Live blog: Gaza death toll hits 200; Biden admin continues to block UN call for ceasefire

The Latest:

  • Gaza death toll hits 212, including 61 children and over 1,400 injuries, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health; 17 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank.
  • 10 Israeli casualties, including one child.
  • According to UN OCHA on May 16, there are 38,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) seeking protection in 48 UNRWA schools across Gaza. Over 2,500 people have been made homeless due to the destruction of their homes.
  • The Biden Administration is reportedly blocking a UN Security Council statement calling for a ceasefire for the third time. This reflects a traditional pattern on the part of the U.S.: Israel “feels it needs” to destroy a certain amount of opposition in Gaza before the U.S. will join calls on it to cease fire, Barbara Plett Usher observed on BBC today.
  • Thirty Senators, almost all Democrats, have signed a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire “to prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian Territories.”
  • That letter and the news and political climate in the United States are “dangerous” signs to Israel about its operations, Chuck Freilich, a former national security aide in Israel, said today on i24 News. The letter equates Israel’s actions and Hamas’s, a sign of a “collapse” in sympathy for Israel on the Democratic side in the U.S. Today it is hard to find a young Democrat who supports Israel, and a similar trend is occurring inside the Jewish community, Freilich warned.

-updated 6:41 pm GMT


Palestinians call for massive general strike throughout historic Palestine on May 18

Watch this explainer from Yumna Patel on the call for tomorrow’s general strike and how you can support it:

Also, see here and here for more resources.


‘They ran barefoot in the streets,’ Palestinians detail fleeing shelling and airstrikes

Tareq Hajjaj reports a harrowing account of how Palestinians in Gaza have survived the Israeli onslaught over the past week:

The Raffeqs lives on al-Mansoura Street, the last boulevard before the open field that makes up the buffer zone with Israel. It stretches 300 yards at its narrowest, extending up to a mile. “It started with heavy shelling fired randomly near us” Raffeq, said describing Israeli tanks firing from across the border. Most of the artillery struck “in empty lands around us, they wanted to terrify us,” he said.  

The firing began “at sunset,” he recounted. “So many sounds for different weapons were heard: warplanes, artillery, flash bombs, and another sound we were hearing for the first time,” he described. A sound so loud, “it could explode your head.”

“The people who fled first warned others,” Raffeq said.  Residents remembered the 2014 war where entire tracks of Shuja’iyya were leveled in Israel’s ground operations. The neighborhood was the flashpoint for violence and fighting that resulted in some of the deadliest days of that two-month escalation. Fearing a similar onslaught of violence loomed, many grabbed what they could and darted west.

Earlier that day the Raffeq’s made go-bags filled with clothes, food, and important documents such as ID cards, in anticipation the family may need to head to a shelter without notice. 

“We are unarmed and have kids and women with us. So we had to flee, for now, then we can decide to go back or stay away from our homes,” Raffeq said. 

Read the rest here.

Palestinians inspect homes that were destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Palestinians inspect homes that were destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in Beit Hanoun in the northern Gaza Strip on May 14, 2021. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)

Biden administration blocking UN call for cease fire, for the third time; agrees to $735 million weapons sale to Israel

The Times of Israel reports that the U.S. is blocking statement in the Security Council statement was introduced by Norway, Tunisia and China that calls for, “de-escalation of the situation, cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law.”

From the Times of Israel:

The Times of Israel obtained a copy of the draft statement early Monday morning. It “expressed [the council’s] grave concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the loss of civilian lives and casualties, and called for de-escalation of the situation, cessation of violence and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians, especially children.”

“The Members of the Security Council emphasized that civilian and humanitarian facilities, including those of the UN, must be respected and protected, called on all parties to act consistently with this principle and stressed the need for immediate provision of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza,” the statement reads.

Also, the Washington Post is reporting that on May 5, before this current Israeli attack on Gaza began, the Biden administration approved the sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel. Now, some Democratic lawmakers want to exercise oversight over the deal:

“In the past week, the Israeli military’s strikes have killed many civilians and destroyed the building that housed the Associated Press, an American company reporting on the facts in Gaza,” a Democratic lawmaker on the House Foreign Affairs Committee told us. “Allowing this proposed sale of smart bombs to go through without putting pressure on Israel to agree to a cease-fire will only enable further carnage.

The administration is required to inform Congress of such sales, although official notification generally comes only after Congress has informally agreed. Once the formal notification is made, lawmakers have 20 days to object with a nonbinding resolution of disapproval. 

“There’s truth to the notion that there’s major shifts in the party about how we rubber stamp Israel writ large,” a Democratic Senate aide told the Post, although the article also says it is doubtful a resolution of disapproval will be passed by Congress.

Update: Rep. Ilhan Omar has released a statement on the proposed arms deal:

And so has Rep. Joaquin Castro:

-updated 9:20 pm GMT


Previous Reports:

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