Israel, U.S. increasingly isolated by “man-made famine” and “genocide” findings in Gaza: National & International News – FRI 29Mar2024

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Biden pledges support for clean-up and recovery in Baltimore.

Israel, US increasingly isolated by “man-made famine” and “genocide” findings in Gaza.


Biden pledges support for clean-up and recovery in Baltimore

The Chesapeake 1000, a massive crane capable of lifting up to 1,000 tons, is being put together in the Patapsco River at the site where the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapsed on Tuesday morning. A team including the Army Corps of Engineers and Navy contractors will use this crane and a smaller crane, which is en route, to begin the dangerous and painstaking work of clearing away the broken pieces of the bridge that lie strewn about the river and still drape the bow of the Dali, the ill-fated container ship that brought down the bridge. Crews will have to work on how best to cut up the massive steel struts so that the Chesapeake 1000 can lift them. Just the pieces sitting on top of the Dali weigh an estimated 3000-4000 tons.

The clearing operation is expected to take at least a month, but unforeseen complications could stretch this out even longer. Clearing some of the debris will make it possible to remove the Dali, where its cargo and fuel pose environmental hazards. It will also, hopefully, enable the recovery of the remaining four missing workers believed to have perished Tuesday morning. Only once the site is fully cleared of the remains of the bridge will the port of Baltimore be usable again.

It’s still unknown what caused the Dali to lose power before it careened into the pier, bringing down the bridge. The full NTSB investigation will likely take years.

Costs and losses

President Biden has pledged an initial $60 million to cover the cost of the clean-up and support the recovery of the port. The Army Corps of Engineers is pay for the clean-up, the cost of which will rise with any complications. Maryland’s state government also plans to use federal money to help support those who will be out-of-work until the port resumes operation. Baltimore’s port directly employs about 8,000 people and supports employment for 140,000 indirectly.

Rebuilding the bridge will take years and cost at least $2 billion, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said on Tuesday. Biden has also promised to cover this with federal funds. Some of that money is already available through the infrastructure bills passed early on in Biden’s Presidency, but Congress will likely have to take further action.

Insurance claims and marine trade losses from the collapse of the bridge and resulting port closure could be in excess of $3 billion, according to experts at the London-based banking giant Barclays. John Neal, CEO of the Lloyd’s of London insurance market, says “it’s certainly going to be one of the largest marine losses in history”.



Israel increasingly isolated by “man-made famine” and “genocide” findings in Gaza

There were several dramatic developments in the international political response to Israel’s continued military assault in Gaza, as well as its near-total blockade of humanitarian aide to its starving population. It remains to be seen whether any of these developments will prove to be a turning point that will eventually force Israel to cease what many now consider to be a genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza.

IDF carries on bombing despite UN ceasefire 

On Monday, the US allowed through a ceasefire resolution by the 15-member UN Security Council. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller, claimed that was not a binding resolution. That is quite simply not true. While UN General Assembly resolutions (where all 193 member nations are able to vote) are non-binding, UN Security Council resolutions are understood under international law to be legally binding for every member nation of the UN, including Israel and the United States.

In any case, Israel seems to have taken no notice. In fact, the Israeli military intensified its bombing campaign in the south of Gaza, killing hundreds. This included strikes in Rafah, the southernmost part of Gaza where some 1.5 million displaced Palestinians from the north are sheltering in makeshift tents (in addition to the 300,000 or so already living there). 

The US also has not ceased supplying the weapons Israel uses to carry out these military assaults. The only indication that anything might have changed is that this week, Israel apparently didn’t get everything it asked for. Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. CQ Brown did not specify what weapons Israel asked for and didn’t receive. When reporters asked if this denial was to force Israel to allow in more humanitarian aid, Gen. Brown would only say these decisions had to do with maintaining the US’ own military readiness. While Gen. Brown said we “don’t have the capacity” to provide Israel with some items, he added, suggestively, that there were some items we’re “not willing to provide. Not right now, in particular”.

Whatever the case, it seems to have gotten Israel’s attention. After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu huffily called off a Washington meeting to discuss Israel’s plans to invade Rafah (an apparent tantrum over the UN ceasefire vote), the meeting is apparently back on again.

ICJ demands Israel allow in aid as famine “setting in” in Gaza

At the end of January, the International Court of Justice ruled it “probable” that Israel is committing a genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza. As part of this provisional ruling (a full final ruling could take years), the ICJ ordered Israel to cease committing acts of genocide, to punish incitement to genocide from public figures, and to increase humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Now more than two months later, not only has humanitarian aid into Gaza not increased, it has sharply decreased. This is in part because of Israel’s overly cumbersome inspection protocols which are allowing in only a fraction of the number of trucks needed per day. Aid officials have called it a program for “man-made starvation”

In a unanimous decision, the ICJ has found that Israel is not upholding its obligation to allow humanitarian aid in. The court demanded this week that Israel immediately cease blocking food aid into Gaza as over half of Gaza’s population is now in famine conditions. There are already dozens of reports daily of children and elderly people in Gaza dying of starvation. Additionally, 12 desperate people drowned this week trying to reach aid from US airdrops that fell into the sea due to a malfunctioning parachutes.

Genocidal “protesters”

However, in addition to actions by officials, Israeli private citizens (many of them illegal settlers from the Occupied West Bank) are also being allowed to block humanitarian aid into Gaza by setting up near-daily “protests” at the aid crossings to block trucks getting in. These crossings are in areas under full control of the Israeli military, but rather than driving out the “protesters”, the army encourages their presence, even offering them shade, food and drinks.

In this 17-minute video from The Grayzone, an independent journalist interviews over a dozen of these aid crossing “protesters”. Some claim that they are blocking aid to to force Hamas to give up the Israeli hostages held since Oct. 7. Of course, this aid is also meant to feed the hostages. In fact, one of these hostages died this week in Gaza because of a lack of food and medicine. But that doesn’t seem to be a concern for the “protesters”.

Other “protesters” speak openly of their desire to ethnically cleanse Gaza, driving out or starving to death all Palestinians in Gaza (and even the West Bank) so that illegal Jewish settlements dismantled in 2005 can be re-established. One, a soldier, admits carrying out war crimes in the recent fighting in Gaza, including blowing up UN aid facilities.

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