The U.S. Ultimatum to Israel

SPOTLIGHT, 13 May 2024

The Wire | Jewish Voice for Peace - TRANSCEND Media Service

Palestinians flee Rafah. Reuters

8 May 2024 – “The U.S. has suspended the shipment of weapons to Israel,” the US Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, just told the Senate. “We are currently examining the short-term security support in the context of the events in Rafah; we have not yet decided how to proceed regarding the suspended shipment.

This is huge, and now is the time to tip the scales.

We have already sent 750,000 calls and emails to Congress. Our movement has staged protests in cities and on campuses across the country. Now is the time for one more push.

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1. Israel’s push to continue its genocide.

Around the world, all eyes are on Rafah.

On Monday, Palestinians in Rafah took to the streets to celebrate reports that Hamas had agreed to a ceasefire deal. The Israeli government responded by escalating its bombing of Rafah and announcing plans to invade the city.

Hours later, Israeli forces seized the Rafah border crossing, a crucial humanitarian aid route, effectively cutting off any escape routes from its invasion — on the same day that the Israeli military dropped flyers telling Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate.

Demands for ceasefire and divestment from Israel are reaching every corner of the globe. A ceasefire deal is on the table — the same agreement that the Israeli government agreed to two weeks ago. And yet Israel is doing everything they can to reject the ceasefire agreement and prolong this genocide.

2. The cataclysmic potential of an invasion into Rafah.

In recent days, the Israeli government made two moves that could pave the way for mass slaughter. It shut down Al Jazeera coverage within its borders, and has for weeks been setting up a system of checkpoints preventing Palestinian men of “military age” from leaving Gaza.

“An invasion of Rafah would be unlike anything we have witnessed,” wrote Palestinian human rights leaders in an open letter on Tuesday. Citing the Israeli military’s separation of men and women in the so-called evacuation zones, they warned that a slaughter similar to the Srebrenica genocide is clearly in the works.

The 1.5 million Palestinians in Rafah have been facing uninhabitable conditions of rampant famine, disease, and lack of medical care for months, all part of Israel’s plan to engineer a humanitarian crisis in Gaza as another form of extermination. Surviving every single day is an incredible struggle.

On Monday, the Israeli government dropped “evacuation” orders from airplanes pledging imminent use of extreme force against Palestinian families in eastern Rafah. But this is no evacuation — the truth is there’s nowhere in Gaza safe from the Israeli onslaught. The Israeli military resumed bombing entire neighborhoods in east Rafah just four hours after ordering families to evacuate the area, and later that day, seized the Rafah border crossing. There is nowhere for Palestinians in Rafah to go to escape the impending ground invasion.

Even the U.S. government, who has been arming and defending this genocide against the international demand for an immediate ceasefire for the past seven months, has said that it cannot support a ground invasion of Rafah.

3. Repression in the streets and from Congress means we are scaring them. 

Meanwhile, our movement has continued to fight and escalate.

Our growing power means that our opposition is getting scared — and increasing their attempts to use the tools of the state to shut us down.

On campuses across the country, peacefully protesting students are being beaten and pepper-sprayed by police and Zionist counter-protestors, and being charged with felonies for being in their own university buildings.

In Congress, our opposition is using this moment to push a host of repressive legislation, including bills aimed at shutting down criticism of the Israeli government by labeling it antisemitic, and stripping Palestine rights movement organizations of their charity status.

But in a major win, the United Methodist Church voted last week to divest from Israel, instructing its investment managers to avoid its bonds until the Israeli government ends its illegal military occupation of Palestine. And at the heels of the explosion of the student movement for divestment, we’re seeing labor power moving in solidarity, with 48,000 unionized University of California workers voting next week on whether to strike in response to the UC system’s brutal repression of campus protestors.

* * *

A ground invasion of Rafah would mean death on a mass scale, an even greater scale of the already unimaginable crimes against humanity that the Israeli military has been committing against Palestinians for the past seven months of genocide. With a ceasefire deal on the table, we must continue to fight and organize for an end to the Israeli government’s atrocities.

“Unlike anything we have witnessed”

In this open letter, leaders of three Palestinian human rights organizations sound the alarm on the proposed invasion of Rafah, warning that it would create a total collapse of the humanitarian situation and urging states to intervene in order to head off the worst stage yet of Israel’s genocide. Read More

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