Malnourishment could lead to even more deaths among children in Gaza

Original article republished from peoples dispatch under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Displaced Palestinians wait for food at Al-Shaboura camp, in Rafah. Photo: WHO via UN Photo

A new report found that that over 15% of children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, with 3% of them suffering from wasting. The World Food Programme has warned that without a ceasefire, a famine may ravage Gaza by May

Nutrition indicators among children in Gaza have been declining at an unprecedented rate since the beginning of Israeli attacks on October 7, 2023. Without a ceasefire, there will be a famine ravaging through the region by May, warned the World Food Programme (WFP).

In a new report based on data collected by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, the Global Nutrition Cluster found that over 15% of children under the age of 2 in northern Gaza are acutely malnourished, with 3% of them suffering from wasting. 

The numbers in the southern regions, including Rafah, where most of Gaza’s population has been displaced to, are somewhat lower, yet still represent a massive increase compared to the situation before October 7. The report indicates that by January, 5% of under-2-year-olds in Rafah were acutely malnourished. Previously, less than 1% of children younger than 5 experienced such circumstances across the entire Strip.

The extent of malnourishment is creating the perfect conditions for the spread of communicable diseases, which could drive the devastating number of children killed by Israeli attacks even higher. As most children can only consume food of low variety, their bodies become more vulnerable to the effects of otherwise treatable conditions, like diarrhea. Additionally, the lack of clean potable water, affecting all households in Gaza, further decreases the chances of treating these conditions.

Children are not the only group affected by the lack of food. Their parents, including pregnant mothers, are choosing to forgo meals to feed their children. Approximately 95% of pregnant and breastfeeding women in Gaza are not getting enough to eat. If they have access to food, it is of low nutritional value, adding to the pre-existing burden of anemia and undermining maternal health.

The WFP has documented much of this situation but stopped delivering aid to northern Gaza as the occupying forces did not ensure conditions for safe delivery. The aid entering southern regions of Gaza remains only a small fraction of what is needed, and the effects of malnutrition are exacerbated by the destruction of the health infrastructure.

Read more: Israel intensifies assault on healthcare in Gaza. Only 11 hospitals are partially functioning

No hospital or health center is spared in this process, and attacks have also been noted against civilian infrastructure where health workers and their families are seeking shelter. In one of the most recent attacks of this kind, the Israeli Occupying Forces (IOF) targeted a house where 64 Doctors Without Borders (MSF) staff members and their families were staying. The building was clearly marked with an MSF flag, and the IOF were informed of their presence, yet they attacked the house, killing several people inside.

According to MSF, the IOF’s action “shows a complete disregard for human life and a lack of respect for the medical mission. This makes it almost impossible to sustain medical humanitarian activities in Gaza.”

As the IOF persists in its attacks on hospitals, not only the shelling but also the evacuation orders and sieges further jeopardize the health of people who are already sick or wounded. Commenting on recent cases of hospital evacuation in Gaza, Guillemette Thomas from MSF pointed out that patients were forced to leave on foot, in wheelchairs, or even rolled in hospital beds, despite being in no condition to be moved.

Their treatment increases the risk of infection and lowers the chances of recovery, Thomas stated. “This can be extremely dangerous for them. When someone with a severely fractured leg starts to walk, it compromises their possibility to regain mobility and can have life-threatening consequences.”

Even after most patients, medical staff, and forcibly displaced people are evacuated from the hospitals, Israeli forces continue to besiege them. On February 22, after a full month of besieging and targeting Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, the IOF damaged the hospital’s communication devices, which are used by the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) for locating and dispatching teams. This is only one in a series of IOF attacks that hit the PRCS, following the kidnapping of several staff members, destroying ambulance vehicles dispatched to rescue children, and raids on Al-Amal, which left behind damaged medical equipment and vehicles.

Read more: Palestinian health workers kidnapped by Israel subjected to torture and humiliation

The situation is far from better in Nasser Hospital. While the WHO and other organizations were finally able to reach the complex to evacuate one part of the patients who had stayed behind following a violent incursion into the buildings by the IOF, over 100 patients who cannot move and about a dozen medical staff providing them care still remain behind.

The UN health agency was granted permission to enter Nasser Hospital only earlier this week, after several attempts were blocked by the Israeli forces. “Prior to the missions, WHO received two consecutive denials to access the hospital for medical assessment, causing delays in urgently needed patient referral. Reportedly, at least five patients died in the Intensive Care Unit before any missions or transfers were possible,” the organization said in a statement.

