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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 179: Israel kills 7 international aid workers in central Gaza, passes law banning Al Jazeera
    The World Central Kitchen called the attack that killed seven of its aid workers “unforgivable” as Israeli forces killed 71 people across the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Israeli government voted to approve a bill banning Al Jazeera.

    Qassam MuaddiApril 2, 2024
    Palestinians inspect the heavily damaged vehicle after the Israeli attack targeting the international and local officials with the World Central Kitchen, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, April 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Palestinians inspect the heavily damaged vehicle after the Israeli attack targeting the international and local officials with the World Central Kitchen, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, April 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Casualties

    32,916+ killed* and at least 75,494 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    451+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,139.
    600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and at least 3,302 injured.***
    *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure.

    *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

    Key Developments

    Israel kills 71 Palestinians and wounds 102 in the Gaza Strip in 7 different massacres, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
    Israeli army kills seven aid workers of British, Polish, and Australian nationalities belonging to the World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Deir al-Balah. WCK announces halt of operations in light of attack.
    Israeli government votes on a bill to ban Al Jazeera and other media outlets, Netanyahu accuses Al Jazeera of incitement against Israel.
    Gaza’s health ministry calls upon Palestinians to evacuate hospitals unless they are patients or wounded.
    In the West Bank, one Palestinian dies of wounds sustained during Israeli army raid in Jenin.
    Israeli army raids Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem, arresting seven people.
    Israeli forces kill 71 Palestinians, wound 102 across Gaza

    The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said in a statement Tuesday that Israeli forces committed seven massacres against families in the Gaza Strip since Monday, killing 71 Palestinians and wounding 102, bringing the death toll of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip since October 7 to 32,916.

    The ministry pointed out that medical teams haven’t been able to recover many more bodies buried under the rubble.

    In Gaza City, Israel’s withdrawal from al-Shifa Hospital revealed the total destruction of the medical complex and its facilities. Accounts from residents in the area describe dead bodies with tied hands, indicating potential cases of execution.

    In a statement, Gaza’s Government Media Office said that at least 400 Palestinians were killed and 900 were wounded during the two-week-long Israeli raid on Gaza’s largest hospital.

    In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli forces bombed the al-Bashir mosque, killing one child and wounding 20 more people. Israeli artillery also bombed the village of al-Mighraqa north of the Nuseirat refugee camp.

    In the southern Gaza Strip, two separate Israeli bombings killed 12 Palestinians in Rafah, including six people, in a bombing of the Zuurub family home. Meanwhile, Israeli artillery continued bombing the western neighborhoods of Khan Younis.

    Israeli strike kills seven international aid workers in Deir al-Balah

    Seven international aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on Monday. The aid workers belonged to the U.S.-based international humanitarian organization, the World Central Kitchen.

    The victims were of British, Canadian, Polish, and Australian, nationalities, and some had dual U.S. and Palestinian citizenship.

    Passports of the international volunteers with the World Central Kitchen killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Passports of the international volunteers with the World Central Kitchen killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    The World Central Kitchen said in a statement that its workers were leaving the organization’s warehouse in Deir al-Balah, moving through a “deconflicted zone” in three vehicles when the Israeli strike occurred, “despite coordinating movements” with the Israeli army.

    “This is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war, this is unforgivable,” said the WCK statement. The organization also announced the suspension of its operations in the Gaza Strip.

    The World Central Kitchen had been engaged in delivering meals to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip, where the UN has warned of famine induced by Israel’s blocking of humanitarian aid from entering the Strip. At least 31 people have died of starvation.

    Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of a 44-year-old Australian citizen among the team, calling the killing “completely unacceptable.” Albanese also said that his cabinet will call in Israel’s ambassador.

    Israeli media quoted the Israeli army as saying that it will open an investigation into the incident.

    Since October 7, Israeli strikes killed at least 170 international humanitarian workers in the Gaza Strip, according to Human Rights Watch.

    Israeli government votes bill into law banning Al Jazeera

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to shut down the Qatari media network Al Jazeera’s operations in Palestine soon.

    The law, dubbed the “Al Jazeera law,” was introduced after the Israeli army claimed it found one Al Jazeera worker to be a member of Hamas, without providing more details.

    The law sets the ground for the Israeli war cabinet to put a ban on the Qatari media network into effect. However, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, Netanyahu and his cabinet “are not in a rush” to ban Al Jazeera from broadcasting, given Qatar’s role in mediating negotiations with Hamas.

    On Monday, Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera of incitement against Israel and “actively taking part in the October 7 attack.”

    Since October 7, Israeli strikes have killed 139 journalists in the Gaza Strip, including Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqa. Back in December, only two months into Israel’s assault on Gaza, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said that the Strip was the most dangerous place for journalists in the world.

    One Palestinian killed in Jenin as Israel continues raids across the West Bank

    A Palestinian was pronounced dead in Jenin on Tuesday after succumbing to his wounds caused earlier by Israeli forces during a military raid on the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin.

    The martyr was identified as 20-year-old Rabea Faisal Zakarna, who was wounded on Saturday by Israeli forces that raided his town.

    Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem late on Monday, where they were confronted by local youth throwing stones as well as armed clashes with Palestinian fighters. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported several injuries in Qalandia by Israeli fire.

    Across the West Bank, Israeli forces raided several towns in the Nablus, Hebron, and Jericho governorates, arresting at least 40 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club.

    Since October 7, Israel has arrested more than 7,600 Palestinians. Currently, Israel continues to hold 9,100 Palestinians in its jails, including 50 women, 200 children, and at least 3,500 detainees without charge or trial as part of its policy of administrative detention.

    With the death of Rabea Zakarneh, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank rose to 456 since October 7 and 139 since the beginning of the year.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/04/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-179-israel-kills-7-international-aid-workers-in-central-gaza-passes-law-banning-al-jazeera/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 179: Israel kills 7 international aid workers in central Gaza, passes law banning Al Jazeera The World Central Kitchen called the attack that killed seven of its aid workers “unforgivable” as Israeli forces killed 71 people across the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Israeli government voted to approve a bill banning Al Jazeera. Qassam MuaddiApril 2, 2024 Palestinians inspect the heavily damaged vehicle after the Israeli attack targeting the international and local officials with the World Central Kitchen, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, April 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Palestinians inspect the heavily damaged vehicle after the Israeli attack targeting the international and local officials with the World Central Kitchen, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza, April 2, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Casualties 32,916+ killed* and at least 75,494 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 451+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.** Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,139. 600 Israeli soldiers have been killed since October 7, and at least 3,302 injured.*** *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead. ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure. *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Key Developments Israel kills 71 Palestinians and wounds 102 in the Gaza Strip in 7 different massacres, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israeli army kills seven aid workers of British, Polish, and Australian nationalities belonging to the World Central Kitchen (WCK) in Deir al-Balah. WCK announces halt of operations in light of attack. Israeli government votes on a bill to ban Al Jazeera and other media outlets, Netanyahu accuses Al Jazeera of incitement against Israel. Gaza’s health ministry calls upon Palestinians to evacuate hospitals unless they are patients or wounded. In the West Bank, one Palestinian dies of wounds sustained during Israeli army raid in Jenin. Israeli army raids Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem, arresting seven people. Israeli forces kill 71 Palestinians, wound 102 across Gaza The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said in a statement Tuesday that Israeli forces committed seven massacres against families in the Gaza Strip since Monday, killing 71 Palestinians and wounding 102, bringing the death toll of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip since October 7 to 32,916. The ministry pointed out that medical teams haven’t been able to recover many more bodies buried under the rubble. In Gaza City, Israel’s withdrawal from al-Shifa Hospital revealed the total destruction of the medical complex and its facilities. Accounts from residents in the area describe dead bodies with tied hands, indicating potential cases of execution. In a statement, Gaza’s Government Media Office said that at least 400 Palestinians were killed and 900 were wounded during the two-week-long Israeli raid on Gaza’s largest hospital. In the central Gaza Strip, Israeli forces bombed the al-Bashir mosque, killing one child and wounding 20 more people. Israeli artillery also bombed the village of al-Mighraqa north of the Nuseirat refugee camp. In the southern Gaza Strip, two separate Israeli bombings killed 12 Palestinians in Rafah, including six people, in a bombing of the Zuurub family home. Meanwhile, Israeli artillery continued bombing the western neighborhoods of Khan Younis. Israeli strike kills seven international aid workers in Deir al-Balah Seven international aid workers were killed by an Israeli strike in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip on Monday. The aid workers belonged to the U.S.-based international humanitarian organization, the World Central Kitchen. The victims were of British, Canadian, Polish, and Australian, nationalities, and some had dual U.S. and Palestinian citizenship. Passports of the international volunteers with the World Central Kitchen killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Passports of the international volunteers with the World Central Kitchen killed in a targeted Israeli airstrike, Deir al-Balah, central Gaza. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) The World Central Kitchen said in a statement that its workers were leaving the organization’s warehouse in Deir al-Balah, moving through a “deconflicted zone” in three vehicles when the Israeli strike occurred, “despite coordinating movements” with the Israeli army. “This is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war, this is unforgivable,” said the WCK statement. The organization also announced the suspension of its operations in the Gaza Strip. The World Central Kitchen had been engaged in delivering meals to Palestinians in the besieged Gaza strip, where the UN has warned of famine induced by Israel’s blocking of humanitarian aid from entering the Strip. At least 31 people have died of starvation. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed the death of a 44-year-old Australian citizen among the team, calling the killing “completely unacceptable.” Albanese also said that his cabinet will call in Israel’s ambassador. Israeli media quoted the Israeli army as saying that it will open an investigation into the incident. Since October 7, Israeli strikes killed at least 170 international humanitarian workers in the Gaza Strip, according to Human Rights Watch. Israeli government votes bill into law banning Al Jazeera Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday to shut down the Qatari media network Al Jazeera’s operations in Palestine soon. The law, dubbed the “Al Jazeera law,” was introduced after the Israeli army claimed it found one Al Jazeera worker to be a member of Hamas, without providing more details. The law sets the ground for the Israeli war cabinet to put a ban on the Qatari media network into effect. However, according to the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom, Netanyahu and his cabinet “are not in a rush” to ban Al Jazeera from broadcasting, given Qatar’s role in mediating negotiations with Hamas. On Monday, Netanyahu accused Al Jazeera of incitement against Israel and “actively taking part in the October 7 attack.” Since October 7, Israeli strikes have killed 139 journalists in the Gaza Strip, including Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqa. Back in December, only two months into Israel’s assault on Gaza, the Committee for the Protection of Journalists said that the Strip was the most dangerous place for journalists in the world. One Palestinian killed in Jenin as Israel continues raids across the West Bank A Palestinian was pronounced dead in Jenin on Tuesday after succumbing to his wounds caused earlier by Israeli forces during a military raid on the town of Qabatiya, south of Jenin. The martyr was identified as 20-year-old Rabea Faisal Zakarna, who was wounded on Saturday by Israeli forces that raided his town. Meanwhile, Israeli forces raided the Qalandia refugee camp north of Jerusalem late on Monday, where they were confronted by local youth throwing stones as well as armed clashes with Palestinian fighters. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported several injuries in Qalandia by Israeli fire. Across the West Bank, Israeli forces raided several towns in the Nablus, Hebron, and Jericho governorates, arresting at least 40 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. Since October 7, Israel has arrested more than 7,600 Palestinians. Currently, Israel continues to hold 9,100 Palestinians in its jails, including 50 women, 200 children, and at least 3,500 detainees without charge or trial as part of its policy of administrative detention. With the death of Rabea Zakarneh, the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank rose to 456 since October 7 and 139 since the beginning of the year. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/04/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-179-israel-kills-7-international-aid-workers-in-central-gaza-passes-law-banning-al-jazeera/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 179: Israel kills 7 international aid workers in central Gaza, passes law banning Al Jazeera
    The World Central Kitchen called the attack that killed seven of its aid workers “unforgivable” as Israeli forces killed 71 people across the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the Israeli government voted to approve a bill banning Al Jazeera.
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  • The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read
    The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed.

    One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva.

    A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB).

    Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella.

    The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant.

    Historical Perspective

    These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing.

    In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others.

    The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat.

    With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations.

    As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context.

    Why May 2024?

    The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place.

    They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years..

    A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions.

    The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations.

    This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO.

    The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva.

    Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent.

    Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different.

    The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm.

    To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below.

    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement.

    REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024

    Preamble

    Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.

    This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm.

    Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.

    This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed.

    Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness.

    In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes.

    Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services,

    As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations.

    These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective.

    Chapter I. Introduction

    Article 1. Use of terms

    (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern.

    This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022.

    (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality.

    This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response.

    “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship.

    While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people.

    Article 2. Objective

    This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern.

    Article 3. Principles

    2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation

    The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary.

    3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people.

    This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda).

    Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact.

    5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics

    As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes.

    The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity.

    Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these.

    In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events.

    Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance

    2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate:

    (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential.

    (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.]

    The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations.

    The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work.

    6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article.

    Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs.

    Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

    Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?)

    Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new).

    Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery

    2. Each Party commits…[to] :

    (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations

    (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure

    (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies

    (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems

    This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking.

    (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

    This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision.

    Article 7. Health and care workforce

    This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for:

    4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment…

    Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so.

    Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews

    1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system.

    2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels.

    Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries.

    Article 9. Research and development

    Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?).

    Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production

    Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations.

    Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how

    This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc.

    Article 12. Access and benefit sharing

    This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials.

    3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]:

    (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party;

    (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs),

    Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this.

    The article then becomes yet more concerning:

    6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer:

    (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties;

    (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, …

    It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight.

    The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment.

    8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible.

    The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit.

    10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality.

    The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine.

    The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products.

    It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity.

    Article 13. Supply chain and logistics

    The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products.

    Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it).

    For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase.

    Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions

    While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing.

    Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening

    This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort.

    Article 15. Liability and compensation management

    1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms…

    2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations.

    This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does.

    This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm.

    Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk.

    These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak.

    Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation

    A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement.

    Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches

    A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries).

    However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed).

    Article 18. Communication and public awareness

    1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation…

    2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies.

    The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss.

    As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement.

    Article 19. Implementation and support

    3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005).

    As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other.

    Article 20. Sustainable financing

    1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall:

    (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);…

    This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it.

    3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005)

    This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva.

    It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking.

    Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions

    Article 21. Conference of the Parties

    1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established.

    2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation.

    This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion.

    Articles 22 – 37

    These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues.

    Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU).

