A US drone strike in Iraq killed a high-ranking Kataib Hezbollah commander as Israeli bombing of Gaza enters fifth month.
Here’s how things stand on Thursday, February 8, 2024:
Humanitarian crisis in Gaza
- Reports from the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA show that the Palestinian casualties in Gaza between Tuesday and Wednesday were 123, taking the total number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza to 27,708 as of Wednesday.
- The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) reported that a paramedic was killed and two others were injured after Israeli forces opened fire directly at them in an area between Ahli Arab Hospital and al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City while on their way to evacuate the injured, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
- Israeli air attacks on two homes killed at least 12 Palestinians and injured many more in the Tal as-Sultan and Saudi neighbourhoods of Rafah in southern Gaza on Wednesday night, reported Wafa.
- Additionally, two Palestinians were killed and 10 were injured in an Israeli air raid on a home in Deir el-Balah in central Gaza.
- More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is now sheltering in Rafah, where the original population was 250,000, according to a statement by UN humanitarian affairs chief Martin Griffiths on Wednesday.
- The Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition sent letters to Meta, X, Telegram, and TikTok regarding the proliferation of hate speech, dehumanisation, and incitement to violence and genocide against the Palestinian people on their platforms, Wafa reported.
- The coalition said the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice present a necessity to address the urgent need for online platforms to fulfil their legal and moral responsibility in upholding human rights.
- The Israeli forces posted an excerpt from Herzi Halevi’s situational assessment on Wednesday where he said bringing back Israeli captives was not possible without exerting military pressure.
Regional tensions and diplomacy
- A US drone strike blew up a car in the Iraqi capital on Wednesday night, killing a high-ranking commander of the Kataib Hezbollah, the United States military said on Wednesday, adding that the group is responsible for “directly planning and participating in attacks” on American troops in the region.
- The stabbing of a 23-year-old Palestinian American, Zacharia Doar, merits the label of a hate crime, Austin police announced on Wednesday. Bert James Baker, 36, was arrested following the Sunday evening attack.
- Police in suburban Chicago arrested 33 people on Wednesday after they blocked streets for more than six hours outside a company, which, the protesters said, has a role in the deaths of thousands of civilians in Gaza.
- US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel that it does not have “a licence to dehumanise others”, as Washington delivered one of its harshest critiques to date of Israel amid its war on Gaza. Blinken later posted on X reiterating his support for an independent Palestinian state.
- US President Joe Biden is sending senior aides to Michigan on Thursday to meet Arab-American and Muslim leaders. The visit comes as Biden’s handling of Israel’s war on Gaza has frustrated members of the community in a key constituency for the 2024 presidential elections.
I met with Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas in Ramallah today to reiterate U.S. support for reforming the PA and establishing an independent Palestinian state. pic.twitter.com/9Gi5QMRihH
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) February 7, 2024
Occupied West Bank
- Local sources reported that armed Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian shepherds and prevented their access to pastures south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday evening, reported Wafa.
- Two Palestinian men were killed on Wednesday night by Israeli forces in the Nur Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem city, in the northern occupied West Bank. Israeli forces shelled a home belonging to one of the men killed using Anerga missiles, causing fire on the top floor, as bulldozers proceeded to demolish other parts of the house.
- Wafa reported that a Palestinian man was wounded and another arrested during a large-scale incursion into the Wadi al-Fara area, south of Tubas governorate in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.
- Israeli forces again stormed Jenin on Wednesday, arresting five citizens and damaging infrastructure.