Upon their return from Nasser, WHO staff said the destruction was indescribable. “Gaza has become a death zone,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Original article republished from peoples dispatch under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Continue ReadingMalnourishment could lead to even more deaths among children in Gaza

Climate Trial Against Oil Giant Eni Opens in Italy

Original article by Stella Levantesi republished from DeSmog

Greenpeace Italy released a new report that shows oil major Eni is using climate denier technical consultants as a defense strategy in its climate warming lawsuit. Flickr via PRP Channel (CC BY-2.0)

The case coincides with a new Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon report showing Eni’s technical consultants have wide links to climate denier groups.

Italy’s first climate change lawsuit brought by Greenpeace Italy and climate advocacy group ReCommon against Italian oil giant Eni opened with its first hearing on February 16, alleging the company contributed to global warming. 

The hearing comes alongside a new report by Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon, which describes how Eni’s technical consultants in the case have deep ties to the fossil fuel industry and climate deniers. 

The lawsuit “aims to build on a similar case targeting Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands to force Eni to slash its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030,” as DeSmog has previously reported.

At issue in the case is whether or not Eni knowingly contributed to climate change and if it’s responsible for past and future damages. The case is also assessing if the oil giant violated human rights that are protected by the Italian Constitution and international agreements. 

The cache of documentary evidence in the lawsuit includes two “technical reports” produced for Eni’s defense by consultants who Greenpeace Italy’s new report describes as climate deniers.

Last week, the two environmental organizations pushed to have the judge hear their witnesses, which include 12 Italian citizens who have been impacted by climate change, the groups’ lawyer Alessandro Gariglio told DeSmog.

“Now it will be up to the judge to assess whether he considers the documentary evidence presented to be sufficient or, instead, whether he thinks it might be appropriate to hear witnesses and, above all, to order a court-appointed expert opinion,” Gariglio noted. He added that he and his parties are in favor of such a move, “and the counterparties [Eni included] are not.” 

In a statement to DeSmog, an Eni spokesperson said the company “will prove the groundlessness of Greenpeace and ReCommon’s claims, both legally and factually, in the legal proceedings.” Documentation related to the current lawsuit is available for review on Eni’s website.

Eni’s Technical Reports

The technical reports are addendums to one of Eni’s statements of defense and are authored by Carlo Stagnaro, director of research and studies at the think tank Istituto Bruno Leoni (IBL), and Stefano Consonni, professor of Energy and Environmental Systems at the Department of Energy of the Politecnico University in Milan.

According to Greenpeace Italy, the two consultants are “anything but independent,” and “have expressed climate denial positions” on more than one occasion. 

Consonni’s resume states that since 1993 he has been “lead investigator” for research financed by multiple oil and gas companies, including Eni, ExxonMobil, and BP Alternative Energy, and the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Stagnaro’s technical report, Greenpeace says, includes references to Eni’s key climate delay tactics, such as “whataboutism” to obscure the Italian oil giant’s true contribution to global warming. For example, it mentions China’s lack of responsibility in controlling emissions and also the tactic of  diverting accountability towards consumers –  a reference that is repeated 19 times throughout the text.

Ties to the U.S. Climate Denial Machine

According to Greenpeace’s report, the think tank IBL has denied man-made anthropogenic climate change in the past and, in the early 2000s, Stagnaro was “among the most active figures” within the institution to import U.S. climate denial theories into Italy.

In 2006, for example, Stagnaro wrote a briefing called “Climate. We want to be Amerikans,” which includes delayer phrasing such as “climate alarmists.” The briefing states, “Unfortunately, the Kyoto Protocol presupposes a ‘choice of field’ in science: it rests, that is, on the assumption that humans are the root cause,” which is “an assumption that is justified neither by the uncertainty of actual scientific knowledge nor by the complexity of the atmospheric dynamics.”

To support this, the briefing cites retired astrophysicist Sallie Baliunas, who is associated with many climate denier organizations, including the George C. Marshall Institute. In 2002, in a hearing in the U.S. Senate, Baliunas declared that “since no warming trend in the lower layers of the troposphere was observed, most of the surface warming in recent decades cannot be attributed to a greenhouse effect enhanced by human causes.”

Stagnaro’s briefing also cites climate denier Bjorn Lomborg and was co-authored by Mario Sechi, current editor-in-chief of far-right Italian newspaper Libero, who is the former director of Eni-owned news agency, AGI, and a former spokesperson for current right-wing Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni.

At a summit in Rome at the end of January, Meloni unveiled the “Mattei Plan,” named after Enrico Mattei, founder of Eni. The program aims to transform Italy into “an energy hub” distributing fossil fuels extracted from Africa that creates “a bridge between Europe and Africa.” Campaigners in Italy and across Africa have criticized the plan, saying it will promote fossil fuel exploitation and “false solutions.”  Before the initiative was announced, over 50 African groups signed a letter to the Italian government calling for an “end of neo-colonial approaches” and “a more consultative approach.” “This ‘dash for gas’ in Africa is dangerous and short-sighted,” the letter states.