    The WHO will provide the secretariat.

    Under Article 24 is noted:

    3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns.

    These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement.

    As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.”

    Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public.

    Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time.

    Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it.

    Further reading:

    WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website:

    https://inb.who.int/

    International Health Regulations Working Group website:

    https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

    On background to the WHO texts:

    Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide
    An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations
    On urgency and burden of pandemics:

    https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic

    Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy
    Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk
    Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement:

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

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    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/

    https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh March 22, 2024 Government, Society 30 minute read The World Health Organization (WHO) and its 194 Member States have been engaged for over two years in the development of two ‘instruments’ or agreements with the intent of radically changing the way pandemics and other health emergencies are managed. One, consisting of draft amendments to the existing International health Regulations (IHR), seeks to change the current IHR non-binding recommendations into requirements or binding recommendations, by having countries “undertake” to implement those given by the WHO in future declared health emergencies. It covers all ‘public health emergencies of international concern’ (PHEIC), with a single person, the WHO Director-General (DG) determining what a PHEIC is, where it extends, and when it ends. It specifies mandated vaccines, border closures, and other directives understood as lockdowns among the requirements the DG can impose. It is discussed further elsewhere and still under negotiation in Geneva. A second document, previously known as the (draft) Pandemic Treaty, then Pandemic Accord, and more recently the Pandemic Agreement, seeks to specify governance, supply chains, and various other interventions aimed at preventing, preparing for, and responding to, pandemics (pandemic prevention, preparedness and response – PPPR). It is currently being negotiated by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB). Both texts will be subject to a vote at the May 2024 World Health Assembly (WHA) in Geneva, Switzerland. These votes are intended, by those promoting these projects, to bring governance of future multi-country healthcare emergencies (or threats thereof) under the WHO umbrella. The latest version of the draft Pandemic Agreement (here forth the ‘Agreement’) was released on 7th March 2024. However, it is still being negotiated by various committees comprising representatives of Member States and other interested entities. It has been through multiple iterations over two years, and looks like it. With the teeth of the pandemic response proposals in the IHR, the Agreement looks increasingly irrelevant, or at least unsure of its purpose, picking up bits and pieces in a half-hearted way that the IHR amendments do not, or cannot, include. However, as discussed below, it is far from irrelevant. Historical Perspective These aim to increase the centralization of decision-making within the WHO as the “directing and coordinating authority.” This terminology comes from the WHO’s 1946 Constitution, developed in the aftermath of the Second World War as the world faced the outcomes of European fascism and the similar approaches widely imposed through colonialist regimes. The WHO would support emerging countries, with rapidly expanding and poorly resourced populations struggling under high disease burdens, and coordinate some areas of international support as these sovereign countries requested it. The emphasis of action was on coordinating rather than directing. In the 80 years prior to the WHO’s existence, international public health had grown within a more directive mindset, with a series of meetings by colonial and slave-owning powers from 1851 to manage pandemics, culminating in the inauguration of the Office Internationale d’Hygiene Publique in Paris in 1907, and later the League of Nations Health Office. World powers imposed health dictates on those less powerful, in other parts of the world and increasingly on their own population through the eugenics movement and similar approaches. Public health would direct, for the greater good, as a tool of those who wish to direct the lives of others. The WHO, governed by the WHA, was to be very different. Newly independent States and their former colonial masters were ostensibly on an equal footing within the WHA (one country – one vote), and the WHO’s work overall was to be an example of how human rights could dominate the way society works. The model for international public health, as exemplified in the Declaration of Alma Ata in 1978, was to be horizontal rather than vertical, with communities and countries in the driving seat. With the evolution of the WHO in recent decades from a core funding model (countries give money, the WHO decides under the WHA guidance how to spend it) to a model based on specified funding (funders, both public and increasingly private, instruct the WHO on how to spend it), the WHO has inevitably changed to become a public-private partnership required to serve the interests of funders rather than populations. As most funding comes from a few countries with major Pharma industrial bases, or private investors and corporations in the same industry, the WHO has been required to emphasize the use of pharmaceuticals and downplay evidence and knowledge where these clash (if it wants to keep all its staff funded). It is helpful to view the draft Agreement, and the IHR amendments, in this context. Why May 2024? The WHO, together with the World Bank, G20, and other institutions have been emphasizing the urgency of putting the new pandemic instruments in place earnestly, before the ‘next pandemic.’ This is based on claims that the world was unprepared for Covid-19, and that the economic and health harm would be somehow avoidable if we had these agreements in place. They emphasize, contrary to evidence that Covid-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) origins involve laboratory manipulation, that the main threats we face are natural, and that these are increasing exponentially and present an “existential” threat to humanity. The data on which the WHO, the World Bank, and G20 base these claims demonstrates the contrary, with reported natural outbreaks having increased as detection technologies have developed, but reducing in mortality rate, and in numbers, over the past 10 to 20 years.. A paper cited by the World Bank to justify urgency and quoted as suggesting a 3x increase in risk in the coming decade actually suggests that a Covid-19-like event would occur roughly every 129 years, and a Spanish-flu repetition every 292 to 877 years. Such predictions are unable to take into account the rapidly changing nature of medicine and improved sanitation and nutrition (most deaths from Spanish flu would not have occurred if modern antibiotics had been available), and so may still overestimate risk. Similarly, the WHO’s own priority disease list for new outbreaks only includes two diseases of proven natural origin that have over 1,000 historical deaths attributed to them. It is well demonstrated that the risk and expected burden of pandemics is misrepresented by major international agencies in current discussions. The urgency for May 2024 is clearly therefore inadequately supported, firstly because neither the WHO nor others have demonstrated how the harms accrued through Covid-19 would be reduced through the measures proposed, and secondly because the burden and risk is misrepresented. In this context, the state of the Agreement is clearly not where it should be as a draft international legally binding agreement intended to impose considerable financial and other obligations on States and populations. This is particularly problematic as the proposed expenditure; the proposed budget is over $31 billion per year, with over $10 billion more on other One Health activities. Much of this will have to be diverted from addressing other diseases burdens that impose far greater burden. This trade-off, essential to understand in public health policy development, has not yet been clearly addressed by the WHO. The WHO DG stated recently that the WHO does not want the power to impose vaccine mandates or lockdowns on anyone, and does not want this. This begs the question of why either of the current WHO pandemic instruments is being proposed, both as legally binding documents. The current IHR (2005) already sets out such approaches as recommendations the DG can make, and there is nothing non-mandatory that countries cannot do now without pushing new treaty-like mechanisms through a vote in Geneva. Based on the DG’s claims, they are essentially redundant, and what new non-mandatory clauses they contain, as set out below, are certainly not urgent. Clauses that are mandatory (Member States “shall”) must be considered within national decision-making contexts and appear against the WHO’s stated intent. Common sense would suggest that the Agreement, and the accompanying IHR amendments, be properly thought through before Member States commit. The WHO has already abandoned the legal requirement for a 4-month review time for the IHR amendments (Article 55.2 IHR), which are also still under negotiation just 2 months before the WHA deadline. The Agreement should also have at least such a period for States to properly consider whether to agree – treaties normally take many years to develop and negotiate and no valid arguments have been put forward as to why these should be different. The Covid-19 response resulted in an unprecedented transfer of wealth from those of lower income to the very wealthy few, completely contrary to the way in which the WHO was intended to affect human society. A considerable portion of these pandemic profits went to current sponsors of the WHO, and these same corporate entities and investors are set to further benefit from the new pandemic agreements. As written, the Pandemic Agreement risks entrenching such centralization and profit-taking, and the accompanying unprecedented restrictions on human rights and freedoms, as a public health norm. To continue with a clearly flawed agreement simply because of a previously set deadline, when no clear population benefit is articulated and no true urgency demonstrated, would therefore be a major step backward in international public health. Basic principles of proportionality, human agency, and community empowerment, essential for health and human rights outcomes, are missing or paid lip-service. The WHO clearly wishes to increase its funding and show it is ‘doing something,’ but must first articulate why the voluntary provisions of the current IHR are insufficient. It is hoped that by systematically reviewing some key clauses of the agreement here, it will become clear why a rethink of the whole approach is necessary. The full text is found below. The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic. Much of the remaining text is essentially pointless as it reiterates vague intentions to be found in other documents or activities which countries normally undertake in the course of running health services, and have no place in a focused legally-binding international agreement. REVISED Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement. 7th March, 2024 Preamble Recognizing that the World Health Organization…is the directing and coordinating authority on international health work. This is inconsistent with a recent statement by the WHO DG that the WHO has no interest or intent to direct country health responses. To reiterate it here suggests that the DG is not representing the true position regarding the Agreement. “Directing authority” is however in line with the proposed IHR Amendments (and the WHO’s Constitution), under which countries will “undertake” ahead of time to follow the DG’s recommendations (which thereby become instructions). As the HR amendments make clear, this is intended to apply even to a perceived threat rather than actual harm. Recalling the constitution of the World Health Organization…highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition. This statement recalls fundamental understandings of public health, and is of importance here as it raises the question of why the WHO did not strongly condemn prolonged school closures, workplace closures, and other impoverishing policies during the Covid-19 response. In 2019, WHO made clear that these dangers should prevent actions we now call ‘lockdowns’ from being imposed. Deeply concerned by the gross inequities at national and international levels that hindered timely and equitable access to medical and other Covid-19 pandemic-related products, and the serious shortcomings in pandemic preparedness. In terms of health equity (as distinct from commodity of ‘vaccine’ equity), inequity in the Covid-19 response was not in failing to provide a vaccine against former variants to immune, young people in low-income countries who were at far higher risk from endemic diseases, but in the disproportionate harm to them of uniformly-imposed NPIs that reduced current and future income and basic healthcare, as was noted by the WHO in 2019 Pandemic Influenza recommendations. The failure of the text to recognize this suggests that lessons from Covid-19 have not informed this draft Agreement. The WHO has not yet demonstrated how pandemic ‘preparedness,’ in the terms they use below, would have reduced impact, given that there is poor correlation between strictness or speed of response and eventual outcomes. Reiterating the need to work towards…an equitable approach to mitigate the risk that pandemics exacerbate existing inequities in access to health services, As above – in the past century, the issue of inequity has been most pronounced in pandemic response, rather than the impact of the virus itself (excluding the physiological variation in risk). Most recorded deaths from acute pandemics, since the Spanish flu, were during Covid-19, in which the virus hit mainly sick elderly, but response impacted working-age adults and children heavily and will continue to have effect, due to increased poverty and debt; reduced education and child marriage, in future generations. These have disproportionately affected lower-income people, and particularly women. The lack of recognition of this in this document, though they are recognized by the World Bank and UN agencies elsewhere, must raise real questions on whether this Agreement has been thoroughly thought through, and the process of development been sufficiently inclusive and objective. Chapter I. Introduction Article 1. Use of terms (i) “pathogen with pandemic potential” means any pathogen that has been identified to infect a human and that is: novel (not yet characterized) or known (including a variant of a known pathogen), potentially highly transmissible and/or highly virulent with the potential to cause a public health emergency of international concern. This provides a very wide scope to alter provisions. Any pathogen that can infect humans and is potentially highly transmissible or virulent, though yet uncharacterized means virtually any coronavirus, influenza virus, or a plethora of other relatively common pathogen groups. The IHR Amendments intend that the DG alone can make this call, over the advice of others, as occurred with monkeypox in 2022. (j) “persons in vulnerable situations” means individuals, groups or communities with a disproportionate increased risk of infection, severity, disease or mortality. This is a good definition – in Covid-19 context, would mean the sick elderly, and so is relevant to targeting a response. “Universal health coverage” means that all people have access to the full range of quality health services they need, when and where they need them, without financial hardship. While the general UHC concept is good, it is time a sensible (rather than patently silly) definition was adopted. Society cannot afford the full range of possible interventions and remedies for all, and clearly there is a scale of cost vs benefit that prioritizes certain ones over others. Sensible definitions make action more likely, and inaction harder to justify. One could argue that none should have the full range until all have good basic care, but clearly the earth will not support ‘the full range’ for 8 billion people. Article 2. Objective This Agreement is specifically for pandemics (a poorly defined term but essentially a pathogen that spreads rapidly across national borders). In contrast, the IHR amendments accompanying it are broader in scope – for any public health emergencies of international concern. Article 3. Principles 2. the sovereign right of States to adopt, legislate and implement legislation The amendments to the IHR require States to undertake to follow WHO instructions ahead of time, before such instruction and context are known. These two documents must be understood, as noted later in the Agreement draft, as complementary. 3. equity as the goal and outcome of pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, ensuring the absence of unfair, avoidable or remediable differences among groups of people. This definition of equity here needs clarification. In the pandemic context, the WHO emphasized commodity (vaccine) equity during the Covid-19 response. Elimination of differences implied equal access to Covid-19 vaccines in countries with large aging, obese highly vulnerable populations (e.g. the USA or Italy), and those with young populations at minimal risk and with far more pressing health priorities (e.g. Niger or Uganda). Alternatively, but equally damaging, equal access to different age groups within a country when the risk-benefit ratio is clearly greatly different. This promotes worse health outcomes by diverting resources from where they are most useful, as it ignores heterogeneity of risk. Again, an adult approach is required in international agreements, rather than feel-good sentences, if they are going to have a positive impact. 5. …a more equitable and better prepared world to prevent, respond to and recover from pandemics As with ‘3’ above, this raises a fundamental problem: What if health equity demands that some populations divert resources to childhood nutrition and endemic diseases rather than the latest pandemic, as these are likely of far higher burden to many younger but lower-income populations? This would not be equity in the definition implied here, but would clearly lead to better and more equal health outcomes. The WHO must decide whether it is about uniform action, or minimizing poor health, as these are clearly very different. They are the difference between the WHO’s commodity equity, and true health equity. Chapter II. The world together equitably: achieving equity in, for and through pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Equity in health should imply a reasonably equal chance of overcoming or avoiding preventable sickness. The vast majority of sickness and death is due to either non-communicable diseases often related to lifestyle, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus, undernutrition in childhood, and endemic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. Achieving health equity would primarily mean addressing these. In this chapter of the draft Pandemic Agreement, equity is used to imply equal access to specific health commodities, particularly vaccines, for intermittent health emergencies, although these exert a small fraction of the burden of other diseases. It is, specifically, commodity-equity, and not geared to equalizing overall health burden but to enabling centrally-coordinated homogenous responses to unusual events. Article 4. Pandemic prevention and surveillance 2. The Parties shall undertake to cooperate: (b) in support of…initiatives aimed at preventing pandemics, in particular those that improve surveillance, early warning and risk assessment; .