The U.N. Security Council has issued a presidential statement calling for an "immediate and unconditional humanitarian ceasefire" in Gaza as the Palestinian toll tops 1,000. The weekend saw a series of ceasefire announcements by both Israel and Hamas. On Saturday, more than 130 bodies were pulled from Gaza’s rubble during a 12-hour truce. Just before the truce took effect, an Israeli strike on a house in Khan Younis killed 20 people, including 12 members of the same family. After initially rejecting a ceasefire, Hamas on Sunday called for a 24-hour truce to mark the Muslim holiday ending Ramadan. Overall, the Palestinian death toll has now reached 1,031, mostly civilians, including at least 226 children. Israel says 43 of its soldiers have died, along with three civilians inside Israel. The United Nations says more than 180,000 Palestinians have been displaced and are now living in U.N. shelters. Speaking from Gaza City, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous reports on the displaced residents who tried to return home only to find their neighborhoods reduced to rubble. "People are trying to salvage anything they could from their homes. Many couldn’t even get anything out. They had fled under bombardment with only the clothes on their backs," Kouddous says. "It’s a very uneasy ceasefire. … People are waiting to see if the bombs will start falling again."
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We are joined from Gaza City by Dr. Belal Dabour of Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza. Dabour describes how Shifa has been stretched beyond capacity since the Israeli military assault began on July 8, struggling to treat thousands of victims amidst frequent power cuts and outdated equipment. He also discusses the hopes of his Gazan patients that the current conflict will bring an end to Israel’s eight-year siege. "After eight years, life has become intolerable," Dabour says. "People have no hope. They feel that the horizon for any prosperous future is [impossible] until the siege is lifted."
Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip has triggered the largest West Bank protest in years, with more than 15,000 people marching Thursday from Ramallah toward Jerusalem. Two Palestinians were killed and more than 200 were wounded when Israeli soldiers fired live ammunition. We go to the West Bank to speak with journalist Amira Hass, Ha’aretz correspondent for the occupied Palestinian territories. "There were whole families, and women and men, traditional and modern, and middle-class and workers. Everybody went very determined to show that this is enough," Hass says.
At least 16 people were killed and more than 200 injured Thursday when a school used as a United Nations shelter came under fire in Gaza. Palestinian families displaced by the assault had reportedly gathered to move to a safer area when the school was hit. Palestinian officials have blamed Israeli tank shelling, while Israel has suggested militant rockets were at fault. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has declined to directly accuse Israel, but says it gave the school’s coordinates to the Israeli army numerous times. "Within Gaza, there is no safe place," says Christopher Gunness, UNRWA spokesperson. "If the parties to this conflict have shown themselves callous enough to be able to hit a clearly designated, clearly marked U.N. compound where hundreds of people have come to take sanctuary, we cannot guarantee anymore the safety of our installations." Gunness says the number of people now seeking shelter amidst the violence has swelled to 150,000.
Amidst talk of a potential ceasefire, the Palestinian death toll has passed 815 in Israel’s relentless bombings of the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, at least 16 civilians died and more than 200 were wounded when a United Nations shelter was bombed in the Gazan area of Beit Hanoun. Palestinian officials have blamed Israeli tank shelling, while Israel has suggested militant rockets were at fault. Reporting from Gaza City, Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous describes visiting the morgue where bodies are being taken, as well as a children’s hospital in northern Gaza that was severely damaged Thursday in a nearby air strike. "If the ceasefire falls apart, then we can only imagine that an escalation of the ground offensive — that’s what Israel has declared — will be in the cards," Kouddous says. "We are looking at a very grave humanitarian crisis."
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Arizona’s execution of Joseph Wood was supposed to take about 10 minutes, but stretched out for nearly two hours Wednesday night as he gasped for air after being injected with a controversial two-drug combination of the sedative midazolam and the painkiller hydromorphone. Halfway through the ordeal his lawyers filed an emergency motion to stop the execution, saying it violated Wood’s Eighth Amendment right against cruel and unusual punishment. This was a "predictable consequence of Arizona’s experimental drug procedure and the fact that Arizona shrouded its procedure in secrecy," says Megan McCracken, an attorney with the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law. Wood was killed after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that put the execution on hold. The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had initially sided with Wood’s request that Arizona disclose its lethal injection methods and the source of the drugs involved.