Eni has also recently come under fire in some Italian media for sponsoring the week-long music and entertainment TV show, Sanremo, which was seen by 70 percent of Italian viewers this year during one of its broadcasts. According to Greenpeace, this sponsorship is “yet another greenwashing operation.”

Greenpeace’s report underscores the fact that IBL, under Stagnaro’s direction, is part of the Atlas Network, a group of more than 500 “free market” organizations in nearly 100 countries that have supported climate science denial positions and  lobbied against legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

According to previous DeSmog reports, the Atlas Network is also behind efforts to “brand climate activists as extremists” and “pass anti-protest legislation.”

Greenpeace’s report reveals that in 2004, IBL also joined the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC), a U.S.-based pressure group that has worked to promote climate denialism. After calling climate science a hoax for two decades, CHC played an important role in President Donald Trump’s 2017 decision to pull the U.S. from the Paris Agreement.

Eni’s technical consultants with the Istituto Bruno Leoni (IBL) have ties to U.S. climate denial organizations like the Heartland Institute. Credit: Wikipedia

According to the Climate Investigations Center, from 1997 to 2015, members of CHC received “upwards of $98 million dollars in donations from Exxon Mobil, conservative foundations, and dark money organizations.”

According to another report by Italian news outlet Il Fatto Quotidiano, in 2010, Exxon contributed $30,000 to IBL and Eni gave the group 12,000 euros.

In 2008, IBL also co-sponsored the event “Global Warming Is Not a Crisis” with the Heartland Institute, which has been at “the forefront” of denying scientific evidence for climate change.

IBL’s position seems to have softened over the years, Greenpeace’s report mentions, with Stagnaro tweeting in November 2019 that, “The position of the @istbrunoleoni on #climate is that: 1. climate change exists and is also due to humans 2. Emissions must be reduced 3. Not all policies that aim to reduce emissions work or are efficient.”

However, in 2018, IBL promoted the launch of “In Defense of Fossil Fuels,” a book by Alex Epstein who, according to investigative group Documented, “influences oil policy directly as a member of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission,” which is “a powerful quasi-regulatory body that lobbies for oil and gas interests.”

“Can the report of someone who has often personally embraced and disseminated climate change denialist positions be considered reliable in the context of climate litigation?” asks Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon, who have named their campaign for the lawsuit “The Just Cause.” Can it “be considered free of judgment if that same expert has received funding from that same company in the past?” the plaintiffs ask.

In response, Eni’s website reads, “There is little that is ‘just’ about this action. “The plaintiffs are in fact asking the court to declare Eni “responsible” for damages suffered and future damages resulting from climate change, to which the company has allegedly contributed with its conduct over the past decades.” 

This “false narrative,” Eni continues, is based on an “obvious instrumental approach” aimed at “demonizing” the business.

Greenpeace Italy and ReCommon stated that they hope the judge will “reject the numerous and specious objections made by Eni” to allow “a radical change in the company’s industrial strategies.”

Original article by Stella Levantesi republished from DeSmog

Continue ReadingClimate Trial Against Oil Giant Eni Opens in Italy

HMRC fraud team’s civil inquiries fall by half over five years

Original article by Ed Siddons republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

The number of civil tax avoidance leads looked into by HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service has fallen by almost half in five years, while the number of civil cases it has formally opened has decreased by more than a quarter.

These figures, obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) under Freedom of Information laws, raise questions about the tax authority’s performance since the start of the pandemic.

The findings follow revelations by TBIJ and the Observer in September that prosecutions following HMRC investigations plummeted by two thirds in five years. TBIJ then revealed in January that HMRC has not charged a single company under a landmark 2017 law to clamp down on corporate tax evasion.

The new figures suggest that the tax authority’s civil enforcement has also declined alongside its use of criminal powers.

Margaret Hodge MP called on HMRC to “finally crack down on egregious tax avoidance and collect the revenues we desperately need”.

In the tax year of 2018/19, HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service opened 37,273 “risks”, a term used to describe a preliminary inquiry into suspected error or false declaration. In 2022/23, that figure fell to just 21,338 – a 43% decline in five years.

The number of civil cases that were formally opened fell by 28% in the same period, from 17,424 to 12,585.

More from this projectJust 11 ‘wealthy’ people prosecuted for tax fraud last yearNot a single company charged with tax evasion under stronger HMRC powers

“The new revelations that HMRC is failing to make up for [declining numbers of criminal prosecutions] by undertaking more civil investigations is just disgraceful,” said Hodge. “These consecutive failures mean tax dodgers and their enablers can continue getting away scot-free.”