…and identify settings and activities presenting a risk of emergence and re-emergence of pathogens with pandemic potential. (c-h) [Paragraphs on water and sanitation, infection control, strengthening of biosafety, surveillance and prevention of vector-born diseases, and addressing antimicrobial resistance.] The WHO intends the Agreement to have force under international law. Therefore, countries are undertaking to put themselves under force of international law in regards to complying with the agreement’s stipulations. The provisions under this long article mostly cover general health stuff that countries try to do anyway. The difference will be that countries will be assessed on progress. Assessment can be fine if in context, less fine if it consists of entitled ‘experts’ from wealthy countries with little local knowledge or context. Perhaps such compliance is best left to national authorities, who are more in use with local needs and priorities. The justification for the international bureaucracy being built to support this, while fun for those involved, is unclear and will divert resources from actual health work. 6. The Conference of the Parties may adopt, as necessary, guidelines, recommendations and standards, including in relation to pandemic prevention capacities, to support the implementation of this Article. Here and later, the COP is invoked as a vehicle to decide on what will actually be done. The rules are explained later (Articles 21-23). While allowing more time is sensible, it begs the question of why it is not better to wait and discuss what is needed in the current INB process, before committing to a legally-binding agreement. This current article says nothing not already covered by the IHR2005 or other ongoing programs. Article 5. One Health approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response Nothing specific or new in this article. It seems redundant (it is advocating a holistic approach mentioned elsewhere) and so presumably is just to get the term ‘One Health’ into the agreement. (One could ask, why bother?) Some mainstream definitions of One Health (e.g. Lancet) consider that it means non-human species are on a par with humans in terms of rights and importance. If this is meant here, clearly most Member States would disagree. So we may assume that it is just words to keep someone happy (a little childish in an international document, but the term ‘One Health’ has been trending, like ‘equity,’ as if the concept of holistic approaches to public health were new). Article 6. Preparedness, health system resilience and recovery 2. Each Party commits…[to] : (a) routine and essential health services during pandemics with a focus on primary health care, routine immunization and mental health care, and with particular attention to persons in vulnerable situations (b) developing, strengthening and maintaining health infrastructure (c) developing post-pandemic health system recovery strategies (d) developing, strengthening and maintaining: health information systems This is good, and (a) seems to require avoidance of lockdowns (which inevitably cause the harms listed). Unfortunately other WHO documents lead one to assume this is not the intent…It does appear therefore that this is simply another list of fairly non-specific feel-good measures that have no useful place in a new legally-binding agreement, and which most countries are already undertaking. (e) promoting the use of social and behavioural sciences, risk communication and community engagement for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This requires clarification, as the use of behavioral science during the Covid-19 response involved deliberate inducement of fear to promote behaviors that people would not otherwise follow (e.g. Spi-B). It is essential here that the document clarifies how behavioral science should be used ethically in healthcare. Otherwise, this is also a quite meaningless provision. Article 7. Health and care workforce This long Article discusses health workforce, training, retention, non-discrimination, stigma, bias, adequate remuneration, and other standard provisions for workplaces. It is unclear why it is included in a legally binding pandemic agreement, except for: 4. [The Parties]…shall invest in establishing, sustaining, coordinating and mobilizing a skilled and trained multidisciplinary global public health emergency workforce…Parties having established emergency health teams should inform WHO thereof and make best efforts to respond to requests for deployment… Emergency health teams established (within capacity etc.) – are something countries already do, when they have capacity. There is no reason to have this as a legally-binding instrument, and clearly no urgency to do so. Article 8. Preparedness monitoring and functional reviews 1. The Parties shall, building on existing and relevant tools, develop and implement an inclusive, transparent, effective and efficient pandemic prevention, preparedness and response monitoring and evaluation system. 2. Each Party shall assess, every five years, with technical support from the WHO Secretariat upon request, the functioning and readiness of, and gaps in, its pandemic prevention, preparedness and response capacity, based on the relevant tools and guidelines developed by WHO in partnership with relevant organizations at international, regional and sub-regional levels. Note that this is being required of countries that are already struggling to implement monitoring systems for major endemic diseases, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV, and nutritional deficiencies. They will be legally bound to divert resources to pandemic prevention. While there is some overlap, it will inevitably divert resources from currently underfunded programs for diseases of far higher local burdens, and so (not theoretically, but inevitably) raise mortality. Poor countries are being required to put resources into problems deemed significant by richer countries. Article 9. Research and development Various general provisions about undertaking background research that countries are generally doing anyway, but with an ’emerging disease’ slant. Again, the INB fails to justify why this diversion of resources from researching greater disease burdens should occur in all countries (why not just those with excess resources?). Article 10. Sustainable and geographically diversified production Mostly non-binding but suggested cooperation on making pandemic-related products available, including support for manufacturing in “inter-pandemic times” (a fascinating rendering of ‘normal’), when they would only be viable through subsidies. Much of this is probably unimplementable, as it would not be practical to maintain facilities in most or all countries on stand-by for rare events, at cost of resources otherwise useful for other priorities. The desire to increase production in ‘developing’ countries will face major barriers and costs in terms of maintaining quality of production, particularly as many products will have limited use outside of rare outbreak situations. Article 11. Transfer of technology and know-how This article, always problematic for large pharmaceutical corporations sponsoring much WHO outbreak activities, is now watered down to weak requirements to ‘consider,’ promote,’ provide, within capabilities’ etc. Article 12. Access and benefit sharing This Article is intended to establish the WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit-Sharing System (PABS System). PABS is intended to “ensure rapid, systematic and timely access to biological materials of pathogens with pandemic potential and the genetic sequence data.” This system is of potential high relevance and needs to be interpreted in the context that SARS-CoV-2, the pathogen causing the recent Covid-19 outbreak, was highly likely to have escaped from a laboratory. PABS is intended to expand the laboratory storage, transport, and handling of such viruses, under the oversight of the WHO, an organization outside of national jurisdiction with no significant direct experience in handling biological materials. 3. When a Party has access to a pathogen [it shall]: (a) share with WHO any pathogen sequence information as soon as it is available to the Party; (b) as soon as biological materials are available to the Party, provide the materials to one or more laboratories and/or biorepositories participating in WHO-coordinated laboratory networks (CLNs), Subsequent clauses state that benefits will be shared, and seek to prevent recipient laboratories from patenting materials received from other countries. This has been a major concern of low-and middle-income countries previously, who perceive that institutions in wealthy countries patent and benefit from materials derived from less-wealthy populations. It remains to be seen whether provisions here will be sufficient to address this. The article then becomes yet more concerning: 6. WHO shall conclude legally binding standard PABS contracts with manufacturers to provide the following, taking into account the size, nature and capacities of the manufacturer: (a) annual monetary contributions to support the PABS System and relevant capacities in countries; the determination of the annual amount, use, and approach for monitoring and accountability, shall be finalized by the Parties; (b) real-time contributions of relevant diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines produced by the manufacturer, 10% free of charge and 10% at not-for-profit prices during public health emergencies of international concern or pandemics, … It is clearly intended that the WHO becomes directly involved in setting up legally binding manufacturing contracts, despite the WHO being outside of national jurisdictional oversight, within the territories of Member States. The PABS system, and therefore its staff and dependent entities, are also to be supported in part by funds from the manufacturers whom they are supposed to be managing. The income of the organization will be dependent on maintaining positive relationships with these private entities in a similar way in which many national regulatory agencies are dependent upon funds from pharmaceutical companies whom their staff ostensibly regulate. In this case, the regulator will be even further removed from public oversight. The clause on 10% (why 10?) products being free of charge, and similar at cost, while ensuring lower-priced commodities irrespective of actual need (the outbreak may be confined to wealthy countries). The same entity, the WHO, will determine whether the triggering emergency exists, determine the response, and manage the contracts to provide the commodities, without direct jurisdictional oversight regarding the potential for corruption or conflict of interest. It is a remarkable system to suggest, irrespective of political or regulatory environment. 8. The Parties shall cooperate…public financing of research and development, prepurchase agreements, or regulatory procedures, to encourage and facilitate as many manufacturers as possible to enter into standard PABS contracts as early as possible. The article envisions that public funding will be used to build the process, ensuring essentially no-risk private profit. 10. To support operationalization of the PABS System, WHO shall…make such contracts public, while respecting commercial confidentiality. The public may know whom contracts are made with, but not all details of the contracts. There will therefore be no independent oversight of the clauses agreed between the WHO, a body outside of national jurisdiction and dependent of commercial companies for funding some of its work and salaries, and these same companies, on ‘needs’ that the WHO itself will have sole authority, under the proposed amendments to the IHR, to determine. The Article further states that the WHO shall use its own product regulatory system (prequalification) and Emergency Use Listing Procedure to open and stimulate markets for the manufacturers of these products. It is doubtful that any national government could make such an overall agreement, yet in May 2024 they will be voting to provide this to what is essentially a foreign, and partly privately financed, entity. Article 13. Supply chain and logistics The WHO will become convenor of a ‘Global Supply Chain and Logistics Network’ for commercially-produced products, to be supplied under WHO contracts when and where the WHO determines, whilst also having the role of ensuring safety of such products. Having mutual support coordinated between countries is good. Having this run by an organization that is significantly funded directly by those gaining from the sale of these same commodities seems reckless and counterintuitive. Few countries would allow this (or at least plan for it). For this to occur safely, the WHO would logically have to forgo all private investment, and greatly restrict national specified funding contributions. Otherwise, the conflicts of interest involved would destroy confidence in the system. There is no suggestion of such divestment from the WHO, but rather, as in Article 12, private sector dependency, directly tied to contracts, will increase. Article 13bis: National procurement- and distribution-related provisions While suffering the same (perhaps unavoidable) issues regarding commercial confidentiality, this alternate Article 13 seems far more appropriate, keeping commercial issues under national jurisdiction and avoiding the obvious conflict of interests that underpin funding for WHO activities and staffing. Article 14. Regulatory systems strengthening This entire Article reflects initiatives and programs already in place. Nothing here appears likely to add to current effort. Article 15. Liability and compensation management 1. Each Party shall consider developing, as necessary and in accordance with applicable law, national strategies for managing liability in its territory related to pandemic vaccines…no-fault compensation mechanisms… 2. The Parties…shall develop recommendations for the establishment and implementation of national, regional and/or global no-fault compensation mechanisms and strategies for managing liability during pandemic emergencies, including with regard to individuals that are in a humanitarian setting or vulnerable situations. This is quite remarkable, but also reflects some national legislation, in removing any fault or liability specifically from vaccine manufacturers, for harms done in pushing out vaccines to the public. During the Covid-19 response, genetic therapeutics being developed by BioNtech and Moderna were reclassified as vaccines, on the basis that an immune response is stimulated after they have modified intracellular biochemical pathways as a medicine normally does. This enabled specific trials normally required for carcinogenicity and teratogenicity to be bypassed, despite raised fetal abnormality rates in animal trials. It will enable the CEPI 100-day vaccine program, supported with private funding to support private mRNA vaccine manufacturers, to proceed without any risk to the manufacturer should there be subsequent public harm. Together with an earlier provision on public funding of research and manufacturing readiness, and the removal of former wording requiring intellectual property sharing in Article 11, this ensures vaccine manufacturers and their investors make profit in effective absence of risk. These entities are currently heavily invested in support for WHO, and were strongly aligned with the introduction of newly restrictive outbreak responses that emphasized and sometimes mandated their products during the Covid-19 outbreak. Article 16. International collaboration and cooperation A somewhat pointless article. It suggests that countries cooperate with each other and the WHO to implement the other agreements in the Agreement. Article 17. Whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches A list of essentially motherhood provisions related to planning for a pandemic. However, countries will legally be required to maintain a ‘national coordination multisectoral body’ for PPPR. This will essentially be an added burden on budgets, and inevitably divert further resources from other priorities. Perhaps just strengthening current infectious disease and nutritional programs would be more impactful. (Nowhere in this Agreement is nutrition discussed (essential for resilience to pathogens) and minimal wording is included on sanitation and clean water (other major reasons for reduction in infectious disease mortality over past centuries). However, the ‘community ownership’ wording is interesting (“empower and enable community ownership of, and contribution to, community readiness for and resilience [for PPPR]”), as this directly contradicts much of the rest of the Agreement, including the centralization of control under the Conference of Parties, requirements for countries to allocate resources to pandemic preparedness over other community priorities, and the idea of inspecting and assessing adherence to the centralized requirements of the Agreement. Either much of the rest of the Agreement is redundant, or this wording is purely for appearance and not to be followed (and therefore should be removed). Article 18. Communication and public awareness 1. Each Party shall promote timely access to credible and evidence-based information …with the aim of countering and addressing misinformation or disinformation… 2. The Parties shall, as appropriate, promote and/or conduct research and inform policies on factors that hinder or strengthen adherence to public health and social measures in a pandemic, as well as trust in science and public health institutions and agencies. The key word is as appropriate, given that many agencies, including the WHO, have overseen or aided policies during the Covid-19 response that have greatly increased poverty, child marriage, teenage pregnancy, and education loss. As the WHO has been shown to be significantly misrepresenting pandemic risk in the process of advocating for this Agreement and related instruments, its own communications would also fall outside the provision here related to evidence-based information, and fall within normal understandings of misinformation. It could not therefore be an arbiter of correctness of information here, so the Article is not implementable. Rewritten to recommend accurate evidence-based information being promoted, it would make good sense, but this is not an issue requiring a legally binding international agreement. Article 19. Implementation and support 3. The WHO Secretariat…organize the technical and financial assistance necessary to address such gaps and needs in implementing the commitments agreed upon under the Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005). As the WHO is dependent on donor support, its ability to address gaps in funding within Member States is clearly not something it can guarantee. The purpose of this article is unclear, repeating in paragraphs 1 and 2 the earlier intent for countries to generally support each other. Article 20. Sustainable financing 1. The Parties commit to working together…In this regard, each Party, within the means and resources at its disposal, shall: (a) prioritize and maintain or increase, as necessary, domestic funding for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, without undermining other domestic public health priorities including for: (i) strengthening and sustaining capacities for the prevention, preparedness and response to health emergencies and pandemics, in particular the core capacities of the International Health Regulations (2005);… This is silly wording, as countries obviously have to prioritize within budgets, so that moving funds to one area means removing from another. The essence of public health policy is weighing and making such decisions; this reality seems to be ignored here through wishful thinking. (a) is clearly redundant, as the IHR (2005) already exists and countries have agreed to support it. 3. A Coordinating Financial Mechanism (the “Mechanism”) is hereby established to support the implementation of both the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations (2005) This will be in parallel to the Pandemic Fund recently commenced by the World Bank – an issue not lost on INB delegates and so likely to change here in the final version. It will also be additive to the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and other health financing mechanisms, and so require another parallel international bureaucracy, presumably based in Geneva. It is intended to have its own capacity to “conduct relevant analyses on needs and gaps, in addition to tracking cooperation efforts,” so it will not be a small undertaking. Chapter III. Institutional and final provisions Article 21. Conference of the Parties 1. A Conference of the Parties is hereby established. 2. The Conference of the Parties shall keep under regular review, every three years, the implementation of the WHO Pandemic Agreement and take the decisions necessary to promote its effective implementation. This sets up the governing body to oversee this Agreement (another body requiring a secretariat and support). It is intended to meet within a year of the Agreement coming into force, and then set its own rules on meeting thereafter. It is likely that many provisions outlined in this draft of the Agreement will be deferred to the COP for further discussion. Articles 22 – 37 These articles cover the functioning of the Conference of Parties (COP) and various administrative issues. Of note, ‘block votes’ will be allowed from regional bodies (e.g. the EU). The WHO will provide the secretariat. Under Article 24 is noted: 3. Nothing in the WHO Pandemic Agreement shall be interpreted as providing the Secretariat of the World Health Organization, including the WHO Director-General, any authority to direct, order, alter or otherwise prescribe the domestic laws or policies of any Party, or to mandate or otherwise impose any requirements that Parties take specific actions, such as ban or accept travellers, impose vaccination mandates or therapeutic or diagnostic measures, or implement lockdowns. These provisions are explicitly stated in the proposed amendments to the IHR, to be considered alongside this agreement. Article 26 notes that the IHR is to be interpreted as compatible, thereby confirming that the IHR provisions including border closures and limits on freedom of movement, mandated vaccination, and other lockdown measures are not negated by this statement. As Article 26 states: “The Parties recognize that the WHO Pandemic Agreement and the International Health Regulations should be interpreted so as to be compatible.” Some would consider this subterfuge – The Director-General recently labeled as liars those who claimed the Agreement included these powers, whilst failing to acknowledge the accompanying IHR amendments. The WHO could do better in avoiding misleading messaging, especially when this involves denigration of the public. Article 32 (Withdrawal) requires that, once adopted, Parties cannot withdraw for a total of 3 years (giving notice after a minimum of 2 years). Financial obligations undertaken under the agreement continue beyond that time. Finally, the Agreement will come into force, assuming a two-thirds majority in the WHA is achieved (Article 19, WHO Constitution), 30 days after the fortieth country has ratified it. Further reading: WHO Pandemic Agreement Intergovernmental Negotiating Board website: https://inb.who.int/ International Health Regulations Working Group website: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html On background to the WHO texts: Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide An Unofficial Q&A on International Health Regulations On urgency and burden of pandemics: https://essl.leeds.ac.uk/downloads/download/228/rational-policy-over-panic Disease X and Davos: This is Not the Way to Evaluate and Formulate Public Health Policy Before Preparing for Pandemics, We Need Better Evidence of Risk Revised Draft of the negotiating text of the WHO Pandemic Agreement: Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide/ https://www.minds.com/donshafi911/blog/the-who-pandemic-agreement-a-guide-1621719398509187077
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    The WHO Pandemic Agreement: A Guide ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The commentary below concentrates on selected draft provisions of the latest publicly available version of the draft agreement that seem to be unclear or potentially problematic.
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  • More Proof mRNA Shots Edit Human Genome
    New Study Again Shows LINE-1 "Junk DNA" Does The Dirty Work

