Israel continues to bring death and destruction to Gaza; no high school graduates this year; medical supplies running out; CNN War Reporter says Gaza worst; Israel kills several in West Bank; Israel hands power to illegal settlers; Israel says no internet for Gaza; UN chief says world cannot allow Lebanon to become ‘another Gaza’; Columbia U update; another high-level resignation from State Dept., more.

By IAK staff, from reports.

Israel pounds Rafah with planes, tanks, & ships, killing dozens, as fighting rages:

Reuters reports: Israeli forces pounded Rafah in southern Gaza on Friday, as well as other areas across the enclave, killing at least 45 Palestinians as troops engaged in close-quarter combat with Hamas militants, residents and Israel’s military said.

Tanks were forcing their way into the western and northern parts of the city, having already captured the east, south and center.

Firing from planes, tanks and ships off the coast caused more people to flee the city, which a few months ago was sheltering more than a million displaced people, most of whom have now relocated again.

The Gaza health ministry said at least 25 Palestinians had been killed in Mawasi in western Rafah and 50 wounded. Palestinians said a tank shell hit a tent housing displaced families.

“Two tanks climbed a hilltop overseeing Mawasi and they sent balls of fire that hit the tents of the poor people displaced in the area,” one resident told Reuters.

Israel denies carrying out the attack.


39,000 Palestinian students in Gaza will not sit for exams required for high school graduation:

OCHA reports: On 21 June, the Palestinian Ministry of Education (MoE) reported that about 39,000 high-school students in Gaza have been deprived of the opportunity to take their General Secondary Examinations (also known as Tawjihi) that are scheduled to begin on 22 June.

Overall, some 625,000 students have been out of school in Gaza since October 2023 due to the escalation of hostilities.

More than 7,000 students and 378 educational staff have been killed in Gaza

Israel’s Nuseirat massacre and Gaza’s wounds that won’t heal:

The two weeks that have passed since the June 8 Nuseirat massacre, when Israeli forces killed at least 274 Palestinians to free four Israeli captives, have not brought any healing to the survivors.

More than 500 more Palestinians were injured in the attack, filling Deir el-Balah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, with every inch of the floors covered with people in pain bleeding and screaming. Many of the injured still lie at the hospital.

Read some of their stories here.

Doctors Without Borders: Israel causing critical shortages of medical supplies:

Statement from Doctors Without Borders: “Our medical supplies are critically low due to the limited flow of aid that is being allowed into Gaza by Israeli authorities. If we don’t manage to get medical supplies into Gaza very soon, we may have to stop our medical activities. This is an unthinkable reality given the desperate medical needs of thousands of people in Gaza.

“Meanwhile, we have six trucks filled with 37 tons of supplies—the vast majority of which are essential medical items—that have been waiting since June 14 on the Egyptian side of Kerem Shalom crossing point, unable to cross into Gaza where they are needed to save lives. Instead, they are lined up and stuck with about another 1,200 trucks waiting to enter the Strip. This is incomprehensible and unacceptable; it’s like asking a fireman to watch a house filled with people burn down and preventing him from putting out the fire.

“The Israeli authorities must urgently open more crossing points to decongest Kerem Shalom and massively speed up the amount of aid getting through to Gaza on a daily basis. We also call on all parties to ensure safe routes to move humanitarian assistance inside the Strip. This is the only way to avoid more preventable deaths.”

Devastation in Rafah, Gaza Strip June 20
Devastation in Rafah, Gaza Strip June 20

“CNN War Reporter Thought She Had Seen Everything. Then She Went to Gaza”

Ha’aretz reports: “As a senior correspondent for CNN, Arwa Damon covered the worst war zones in the Mideast. But none was as scary as Gaza…

After having spent years in some of the most blood-drenched and depressing locales on the planet, Damon was nonetheless surprised by Gaza.

“Death, destruction, refugeehood, humanitarian crises – those are the things we’re used to accepting as part of the reality of war,” she says. “But in Gaza I also saw the death of the human soul. The Gazans are zombies. Death of souls on that scale, psychological wreckage at that level, I’ve never seen anywhere. At a certain point, I went through Rafah, and the streets were filled with refugee tents, and people, and booths, and there were hardly any vehicles, because there’s no fuel, so transportation is via carts and donkeys, and people move between them slowly. It took us two hours to cover a distance that normally would take 10 minutes. And all this time I looked at the faces of the people who were passing by us and I was shocked because they just looked dead.”

