screengrab of injured patients from the Indonesian hospital waiting for treatment at the European hospital on Thursday. Photograph: European hospital/Reuters

Elsewhere in Khan Younis, tens of thousands of people have crowded into shelters run by the UN. In one, a vocational training centre before the war, more than 35,000 people share 48 toilets and four showers, administrators there told the Guardian this week.

“Conditions are appalling. All the children are getting sick with coughs or stomach problems. There are fights over sleeping spaces and food,” said an administrator, who did not have authority to talk to the media.

Since the Hamas attacks on 7 October, Israel has imposed an almost total blockade of Gaza. Food supplies from the UN have dwindled to about a kg of flour and a single tin of tuna or beans each day, one administrator said, leaving families to survive on flat “bread cakes” made of flour and water cooked on scavenged metal sheets over open fires.

“There is no food in the shops and no fuel. Even wood is rare and expensive, so people are chopping down trees in the streets. Salt is really rare. No one has any and if you have a bit, you can trade it for a lot of food,” the administrator said.

People on camp beds and chairs
A screengrab of patients from the Indonesian hospital waiting at the European hospital on Wednesday. Photograph: European hospital/Reuters

Ley said the hardest thing for doctors was to make triage decisions. “We do our triage … [asking] are we going to take this patient because they will have a good chance of surviving rather than doing desperate measures on a patient who will die in two or three days? That sounds nice on paper, but when you have to make the decision it is different. There’s a 12-year-old with 90% burns so we won’t treat him except for pain control that is not enough,” he said.

“We try to keep our heads cool and steady, but for local staff this is their families, friends, their people. They never want to amputate. They say: ‘I can’t do it any more’ and so I say: ‘OK I will do it, don’t worry,’ and you can feel the relief”.

Ley said he had been shocked at how passive many patients were, such as one 35-year-old woman whose husband and children had been killed when the family’s home was destroyed, and who appeared unmoved when told both her legs would need to be amputated. “So many just don’t care any more,” he said.

But amid the devastation, there were moments of slender hope. Recently, Ley treated a 32-year-old man with shrapnel injuries to his abdomen, left leg and a “fist-sized hole” in his right forearm. The patient’s young sister thanked Ley, saying she was proud of her brother and happy he was alive. She wanted to be a surgeon whens she was older, she said.

“So that was very poignant,” Ley said.

Israel’s Insidious Narrative About Palestinian Prisoners

AL BIREH, WEST BANK - NOVEMBER 26: 39 Palestinians, brought by International Committee of the Red Cross vehicle, reunite with their relatives as they are released from Israeli Ofer prison as a part of Israel and Palestinian resistance group Hamas prisoner swap amid Humanitarian pause, according to Palestine Liberation Organization's prisoners in Al Bireh city of Ramallah, West Bank on November 26, 2023. Israeli authorities released 39 Palestinians, including 6 females, 33 minors as part of second batch of prisoner swap according to official Palestinian news agency WAFA. (Photo by Issam Rimawi/Anadolu via Getty Images)Palestinians reunite with their relatives as they are released from Israel’s Ofer prison as a part of a prisoner swap, in Al Bireh, West Bank, on Nov. 26, 2023. (Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu via Getty Images)

THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT narrative surrounding the Palestinian prisoners being released during this temporary ceasefire is both insidious and dishonest. Interior Minister Itamar Ben Gvir has banned Palestinians from celebrating their release. “My instructions are clear: there are to be no expressions of joy,” he said. “Expressions of joy are equivalent to backing terrorism, victory celebrations give backing to those human scum, for those Nazis.” He told Israeli police to deploy an “iron fist” to enforce his edict.

The Netanyahu government and its supporters have promoted a narrative that these prisoners are all hardened terrorists who committed violent crimes. This assertion relies on a farcical “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired logic of convicting them by fiat in public before any trial, even the sham trials to which Palestinians are routinely subjected. Israel released a list of the names with alleged crimes they committed. And who is making these allegations? A military that acts as a brutal occupation force against Palestinians in the West Bank.