    Dr. Syed Haider
    Could the mRNA shots edit germline DNA?
    Honest scientists have always been worried about retrointegration of foreign mRNA from “vaccine” shots into our own cellular DNA.

    This fear should have been allayed by rigorous genotoxicity safety studies before the mRNA shots where rolled out, but those studies were waived by the Big Pharma controlled FDA (with the DoD behind the scenes pulling all the strings).

    Previous research showed that this could theoretically occur in a human liver cancer cell line inside a controlled laboratory setting utilizing our own bodies reverse transcriptase enzymes that are upregulated in cancer cells.

    Naysayers still argued that this situation was impossible or at least extremely unlikely to occur in our bodies.

    Unfortunately there is now further proof that this really does occur, either right away after vaccination, or if not, then it’s even more likely to occur once a vaccinated individual catches COVID-19, as long as vaccinal mRNA remains present in the body (so far we know it remains in circulation for weeks and in the lymph nodes for months - likely far longer, since all the studies had to be stopped, presumably due to lack of funding, or out of fear of creating unpublishable papers since the news wasn’t looking good).

    Thank you for reading Dr. Syed Haider. This post is public so feel free to share it.

    Share

    A new paper by Zhang et al, just released on Feb 13, 2023 proves that at artificially high concentrations in a lab setting, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can retrointegrate into our genome.

    Thankfully during natural infection such high levels of viral RNA do not typically occur, but … (you knew there had to be a “but”)

    … such high levels are induced by mRNA vaccination.

    So what the paper may actually prove in the roundabout way of most modern research (required for publication to ever happen in todays politically charged Big Pharma controlled publishing environment) is that the mRNA in the shots is in fact likely to retrointegrate into our cellular DNA.

    To dig into the details we need to start with a quick basic bio refresher:

    Understanding Genetics
    Nearly every cell in our bodies carries a full copy of our genetic code, or genome (the exceptions are red blood cells that have no genome, and sperm and egg cells that have half a genome since they are meant to combine with half of someone else's genome).

    Our genome is made up of individual genes encoded by DNA and bundled together into 46 chromosomes that are stored in a central compartment of our cells called the nucleus.

    In order to “read" the DNA code and convert it into the structure that makes up our bodies, it is first translated by a “reader” protein that writes it out into a new free floating molecule called mRNA for messenger RNA (the mRNA shots carry this messenger RNA, not modified RNA as some people think).

    The mRNA, unlike the DNA is not stuck inside the chromosome and it can exit the nucleus, going into the larger compartment called the cytoplasm of the cell, where its message is “read” and translated into an amino acid sequence that folds itself into a protein (either a body protein, or in the case of the shots the spike protein, or in the case of an RNA virus infection like SARS-CoV-2, all the proteins of the virus).

    Now going back to the nucleus: some of the individual DNA encoded genes can move around within their chromosomes and have therefore been described as "jumping genes" or technically speaking: transposable elements (TEs).

    Jumping genes!
    Some of these jumping genes (Class 1 TEs) use a copy and paste mechanism and others (Class 2 TEs), like the one in the cartoon depiction above, use a cut and paste mechanism.

    The Class 1 TEs (AKA retrotransposons) that use the copy and paste mechanism do so by translating their DNA into RNA and then converting the RNA back into DNA and inserting it somewhere else in the genome.

    The Class 1 TEs or retrotransposons, include within themselves the genetic code necessary to create their own protein enzyme to convert the DNA back into RNA, which is termed reverse transcriptase.

    Fun fact: retroviruses like HIV can be considered a special subtype of retrotransposon that can not only reinsert inside the same cell, but also travel to other cells “infecting” them and reverse transcribing into their genomes.

    In humans the only active jumping genes are from CLASS 1 TEs/retrotransposons and are called LINE-1 retrotransposons (LINE stands for Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements).

    LINE-1 retrotransposons were once considered to be junk DNA, they are usually inactivated, but can be turned on in aging cells, cancer cells, virus infected cells and in general in any cell subjected to significant stress.

    Junk DNA, which makes up 98.5% of our genome, is still little understood. It may help regulate the activity of the other 1.5% of the genome that does code for proteins, is likely involved in genome evolution, and has been implicated in disease states like cancer, autism and dozens of genetic diseases.

    So, what’s been shown in this new paper by Zhang et al, is that a lab clone of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, when present in very high levels, does turn on LINE-1, which means it also turns on the LINE-1 reverse transcriptase enzyme, which it then makes use of to reverse transcribe itself into our DNA.

    But even worse: genome sequencing found the viral genetic code transcribed into our DNA not only in cells where LINE-1 was actively turned on, or overexpressed above baseline, but even in cells where it was not.

    Is Sangamo's Gene-Editing Approach a Bust? | The Motley Fool
    Then, instead of studying the LNPs and spike protein RNA used in the shots, the researchers (who valued their careers) used a different mechanism of delivering low levels of nucleocapsid RNA into the cells in the lab to see if they also up regulated LINE-1 expression and were integrated into the cellular DNA.

    Turns out this handicapped experiment did not up regulate LINE-1, or get taken up in detectable quantities by healthy cells, though it did lead to genomic uptake in cells that already had LINE-1 upregulated - which again happens in aging cells, cancer cells, virus infected cells or simply in cells under stress (perhaps from LNP and spike protein induced inflammation?).

    The study authors addressed the discrepancy in retrointegration between the viral clone and their handicapped version of an mRNA shot by theorizing there were:

    "...several possible explanations for the differences in the levels of retrotransposition in infected and transfected cells: (i) The relative abundance of viral RNA is almost 2 orders of magnitude higher in infected than in transfected cells which would increase the probability of association with LINE1 proteins; (ii) virus infection, but not viral mRNA transfection, can induce endogenous LINE1 expression; (iii) multiple factors during SARS-CoV-2 infection can inhibit the antiviral/anti-retrotransposition function of stress granules (48–53), which could increase retrotransposition.”

    The first theory is the most concerning.

    Based on what we know from a 2020 study by Xie et al that showed the very high levels of intracellular viral RNA achieved by infectious clones, we can extrapolate that in the current study by Zhang et al the concentration of mRNA achieved by the SARS-CoV-2 viral clone was likely about 1000X greater than the low levels typically found during a natural infection.

    In fact the levels of mRNA in each cell achieved by the viral clone in the current study are actually far more likely to be achieved by transfection into cells of LNPs in the shots carrying spike protein mRNA than they are during a natural infection.

    Life finds a way. - Reaction GIFs
    So if the authors first theory is correct, that the difference in retrointegration rates simply depends on the intracellular concentration of foreign RNA, then retrointegration is very likely to occur due to exposure to mRNA in the shots, and it is likely to dramatically increase in case someone who has received the shot later becomes infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus - since we know it upregulates LINE-1 expression, or if they are put under other stressors including the development of cancer, or by the stress of long COVID, chronic vaccine injury, autoimmune disease, autonomic dysfunction, POTS, MCAS, etc - all of which are also sadly enough triggered by the shot.

    This is less likely to happen in germ cell DNA - our sperm and egg cells - and lets hope it doesn’t happen, since we already know that the shots likely do transmit altered immunity from mother to child, if they also pass on the mRNA coding the spike protein itself then huge swaths of humanity may be forever genetically altered.

    Heres hoping the label “junk DNA” actually applies in this case…

    But, if you’ve been vaccinated: don’t worry!

    At mygotodoc we routinely reverse vaccine injuries and sincerely believe every disease has a cure.

    Fear is more likely to kill you than the shot (but do stop getting the boosters), and I mean that literally: fear destroys the immune system.

    A healthy immune system can keep any illness in check even if from a retrointegrated virus or viral mRNA fragment.

    There are a lot of unknowns, but don’t let that scare you. Take your health into your own hands and start making positive changes today.