She describes one encounter that illustrates vividly that psychological death.

“A woman told me, ‘My son, who’s 7, screams every night. I keep being afraid he’ll have a fit. He’s been like this ever since he saw his sister’s head blown up.’ I realized that she had seen it too. But her tone of voice didn’t change when she told the story. To protect herself, she has to talk about what happened without showing any emotion at all. Because if she allows even a sliver of emotion to enter her voice, she’s going to shatter into a million pieces. She seemed to understand what was going through my mind, and she said, ‘Yes, I know, but I also have living children who need me.'”

There is one thing Damon is convinced of, and it is one of the most potent of her conclusions from visiting Gaza: Hamas is no longer in control of the territory or the population.

“Hamas is finished. You don’t see Hamas in the streets of Gaza. The only place I saw armed people on the Gaza side was next to the border, in order to prevent civilians from running to the Rafah crossing and breaching it. But in no other place in Gaza do you see Hamas. There is no policing force. There are no people with rifles in the streets, because it’s clear that as soon as you walk around with a rifle, or with something that looks like a rifle, a bomb will fall on your head. So Hamas exists, but it’s very weak…”

The fact that Hamas is finished, Damon says, doesn’t mean that the organization has played all its cards. “Of course they’re still holding captives, and they can still fire missiles. But we are at a stage at which, if things are done as they should be, it could end…

“The level of destruction in such a short period in Gaza, and the psychological devastation suffered by the population, cannot be compared to any other place. It won’t be easy to set it right, but it’s possible. It’s not too late to save Gaza. We can expect 20 or 50 hard years, but they needn’t lead to something awful. Long-term thinking is needed. What’s not acceptable is a scenario in which the war ends tomorrow, but in five years people will still be living in shipping containers and not have access to normal toilets. Read full report

West Bank – Israeli Army Executes Two Palestinians in Qalqilia:

IMEMC reports: Israeli forces killed, on Friday, two Palestinian young men in the city of Qalqilia, in the northwestern part of the occupied West Bank.

The General Authority for Civil Affairs informed the Palestinian Health Ministry that soldiers killed Mahmoud Hassan Abdel Rahman Zaid, 28, and Ihab Abdel Karim Musa Abu Hamed, 29, after shooting them with live rounds.

Media sources said that on Friday afternoon, a special undercover Israeli unit infiltrated the city of Qalqilia, followed by military reinforcements.

Israeli special forces opened fire with live ammunition towards a vehicle, shooting two young men and causing the vehicle to collide into a commercial shop in the city center.

NOTE: Al Jazeera reports 3 killed.

Israeli military transfers powers in occupied West Bank to pro-settler civil servants:

The Guardian reports: The Israeli military has quietly handed over significant legal powers in the occupied West Bank to pro-settler civil servants working for the far-right minister Bezalel Smotrich.

An order posted by the Israel Defense Forces on its website on 29 May transfers responsibility for dozens of bylaws at the Civil Administration – the Israeli body governing in the West Bank – from the military to officials led by Smotrich at the defense ministry.

Smotrich and his allies have long seen control of the Civil Administration, or significant parts of it, as a means of extending Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank. Their ultimate goal is direct control by central government and its ministries. The transfer reduces the likelihood of legal checks on settlement expansion and development.

​Israeli politicians have long sought to​ find ways to permanently seize, or annex, the occupied West Bank​, which it captured in 1967 and where millions of Palestinians live.

Michael Sfard, an Israeli human rights lawyer, said: “The bottom line is that [for] anyone who thought the question of annexation was foggy, this order should end any doubts. What this order does is transfers vast areas of administrative power from the military commander to Israeli civilians working for the government.”

(Read the full article here.)

NOTE: Israel has illegally built around 280 settlements on Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are home to more than 700,000 illegal settlers. Israeli settlements and settlers on Palestinian land are a violation of international law. Settlers, moreover, have a history of violence against Palestinians, often with the assistance of Israeli military forces.

Israel opposes UN requirement to rebuild Gaza’s internet access:

The Intercept reports: Israel opposed a proposal at a recent United Nations forum aimed at rebuilding the Gaza Strip’s war-ravaged telecommunications infrastructure on the grounds that Palestinian connectivity is a readymade weapon for Hamas.

The resolution, which was drafted by Saudi Arabia for last week’s U.N. International Telecommunication Union summit in Geneva, is aimed at returning internet access to Gaza’s millions of disconnected denizens.