Stephen Daly, senior lecturer in corporate law at King’s College London, said: “[The number of] investigations has fallen off a cliff, and that can’t be good … If you don’t enforce the rules, then you create a culture in which people don’t have to worry about their tax returns later being checked.”

Civil inquiries and investigations declined sharply in 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic interrupted HMRC’s enforcement activity. But despite a significant rise last year, the number of cases remains well below pre-pandemic levels. “If, in fact, this isn’t explained by Covid, then it’s unacceptable,” said Daly.

A HMRC spokesperson told TBIJ that figures relating to its Fraud Investigation Service “do not take account of our overall compliance activity”, including 300,000 interventions opened in 2022/23. They said the authority has recouped £136bn from compliance interventions since 2018/19.

Easy targets?

As well as the general decline in civil cases opened by HMRC’s fraud unit, the number opened by its team for investigating offshore, corporate and wealthy taxpayers has fallen especially steeply, by 56% in five years.

“Even when [HMRC is] opening civil cases, they appear to be going after the easier, lower value targets,” said Fiona Fernie, a partner at tax advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.

Last year, HMRC reached one of its highest ever tax settlements when former F1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone paid £650m after pleading guilty to tax fraud – but that success was “the exception, not the rule”, said Fernie.

Part of the problem is that the UK has an increasingly complex tax code, which makes enforcement action difficult, she said. “The staff are under considerable pressure, we get an increasingly complicated system every year, [and] it’s very difficult to get anybody to keep up with it.”

Robert Palmer, executive director of Tax Justice UK, said another issue was lack of resources. “We know HMRC is underfunded and resources have been diverted for work on Covid and Brexit,” he said.

HMRC estimates that it collects 95% of all the tax owed in the UK, a proportion it says has remained stable in recent years. However, it estimates that the remaining 5% still accounts for about £36bn.

“Parliamentary research shows that when the government invests in HMRC, the return on investment is significant. Until the department is properly funded, vast sums of money owed, often by the richest people and companies, will go unrecovered,” said Palmer.

The Public Accounts Committee last year found that for every £1 spent on compliance, HMRC recovers £18 in additional tax revenue. “The government is missing the opportunity to recover billions in lost revenue by not resourcing compliance,” it said.

Original article by Ed Siddons republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Continue ReadingHMRC fraud team’s civil inquiries fall by half over five years

Santander arranged billion-dollar oil bond after making green pledge

Original article by Nimra Shahid Rob Soutar republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

HSBC also helped on refinery deal that will boost Amazon oil production

The Pastaza River complex, the largest wetland in the Peruvian Amazon, is a hub of biodiversity. It is home to nearly 300 species of fish and rare birds, and a source of food for the numerous Indigenous communities that live there. Its freshwater tributaries, lakes and palm swamps offer a vital buffer against climate change and its international importance is recognised by Ramsar, the UN convention on wetlands conservation.

Slicing through this land is the Norperuano pipeline, a huge 1,100km structure owned by the national oil company PetroPerú. The pipeline has been the source of more than 53 oil leaks since 2013. PetroPerú spent more than $80m on cleaning up spills related to it between 2017 and 2020.

In December, PetroPerú hailed the completion of a $5bn, 10-year project revamping its Talara refinery on the country’s Pacific coast. This new-look facility will be the destination for huge amounts of oil being carried by the Norperuano pipeline across the country from the rainforest, where PetroPerú is set to drill at two controversial new sites. And working behind the scenes to aid the financing of this project have been major international banks that claim to hold strict green policies.

In 2021, Santander helped coordinate a bond that raised $1bn for PetroPerú, which sought funds to upgrade its Talara refinery and expand its capacity to process oil from the Amazon. Two years previously, it had ruled out providing finance or services for “projects or activities in recognised Ramsar sites”. HSBC, which has a similar policy restricting finance that affects wetlands, also worked on the deal.

The money raised by the bond was to be spent on the Talara upgrade, which PetroPerú says helped the facility “produce cleaner fuels” and expanded its processing capacity by nearly 50%, to 95,000 barrels of oil per day.

Much of that oil is likely to be transported through the Norperuano pipeline from the Peruvian Amazon, where PetroPerú has extraction contracts for two drilling sites, one of which also overlaps with the Pastaza wetlands.

“There can be no financing for a company that needs to expand oil production in areas as sensitive as Ramsar sites,” said Leila Salazar-López, executive director of Amazon Watch. She added that it was “difficult to understand” how a company that has demonstrated an inability to stop spills and repair its damage “can gain the confidence of ‘climate-responsible’ investors”.

Santander told TBIJ it did not comment on clients or transactions but said it “operates strict policies that govern our financing. This includes our social, environmental and climate change risk management policy, which governs our criteria to lend to sectors such as energy, mining, metals, and soft commodities.”

