Suffer the children

Slaughter in Rafah as US agrees billions in military aid for Israel

Apr. 21, 2024

AT least 22 people, including 18 children were killed in an overnight air strike on Rafah today as the US approved billions of additional dollars in military aid to Israel.

The US House of Representatives passed a $95 billion (£76.8bn) international aid package on Saturday night, with about $26bn (£21bn) in support for Israel’s missile defence systems and humanitarian assistance.

It will be signed off by President Joe Biden later this week once the Senate approves the legislative package.

Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, which borders Eygpt and where more than a million people have sought refuge from its bombardments after Israel said it was a safe zone.

It has also promised to expand its ground offence in the city.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement today: “In the coming days, we will increase the political and military pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to bring back our hostages and achieve victory.

“We will land more and painful blows on Hamas — soon.”

Hours after the US announcement, an Israeli strike in Rafah killed a family with a three-year-old child, according to hospital officials who received the bodies.

A pregnant woman was also killed in the strike, but doctors were able to save the baby.

A second strike killed 17 children and two women. Mohammed al-Beheiri said his daughter, Rasha, and her six children, the youngest 18 months old, were among those killed.

“These children were sleeping. What did they do? What was their fault?” asked one relative, Umm Kareem.

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Another relative, Umm Mohammad, said the oldest killed, an 80-year-old aunt, was taken out “in pieces.”

The US and other nations, including Britain, have called on their ally Israel to take caution to limit civilian casualties but continue to support the military offensive despite international calls for a ceasefire.

Britain’s Stop the War Coalition said: “Biden and [British Prime Minister Rishi] Sunak continue to offer Israel unconditional support. They call for restraint yet continue supplying arms.

“They refuse to condemn Israeli genocide, its use of hunger as a weapon of war, or its aggression towards Iran, yet immediately condemn Iran’s response and impose sanctions.

“The double standards are breathtaking.

“The threat of a major war directly involving Iran, Israel and the US, backed by the ever-compliant UK, proves just how dangerous things have become.”

It warned that this “cycle of violence will only end when the war in Gaza ends and the Palestinians are free.”

“This is why we must keep up the pressure for an immediate ceasefire and continue to oppose arming the pariah state,” the group said.

A national demonstration will be held in London this Saturday, April 27, to demand an end to the arming of Israel and for a ceasefire in Gaza.

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, with at least two-thirds being children and women, and some 2.3 million people in the strip are on the brink of famine.

The death toll is likely to be higher, the Gaza Health Ministry has said, as many bodies remain stuck beneath the rubble of their homes and refuge areas or in areas that medics cannot reach.

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Hamas has hit out at the US aid package, saying that it is a “green light” for aggression in Gaza.

“This support, which violates international law, is a licence and a green light for the zionist extremist government to continue the brutal aggression against our people,” Hamas said in a statement.

Nearly 200 bodies from a mass grave inside the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza’s Khan Younis were uncovered by Palestinian civil defence crews today, two weeks after Israeli forces withdrew from the area.

The bodies included elderly women, children and young men, Al-Jazeera reported from the ground.

The mass grave is the largest one discovered so far.

Some bodies were found inside plastic bags that had Hebrew writing on them, according to the crews, and some had their hands tied behind their backs.

Family members gathered by the site to search for the bodies of their missing loved ones.

Last week, several mass graves were discovered at al-Shifa Hospital following a two-week siege by Israel.

Medical Aid for Palestine said that it was able to deliver food to northern Gaza for the first time since October as the region faces widespread famine.

The charity’s Mahmoud Shalabi said the packages will be delivered to 14 centres housing displaced people.

The deliveries will help sustain mid-size families for a week, he added.

The Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor has called for the roles of major technology companies and social media platforms in the killings of civilians in Gaza to be investigated.

It follows reports that Israel uses artificial intelligence systems to track and monitor Palestinians.

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The group said: “Google and Israel are collaborating on several technology initiatives, including Project Nimbus, which provides the Israeli army with tools for the increased monitoring and illegal data collection of Palestinians, thereby broadening Israeli policies of denial and persecution, plus other crimes against the Palestinian people.

“These companies need to be held accountable if found to be complicit or not to have taken adequate precautions to prevent access to, and exploitation of, users’ information.”

Democracy for the Arab World Now (Dawn) advocacy advisor Raed Jarrar said: “At a time when Israel is bracing for International Criminal Court arrest warrants against its leaders, members of Congress should understand that approving more military aid could subject them to personal liability for aiding and abetting an ongoing genocide in Gaza.

“Rather than sending more weapons to Israel, Congress should declare an immediate arms embargo on Israel.”

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