It ultimately passed under a secret ballot on June 14 — but not before it was watered down to remove some of its more strident language about Israel’s responsibility for the destruction of Gaza. The U.S. delegate at the ITU summit had specifically opposed those references.

Israel, for its part, had blasted the proposal as a whole. Israel’s ITU delegate described it as “a resolution that while seemingly benign in its intent to rebuild telecommunications infrastructure, distorts the reality of the ongoing situation in Gaza,” according to a recording of the session reviewed by The Intercept. The delegate further argued the resolution does not address that Hamas has used the internet “to prepare acts of terror against Israel’s civilians,” and that any rebuilding effort must include unspecified “safeguards” that would prevent the potential use of the internet for terrorism.

“Based on this rationale, Gaza will never have internet,” Marwa Fatafta, a policy adviser with the digital rights group Access Now, told The Intercept, adding that Israel’s position is not only incoherent but inherently disproportionate. “You can’t punish the entire civilian population just because you have fears of one Palestinian faction.”

The Israeli Ministry of Communications did not respond to a request for comment.

(Read the full article here.)

NOTE: The use of the word “terrorist,” as it is used in this article, for a group that resists occupation and oppression is a political, not fact-based choice. In reality, international law supports the efforts of resistance groups against an occupying power, the UN extending that right to the point of armed resistance. Hamas has clearly and openly stated that its enemy is not the Jewish people, but the racist ideology of Zionism – the ideology under which Israel dispossessed 750,000 Palestinian people and exiled them to Gaza and other locations.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING: Featured Video: How Israel censors the Internet.

Round-up on the Lebanon front:

In a televised address on Wednesday, Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said that in the event of a broader war, “there will be no place safe from our missiles and our drones.

In Lebanon, Nasrallah’s comments left many bracing for a wider war. But some diplomats and analysts said his threats were an attempt to match the escalating rhetoric from Israel.

Hezbollah has indicated it is not seeking a wider conflict, even as it has steadily drawn on more potent weaponry.

While Israel has the most powerful army in the Middle East, Hezbollah has thousands of fighters, many with experience in the Syrian civil war, and an arsenal of tens of thousands of missiles capable of hitting cities all over Israel, as well as a large fleet of drones.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israel would “turn Beirut into Gaza” in the event of a war. But a wider escalation could also overwhelm Israel’s famed Iron dome missile defense system that has so far intercepted most of the hundreds of missiles fired by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, senior US officials have reportedly reassured top Israeli officials that if a full-out war were to break out on Israel’s northern border between Israel and Hezbollah, the Biden administration is fully prepared to back its ally – though the US would not deploy American troops to the ground in such a scenario.

AFP reports that an escalation of the conflict could become inevitable without a ceasefire in the war in Gaza within the next few weeks.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Friday he is profoundly concerned by escalating tensions between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah and that UN peacekeepers are working to calm the situation.

“One rash move – one miscalculation – could trigger a catastrophe that goes far beyond the border, and frankly, beyond imagination,” he told reporters. “Let’s be clear: The people of the region and the people of the world cannot afford Lebanon to become another Gaza.”

Prosecutors drop most charges against student protesters at Columbia – lack of evidence:

Associated Press reports: Dozens of Columbia University students who were arrested for occupying a campus building as part of a pro-Palestinian protest will have their criminal charges dropped, prosecutors said.

At a court hearing Thursday, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said it would not pursue criminal charges for 31 of the 46 people initially arrested on trespassing charges inside the administration building.

Students and their allies seized the building, known as Hamilton Hall, on April 30, barricading themselves inside with furniture and padlocks in a major escalation of campus protests against the Israel-Hamas war.

At the request of university leaders, hundreds of officers with the New York Police Department stormed onto campus the following night, gaining access to the building through a second-story window and making dozens of arrests.

At Thursday’s hearing, prosecutors said they were dismissing charges against most of those arrested inside the building due in part to a lack of evidence tying them to specific acts of property damage and the fact that none of the students had criminal histories.

RECOMMENDED READING: Columbia crackdown led by university prof doubling as NYPD spook.

Senior State Dept. expert resigns over Biden Gaza policies:

Washington Post reports: A senior State Department official and skeptic of the Biden administration’s “bear hug” approach to the government of Israel resigned this week in a setback for U.S. diplomats pushing for a sharper break with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition, said three people familiar with the matter.