HSBC said: “We are committed to supporting a just transition in developing markets and are, therefore, engaging with clients on their transition plans and operating models. Our work with clients is in line with our policies which include specific standards for environmental and human rights considerations.”

Original article by Nimra Shahid Rob Soutar republished from The Bureau of Investigative Journalism under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Continue ReadingSantander arranged billion-dollar oil bond after making green pledge

“Six million UK households still in fuel poverty despite energy bill drop”

Dimitris Mavrokefalidis

Ofgem’s announcement of a 12% drop in energy bills for April to June is welcomed, but National Energy Action warns that six million UK households will still face fuel poverty

Today, Ofgem revealed the energy price cap for April to June, showing a 12% drop in typical annual energy bills to £1,690.

Despite this reduction, National Energy Action (NEA) cautions that 6 million UK households will continue to grapple with fuel poverty.

This figure marks a significant increase from the 4.5 million households affected at the onset of the energy crisis in October 2021.

The persistent challenge of fuel poverty is exacerbated by the fact that current energy bills remain 49% higher than pre-crisis levels.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of NEA, said: “This is, of course, good news – any fall in energy bills is welcome. However, the drop coming in April still leaves bills significantly higher than they were before the energy crisis began.

Continue Reading“Six million UK households still in fuel poverty despite energy bill drop”

UN Experts Say Arms Exports to Israel ‘Must Cease Immediately’

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

A man looks for survivors amid the debris of destroyed houses in the aftermath of Israeli airstrikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 22, 2024.  (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

“State officials involved in arms exports may be individually criminally liable for aiding and abetting any war crimes, crimes against humanity, or acts of genocide.”

Dozens of United Nations experts on Friday called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and warned that countries and private companies still sending weapons to the Israeli military during its assault on Gaza could be complicit in crimes against humanity.

The experts—including special rapporteurs on education and the rights of displaced people—said in a joint statement that “any transfer of weapons or ammunition to Israel that would be used in Gaza is likely to violate international humanitarian law and must cease immediately.”

“Such transfers are prohibited even if the exporting state does not intend the arms to be used in violation of the law—or does not know with certainty that they would be used in such a way—as long as there is a clear risk,” they said. “State officials involved in arms exports may be individually criminally liable for aiding and abetting any war crimes, crimes against humanity, or acts of genocide.”

The U.N. experts noted that the United States and Germany are “by far” Israel’s largest arms suppliers, though France, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia also export weapons to the Israeli government, which the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled is plausibly committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The ICJ’s interim ruling, which Israel has disregarded, has “heightened” the need for an arms embargo, the experts said, noting that compliance with the Genocide Convention of 1948 “requires states parties to employ all means reasonably available to them to prevent genocide in another state as far as possible.”

The experts also said that “arms companies contributing to the production and transfer of arms to Israel and businesses investing in those companies bear their own responsibility to respect human rights, international humanitarian law and international criminal law.”

“They have not publicly demonstrated the heightened human rights due diligence required of them and accordingly risk complicity in violations,” they said.

“All states must not be complicit in international crimes through arms transfers. They must do their part to urgently end the unrelenting humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

The statement comes two weeks after a Dutch court ordered the Netherlands’ government to stop exporting jet parts to Israel, citing the “clear risk” that the aircraft might be used to “commit serious violations of international humanitarian law.” The government is appealing the ruling.

Other countries, including Italy and Spain, have said they have suspended arms sales to Israel since its latest assault on Gaza began—though a Spanish newspaper reported earlier this month that the country exported $1.1 million worth of ammunition to Israel in November.

The U.S., meanwhile, is reportedly planning to send additional weaponry to Israel and has refused to attach conditions to its arms exports even as top officials—including President Joe Biden—publicly voice concerns about the rising death toll in Gaza and Israel’s looming ground invasion of Rafah, where more than half of the enclave’s population is currently sheltering.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the latest proposed arms shipment “includes roughly a thousand each of MK-82 bombs, KMU-572 Joint Direct Attack Munitions that add precision guidance to bombs, and FMU-139 bomb fuses.”

“The arms are estimated to be worth tens of millions of dollars,” the Journal added. “The proposed delivery is still being reviewed internally by the administration, a U.S. official said, and the details of the proposal could change before the Biden administration notifies congressional committee leaders who would need to approve the transfer.”

Israel has used U.S. weaponry to commit atrocities in the Gaza Strip, including airstrikes on homes full of children. An Amnesty International investigation released earlier this month found that a January 9 Israeli airstrike on a residential building in southern Gaza killed 18 civilians, including 10 children.

Based on ordnance fragments recovered from the rubble, the weapon used in the attack was identified as a GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb—made by the U.S. company Boeing.