A high-level rebel commander has confirmed for the first time that pro-Russian separatists had an anti-aircraft missile of the kind the United States says was used to shoot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 on board. He blamed Ukrainian authorities for provoking the strike, saying they deliberately launched airstrikes in the area, even though they knew the missile system was in place and rebels would fight back. Meanwhile, the area near the Russian border continues to see heavy fighting between government forces and Russian-backed separatists. On Wednesday, two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down not far from where the Malaysian airliner was hit. "The tragedy of the downing of the plane occurred in the context of this virtually unreported civil war," says Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation, who has reported on Russia for decades. "Americans have been done a disservice by one-sided media coverage [of the conflict]." Vanden Heuvel notes more than 110,000 refugees from eastern Ukraine have fled to Russia, and 56,000 are internally displaced in Ukraine.
As Israel pledges to continue the assault on Gaza for "as long as is required," we are joined by two Israelis who have refused to serve in their country’s military reserves. On Tuesday, The Washington Post ran an open letter authored by Yael Even Or titled "We are Israeli reservists. We refuse to serve," announcing that more than 50 former Israeli soldiers have signed a petition declaring their refusal to be part of the Israeli military reserves. "This petition, long in the making, has a special urgency because of the brutal military operation now taking place in our name," Even Or writes. An Israeli journalist and activist who evaluated candidates for the Israeli army’s recruitment department during her service, Even Or is now a graduate student in international affairs at The New School in New York City. She join us to discuss the reservists’ letter. We are also joined from Tel Aviv by Yonatan Shapira, a former Israeli captain and Air Force pilot, who in 2003 spearheaded a letter signed by 27 Israeli pilots who refused to participate in military operations against Palestinians.
Israel has entered the 17th day of its bombardment of the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian death toll has reached at least 732. Palestinian militants are now claiming to have killed eight more Israeli soldiers, which would bring the Israeli military toll to 40. Three civilians have died inside Israel. We speak with independent journalist and Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous just after he visited the southern town of Khan Younis, which has faced heavy shelling since Tuesday. Israeli forces there killed an estimated 73 people in the last two days. Kouddous says residents tried to evacuate starting Tuesday, but "found Israeli tanks blocking the main streets. One group said the Israeli tanks started firing on them. They fled back to their homes. They had to leave the wounded behind." Many eventually walked out carrying white flags. Kouddous also spoke to a doctor who tried to assist the wounded in the area, but says his ambulance was fired on by the Israeli military four times.
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We host a debate on U.S. media’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict and the roots of the crisis with two guests: Ali Abunimah, co-founder of the website Electronic Intifada and author of the new book, "The Battle for Justice in Palestine"; and J.J. Goldberg, editor-at-large and columnist at the newspaper, The Jewish Daily Forward. Abunimah and Goldberg discuss news headlines that ignore the massive Palestinian toll, whether the ceasefire should address the Gaza blockade, and the history of the conflict.
MSNBC's Sole Palestinian Voice Rula Jebreal Takes on Pro-Israeli Gov't Bias at Network & in US Media
A week after public outrage helped force NBC’s reversal of a decision to pull veteran reporter Ayman Mohyeldin out of Gaza, the sole Palestinian contributor to sister network MSNBC has publicly criticized its coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict. "We are disgustingly biased when it comes to this issue," Rula Jebreal said Monday on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow Daily, citing a disproportionate amount of Palestinian voices and a preponderance of Israeli government officials and supporters. Jebreal joins us to discuss her decision to speak out against MSNBC and her broader criticism of the corporate media’s Israel-Palestine coverage. An author and political analyst who worked for many years as a broadcast journalist in Italy, Jebreal also shares her personal story as a Palestinian with Israeli citizenship who is married to a Jewish man and has a Jewish sister.
