Even as it tries to recover hostages through indirect talks with Hamas and army operations in the Gaza Strip, Israel has been declaring some of the missing as dead in captivity, a measure designed to grant anxious relatives a measure of closure.
A three-person medical committee has been poring over videos from the Oct. 7 rampage by Hamas-led Palestinian gunmen in southern Israel for signs of lethal injuries among those abducted, and cross-referencing with the testimony of hostages freed during a week-long Gaza truce that ended on Friday.
That can suffice to determine that a hostage has died, even if no doctor has formally pronounced this over his or her body, said Hagar Mizrahi, a Health Ministry official who heads the panel created in response to a crisis now in its third month.
“Designation of death is never an easy matter, and certainly not in the situation embroiling us,” she told Israel’s Kan radio. Her committee, she said, addresses “the desire of the families of loved ones abducted to Gaza to know as much as possible”.
Of some 240 people kidnapped, 108 were freed by Hamas in return for the release by Israel of scores of Palestinian detainees as well as boosted humanitarian aid shipments to Gaza.
Since the truce expired, Israeli authorities have declared six civilians and an army colonel dead in captivity.
This has not been confirmed by Hamas. It has previously said dozens of hostages were killed in Israeli airstrikes, has threatened to execute hostages itself and suggested that some hostages were in the hands of other armed Palestinian factions.
Hostages have been kept incommunicado despite Israel’s calls on the Red Cross to arrange visits and verify their well-being.
Mizrahi said she and her fellow panelists – a forensic pathologist and a physical trauma clinician – have been watching clips shot by the Hamas attackers themselves, cellphone video by Palestinian spectators and CCTV footage of the hostage-taking “again and again, frame by frame”.
That has allowed them to map out life-threatening wounds and spot any cessation of breathing or other essential reflexes.
Additional considerations have been hostages’ rough handling by captors, the reduced chances of them getting adequate medical care in Gaza and accounts of deaths by former fellow hostages.
The panel has been consulting with a religious expert, she said, given Jewish laws that prevent a widow from remarrying unless her bereavement is formally recognized by authorities.
“We assemble the overall picture,” Mizrahi said, adding that every determination of death has to be unanimously agreed upon.
The risk of getting it wrong was laid bare in the case of Emily Hand, who went missing on Oct. 7 and whose father Tom was initially informed “unofficially” that she had been killed. The girl had in fact been taken hostage and was freed in the truce.
Being denied a burial may pose a psychological barrier for grieving kin, however.
Last week, the Israeli military – which has rabbinical and intelligence units scouring Gaza battlefields for information about the fate of lost soldiers, as well as remains of hostages — declared dead Shaked Gal, a conscript missing since Oct 7.
His mother Sigalit said in a Facebook post addressed to the 19-year-old that she would not observe the traditional Jewish mourning period for him “until your body is returned”.
Mizrahi said her panel had yet to encounter a family that refused to accept its determination, but was prepared for that:
“We are here to provide the professional side. We do not, God forbid, debate or confront the families regarding their decision, and we accept their choices with understanding.”
The military has recovered the bodies of one captive soldier and two civilian hostages, and freed one soldier in a rescue operation.
The post Israeli Medical Experts Declare Some Gaza Hostages Dead in Absentia first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension
George Washington University (GW) in Washington DC has leveled additional disciplinary sanctions against members of the school’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter following their repeated violations of the group’s suspension and other rules, the GW Hatchet reported on Monday.
According to the paper, after being suspended, SJP assembled a front group called “Student Coalition for Palestine” and held an unauthorized protest in Nov. at Kogan Plaza, an outdoor space frequently used by the campus community for outdoor events.
Student Coalition for Palestine held two more unauthorized demonstrations on Saturday and Sunday and declined to speak on record to GW Hatchet, citing concerns about being “doxxed.” On both days, they brandished signs that said, “Divest from Zionist genocide” and “From the river to the sea,” a chant widely interpreted as calling for a genocide of Jews in Israel.
They also chanted, “Israel bombs, GW pays, how many kids did you kill today?” and “Granberg, Granberg, you’re a coward, we the students have the power,” referencing GW President Ellen M. Granberg, who is a Jewish woman.
In November, George Washington University became the third private university in the United States to suspend its Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter after the group projected pro-Hamas messages on a university library.
The suspension reportedly included two phases, first a 90-day period in which SJP was banned from sponsoring and holding events on campus, and a second, beginning on Feb. 12, 2024 and lasting for the remainder of the academic year, in which the university continues to “restrict” its activities.
Now facing new charges of community disturbance, disorderly conduct, and noncompliance for violating the suspension, an SJP member told the GW Hatchet, which has taken the group’s lead in describing Student Coalition for Palestine as non-affiliated with SJP, that the university is being “hateful” and fascistic.
“They refuse to acknowledge that it has to do with our solidarity,” the student alleged. “They refuse to acknowledge their fascism.”
The student also threatened that continued efforts to hold SJP accountable for violating school rules will “only make us louder.”
GW SJP in Palestine has been battling the school’s administration to push the boundaries of its campus activities since Hamas’ terror invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, an attack that resulted in over 1,200 deaths of mostly civilians and included numerous rapes and torture.
Five days after the attack, President Ellen Granberg censured in strong terms any support on campus for the war crimes Hamas committed, acts that SJP had cheered during numerous demonstrations.