On Friday, Gaza’s health ministry said that Israeli airstrikes killed more than 100 people over the past 24 hours and injured at least 160 more. Israeli strikes on the severely overcrowded city of Rafah on Thursday destroyed a mosque and several homes, killing or wounding many people and leaving others trapped under the rubble.

“International law does not enforce itself,” the U.N. experts said Friday. “All states must not be complicit in international crimes through arms transfers. They must do their part to urgently end the unrelenting humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Jewish-Led NYC Rally Targets AIPAC, Dem Allies Who Oppose Gaza Cease-Fire

“AIPAC uses money and racist bullying to ensure congressional complicity in the genocide of Gaza,” said Jewish Voice for Peace.

‘People of Gaza Need a Cease-Fire,’ Medical Aid Leader Tells UN Security Council

“This body has failed to effectively address this conflict. We have watched members of this council deliberate and delay while civilians die.”

All of Us Must ‘Confront the Current Siege in Gaza’

As the Nuremberg Tribunal and U.S. law make clear, it is the responsibility of the people to halt crimes that the courts have proved impotent to prevent.

Continue ReadingUN Experts Say Arms Exports to Israel ‘Must Cease Immediately’

Oxfam Rips UK Parliament for ‘Squabbling’ Over Cease-Fire as Israel Pummels Gaza

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators hold a protest in Parliament Square in London on February 21, 2024.  (Photo: Henry Nicholls/AFP via Getty Images)

“It is a disgrace that there has been so much playground politics in Parliament this evening, while so many lives are at stake.”

What was supposed to be a debate over a motion demanding an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip quickly descended into mayhem and partisan bickering on Wednesday as members of the U.K. Parliament jockeyed for position—all while Israel continued dropping bombs on starving Palestinians.

Wednesday’s debate was started by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which introduced a motion calling for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and “an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

The Conservative and Labour parties both put forth amendments aimed at watering down the SNP motion. House of Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle moved to allow a vote on all three motions, angering Tories who said the decision violated convention.

Ultimately, as The Associated Press reported, “many Conservatives and SNP members walked out, and in their absence the Labour version of the cease-fire call passed on a voice vote—by calls of ‘Aye’—without a full formal vote.” The Labour amendment dropped the SNP motion’s call for an end to collective punishment.

Diane Abbott, an MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington, said she entered Parliament on Wednesday to support the SNP motion, which she called “the only genuinely meant cease-fire motion on the order paper.”

“Instead things descended into a shambles,” said Abbott. “Meanwhile Israel’s military continues to kill 250 Palestinians a day.”

Jeremy Corbyn, an independent MP for Islington North and the former leader of the Labour Party, wrote Thursday that “yesterday was an appalling day for British Parliament.

“It was much, much worse for the people of Gaza, who are dying slowly and painfully from dehydration, disease, and starvation,” Corbyn added. “We must end this systematic slaughter—the existence of the Palestinian people is at stake.”

“An immediate and permanent cease-fire is the only solution to stop this devastating cycle of bloodshed.”

Oxfam GB’s head of advocacy, Katy Chakrabortty, also voiced outrage over Wednesday’s proceedings, saying in a statement, “It is a disgrace that there has been so much playground politics in Parliament this evening, while so many lives are at stake.”

“The people of Gaza can’t wait for our politicians to stop squabbling,” said Chakrabortty. “Much of the country lies in ruins and Rafah, where many Palestinian families have been forced to flee, is under threat of a full-scale military offensive. Children in the North of Gaza are dying from hunger because no aid can reach them due to Israel’s continued assault and restrictions on access.”

“An immediate and permanent cease-fire is the only solution to stop this devastating cycle of bloodshed, to ensure the safe release of hostages, and to allow urgent aid to reach all of those in desperate need,” Chakrabortty continued. “Many MPs spoke passionately tonight of the horrors in Gaza and we thank those who raised their voices. The government must listen and support U.N. votes for a cease-fire and end the sale of arms to Israel.”

Citing unnamed sources, The Guardian on Wednesday reported that the U.K.’s Tory government “will consider suspending arms export licenses to Israel” if the country’s military goes ahead with a ground invasion of Rafah, a severely overcrowded city near Gaza’s border with Egypt.

The U.K. has licensed more than £474 million worth of military exports to Israel over the past decade, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In December, HRW and other rights groups warned that “the U.K. risks being complicit in and facilitating serious violations of international humanitarian law if it fails to halt arms exports to Israel immediately.”

“Our organizations demand an immediate suspension of arms transfers to all parties to the current conflict,” the groups wrote in a joint letter. “For the U.K. government, this requires a halt to the arming of Israel. Failure to do so risks the government breaching its own laws and being complicit in grave abuses.”