    https://blog.mygotodoc.com/p/more-proof-mrna-shots-edit-human


    https://telegra.ph/More-Proof-mRNA-Shots-Edit-Human-Genome-09-17-2
    More Proof mRNA Shots Edit Human Genome New Study Again Shows LINE-1 "Junk DNA" Does The Dirty Work Dr. Syed Haider Could the mRNA shots edit germline DNA? Honest scientists have always been worried about retrointegration of foreign mRNA from “vaccine” shots into our own cellular DNA. This fear should have been allayed by rigorous genotoxicity safety studies before the mRNA shots where rolled out, but those studies were waived by the Big Pharma controlled FDA (with the DoD behind the scenes pulling all the strings). Previous research showed that this could theoretically occur in a human liver cancer cell line inside a controlled laboratory setting utilizing our own bodies reverse transcriptase enzymes that are upregulated in cancer cells. Naysayers still argued that this situation was impossible or at least extremely unlikely to occur in our bodies. Unfortunately there is now further proof that this really does occur, either right away after vaccination, or if not, then it’s even more likely to occur once a vaccinated individual catches COVID-19, as long as vaccinal mRNA remains present in the body (so far we know it remains in circulation for weeks and in the lymph nodes for months - likely far longer, since all the studies had to be stopped, presumably due to lack of funding, or out of fear of creating unpublishable papers since the news wasn’t looking good). Thank you for reading Dr. Syed Haider. This post is public so feel free to share it. Share A new paper by Zhang et al, just released on Feb 13, 2023 proves that at artificially high concentrations in a lab setting, the SARS-CoV-2 virus can retrointegrate into our genome. Thankfully during natural infection such high levels of viral RNA do not typically occur, but … (you knew there had to be a “but”) … such high levels are induced by mRNA vaccination. So what the paper may actually prove in the roundabout way of most modern research (required for publication to ever happen in todays politically charged Big Pharma controlled publishing environment) is that the mRNA in the shots is in fact likely to retrointegrate into our cellular DNA. To dig into the details we need to start with a quick basic bio refresher: Understanding Genetics Nearly every cell in our bodies carries a full copy of our genetic code, or genome (the exceptions are red blood cells that have no genome, and sperm and egg cells that have half a genome since they are meant to combine with half of someone else's genome). Our genome is made up of individual genes encoded by DNA and bundled together into 46 chromosomes that are stored in a central compartment of our cells called the nucleus. In order to “read" the DNA code and convert it into the structure that makes up our bodies, it is first translated by a “reader” protein that writes it out into a new free floating molecule called mRNA for messenger RNA (the mRNA shots carry this messenger RNA, not modified RNA as some people think). The mRNA, unlike the DNA is not stuck inside the chromosome and it can exit the nucleus, going into the larger compartment called the cytoplasm of the cell, where its message is “read” and translated into an amino acid sequence that folds itself into a protein (either a body protein, or in the case of the shots the spike protein, or in the case of an RNA virus infection like SARS-CoV-2, all the proteins of the virus). Now going back to the nucleus: some of the individual DNA encoded genes can move around within their chromosomes and have therefore been described as "jumping genes" or technically speaking: transposable elements (TEs). Jumping genes! Some of these jumping genes (Class 1 TEs) use a copy and paste mechanism and others (Class 2 TEs), like the one in the cartoon depiction above, use a cut and paste mechanism. The Class 1 TEs (AKA retrotransposons) that use the copy and paste mechanism do so by translating their DNA into RNA and then converting the RNA back into DNA and inserting it somewhere else in the genome. The Class 1 TEs or retrotransposons, include within themselves the genetic code necessary to create their own protein enzyme to convert the DNA back into RNA, which is termed reverse transcriptase. Fun fact: retroviruses like HIV can be considered a special subtype of retrotransposon that can not only reinsert inside the same cell, but also travel to other cells “infecting” them and reverse transcribing into their genomes. In humans the only active jumping genes are from CLASS 1 TEs/retrotransposons and are called LINE-1 retrotransposons (LINE stands for Long Interspersed Nuclear Elements). LINE-1 retrotransposons were once considered to be junk DNA, they are usually inactivated, but can be turned on in aging cells, cancer cells, virus infected cells and in general in any cell subjected to significant stress. Junk DNA, which makes up 98.5% of our genome, is still little understood. It may help regulate the activity of the other 1.5% of the genome that does code for proteins, is likely involved in genome evolution, and has been implicated in disease states like cancer, autism and dozens of genetic diseases. So, what’s been shown in this new paper by Zhang et al, is that a lab clone of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, when present in very high levels, does turn on LINE-1, which means it also turns on the LINE-1 reverse transcriptase enzyme, which it then makes use of to reverse transcribe itself into our DNA. But even worse: genome sequencing found the viral genetic code transcribed into our DNA not only in cells where LINE-1 was actively turned on, or overexpressed above baseline, but even in cells where it was not. Is Sangamo's Gene-Editing Approach a Bust? | The Motley Fool Then, instead of studying the LNPs and spike protein RNA used in the shots, the researchers (who valued their careers) used a different mechanism of delivering low levels of nucleocapsid RNA into the cells in the lab to see if they also up regulated LINE-1 expression and were integrated into the cellular DNA. Turns out this handicapped experiment did not up regulate LINE-1, or get taken up in detectable quantities by healthy cells, though it did lead to genomic uptake in cells that already had LINE-1 upregulated - which again happens in aging cells, cancer cells, virus infected cells or simply in cells under stress (perhaps from LNP and spike protein induced inflammation?). The study authors addressed the discrepancy in retrointegration between the viral clone and their handicapped version of an mRNA shot by theorizing there were: "...several possible explanations for the differences in the levels of retrotransposition in infected and transfected cells: (i) The relative abundance of viral RNA is almost 2 orders of magnitude higher in infected than in transfected cells which would increase the probability of association with LINE1 proteins; (ii) virus infection, but not viral mRNA transfection, can induce endogenous LINE1 expression; (iii) multiple factors during SARS-CoV-2 infection can inhibit the antiviral/anti-retrotransposition function of stress granules (48–53), which could increase retrotransposition.” The first theory is the most concerning. Based on what we know from a 2020 study by Xie et al that showed the very high levels of intracellular viral RNA achieved by infectious clones, we can extrapolate that in the current study by Zhang et al the concentration of mRNA achieved by the SARS-CoV-2 viral clone was likely about 1000X greater than the low levels typically found during a natural infection. In fact the levels of mRNA in each cell achieved by the viral clone in the current study are actually far more likely to be achieved by transfection into cells of LNPs in the shots carrying spike protein mRNA than they are during a natural infection. Life finds a way. - Reaction GIFs So if the authors first theory is correct, that the difference in retrointegration rates simply depends on the intracellular concentration of foreign RNA, then retrointegration is very likely to occur due to exposure to mRNA in the shots, and it is likely to dramatically increase in case someone who has received the shot later becomes infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus - since we know it upregulates LINE-1 expression, or if they are put under other stressors including the development of cancer, or by the stress of long COVID, chronic vaccine injury, autoimmune disease, autonomic dysfunction, POTS, MCAS, etc - all of which are also sadly enough triggered by the shot. This is less likely to happen in germ cell DNA - our sperm and egg cells - and lets hope it doesn’t happen, since we already know that the shots likely do transmit altered immunity from mother to child, if they also pass on the mRNA coding the spike protein itself then huge swaths of humanity may be forever genetically altered. Heres hoping the label “junk DNA” actually applies in this case… But, if you’ve been vaccinated: don’t worry! At mygotodoc we routinely reverse vaccine injuries and sincerely believe every disease has a cure. Fear is more likely to kill you than the shot (but do stop getting the boosters), and I mean that literally: fear destroys the immune system. A healthy immune system can keep any illness in check even if from a retrointegrated virus or viral mRNA fragment. There are a lot of unknowns, but don’t let that scare you. Take your health into your own hands and start making positive changes today. https://blog.mygotodoc.com/p/more-proof-mrna-shots-edit-human https://telegra.ph/More-Proof-mRNA-Shots-Edit-Human-Genome-09-17-2
    BLOG.MYGOTODOC.COM
    More Proof mRNA Shots Edit Human Genome
    New Study Again Shows LINE-1 "Junk DNA" Does The Dirty Work
    0 Comments 0 Shares 17476 Views
  • Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty?
    By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read
    The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states:

    No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO,

    referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to.

    A rational examination of the texts in question shows that:

    The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact.
    The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied.
    The proposals are intended to be binding under international law.
    Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics.

    The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications.

    The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here.

    The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making

    Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty.

    The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18):

    require medical examinations;
    review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    require vaccination or other prophylaxis;
    place suspect persons under public health observation;
    implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons;
    implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons;
    implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons;
    refuse entry of suspect and affected persons;
    refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and
    implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas.
    These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

    Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9).
    No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19).
    Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20).
    The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21).
    Everyone has the right to work (Article 23).
    Everyone has the right to education (Article 26).
    Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28).
    Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30).
    These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva.

    The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on

    Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1),
    Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A).
    States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.

    As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements.

    States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42):
    Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures.

    Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it.

    Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty.

    All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.”

    It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction.

    If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span.

    Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using.

    The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty

    The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12):

    In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers.

    And Article 20 (1):

    …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source.

    The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b).

    Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary.

    In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens.

    As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18):

    …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation…

    As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO.

    The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended.

    It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool).

    Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding?

    Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates.

    The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022:

    We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…,

    repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration:

    …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024,

    and by the Council of the European Union:

    A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.

    The IHR already has standing under international law.

    While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect.

    The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain.

    The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty

    The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies.

    If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent.

    The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign.

    The Need for Clarification

    The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs.

    No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day).

    So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function.

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Authors

    David Bell
    David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA.

    View all posts
    Thi Thuy Van Dinh
    Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
    Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty? By David Bell, Thi Thuy Van Dinh December 11, 2023 Government, Law, Public Health 15 minute read The Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) states: No country will cede any sovereignty to WHO, referring to the WHO’s new pandemic agreement and proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), currently being negotiated. His statements are clear and unequivocal, and wholly inconsistent with the texts he is referring to. A rational examination of the texts in question shows that: The documents propose a transfer of decision-making power to the WHO regarding basic aspects of societal function, which countries undertake to enact. The WHO DG will have sole authority to decide when and where they are applied. The proposals are intended to be binding under international law. Continued claims that sovereignty is not lost, echoed by politicians and media, therefore raise important questions concerning motivations, competence, and ethics. The intent of the texts is a transfer of decision-making currently vested in Nations and individuals to the WHO, when its DG decides that there is a threat of a significant disease outbreak or other health emergency likely to cross multiple national borders. It is unusual for Nations to undertake to follow external entities regarding the basic rights and healthcare of their citizens, more so when this has major economic and geopolitical implications. The question of whether sovereignty is indeed being transferred, and the legal status of such an agreement, is therefore of vital importance, particularly to the legislators of democratic States. They have an absolute duty to be sure of their ground. We systematically examine that ground here. The Proposed IHR Amendments and Sovereignty in Health Decision-Making Amending the 2005 IHR may be a straightforward way to quickly deploy and enforce “new normal” health control measures. The current text applies to virtually the entire global population, counting 196 States Parties including all 194 WHO Member States. Approval may or may not require a formal vote of the World Health Assembly (WHA), as the recent 2022 amendment was adopted through consensus. If the same approval mechanism is to be used in May 2024, many countries and the public may remain unaware of the broad scope of the new text and its implications to national and individual sovereignty. The IHR are a set of recommendations under a treaty process that has force under international law. They seek to provide the WHO with some moral authority to coordinate and lead responses when an international health emergency, such as pandemic, occurs. Most are non-binding, and these contain very specific examples of measures that the WHO can recommend, including (Article 18): require medical examinations; review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis; require vaccination or other prophylaxis; place suspect persons under public health observation; implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons; implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons; implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons; refuse entry of suspect and affected persons; refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas. These measures, when implemented together, are generally referred to since early 2020 as ‘lockdowns’ and ‘mandates.’ ‘Lockdown’ was previously a term reserved for people incarcerated as criminals, as it removes basic universally accepted human rights and such measures were considered by the WHO to be detrimental to public health. However, since 2020 it has become the default standard for public health authorities to manage epidemics, despite its contradictions to multiple stipulations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR): Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind including no arbitrary detention (Article 9). No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence (Article 12). Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country (Article 13). Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers (Article 19). Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association (Article 20). The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government (Article 21). Everyone has the right to work (Article 23). Everyone has the right to education (Article 26). Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized (Article 28). Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein (Article 30). These UDHR stipulations are the basis of the modern concept of individual sovereignty, and the relationship between authorities and their populations. Considered the highest codification of the rights and freedoms of individuals in the 20th century, they may soon be dismantled behind closed doors in a meeting room in Geneva. The proposed amendments will change the “recommendations” of the current document to requirements through three mechanisms on Removing the term ‘non-binding’ (Article 1), Inserting the phrase that Member States will “undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations” and recognize WHO, not as an organization under the control of countries, but as the “coordinating authority” (New Article 13A). States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response. As Article 18 makes clear above, these include multiple actions directly restricting individual liberty. If transfer of decision-making power (sovereignty) is not intended here, then the current status of the IHR as ‘recommendations’ could remain and countries would not be undertaking to follow the WHO’s requirements. States Parties undertake to enact what previously were merely recommendations, without delay, including requirements of WHO regarding non-State entities under their jurisdiction (Article 42): Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Articles 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties and applied in a transparent, equitable and non-discriminatory manner. State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures. Articles 15 and 16 mentioned here allow the WHO to require a State to provide resources “health products, technologies, and know-how,” and to allow the WHO to deploy personnel into the country (i.e., have control over entry across national borders for those they choose). They also repeat the requirement for the country to require the implementation of medical countermeasures (e.g., testing, vaccines, quarantine) on their population where WHO demands it. Of note, the proposed Article 1 amendment (removing ‘non-binding’) is actually redundant if New Article 13A and/or the changes in Article 42 remain. This can (and likely will) be removed from the final text, giving an appearance of compromise without changing the transfer of sovereignty. All of the public health measures in Article 18, and additional ones such as limiting freedom of speech to reduce public exposure to alternative viewpoints (Annex 1, New 5 (e); “…counter misinformation and disinformation”) clash directly with the UDHR. Although freedom of speech is currently the exclusive purview of national authorities and its restriction is generally seen as negative and abusive, United Nations institutions, including the WHO, have been advocating for censoring unofficial views in order to protect what they call “information integrity.” It seems outrageous from a human rights perspective that the amendments will enable the WHO to dictate countries to require individual medical examinations and vaccinations whenever it declares a pandemic. While the Nuremberg Code and Declaration of Helsinki refer specifically to human experimentation (e.g. clinical trials of vaccines) and the Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights also to the provider-patient relationship, they can reasonably be extended to public health measures that impose restrictions or changes to human behavior, and specifically to any measures requiring injection, medication, or medical examination which involve a direct provider-person interaction. If vaccines or drugs are still under trial or not fully tested, then the issue of being the subject of an experiment is also real. There is a clear intent to employ the CEPI ‘100 day’ vaccine program, which by definition cannot complete meaningful safety or efficacy trials within that time span. Forced examination or medication, outside of a situation where the recipient is clearly not mentally competent to comply or reject when provided with information, is unethical. Requiring compliance in order to access what are considered basic human rights under the UDHR would constitute coercion. If this does not fit the WHO’s definition of infringement on individual sovereignty, and on national sovereignty, then the DG and his supporters need to publicly explain what definition they are using. The Proposed WHO Pandemic Agreement as a Tool to Manage Transfer of Sovereignty The proposed pandemic agreement will set humanity in a new era strangely organized around pandemics: pre-pandemic, pandemic, and inter-pandemic. A new governance structure under WHO auspices will oversee the IHR amendments and related initiatives. It will rely on new funding requirements, including the WHO’s ability to demand additional funding and materials from countries and to run a supply network to support its work in health emergencies (Article 12): In the event of a pandemic, real-time access by WHO to a minimum of 20% (10% as a donation and 10% at affordable prices to WHO) of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products for distribution based on public health risks and needs, with the understanding that each Party that has manufacturing facilities that produce pandemic-related products in its jurisdiction shall take all necessary steps to facilitate the export of such pandemic-related products, in accordance with timetables to be agreed between WHO and manufacturers. And Article 20 (1): …provide support and assistance to other Parties, upon request, to facilitate the containment of spill-over at the source. The entire structure will be financed by a new funding stream separate from current WHO funding – an additional requirement on taxpayers over current national commitments (Article 20 (2)). The funding will also include an endowment of voluntary contributions of “all relevant sectors that benefit from international work to strengthen pandemic preparation, preparedness and response” and donations from philanthropic organizations (Article 20 (2)b). Currently, countries decide on foreign aid on the basis of national priorities, apart from limited funding that they have agreed to allocate to organizations such as WHO under existing obligations or treaties. The proposed agreement is remarkable not just in greatly increasing the amount countries must give as treaty requirements, but in setting up a parallel funding structure disconnected from other disease priorities (quite the opposite of previous ideas on integration in health financing). It also gives power to an external group, not directly accountable, to demand or acquire further resources whenever it deems necessary. In a further encroachment into what is normally within the legal jurisdiction of Nation States, the agreement will require countries to establish (Article 15) “…, no-fault vaccine injury compensation mechanism(s),…”, consecrating effective immunity for pharmaceutical companies for harm to citizens resulting from use of products that the WHO recommends under an emergency use authorization, or indeed requires countries to mandate onto their citizens. As is becoming increasingly acceptable for those in power, ratifying countries will agree to limit the right of their public to voice opposition to the WHO’s measures and claims regarding such an emergency (Article 18): …and combat false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation, including through effective international collaboration and cooperation… As we have seen during the Covid-19 response, the definition of misleading information can be dependent on political or commercial expediency, including factual information on vaccine efficacy and safety and orthodox immunology that could impair the sale of health commodities. This is why open democracies put such emphasis on defending free speech, even at the risk of sometimes being misleading. In signing on to this agreement, governments will be agreeing to abrogate that principle regarding their own citizens when instructed by the WHO. The scope of this proposed agreement (and the IHR amendments) is broader than pandemics, greatly expanding the scope under which a transfer of decision-making powers can be demanded. Other environmental threats to health, such as changes in climate, can be declared emergencies at the DG’s discretion, if broad definitions of ‘One Health’ are adopted as recommended. It is difficult to think of another international instrument where such powers over national resources are passed to an unelected external organization, and it is even more challenging to envision how this is seen as anything other than a loss of sovereignty. The only justification for this claim would appear to be if the draft agreement is to be signed on the basis of deceit – that there is no intention to treat it other than as an irrelevant piece of paper or something that should only apply to less powerful States (i.e. a colonialist tool). Will the IHR Amendments and the Proposed Pandemic Agreement be Legally Binding? Both texts are intended to be legally binding. The IHR already has such status, so the impact of the proposed changes on the need for new acceptance by countries are complicated national jurisdictional issues. There is a current mechanism for rejection of new amendments. However, unless a high number of countries will actively voice their oppositions and rejections, the adoption of the current published version dated February 2023 will likely lead to a future shadowed by the permanent risks of the WHO’s lockdown and lockstep dictates. The proposed pandemic agreement is also clearly intended to be legally binding. WHO discusses this issue on the website of the International Negotiating Body (INB) that is working on the text. The same legally binding intent is specifically stated by the G20 Bali Leaders Declaration in 2022: We support the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that will draft and negotiate a legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic PPR…, repeated in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders Declaration: …an ambitious, legally binding WHO convention, agreement or other international instruments on pandemic PPR (WHO CA+) by May 2024, and by the Council of the European Union: A convention, agreement or other international instrument is legally binding under international Law. An agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response adopted under the World Health Organization (WHO) would enable countries around the globe to strengthen national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. The IHR already has standing under international law. While seeking such status, WHO officials who previously described the proposed agreement as a ‘treaty” are now insisting neither instrument impacts sovereignty. The implication that it is States’ representatives at the WHA that will agree to the transfer, rather than the WHO, is a nuance irrelevant to its claims regarding their subsequent effect. The WHO’s position raises a real question of whether its leadership is truly ignorant of what is proposed, or is actively seeking to mislead countries and the public in order to increase the probability of acceptance. The latest version dated 30 October 2023 requires 40 ratifications for the future agreement to enter into force, after a two-thirds vote in favor within the WHA. Opposition by a considerable number of countries will therefore be needed to derail this project. As it is backed by powerful governments and institutions, financial mechanisms including IMF and World Bank instruments and bilateral aids are likely to make opposition from lower-income countries difficult to sustain. The Implications of Ignoring the Issue of Sovereignty The relevant question regarding these two WHO instruments should really be not whether sovereignty is threatened, but why any sovereignty would be forfeited by democratic States to an organization that is (i) significantly privately funded and bound to obey the dictates of corporations and self-proclaimed philanthropists and (ii) jointly governed by Member States, half of which don’t even claim to be open representative democracies. If it is indeed true that sovereignty is being knowingly forfeited by governments without the knowledge and consent of their peoples, and based on false claims from governments and the WHO, then the implications are extremely serious. It would imply that leaders were working directly against their peoples’ or national interest, and in support of external interests. Most countries have specific fundamental laws dealing with such practice. So, it is really important for those defending these projects to either explain their definitions of sovereignty and democratic process, or explicitly seek informed public consent. The other question to be asked is why public health authorities and media are repeating the WHO’s assurances of the benign nature of the pandemic instruments. It asserts that claims of reduced sovereignty are ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ which they assert elsewhere are major killers of humankind. While such claims are somewhat ludicrous and appear intended to denigrate dissenters, the WHO is clearly guilty of that which it claims is such a crime. If its leadership cannot demonstrate how its claims regarding these pandemic instruments are not deliberately misleading, its leadership would appear ethically compelled to resign. The Need for Clarification The WHO lists three major pandemics in the past century – influenza outbreaks in the late 1950s and 1960s, and the Covid-19 pandemic. The first two killed less than die each year today from tuberculosis, whilst the reported deaths from Covid-19 never reached the level of cancer or cardiovascular disease and remained almost irrelevant in low-income countries compared to endemic infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV/AIDs. No other non-influenza outbreak recorded by the WHO that fits the definition of a pandemic (e.g., rapid spread across international borders for a limited time of a pathogen not normally causing significant harm) has caused greater mortality in total than a few days of tuberculosis (about 4,000/day) or more life-years lost than a few days of malaria (about 1,500 children under 5 years old every day). So, if it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach. We are, after all, talking about restricting basic human rights essential for a democracy to function. Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Authors David Bell David Bell, Senior Scholar at Brownstone Institute, is a public health physician and biotech consultant in global health. He is a former medical officer and scientist at the World Health Organization (WHO), Programme Head for malaria and febrile diseases at the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva, Switzerland, and Director of Global Health Technologies at Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund in Bellevue, WA, USA. View all posts Thi Thuy Van Dinh Dr. Thi Thuy Van Dinh (LLM, PhD) worked on international law in the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Subsequently, she managed multilateral organization partnerships for Intellectual Ventures Global Good Fund and led environmental health technology development efforts for low-resource settings. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/why-does-the-who-make-false-claims-regarding-proposals-to-seize-states-sovereignty/
    BROWNSTONE.ORG
    Why Does the WHO Make False Claims Regarding Proposals to Seize States’ Sovereignty? ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    If it is indeed the case that our authorities and their supporters within the public health community consider that powers currently vested within national jurisdictions should be given over to external bodies on the basis of this level of recorded harm, it would be best to have a public conversation as to whether this is sufficient basis for abandoning democratic ideals in favor of a more fascist or otherwise authoritarian approach.
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  • US congressman Walberg says Gaza should be destroyed 'like Nagasaki and Hiroshima', also suggests nuking Russia
    walberg
    The coments were made during a town hall meeting in Dundee, Michigan on March 25
    A Michigan Congressman has suggested a nuclear bomb should be dropped on Gaza to 'support Israel's swift elimination of Hamas.'