“I not only condemn terrorism, but I also abhor the celebration of terrorism and attempts to perpetuate rhetoric or imagery that glorifies acts of violence,” Granberg wrote in an open letter. “Such messages do not speak on behalf of me, our administrators, or GW.” Granberg also expressed concern for all affected by the week’s events in the Middle East, calling on the campus community to “reach out to a friend, colleague, or classmate and show your support.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post George Washington University to Discipline Anti-Zionist Group for Violating Suspension first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has called on the Chicago Police Department to step up efforts to apprehend the culprits behind a series of antisemitic flyers distributed in the the city’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, which is home to a large Jewish population.
“For the 4th time in over 5 weeks, residents of Chicago‘s Lincoln Park neighborhood woke up today to antisemitic & white supremacist flyers on their cars,” the Jewish civil rights organization’s office for the Midwest stated in a post on X/Twitter. “We spoke with Chicago police & urged them to do what’s necessary to find & hold accountable those responsible for these hateful acts.”
At least 50 vehicles parked in Lincoln Park were targeted with flyers bearing handwritten messages attacking Jews and their alleged influence. “I saw on my dashboard a piece of paper with an antisemitic, very antisemitic markings on it that said that Jews own the media, the Jews started COVID,” local resident Aaron Snyder told ABC News. Local media outlets blurred the text written on the flyers in their reports of the latest incident.
At a community neighborhood meeting on Tuesday night, attendees voiced a mix of fear and anger over the repeated incidents. Similar flyers were discovered in Lincoln Park last week.
“Clearly, this is targeted antisemitic hate material, and the fact that it’s being placed intentionally in residential neighborhoods where Jewish families live, it seems designed to sow fear and unrest in the hearts of our Jewish residents,” Second Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins told local media outlets.
While no-one has yet been identified as responsible for distributing the flyers, Hopkins said that he believed “it’s the same group that’s responsible for it. It’s clearly more than one person because there’s a significant number of these that are deployed at the same time.”
The so-called “Goyim Defense League (GDL)”, a US neo-Nazi organization, has orchestrated a similar campaign over the last two years in Florida, North Carolina, California and several other states, distributing printing flyers blaming Jews collectively for the COVID pandemic and other social ills. It remains unclear whether the GDL is behind the current harassment of Jews in Chicago.
The post ADL Urges Chicago Cops to Apprehend Culprits Behind Antisemitic Flyer Campaign first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Meet the Indigenous People Who Support Israel
During pro-Palestinian marches in the Western world, we have seen several minority groups, including “indigenous” people, who identify with the Palestinians and their claim to be the displaced natives in Israel.
But there are other indigenous people who view things differently.
The Indigenous Coalition For Israel (ICFI) is one organization that aims to change the narrative, consisting of individuals from the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Africa. The ICFI has just launched an office that will be housed within the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem.
Ryan Bellerose, a native Canadian of the Metis mixed-race community, told me that “the false narrative concerning the Israel-Palestinian conflict has easily taken hold amongst many indigenous peoples.”
He feels that many have misunderstood what the term “indigeneity” means. He spoke about how the Jewish people’s ethnogenesis took place in the Levant, just like the Native Americans’ took root in the Americas. He noted that even if Jews lived in the Diaspora at times, their cultural identity “evolved” in the Middle East.
Some on the Palestinian side claim that they have Canaanite roots. Bellerose argued that the Palestinians are “not doing much” to actively preserve or upkeep this Canaanite culture despite the claim.
Bellerose feels that indigenous Americans are still feeling the “residual effects” of a genocide, and can therefore learn a lot from the Israeli example, where Jewish society was “rebuilt” after the Holocaust.
He also cited Israel’s Hebrew revival as a good example of decolonization, and hopes that other groups that have lost their native languages, such as his ancestral Cree, will be able to revive theirs as well.
New Zealand Māoris
Dr. Sheree Trotter is a New Zealand Māori. She said that while some Māori Iwi (clans), including the biggest one, Ngapuhi, issued statements supporting Israel, there is no uniform view across the group.
She noted that there are still many Māori who are pro-Palestinian, among the indigenous minority who are 16.5% of New Zealand.
Trotter said that many Māori became Christianized in recent times, and therefore connect with the story of Israelites. She blamed international forces, such as the Soviet propaganda of the 1960s, for causing many Māori to shift towards identifying with the Palestinian narrative.
Olga Washington is a member of the Tswana ethnic group in South Africa, a country that has taken an outsized pro-Palestinian stance in recent years. However, she insists that “the majority of South Africans don’t have such beliefs, even if the ‘loudest voices’ are anti-Israel.”
Washington noted how Israel supported the apartheid regime in South Africa (1948-94), but that continuing to blame Israel for abetting this exhibits “a double standard” since “many other countries” also supported apartheid South Africa, including the US, UK, and Japan.
She insisted that allegations of Israeli apartheid are “not true” — having witnessed apartheid firsthand in South Africa, where the term originated.
She said that during the Cold War era, the Soviets, Cuba, and other forces allied with the now-ruling African National Congress (ANC) party were anti-Zionist, and this legacy has remained. The ANC has been in power since 1994.
She noted how South Africa chose not to support their Miss Universe candidate when the competition was held in Israel in 2021.
“But we still do have diplomatic relations with Israel,” she noted.
“Jews are indigenous to the land and the Palestinian claim is a very self-harming approach as it rejects Jewish indigeneity,” she said. And indigenous people around the world who know the true history of Israel likely agree with her.
Avi Kumar is a Holocaust historian/journalist from Sri Lanka. He has lived in many countries and speaks 11 languages. He has written about a variety of topics in publications worldwide.