Original article by JAKE JOHNSON republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

dizzy: While this is a very good account of what happened, I’m going to emphasize some extra issues. While the Speaker is supposed to be impartial he is acually an MP, currently a Labour MP. Labour Leader Keir Starmer acted improperly by effectively ‘lobbying’ the Speaker in person yesterday. Starmer has said that he didn’t threaten or impose pressure on the Speaker. I suggest that lobbying him in any way is out of order. The Speaker claims that he was concerned for MPs safety, that they are getting confronted by their constituents.

The winner from yesterday’s events is Keir Starmer since huge numbers – perhaps a hundred – of Labour MPs were expected to vote for the SNP’s motion against their party’s instruction. I consider that the Speaker should not be concerned with MPs’ safety and that they should be expected to be confronted by their constituents. The point here is that if you don’t want to be accused of complicity in genocide don’t be complicit in genocide.

24/2/24 I’ve used the wrong term ‘lobbying’. MPs are whipped by their own parties to follow their party’s chosen course of action.

Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel's Gaza genocide.
Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel’s Gaza genocide.

22/2/24 10pm How Keir Starmer placed his political image over the lives of those in Gaza

Continue ReadingOxfam Rips UK Parliament for ‘Squabbling’ Over Cease-Fire as Israel Pummels Gaza

The US Must Stop Arming Israel’s Assault on Hospitals

Original article by KATHY KELLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Nasser Hospital to receive medical treatment following Israeli attacks in Khan Younis, Gaza, on January 22, 2024.  (Photo: Belal Khaled/Anadolu via Getty Images)

If we can’t find the morality to stop, we may find we have created a world in which no one can count on upholding basic human rights.

Many decades ago in Chicago, my favorite of several part-time student jobs was operating the “old-style” telephone switchboard at a small hospital called Forkosh Memorial. The console of coils and plugs included a mirror so operators could keep an eye on the hospital entrance, which on weekends and evenings was also monitored by an elderly, unarmed security guard named Frank. He sat at a classroom style desk near the entrance with a ledger book.

Over the course of four years, on weekends and evenings, “security” at the hospital generally consisted solely of Frank and me. Fortunately, nothing much ever happened. The possibility of an attack, invasion, or raid never occurred to us. The notion of an aerial bombardment was unimaginable, like something out of War of the Worlds or some other sci-fi fantasy.

Now, tragically, hospitals in Gaza and the West Bank have been attacked, invaded, bombed, and destroyed. News of additional Israeli attacks is being reported on a daily basis. Last week, Democracy Nowinterviewed Dr. Yasser Khan, a Canadian ophthalmologist and eye surgeon who recently returned from a humanitarian surgical mission at the European Hospital in Khan Younis in Gaza. Dr. Khan spoke of bombings taking place every few hours resulting in a constant influx of mass casualties. The majority of patients he treated were children from age 2 to 17. He saw horrific eye injuries, shattered faces, shrapnel wounds, abdominal injuries, limbs severed above the bone, and traumas caused by drone-launched laser-guided missiles. Amid the overcrowding and chaos, healthcare workers tended to patients while lacking basic equipment, including anesthesia. Patients lay on the ground in unsterile conditions, vulnerable to infection and disease. Most of them also suffered from severe hunger.

At Forkosh Hospital in the 1970s, I had a mirror to see what was happening behind my back, but everyone on Earth can see, directly, the horror of U.S. support for a genocidal event happening on our watch.

Normally, a child who undergoes an amputation faces as many as 12 additional surgeries. Khan wondered who would do the follow-up care for these children, some of whom have no surviving relatives.

He also noted sniper fire prevented doctors from going to work. “They’ve killed healthcare workers, nurses, paramedics; ambulances have been bombed. This has all been systematic,” Khan explained. “Now there are 10,000 to 15,000 bodies decomposing. It’s the rainy season right now in Gaza, so all the rainwater mixes with the decomposing bodies and that bacteria mixes with the drinking water supply and you get further disease.”

According to Khan, Israeli forces have kidnapped 40 to 45 doctors, specifically targeting specialists and hospital administrators. Three healthcare professional organizations have issued a statement expressing deep concern that the Israeli military has abducted and unlawfully detained Dr. Khaled al-Serr, a surgeon at the Nasser Hospital in Gaza.

On February 19, WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described conditions in the Nasser hospital after Israel ordered evacuation of Palestinians from the complex. “There are still more than 180 patients and 15 doctors and nurses inside Nasser,” he said. “The hospital is still experiencing an acute shortage of food, basic medical supplies, and oxygen. There is no tap water and no electricity, except a backup generator maintaining some lifesaving machines.”