    Speaking during a town hall earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from Lenawee County, appeared entirely comfortable advocating for the use of nuclear weapons against the Palestinians.

    'It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,' Walberg could be heard stating in a video posted to X in which he mentioned the Japanese cities in which America detonated atomic bombs at the end of World War II.


    Walberg, an eight-term Republican congressman from Lenawee County, can also be heard speaking against providing humanitarian aid for those in the Palestinian territory.


    'We shouldn't be spending a dime on humanitarian aid,' Walberg stated in response to a question about American troops being deployed into Gaza to build a port that would help aid be delivered to the Palestinians.

    Walberg had been responding to a question about an initiative put forward by President Joe Biden to use American tax dollars to construct a port off the Gaza coast that would allow humanitarian aid to be delivered more quickly.

    Walberg's office has now attempted to explain the GOP congressman's seemingly straightforward answer as a metaphor.

    'During his community gathering, he clearly uses a metaphor to support Israel's swift elimination of Hamas, which is the best chance to save lives long-term and the only hope at achieving a permanent peace in the region,' Walberg spokesman Mike Rorke said on Saturday.

    'Congressman Walberg vehemently disagrees with putting our troops in harm's way. He has great empathy for the innocent people in Gaza who have been thrust into this situation due to the attack carried out by Hamas leaving 1,163 innocent civilians dead,' Rorke continued.


    'To this day, Hamas still is holding hostages, including Americans. Hamas should surrender and return the hostages.'

    Walberg's comments have been described as 'clear call to genocide by a member of Congress'.

    The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said his remarks should be 'condemned by all Americans who value human life and international law.'

    'To so casually call for what would result in the killing of every human being in Gaza sends the chilling message that Palestinian lives have no value,' CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid said to Detroit News.

    'It is this dehumanization of the Palestinian people that has resulted in the ongoing slaughter and suffering we see every day in Gaza and the West Bank.'

    The U.N. food agency has said famine is 'imminent' in northern Gaza, with two-thirds of population experiencing catastrophic hunger.

    Later in the town hall, held on March 25 in Dundee, Michigan, Walberg went on to suggest that a nuclear bomb should also be used in Russia's war with Ukraine in order to 'defeat Putin quick.'


    He said instead of American money being used to provide aid to Ukraine for humanitarian purposes, it should instead be used 'to wipe out Russia, if that's what we want to do.'

    Walberg has been taken to task over his comments by his Democratic colleagues with some calling for his immediate resignation.

    Michigan state Democratic Senator Darrin Camilleri tweeted how Walberg had been caught on video 'endorsing and calling for a complete genocide in Gaza.'

    'He's an absolute disgrace and needs to resign,' Camilleri stated.

    'Threatening to use, suggesting the use of, or, God forbid actually using nuclear weapons, are unacceptable tactics of war in the 21st Century,' wrote Democratic Michigan Rep. Haley Stevens.

    'As W.J. Hennigan recently & accurately described for the NYT, the use of nuclear weapons creates hell on earth.'

    Fellow Michiagn Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin also condemned his remarks.

    'This is a reprehensible thing for anyone to suggest, especially an elected official and someone who considers himself a man of faith. Rep. Walberg should take back his comments, and try to put himself in the shoes of the many Michiganders who see themselves in the casualties in Gaza,' Slotkin said in a statement.

    Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee said Walberg's comments were horrific and shocking.

    'It is an indefensible position to argue against humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza while also calling for the wholesale massacre of the Palestinian people. I could not disagree more with these extreme and dangerous comments,' Kildee said in a statement.


    https://www.sott.net/article/490259-US-congressman-Walberg-says-Gaza-should-be-destroyed-like-Nagasaki-and-Hiroshima-also-suggests-nuking-Russia
    US congressman Walberg says Gaza should be destroyed 'like Nagasaki and Hiroshima', also suggests nuking Russia walberg The coments were made during a town hall meeting in Dundee, Michigan on March 25 A Michigan Congressman has suggested a nuclear bomb should be dropped on Gaza to 'support Israel's swift elimination of Hamas.' Speaking during a town hall earlier this week, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, a Republican from Lenawee County, appeared entirely comfortable advocating for the use of nuclear weapons against the Palestinians. 'It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,' Walberg could be heard stating in a video posted to X in which he mentioned the Japanese cities in which America detonated atomic bombs at the end of World War II. Walberg, an eight-term Republican congressman from Lenawee County, can also be heard speaking against providing humanitarian aid for those in the Palestinian territory. 'We shouldn't be spending a dime on humanitarian aid,' Walberg stated in response to a question about American troops being deployed into Gaza to build a port that would help aid be delivered to the Palestinians. Walberg had been responding to a question about an initiative put forward by President Joe Biden to use American tax dollars to construct a port off the Gaza coast that would allow humanitarian aid to be delivered more quickly. Walberg's office has now attempted to explain the GOP congressman's seemingly straightforward answer as a metaphor. 'During his community gathering, he clearly uses a metaphor to support Israel's swift elimination of Hamas, which is the best chance to save lives long-term and the only hope at achieving a permanent peace in the region,' Walberg spokesman Mike Rorke said on Saturday. 'Congressman Walberg vehemently disagrees with putting our troops in harm's way. He has great empathy for the innocent people in Gaza who have been thrust into this situation due to the attack carried out by Hamas leaving 1,163 innocent civilians dead,' Rorke continued. 'To this day, Hamas still is holding hostages, including Americans. Hamas should surrender and return the hostages.' Walberg's comments have been described as 'clear call to genocide by a member of Congress'. The Michigan chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said his remarks should be 'condemned by all Americans who value human life and international law.' 'To so casually call for what would result in the killing of every human being in Gaza sends the chilling message that Palestinian lives have no value,' CAIR Executive Director Dawud Walid said to Detroit News. 'It is this dehumanization of the Palestinian people that has resulted in the ongoing slaughter and suffering we see every day in Gaza and the West Bank.' The U.N. food agency has said famine is 'imminent' in northern Gaza, with two-thirds of population experiencing catastrophic hunger. Later in the town hall, held on March 25 in Dundee, Michigan, Walberg went on to suggest that a nuclear bomb should also be used in Russia's war with Ukraine in order to 'defeat Putin quick.' He said instead of American money being used to provide aid to Ukraine for humanitarian purposes, it should instead be used 'to wipe out Russia, if that's what we want to do.' Walberg has been taken to task over his comments by his Democratic colleagues with some calling for his immediate resignation. Michigan state Democratic Senator Darrin Camilleri tweeted how Walberg had been caught on video 'endorsing and calling for a complete genocide in Gaza.' 'He's an absolute disgrace and needs to resign,' Camilleri stated. 'Threatening to use, suggesting the use of, or, God forbid actually using nuclear weapons, are unacceptable tactics of war in the 21st Century,' wrote Democratic Michigan Rep. Haley Stevens. 'As W.J. Hennigan recently & accurately described for the NYT, the use of nuclear weapons creates hell on earth.' Fellow Michiagn Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin also condemned his remarks. 'This is a reprehensible thing for anyone to suggest, especially an elected official and someone who considers himself a man of faith. Rep. Walberg should take back his comments, and try to put himself in the shoes of the many Michiganders who see themselves in the casualties in Gaza,' Slotkin said in a statement. Democratic U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee said Walberg's comments were horrific and shocking. 'It is an indefensible position to argue against humanitarian relief for the people of Gaza while also calling for the wholesale massacre of the Palestinian people. I could not disagree more with these extreme and dangerous comments,' Kildee said in a statement. https://www.sott.net/article/490259-US-congressman-Walberg-says-Gaza-should-be-destroyed-like-Nagasaki-and-Hiroshima-also-suggests-nuking-Russia
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  • Food for thought.

    The licensing rules for a Medical Doctor (MD) forbid them from applying natural medicines to heal the human body. If they do, they will loose their license!
    MD’s are internationally beholden to Pharma just like a medical mafia.

    There’s multiple kinds of Naturopathic Doctors (ND) and laws vary significantly from state to state, and country to country.
    Some ND’s are licensed to do limited invasive treatments such as prescribe limited pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics.

    I am an ND who uses only natural medicines and non-invasive treatments. I can identify the root cause of disease easily, without invasive diagnostics tools. This is how I was trained. Most ND’s can’t do this and MD’s… well forget about it.