Protests in response to Israel’s assault on Gaza have drawn hundreds — and in some cases thousands — around the world. On Tuesday, members of Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! occupied the New York City office of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, a nonprofit group that raises money in the United States to send to the Israeli military. For about an hour, activists read the names of the more than 600 Palestinians killed and demanded the organization stop its fundraising for the military attacking Gaza. Nine were arrested when they refused to leave the premises. We get a video report from the protest.
Israel continues to bombard the Gaza Strip amidst talks over a ceasefire. Israeli military attacks today include the bombing of Gaza’s sole power plant and the heavy shelling of Khan Younis, killing six people and leaving at least 20 wounded. The Palestinian death toll is near 650, including more than 160 children. Some 4,000 have been wounded. According to Gaza officials, 475 houses have been totally destroyed, and more than 2,600 homes have been partially damaged. Israel has also struck 46 schools, 56 mosques and seven hospitals. Two more Israeli soldiers have been killed, bringing the Israeli military death toll inside Gaza to 29. A farm worker from Thailand also died inside Israel after being hit by rocket fire from Gaza. On the diplomatic front, Secretary of State John Kerry is in Israel today for talks with Israel and then the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has endorsed a Hamas call to condition a ceasefire on ending the seven-year blockade of the Gaza Strip. Speaking today at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said there is a "strong possibility" Israel has committed war crimes in Gaza. Pillay cited Israel’s deadly attack on residential homes in the Shejaiya neighborhood and the shelling of the al-Aqsa Hospital. On Tuesday, U.S. and European airlines halted flights to Tel Aviv after a rocket strike landed about a mile from the airport. We go to Gaza City to speak with Democracy Now! correspondent Sharif Abdel Kouddous.
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The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees says the number of people seeking refuge at its sites in Gaza has soared to more than 100,000. According to unconfirmed reports, one of the shelters, a girls’ school in central Gaza, was hit Monday by an Israeli shell. We speak to Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). "The situation for refugees on the ground in Gaza right now is unimaginably catastrophic," Gunness says.
Joining us from Tel Aviv, Israeli journalist Gideon Levy argues that Middle East peace will never come until the Israeli government drops its rejection of basic Palestinian rights. "Sure Israel wants peace, Israel just doesn’t want a just peace," Levy says. "It is all about justice. You look backward and you ask yourself in which stage, in which moment, was Israel willing to give up the occupation? Give me one example in which there was a genuine readiness to put an end to the occupation. It was never there. It was all about gaining time and maintaining the status quo — namely the West Bank occupied, Gaza under siege, peaceful life in Israel. … If you want the ultimate proof for it, it’s the [West Bank] settlements. Israel never stopped building settlements, and [in doing so] says to the Palestinians and the world, [we] have no intention to give up this piece of land." Levy also discusses why he has received threats after calling on Israeli Air Force pilots to refuse to bomb Gaza, and why he sees a potential Palestinian effort to take Israel to the International Criminal Court as a positive step.
How the West Chose War in Gaza: Crisis Tied to Israeli-U.S. Effort to Isolate Hamas & Keep the Siege
While many trace the Israeli assault on Gaza to the series of events that began with the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three teenage Israelis in the occupied West Bank, we look at how the crisis’ immediate cause has been all but ignored. In a recent article for The New York Times, "How the West Chose War in Gaza," Nathan Thrall, senior analyst at International Crisis Group, argues the roots of the current violence lie in Israeli, U.S. and European efforts to undermine the Palestinian unity government, which Hamas joined earlier this year. Isolated by its opposition to the Assad regime in Syria and a rift with the military government in Egypt, Hamas reconciled with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority in the hopes a unity deal could help ease the crippling blockade of Gaza and help pay the salaries of thousands of its civil servants. But the United States and European Union helped Israel maintain the blockade of Gaza while denying payments to the Hamas employees. "Plan A for Hamas out of the predicament it and Gaza found themselves in was reconciliation," Thrall says. "That was thwarted — so Plan B is the crisis we’re dealing with today."