Eight years ago, in October of 2015, the United States military destroyed Afghanistan’s Kunduz hospital, run by Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). For more than an hour, a C-130 transport plane repeatedly fired incendiary devices at the hospital’s emergency room and intensive care unit, killing 42 people. Thirty-seven additional people were injured. “Our patients burned in their beds,” read the MSF’s in-depth report. “Our medical staff were decapitated or lost limbs. Others were shot from the air while they fled the burning building.”

The horrific attack outraged war resisters and human rights groups. I remember joining a group of activists in upstate New York who assembled outside a hospital emergency room with a banner proclaiming, “To bomb this site would be a war crime.”

In 2009, on a smaller, yet still horrific scale, I witnessed an Israeli onslaught in Gaza called “Operation Cast Lead.” In the emergency room of the Al Shifa hospital, Dr. Saeed Abuhassan, an orthopedic surgeon, described experiences similar to Khan’s. This surgeon grew up in Chicago, very close to the neighborhood where I lived. I asked him what he would want me to tell our neighbors back home. He listed a litany of horrors, and then he stopped. “No,” he said. “First, you must tell them that U.S. taxpayer money paid for all of these weapons.”

Taxpayer money feeds the bloated, swollen Pentagon budget. U.S. Senators, last week, cowed by AIPAC, decided to send Israel an additional $14.1 billion to boost military spending. Only three Senators voted against the bill.

From PalestineHuwaida Arraf, a Palestinian-American human rights attorney, wrote on X: “The scary part is not that Israel is planning the forcible transfer of the Palestinians it hasn’t slaughtered, but that the so-called ‘civilized world’ is allowing it to happen. The ramifications of this coordinated evil will haunt its collaborators for generations to come.”

At Forkosh Hospital in the 1970s, I had a mirror to see what was happening behind my back, but everyone on Earth can see, directly, the horror of U.S. support for a genocidal event happening on our watch. Gravely distorted versions of what occurred on October 7, cannot—even if believed—justify the scale of the horrors being reported in Gaza and the West Bank each day.

The U.S. government continues enthusiastically to bankroll Israel’s systemic and inhumane destruction of Gaza. U.S. advisers make feeble attempts to suggest Israel should pause or at least try to be more precise in their attacks. In its quest for hegemonic superiority, the United States tears into ever tinier shreds whatever remains of a commitment to human rights, equality, and human dignity.

What kept Forkosh Hospital secure, decades ago, was a social contract that presumed safety for a small hospital serving the local population.

If we can’t find the morality to stop supplying weapons for ongoing Israeli onslaughts against Gaza and its places of healing, we may find we have created a world in which no one can count on upholding basic human rights. We may be creating intergenerational wounds of hatred and sorrow from which there will never, ever be any safe place to heal.

A version of this article first appeared on The Progressive website.

Original article by KATHY KELLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue ReadingThe US Must Stop Arming Israel’s Assault on Hospitals

UK energy bills could rise under government plans to fund nuclear

A final investment for the plants is planned before the next election | Carl Court/Getty Images

LONDON The U.K. government is mulling plans which would hike household energy bills to help pay for a new nuclear energy plant.

Ministers are considering tweaking the funding deal for Sizewell C, a proposed £20 billion nuclear plant in Suffolk, as they scramble to attract investors.

Under one proposal being looked at in Whitehall, the development would be part funded by electricity suppliers — and those firms “would be expected to pass these costs onto consumers through their electricity bills,” according to a consultation paper on the plans.

The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is set to publish its response to that consultation later this week, according to two industry figures granted anonymity to discuss the process.

Officials insist potential additional charges to consumers would be low. But any move leading to higher bills would be controversial during a cost-of-living crisis driven by two years of rising energy costs.

Continue ReadingUK energy bills could rise under government plans to fund nuclear

Green protesters to be charged with criminal damage over demonstration at Rishi Sunak’s home

Three people are set to be charged over a protest at Rishi Sunak’s home (Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

Three people will be charged with criminal damage following a Greenpeace protest at Rishi Sunak’s home in North Yorkshire, prosecutors have said.

Mathieu Soete, 38, Amy Rugg-Easey, 33, and Alexandra Wilson, 32, will each be charged with one count of criminal damage over the protest last August in the prime minister’s Richmond constituency, the Crown Prosecution Service said.

Mr Soete, of Hackney, and Ms Rugg-Easey and Ms Wilson, both from Shiremoor in North Tyneside, are due to appear at York Magistrates’ Court on 21 March, according to the CPS.

A fourth suspect is due to answer bail at a later date.

Activists were pictured last year atop the roof of Mr Sunak’s grade II-listed manor house in Kirby Sigston, near Northallerton, which they draped with oil-black fabric in protest over what they called a new fossil fuel drilling “frenzy”.

The prime minister was on holiday in California at the time of the demonstration.

Continue ReadingGreen protesters to be charged with criminal damage over demonstration at Rishi Sunak’s home