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Netanyahu’s Postwar Plan Would End UNRWA and Fully Control Demilitarized Gaza

Meanwhile, United Nations experts are urging countries to stop arming Israel.

People mourn while standing in the rubble of an overnight Israeli bombardment in Deir Balah in the central Gaza Strip on February 23, 2024.

Casualties:

  • 29,514+ Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including at least 12,000 children.
  • 69,616+ Palestinians have been injured in the fighting.

Key Developments:

Netanyahu Unveils Postwar Gaza Plan

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled a postwar plan for Gaza for the first time since the start of the war. The short-term objectives of the plan — to fully dismantle Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and secure the release of all Israeli captives — would be followed by the full demilitarization of Gaza, over which Israel would play a role in governing civilian affairs, similar to the way in which it currently controls the West Bank.

According to Haaretz, the Prime Minister’s plan would see the day-to-day civil affairs of the enclave administered by “local officials” and “professionals with managerial experience” who “must not be identified with states or organizations that support terror and must not receive salaries from them.”

Netanyahu’s plan also explicitly states that the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA) should be dismantled in retaliation for the alleged role of 13 of its Gaza employees in the October 7 attacks, for which Israel has not provided evidence.

Unsurprisingly, Netanyahu’s plan has come under fire from both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority’s office of the presidency. The PA President’s office has explicitly rejected Netanyahu’s proposal, which also states that the Israeli military would continue to have the “freedom to operate” in Gaza, essentially re-occupying the enclave.

“Gaza will only be part of the Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and any plans other than that are doomed to failure,” said Deputy Prime Minister and spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, likening the plan to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

“Israel will not succeed in its attempts to change the geographic reality,” Abu Rudeineh said.

Massacres in Gaza: “I Never Thought I’d Be Moving Patients From a Tertiary Hospital to a Field Hospital

Israeli forces have launched a series of attacks on Central Gaza, killing at least 40 Palestinians and injuring at least 100 more in an ongoing massacre.

“It was around 6:30 a.m. when the Israeli soldiers blew up a wall in our house and then opened fire randomly at us,” Ramadan Shamaklah, a 21-year-old survivor from Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood, told Al Jazeera.

“The soldiers brutally attacked me and my brother, who has been suffering from a foot injury since the 2014 war, and beat us extensively,” he continued, describing a scene in which the Israeli soldiers shouted obscene words at his family and forced the women to remove their hijabs.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military’s ruthless assault on the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis continues. Aid agencies hope to evacuate the 140 patients remaining there as sewage water floods the wards, and those remaining are left without water to drink or food and personal hygiene supplies.

“I never thought that this would happen in a hospital,” said Dr. Sara al-Saqqa, Gaza’s first female surgeon and one of a small handful of medical staff currently attending to patients in the besieged hospital.

“I never thought that I would be bringing patients from a tertiary hospital to a field hospital,” she continued. “But it’s happening. It’s not safe for them to stay there. They don’t have the quality of medical care that they deserve and they need, so that’s why we keep on going.”

Meanwhile, several Israeli human rights organizations — among them B’Tselem, Physicians for Human Rights, and Breaking the Silence — have called for the countries who withdrew funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to reinstate funding.

“Doubts about the involvement of UNRWA employees in the attack on Israel are very serious, but they do not justify the punitive freeze on the Agency’s funding,” the organizations said in a statement.

“The actions of the few must not be allowed to cast a shadow on the vital humanitarian work of UNRWA,” the statement continued.

Doctors Without Borders has condemned Israel’s “war without limits,” joining calls for a ceasefire as a team of UN experts calls for countries who ship arms to Israel to stop “immediately,” as they will likely be used in human rights violations in Gaza. Meanwhile, the Israeli Army radio explicitly states that the army is training for war in Lebanon.

Israeli Ministers Push for Settler Housing Units as “Zionist Revenge for West Bank Attack

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has announced that 3,000 housing units will be greenlit in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank as an “appropriate Zionist response” to a deadly shooting on Thursday, where three Palestinian gunmen opened fire near an Israeli checkpoint on the road between Jerusalem and the West Bank’a Ma’ale Adumim settlement, killing an Israeli citizen.

“May every terrorist planning to harm us know that lifting a finger against Israeli citizens will be met with a death blow and destruction in addition to the deepening of our eternal grip on the entire Land of Israel,” he said in a meeting following the incident. Many suspect that this move will cause a rift with the Biden administration, who has already imposed sanctions on violent settlers who undermine “peace, security and stability” across the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Israeli military raids across the West Bank continue, with Israeli forces detaining eight Palestinians between Bethlehem and Tulkarem last night and arresting two children in the town of Sinjal, north of Ramallah, as the tenth Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli custody since the crackdown of Palestinian prisoners following October 7.

On Thursday night, February 22, an Israeli drone assassinated a fighter in the Jenin Brigade, the armed resistance group based in Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank. An associate of the Jenin Brigade, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Mondoweiss that the drone assassination comes after several failed assassination attempts by Israeli special forces on the ground in the camp. The assassination is the latest in a series of renewed crackdowns on Palestinian armed resistance in the West Bank ever since October 7.

Despite mounting global pressure on Israeli settlers, settler violence continues as settlers set fire to a vehicle near Nablus and cut the power supply to the nearby village of Al-Naqoura.

ICJ Hearings Resume in The Hague, Foreign Ministers Back Palestinian State at G20 Summit

Meanwhile, the International Court of Justice hearings continue in the Hague, as several countries — among them Oman, Norway, and Namibia — present their arguments.

“[The people of Palestine] have been living under occupation, oppression, injustice and daily humiliation, while the international community failed to assist them in realising their aspirations to an independent state,” Oman representative, Abdullah bin Salem bin Hamad Alharthy, told the court.

Representatives from Namibia drew comparisons between Israel’s occupation of Palestine and Namibia’s painful colonial history, while Pakistan’s representative argued that Israel’s occupation of Palestine is “not irreversible.”

Foreign ministers gathered for the G20 summit in Rio De Janeiro have been nearly unanimous in their support for a two-state solution, saying that it is the “only answer” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“There is not going to be peace…not going to be sustainable security for Israel unless the Palestinians have a clear political prospect to build their own state,” said European Union Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell.

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