Andrew Miller, the deputy assistant secretary for Israeli-Palestinian affairs, told colleagues Friday that he had decided to leave his job. He cited his family, saying he has seen them sparingly as the eight-month war in Gaza has become all-consuming. Miller told colleagues that if not for those responsibilities, he would have preferred to remain in his job and fight for what he believes, including in those areas where he disagreed with administration policy.

He is said to have recognized early on the risks of Biden’s “bear hug” strategy.

Miller’s resignation, which has not been previously reported, comes amid growing frustration inside and outside government over the war’s steep civilian death toll and concerns among some that influence over policy matters has been dominated by a narrow coterie of President Biden’s closest advisers. Miller is the most senior U.S. official to resign to date whose portfolio focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues.

“He was caught in a bureau of well-intentioned and capable Foreign Service officers who have had little or no impact on U.S. policy before and even after October 7.”

Miller is said to have believed that the leverage the United States has over Israel as its biggest military, economic and political backer could have been used more effectively.

Other recent US gov’t resignees who cited the Biden admin’s policy on Gaza as their reason for leaving:
    • Josh Paul, director of the State Department’s bureau of political military affairs.
    • Harrison Mann, a U.S. Army major and Defense Intelligence Agency official.
    • Tariq Habash, special assistant in the Education Department’s office of planning.
    • Annelle Sheline, from the State Department’s human rights bureau.
    • Hala Rharrit, an Arabic language spokesperson for the State Department.
    • Lily Greenberg Call, special assistant to the chief of staff in the Interior Department.
    • Alexander Smith, a contractor for USAID.
    • Stacy Gilbert, State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.


Al Jazeera: What’s behind the historic pro-Israel spending in a New York House primary?
The Cradle: Israeli war criminals: can the ICC lock them up?
MintPress News: Top US Law Schools Present Undeniable Evidence of Israel’s Gaza Genocide.
AntiWar: Israeli army probe finds multiple cases of friendly fire on October 7.
IMEMC Reports.

Palestinian death toll from October 7 – June 21: at least 38,101* (37,551 in Gaza* – 4,959 women (20%), 7,797 children (32%). This is expected to be a significant undercount since thousands of those killed have yet to be identified – and at least 550 in the West Bank (~134 children). This does not include an estimated 10,000 more still buried under rubble (4,900 women and children). Euro-Med Monitor reports 45,223 Palestinian deaths. (Ralph Nader has estimated 200,000 Palestinians may have been killed in Gaza.)
At least 42 Palestinians have died in Israeli prisons (27 from Gaza, 14 from West Bank).
At least 40 Palestinians have died due to malnutrition**.
About 1.7 million, or 75% of Gaza’s population are currently displaced.
About 1.1 million (out of total population of 2.3 million) are facing Catastrophic levels of food insecurity.
Palestinian injuries from October 7 – June 21: at least 91,111 (including at least 85,911 in Gaza and 5,200 in the West Bank).
It remains unknown how many Americans are among the casualties in Gaza.
Reported Israeli death toll from October 7 – June 21: ~1,466 (~1,139 on October 7, 2023, of which ~32 were Americans, and ~36 were children); 314 military forces since the ground invasion began in Gaza; 16 in the West Bank) and~8,730 injured.
Times of Israel reports: The IDF listed 41 soldiers killed due to friendly fire in Gaza and other military-related accidents – nearly 16%.
NOTE: It is unknown at this time how many of the deaths and injuries in Israel on October 7 were caused by Israeli soldiers.
*Previously, IAK did not include 471 Gazans killed in the Al Ahli hospital blast since the source of the projectile was being disputed. However, given that much evidence points to Israel as the culprit, Israel had previously bombed the hospital and has attacked many others, Israel is prohibiting outside experts from investigating the scene, and since the UN and other agencies are including the deaths from the attack in their cumulative totals, if Americans knew is now also doing so.
**Euro-Med Monitor reports that Gaza’s elderly are dying at an alarmingly high rate. The majority die at home and are buried either close to their residences or in makeshift graves dispersed across the Strip. There are currently more than 140 such cemeteries. Additionally, according to Euromed, thousands have died from starvation, malnourishment, and inadequate medical care; these are considered indirect victims as they were not registered in hospitals. 
Find previous daily casualty figures and daily news updates here.

Hover over each bar for exact numbers.