    In my experience, invasive treatments are only necessary in limited extreme situations, like if someone needs a saline drip to rehydrate, for example. 98% of surgical procedures are totally unnecessary but MD’s won’t tell you that or they’ll be out of business.

    To my horror, I have observed ND’s do things they should be jailed for, like recommending EDTA pills containing the Pfizer patent. So please use your discernment.


    https://t.me/drloveariyana/2622
    Food for thought. The licensing rules for a Medical Doctor (MD) forbid them from applying natural medicines to heal the human body. If they do, they will loose their license! MD’s are internationally beholden to Pharma just like a medical mafia. There’s multiple kinds of Naturopathic Doctors (ND) and laws vary significantly from state to state, and country to country. Some ND’s are licensed to do limited invasive treatments such as prescribe limited pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics. I am an ND who uses only natural medicines and non-invasive treatments. I can identify the root cause of disease easily, without invasive diagnostics tools. This is how I was trained. Most ND’s can’t do this and MD’s… well forget about it. In my experience, invasive treatments are only necessary in limited extreme situations, like if someone needs a saline drip to rehydrate, for example. 98% of surgical procedures are totally unnecessary but MD’s won’t tell you that or they’ll be out of business. To my horror, I have observed ND’s do things they should be jailed for, like recommending EDTA pills containing the Pfizer patent. So please use your discernment. https://t.me/drloveariyana/2622
    T.ME
    Dr. Ariyana Love
    Food for thought. The licensing rules for a Medical Doctor (MD) forbid them from applying natural medicines to heal the human body. If they do, they will loose their license! MD’s are internationally beholden to Pharma just like a medical mafia. There’s multiple kinds of Naturopathic Doctors (ND) and laws vary significantly from state to state, and country to country. Some ND’s are licensed to do limited invasive treatments such as prescribe limited pharmaceutical drugs such as antibiotics. I am an ND who uses only natural medicines and non-invasive treatments. I can identify the root cause of disease easily, without invasive diagnostics tools. This is how I was trained. Most ND’s can’t do this and MD’s… well forget about it. In my experience, invasive treatments are only necessary in limited extreme situations, like if someone needs a saline drip to rehydrate, for example. 98% of surgical procedures are totally unnecessary but MD’s won’t tell you that or they’ll be out of business. To my horror, I…
    0 Comments 0 Shares 4127 Views
  • The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.


    Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity.

    Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino
    Post-Production: Adam Coley

    Transcript

    Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology.

    Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF.

    The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords.

    This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world.

    Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.

    You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that?

    Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names.

    On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality.

    Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms.

    The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity.

    That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth.

    Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes.

    Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army.

    There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is.

    So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories.

    So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that.

    Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this.

    So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see.

    Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust.

    Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story.

    The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah.

    And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here.

    And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head.

    Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs?

    Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment.

    They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture.

    Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza.

    Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities.

    They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him.

    His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on.

    So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians.

    Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit.

    Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were.

    And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now.

    Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily?

    Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody.

    So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill.

    Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die.

    Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them.

    I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims?

    These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians?

    Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire.

    Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again.

    That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone.

    Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations.

    Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong?

    Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt.

    So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say.

    I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state.

    Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that.

    Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration.

    It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power.

    They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel.

    Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff.

    Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know?

    These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple.

    Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity.

    Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com.

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    https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society