The vast majority of the 300 Palestinian prisoners proposed for release by Israel are teenage boys. According to the list, 124 of the prisoners are under the age of 18, including a 15-year-old girl, and many of the 146 who are 18 years old turned so in Israeli prisons. According to the definitions laid out in the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, these Palestinians were children when they were arrested by Israel. 


Of the 300 names Israel proposed for potential release, 233 of them have not been convicted of any crimes; they are categorized simply as “under arrest.” Police and prosecutors all over the world make allegations later proven false during a fair trial. The Israeli narrative promotes the fiction that these Palestinians are in the middle of some sort of fair judicial proceeding in which they will eventually be tried in a fair and impartial process. This is a complete, verifiable farce. Palestinians are not prosecuted in civil courts; they are tried in military courts. They often are denied access to lawyers and to purported evidence against them, and are regularly held in isolation for extreme periods and subjected to other forms of abuse. Israel is the only “developed” country in the world that routinely tries children in military courts, and its system has been repeatedly criticized and denounced by major international human rights organizations and institutions.

Palestinians are not prosecuted in civil courts; they are tried in military courts.

If, as Israel alleges, these people have committed violent crimes, particularly against civilians, then Israel should give them full rights to due process, to see the alleged evidence against them, and they should be tried in civilian courts with the same rights afforded Israeli defendants. That would also mean allowing Palestinians who do commit acts of political violence, particularly against the military forces of a violent occupation, to raise the context and legality of the Israeli occupation as part of their defense. Israel is asking the world to believe that these 300 people are all dangerous terrorists, yet it has built a kangaroo military court system for Palestinians that magically churns out a nearly 100 percent conviction rate. All of this from a country that constantly promotes itself as the only democracy in the Middle East.

Palestinians on this list are from the occupied West Bank and have lived their entire lives under an apartheid regime. Palestinians taken by Israel, including some on the list of prisoners proposed for release, have certainly committed violent acts. But to pretend that the context of this violence is irrelevant is as absurd as it is unjust, given the appalling conditions Palestinians have lived under for decades. Contrast this to the widespread impunity that governs the actions of violent Israeli settlers who mercilessly target Palestinians in an effort to expel them from their homes.

All nations should be judged by how they treat the least powerful, not the most powerful or only those from a certain religion or ethnicity. This is why many leading civil liberties lawyers in the U.S. opposed the use of Guantánamo Bay prison and military tribunals and continue to oppose U.S. laws or rules that deny the accused a fundamental right to a proper defense.

How Israel keeps hundreds of Palestinians in detention without charge

The Ofer military prison in the West Bank. (Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images)

A four-day pause in hostilities between Israel and the militant group Hamas was extended by two more days, instead of expiring Tuesday morning, lengthening the brief reprieve offered to Gaza’s 2.1 million Palestinians, who have endured weeks of relentless Israeli bombardments. The move also gave further hope to the families of Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas during its Oct. 7 strike on southern Israel.

Through Qatari and Egyptian mediators, the two sides had agreed on an initial release of 50 hostages in Gaza and about 150 Palestinians, mostly teenagers and some women, imprisoned by Israel, over the four-day period. Sixty-nine hostages — the majority Israeli but also Thai, Philippine, French, Argentine and Russian citizens and others — and more than 100 Palestinians were released over the first four days. The extension raises the possibility of more captive exchanges and more moments of joy for their friends and loved ones.

But for freed Palestinians, the context in which they return is more barbed and fraught. In lists distributed to media, Israeli authorities labelall the prisoners up for release as “terrorists.” Some were convicted of crimes such as attempted murder; others were detained for activities like “throwing stones” or carrying knives. And a few, like 59-year-old Hanan Barghouti, the eldest female prisoner to be released, were in indefinite Israeli custody without any charge.

While there were scenes of jubilation in Ramallah in the West Bank as a group of released prisoners met their families over the weekend, Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, issued directives cracking down on such celebrations in East Jerusalem, where the Israeli police can directly operate. “My instructions are clear: there are to be no expressions of joy,” he said. “Expressions of joy are equivalent to backing terrorism, victory celebrations give backing to those human scum, for those Nazis.”


Meanwhile, in the West Bank, most of which is under Israel’s military administration, Israeli authorities have detained roughly as many Palestinians as have been released in the past few days. A post-Oct. 7 crackdown saw the Palestinian population in Israeli custody almost double, by some measures: According to Palestinian rights groups, more than 3,000 Palestinians, mostly in the West Bank, were swept up by Israeli security forces. The majority appear to be held in administrative detention — that is, a form of incarceration without charge or trial that authorities can renew indefinitely.

Under international law, the practice of administrative detention is supposed to be used only in exceptional circumstances. But, as Israeli and international human rights groupsdocument, it has become more the norm in the West Bank. Even before Oct. 7, smoldering tensions and violence in the West Bank had led to a three-decade high in administrative detentions. Then, according to the Israeli human rights organization HaMoked, the total number of Palestinians in administrative detention went from 1,319 on Oct. 1 to 2,070 on Nov. 1 — close to a third of the total Palestinian prisoner population.

Israel’s critics contend that even those charged with specific crimes face a skewed, unfair justice system. Palestinians in the West Bank are subject to Israeli military courts, unlike the half-million Jewish settlers who live in their midst. These courts have in some years churned out convictions at a 99 percent rate, a state of affairs that raises questions about the due process afforded to Palestinians.

“Palestinians are routinely denied counsel, for example, and faced with language barriers and mistranslations that taint testimonies and confessions used in court,” explained Vox’s Abdallah Fayyad. “But it’s not only a lack of due process that plagues this legal system. Oftentimes, these cases are based on specious and far-reaching charges.”

The dynamics of the Israeli carceral system for Palestinians have long undergirded anger over the broader nature of Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories. “The power to incarcerate people who have not been convicted or even charged with anything for lengthy periods of time, based on secret ‘evidence’ that they cannot challenge, is an extreme power,” noted Israeli human rights group B’Tselem. “Israel uses it continuously and extensively, routinely holding hundreds of Palestinians at any given moment.”

The deepening crisis that followed Hamas’s bloody rampage on Oct. 7 has only exacerbated tensions. “Administrative detention is one of the key tools through which Israel has enforced its system of apartheid against Palestinians,” Heba Morayef, Amnesty International’s regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement this month, citing numerous reports of abuses suffered by Palestinian detainees in recent weeks. “Testimonies and video evidence also point to numerous incidents of torture and other ill-treatment by Israeli forces including severe beatings and deliberate humiliation of Palestinians who are detained in dire conditions.”

Israeli authorities have argued over the years that their practice of administrative detention is in line with policies in other democracies and constitutes a necessary preventive measure, given the security conditions that shape the West Bank. The feeble Palestinian Authority, which has long worked hand-in-glove with Israeli security agencies, has struggled to tamp down rising anger and militancy among Palestinians in the West Bank. In recent weeks, Israeli government officials have lashed out at censure from U.N. officials and organizations like Amnesty International, which an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson describedas “antisemitic” and “biased.”

But Israel’s widespread use of the practice has been long criticized by international observers. A 2012 European parliamentary report described administrative detention as a tactic employed “principally to constrain Palestinian political activism.” In 2020, Michael Lynk, then the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, called on Israel to abolish the practice.

“Administrative detention is an anathema in any democratic society that follows the rule of law,” Lynk said. “When the democratic state arrests and detains someone, it is required to charge the person, present its evidence in an open trial, allow for a full defense and try to persuade an impartial judiciary of its allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Ishaan Tharoor is a foreign affairs columnist at The Washington Post, where he authors the Today’s WorldView newsletter and column. In 2021, he won the Arthur Ross Media Award in Commentary from the American Academy of Diplomacy. He previously was a senior editor and correspondent at Time magazine, based first in Hong Kong and later in New York. Twitter