    https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
    The IDF’s war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave. Three months into Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, the atrocities the IDF has committed against Palestinians are too numerous to name. Israel is staging a prolonged assault on the Palestinian people’s very means of existence—destroying homes, hospitals, sanitation infrastructure, food and water sources, schools, and more. To understand the genocidal campaign unfolding before our eyes, we must examine the roots of Israeli society. Israel is a settler colonial state whose existence depends on the elimination of Palestinians. Accordingly, Israel is a deeply militarized society whose citizens are raised in an environment of historical revisionism and indoctrination that whitewashes Israel’s crimes while cultivating a deep-seated racism against Palestinians. Miko Peled, former IDF Special Forces and author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, joins The Chris Hedges Report for a frank conversation on the distortions of history and reality at the foundations of Israeli identity. Studio Production: David Hebden, Adam Coley, Cameron Granadino Post-Production: Adam Coley Transcript Chris Hedges: The Israeli army, known as the Israel Defense Force or IDF, is integral to understanding Israeli society. Nearly all Israelis do three years of military service, most continue to serve in the reserves until middle age. Its generals often retire to occupy senior positions in government and industry. The dominance of the military in Israeli society helps explain why war, militaristic nationalism, and violence are so deeply embedded in Zionist ideology. Israel is the outgrowth of a militarized settler colonial movement that seeks its legitimacy in biblical myth. It has always sought to solve nearly every conflict; The ethnic cleansing and massacres against Palestinians known as the Nakba or catastrophe in the years between 1947 and 1949, the Suez War of 1956, the 1967 and 1973 wars with Arab neighbors, the two invasions of Lebanon, the Palestinian intifadas, and the series of military strikes on Gaza, including the most recent, with violence. The long campaign to occupy Palestinian land and ethnically cleanse Palestinians is rooted in the Zionist paramilitaries that formed the Israeli state and continue within the IDF. The overriding goal of settler colonialism is the total conquest of Palestinian land. The few Israeli leaders who have sought to reign in the military, such as Israeli Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, have been pushed aside by the generals. The military setbacks suffered by Israel in the 1973 war with Egypt and Syria, and during Israel’s invasions of Lebanon only fuel the extreme nationalists who have abandoned all pretense of a liberal democracy. They speak in the open language of apartheid and genocide. These extremists were behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Israel’s failure to live up to the Oslo Accords. This extremism has now been exacerbated by the attack of October 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis. The few Israelis who oppose this militaristic nationalism, especially after October 7, have been silenced and persecuted in Israel. Genocidal violence is almost exclusively the language Israeli leaders, and now Israeli citizens, use to speak to the Palestinians and the Arab world. Joining me to discuss the role of the military in Israeli society is Miko Peled. Miko’s father was a general in the Israeli army. Miko was a member of Israel’s special forces and, although disillusioned with the military, moved from his role as a combatant to that of a medic. After the 1982 war in Lebanon, he buried his service pin. He is the author of, The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. You grew up, you were a child when your father was a general in the IDF. This inculcation of that military ethos has begun very young and begun in the schools. Can you talk about that? Miko Peled: Sure, thanks for having me, Chris. It’s good to be with you again and talk to you. So it begins before the military. It begins in preschool. It begins as soon as kids are able to talk and walk. I always say I knew the order of the ranks in the military before I knew my alphabet and this is true for many Israeli kids. The Israeli education system is such that it leads young Israelis to become soldiers, to serve the apartheid state, and to serve in this genocidal state, which is the state of Israel. It’s an enormous part of that. And with me, it came with mega-doses of that because when your father’s a general, and particularly of that generation of the 1967 generals, they were like gods of Olympus. Everybody knew their names. On Independence Day, I remember in the schools you would have little flags, not just flags of Israel, but flags of the IDF with pictures of IDF generals, pictures of the military, all kinds of military symbols, and so on. It’s everywhere. When I was a kid they still had a military parade. It’s everywhere and it’s inescapable. And you hear it when you walk down the street, you hear it in the news, you hear it in conversations, you hear it in schools, you read it in the textbooks, and there’s no place to develop dissent. There’s no place to develop a sense that dissent is okay, that dissent is possible. And the few cases where people do become dissenters, it’s either because their families have a tradition of being communist or more progressive and somehow it’s part of their tradition but this is a minority of a minority. By and large, Israel stands with the army, and Israel is the army. You can’t separate Israel from its army, from its military. Chris Hedges: Let’s juxtapose the myth that you were taught in school about the IDF with the reality. Miko Peled: The myth that I was… Again, this was given to me in larger doses at home because my father and his comrades were all part of the 1948 mythology. We were small and we were resourceful, and we were clever, and therefore, in 1948, we were able to defeat these Arab armies and these Arab killers who came to try to kill us and so on and destroy our fledgling little Jewish state. And because of our heroism – And you talked about the biblical connection – Because we are the descendants of King David, and we are the descendants of the Maccabees, and we have this resourcefulness and strength in our genes, we were able to create a state and then every time they attacked, we were there. We were able to defend ourselves and prevail and so on. It’s everywhere. Then again, in my case, it’s every time the larger, more extended family got together or my parents got together with their friends. And in many cases, the fathers were also comrades in arms. The stories of the battles, the stories of the conquests; Every city in Israel has an IDF plaza. Street names after different units of different generals are all over the country, street names of battles, so it’s everywhere. It wasn’t until I was probably 40 or a little less than 40, that it was the first time that I encountered the other narrative, the Palestinian story, and it was unbelievable. Somebody was telling me the day is night and night is day, or the world is flat, or whatever the comparison you want to make, it was incredible. They are telling me that what I know to be true – ‘Cause I heard it in school and I read it in books and I heard it from my father and my mother and friends – That all of this is not true. And what you find out if you go along the path that I chose to take, this journey of an Israeli to Palestine, is that it was one horrifying crime against humanity. That’s what this so-called heroism was, it was no heroism at all. It was a well-trained, highly motivated, well-indoctrinated, well-armed militia that then became the IDF. But when it started, it was still a militia or today they would be called a terrorist organization, that went up against the people who had never had a military force, who never had a tank, who never had a warplane, who never prepared, even remotely, for battle or an assault. Then you have to make a choice: How do you bridge this? The differences are not nuanced, the differences are enormous. The choice that I made is to investigate for myself and find out who’s telling the truth and who isn’t. And my side was not telling the truth. Chris Hedges: How did they explain incidents such as the Nakba, the massacres that took place in ’48 and ’56, and the massive ethnic cleansing that took place in ’67? How was that explained to you within that mythic narrative? Many of the activities that the IDF has had to carry out are quite brutal, quite savage. The indiscriminate killing of civilians – We can talk about Gaza in a minute – What did that do to society? The people who carried out those killings, and eventually huge prisons, torture, and everything else? But let’s begin with how the myth coped with those incidents and then talk about the trauma that is carried within Israeli society for carrying out those war crimes. Miko Peled: My generation, we knew that there were several instances of bad apples that committed terrible crimes. And we admitted, so there was Deir Yassin, which was a village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, a peaceful village where a horrible massacre took place. Then we knew that Ariel Sharon was a bit of a lunatic and he took the commandos that he commanded in the ’50s and went to the West Bank and went into Gaza and committed acts of terrible massacres. He was still a hero, held in high regard by everyone, but we knew that there were certain instances… And every military, every nation makes its mistakes and then these things happen But there was never any sense that this somehow discounted or hurt the image of us being a moral army. There are lots of stories of how soldiers went and they decided to, out of the kindness of their hearts, they didn’t harm civilians. And those same civilians went and then warned the enemy that they were coming. And these same good Israeli soldiers would then pay the price and were killed. So it’s presented as limited cases. Nakba was not something that was ever discussed. I’m sure it’s not discussed today, certainly not in schools. In Israeli schools today, you’re not allowed to mention the Nakba. There’s a directive by the Ministry of Education that even Palestinians are not allowed to mention the Nakba. But nobody ever talked about that. And the Arabs left, what are you going to do? There was a war and all these people left and this is the way it is. So none of that ever hurt, in any way, the image of us being this glorious heroic army, descendants of King David, and other great traditions of Jewish heroism. None of that ever hurt itself. So there’s no trauma because we did nothing wrong. If somebody did something wrong, well, it was a case of bad apples, it was limited to a particular circumstance, a particular person, a particular unit, and you get crazy people everywhere. What are you going to do? It’s never been presented as systemic. Today, we have a history so we can look back and if we do pay attention, and if we do read the literature, and if we do listen to Palestinians – And today there’s this great NGO called Zochrot, whose mission is to maintain the memory of the towns and cities that were destroyed in 1948 and to revive the stories of what took place in 1948 – They are uncovering new massacres all the time. Because as that generation is dying off, both the Israelis who committed the crimes and the Palestinians who were still alive at the time and survived, are opening up and telling more and more stories. So we know of churches that were filled with civilians and were burned down. We know of a mosque in Lydd that was filled with people and a young man went and shot a Fiat missile into it. All of these horrific stories are still coming out but Israelis are not paying attention, Israelis are not listening. Whenever there’s an attack on Gaza – And as you know very well, these attacks began in the fifties with Ariel Sharon, by the way – There is always a reason. Because at first they were infiltrators, and then they were terrorists, and now they’re called Hamas, and whatever the devil’s name may be there’s always a very good reason to go in there because these are people who are raised to hate and kill and so on. So it’s a tightly-knit and tightly-orchestrated narrative that is being perpetuated and Israelis don’t seem to have a problem with that. Chris Hedges: And yet carrying out acts of brutality. The occupation – Huge numbers, a million Israelis are in the states. Large numbers of Israelis have left the country. I’m wondering how many of those are people who have a conscience and are repulsed by what they have seen in the West Bank and Gaza. Perhaps I’m incorrect about that. Miko Peled: I don’t know. In the few encounters that I’ve had with Israelis in the US over the years, the vast majority support Israel, support Israel’s actions. It’s interesting that you mentioned that because I got an email from someone representing a group of alumni of Jewish Day Schools. These are Zionist schools all over countries where they indoctrinate the worst Zionism: secular Zionism. And they are now appalled by the indoctrination to serve in the IDF. A very high percentage of these students grew up, went to Israel, joined the IDF, took part in APEC events, and so on. And now they’re looking back and they’re reflecting and they’re feeling a sense of anger that they were put through this and lied through their entire lives about this. So that’s an interesting development. And if that grows, then that might be a game changer because these are the most loyal American Jews. The most loyal to Israel. But by and large, Israelis that I meet, with few exceptions, support Israel and they’re here for whatever reasons people come to America: They’re not unique, they’re not necessarily here because they were fed up or they were angry, or they were dissenters in any way, shape, or form. Around DC and Maryland, there are many Israelis. Sometimes you’ll sit in a coffee shop or go somewhere, you hear the conversations, and there’s no lack of support for Israel among these Israelis as far as I can see. Chris Hedges: Let’s talk about the armies. You were in the Special Forces elite unit. Talk about that indoctrination. I remember visiting Auschwitz a few years ago, and there were Israeli groups and people flying Israeli flags. But speak about that form of indoctrination and its link, in particular, to the Holocaust. Miko Peled: The myth is that Israel is a response to the Holocaust. And that the IDF is a response to the Holocaust; We must be strong, we must be willing to fight, and we must always have a gun in one hand or a weapon in one hand so that this will never happen again. And what’s interesting is, when you talk to Holocaust survivors who are not indoctrinated, who did not get pulled into Zionism – Which there are very, very many – They’ll say the notion that a militarized state is somehow the answer to the Holocaust is absurd because the answer to the Holocaust is tolerance and education and humanity, not violence and racism. But nobody wants to ruin a good myth with the facts. So that’s the story. The story is because of Auschwitz, we represent all those that were killed, perished by the Nazis, and so on, and therefore we need to be strong. And the Israeli flag represents them, and the Israeli military represents them. It’s absurd, it’s absolute madness. I went to serve in the army willingly, as most young Israelis do. In my environment, refusing or not going was not heard of, although there were some voices in the wilderness that were refusing and questioning morality. But I never did. Nobody around me ever did until I began the training and you began patrolling. I remember – You and I may have talked about this once – We were an infantry unit, a commando infantry unit. And suddenly we were given batons and these plastic handcuffs and were told to patrol in Ramallah. And I’m going, what the hell’s going on? What are we doing here? And then we’re told if anybody looks at you funny, you break every bone in their body. And I thought, everybody’s going to look at us, we’re commandos while marching through a city. Who’s not going to look at us? I was behind. I didn’t realize that everybody already understood that this is how it is, this is how it’s supposed to be. I thought, wait, this is wrong. Why are we doing this? We’re supposed to be the good guys here. And then there was the Lebanon invasion of ’82 and so on. So that broke that in my mind, that was a serious crack in the wall of belief and the wall of patriotism that was in me. But this whole notion that somehow being violent and militaristic and racist and being conquerors is somehow a response to the horrors of the Holocaust is absolute madness. But when you’re in it nobody around you is asking questions. You don’t ask questions either unless you’re willing to stand out and be smacked on the head. Chris Hedges: Within the military, within the IDF, how did they speak about Palestinians and Arabs? Miko Peled: The discourse, the hatred, the racism, is horrifying. First of all, they’re the animals. They’re nothing. It’s a joke, you see, it’s horrifying. They think it’s funny to stop people and ask them for their ID and to chase them and to chase kids and to shoot. It all seems like entertainment, you know? I never heard that discourse until I was in it. Then afterward, when I would meet Israelis who served, even here in the US, the way they joked around about what they did in the West Bank, the way they joked around about killing or stopping people or making them take their clothes off and dance naked, it’s entertainment. They think it’s funny. They don’t see that there’s a problem here because racism is so ingrained from such a young age that it’s almost organic. And I don’t think it’s surprising. When you have a racist society, and you have a racist education system that is so methodical, that’s what you get. And the racism doesn’t stop with Palestinians or with Arabs; It goes on to the Black people, it goes on to people of color, it goes to Jews or Israelis who come from other countries who are dark-skinned, for some reason. The racism crosses all these boundaries and it’s completely part of the culture. Chris Hedges: You have very little criticism of the IDF, almost none within the Israeli press, although there is quite a bit of criticism right now, of Netanyahu and his mismanagement and his corruption. Talk a little bit about the deification of the IDF within the public discourse and mainstream media and what that means for what’s happening in Gaza. Miko Peled: Well, the military is above the law. It’s above reproach, except from time to time. So after the ’73 war, there was an investigation. Earlier this week, there was, in the cabinet meeting… The cabinet meets every Sunday. And the army chief of staff was there and he was… This was leaked from the cabinet meeting. It was leaked that some of the more right-wing partners – It’s funny to say right-wing partners because they’re all this right-wing lunacy in the Israeli cabinet – But the more right-wing settlers that are in the cabinet were attacking the army, were attacking the chief of staff because he decided to start an inquiry because it was catastrophic when the Palestinian fighters came in from Gaza, there was nobody home. They took over half of their country back. They took 22 Israeli settlements and cities. They took over the army base of the Gaza brigade, which is supposed to defend the country from exactly this happening. And there was nobody in the… They took over the base. So he initiated an internal inquiry within the army, and they’re criticizing him and what you see in the Israeli press is two very interesting things: One is something went horribly wrong and we need to find out why, but we should wait because we shouldn’t do it during wartime. We shouldn’t criticize the army during wartime. We shouldn’t make the soldiers feel like they have to hold back because if they need to shoot, they should be allowed to shoot. And the other thing we see is that politically, everybody is eating each other up. They’re killing each other politically in the press. So everybody that’s against Netanyahu and wants to see it is attacking him. His people are attacking the others for attacking the government. It seems like there’s this paralysis as a result of this infighting that is affecting the functionality of the state as a state. Israelis are not living in the country, Israel is not the state that it was prior to October 7, it was paralyzed for several weeks, and now it’s still paralyzed in many ways. You’ve got missiles coming from the north, you’ve got missiles coming from the south. You’ve got very large numbers of Israeli soldiers being killed and thousands being injured and the war’s not ending. They’re not able to defeat the Palestinians in Gaza, the armed resistance, and so on. So all of this is taking place and you read the Israeli press and it’s like this cesspool that’s bubbling and bubbling and bubbling, and everybody’s attacking everybody else. And the army, it’s true, they are above reproach mostly, but this particular time the settlers are very angry. Another reason is because the the military decided to pull back some of the ground troops, understandably, since they’re being hit so hard. And I remember that happening before when the army pulled back out of Gaza, they were being attacked for stopping the killing, for not continuing these mass killings of Palestinians. Chris Hedges: Well, you had what? 70 fatalities in the Golani Brigade? And they were pulled back. This is a very elite unit. Miko Peled: Yeah, it’s very interesting because many of the casualties are high-ranking officers. You have colonels, lieutenant colonels, and very high-ranking commanders within Israeli special forces who are being killed. And they’re usually killed in big bunches because they’ll be in an armored personnel carrier or they’ll be marching together. And in Jenin a few days ago, they blew up a military vehicle and killed a bunch of soldiers. So Israelis are scratching their heads, not knowing what the hell is going on and what to do, because number one, they were not protected as they thought they were. And I’m sure you know this, the Israeli settlements, the kibbutzim, the cities in the south that border Gaza, [inaudible 00:25:59], they enjoy some of the highest standards of living among Israelis. It’s a beautiful lifestyle. It’s warm, it’s lovely. Agriculture is… And I don’t think it ever occurred to them that Palestinians would dare to come out of Gaza fighting and succeeding the way they did. The army was bankrupt. It was gone, the intelligence apparatus was bankrupt, and nothing worked. And it is reminiscent of what happened in 1973. This is far worse but it is reminiscent. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the October 7 attacks were exactly 50 years and one day after the 1973 October war began and the whole system collapsed. So that’s what we’re seeing right now. Chris Hedges: How do you read what’s happening in Gaza, militarily? Miko Peled: The Palestinians are able to hold on and kill many Israelis. And even though the Israelis have the firepower and they’ve got the logistics, supply chains are not a problem. Whereas Palestinians, I don’t know where they’re getting supplies. I don’t know where they’re getting food to continue fighting. They’re putting up a fierce resistance. I don’t think that militarily there’s a strategy here. This is revenge; Israel was humiliated, the army was humiliated, and they needed to take it out on somebody. So they found the weakest victims they could lay their hands on, and these are the Palestinian civilians in Gaza. And so they’re killing them by the tens of thousands. I don’t think anybody believes in such a thing as getting rid of Hamas. I don’t think anybody believes that that’s possible. I don’t believe anybody takes seriously or believes that you can take too many people out of Gaza and spread them around the world and into other places, even though that’s what they’re saying. But as long as Israel is allowed to kill, and as long as the supply chain isn’t interrupted, they’re going to continue to kill. Chris Hedges: And they’re also creating a humanitarian crisis. So it’s not just the bombs and the shells, but it’s now starvation. Diarrhea is an epidemic, sanitation is broken. I’m wondering at what point this humanitarian crisis becomes so pronounced that the choice is you leave or you die. Miko Peled: That’s always the big question for Palestinians. And the sad thing is that Palestinians are always being placed in these situations where they have to make that choice. It’s the worst form of injustice. And you know this, you’ve been in war zones. We don’t know how many bodies are buried under the rubble and what that’s going to bring up. And there are hundreds of thousands now who are suffering from all kinds of diseases as a result of this environmental catastrophe. And you remember, what was it? 2016 or something, 2017? The UN came out with a report that by 2020, Gaza would be uninhabitable. I don’t think the Gaza Strip has ever been inhabitable. It’s been a humanitarian disaster since it was created in the late forties and early fifties because they suddenly threw all these refugees there with no infrastructure and that was it, and then began killing them. I was talking to some people the other day, as Americans, as taxpayers, wouldn’t we want the Sixth Fleet, which is in the Mediterranean, the US Navy Sixth Fleet, to aid the Palestinians? To provide them support? To create a no-fly zone over these innocent people that are being massacred? As Americans, shouldn’t that be the natural ask, the natural desire to demand our politicians to use? Because American naval vessels have been used for humanitarian causes before. Why aren’t they supporting the Palestinians? Why aren’t they providing them aid? Why aren’t they helping them rebuild? Why are American tax dollars going to continue this genocide rather than stop it and aid the victims? These are questions Americans need to ask themselves because it makes absolutely no sense. It is absolute madness that people are allowing their government to support a genocide that’s not even done in secret. It’s not even done in hiding it. It’s on prime time. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows what’s going on. And again, for some strange reason, Americans are allowing their military and their government to aid the genocide. And there’s no question that it’s genocide. The definition of the crime of genocide is so absolutely clear, that anybody can look it up and compare it to what’s been going on in Palestine. So that to me is the greatest question: Why aren’t Americans demanding that the US support the Palestinians? Chris Hedges: Well, according to opinion polls, most Americans want a ceasefire. But the Congress is bought and paid for by the Israel lobby. Biden is one of the largest recipients of aid or campaign financing from the Israel lobby. This is true for both parties. Chuck Schumer was at the rally saying no ceasefire. Miko Peled: Which is odd. A ceasefire is a very small ask and I don’t know why we always ask for the bare minimum for Palestinians. But let’s talk about ceasefire. Israeli soldiers are being killed as well in very large numbers. How has ceasefire suddenly become an anti-Israeli demand? But it’s a very small ask. I don’t know how it was or where it was that this idea of demanding a ceasefire came up because that is not a serious demand. Ceasefire gets violated by Israel anyway, within 24-48 hours. You know that historically Israel always violated ceasefires. What is required here are severe sanctions, a no-fly zone, immediate aid to the Palestinians, and stopping this and providing guarantees for the safety and security of Palestinians forever moving forward so this can never happen again. That’s what needs to be asked. At this point, after having sacrificed so much, after having shown much of what I believe is immense courage, Palestinians deserve everything. We as people of conscience need to demand not to ceasefire, we need to demand a dismantling of the apartheid state and a full stop and absolute end to the genocide and guarantees put in place that Palestinian kids will be safe. I was talking to Issa Amro earlier in Hebron. It’s ridiculous when nobody even talks about what happens in the West Bank. Friends of mine who are Palestinian citizens of Israel, nobody dares to leave the house, nobody dares to text. They’re afraid to walk down the streets. Their safety is not guaranteed by anyone. Palestinian safety and security are left to the whims of any Israeli, and that should be the conversation right now, after such horrendous violence. That needs to be the demand. That needs to be the ask when we go to protests when we make these demands like a ceasefire. And even that, Israel is not willing. And these bouts of political supporters of Israel here in America are not willing to entertain a ceasefire. I believe it’s a crazy part of history that we’re experiencing right now and it’s a watershed moment. October 7 created an opportunity to end this for good, to end the suffering of Palestinians, the oppression, and the genocide for good. And if we being people of conscience don’t take advantage of this now and bring it to an end, we will regret this for generations. Chris Hedges: The Netanyahu government is talking about this assault on Gaza, this genocide continuing for months. There are strikes, and have been strikes against, now Hezbollah leaders. What concerns you? How could this all go terribly wrong? Miko Peled: It’s already gone terribly wrong because of the death and destruction of so many innocent lives is… I don’t even know that there’s a word for it. It’s beyond horrifying. Netanyahu is relying on the restraint of Hezbollah and the restraint of Iran and the restraint of the Arab governments has all been neutralized either through destruct, being destroyed, or through normalization. So he’s relying on that and he knows that he can keep triggering, he can keep bombing Lebanon, bombing Syria, instigating all of these things and it won’t turn into an all-out war. Because at the end of the day, even though Lebanese, Hezbollah, and Palestinian fighters have shown that they’re superior as fighters, they don’t have the supply chains, they don’t have the warplanes, they don’t have the tanks. So more and more civilians are going to be hurt. So I don’t think it’s going to turn into a regional war by any stretch of the imagination. And so Netanyahu is betting on that, and that’s why he’s allowing this to go on. And for him, this is a win-win. There’s no way that he can be unseated by anybody that’s around him. There’s no opposition. And as long as this goes on, as long as everybody’s in a state of crisis, he can continue to sit in the Prime Minister’s seat, which for him is the end all and be all of everything. And the world is supporting. The world, as governments of the world, I should say. I do interviews with African TV stations, Indian TV stations, and Europeans; Everybody is supporting Israel. Everybody listens to what I have to say, and they think I am a lunatic for supporting terrorism or whatever it is they, however, it is that they frame it. But I don’t see this ending unless there is massive pressure by people of conscience on their governments to force change, to force sanctions, to force the end of the genocide, and the end of the apartheid state. Chris Hedges: I want to talk about the shift within Zionism itself from the dominance of a secular leadership to – We see it in the government of Netanyahu – The rise of a religious Zionism, which is also true now within the IDF. And I wondered if you could talk about the consequences of that. Miko Peled: Sure. So originally, traditionally, and historically, Zionism and Judaism were at odds. And even to this day ultra-orthodox Jews reject Zionism and reject Israel by and large. But after 1967, there was this new creation of the Zionist religious movement. And these are the settlers who went to the West Bank and they became the new pioneers. And they are today, they make up a large portion of the officers and those who joined the special forces and so on. In the past, in the army, the unofficial policy was that these guys, should not be allowed to advance. The current chief of staff comes from that world, which is a huge change. There are several generals and high-ranking commanders and so on who come from that world. The reason that it was the unofficial policy that these guys should not be promoted was that it’s an incredibly toxic combination, this messianic form of Judaism, which is an aberration. It’s not Judaism at all, with this nationalist fanaticism. This combination is toxic and look what it created. It created some of the worst racists, some of the most violent thugs that we’ve seen, certainly in the short history of the state of Israel, although I don’t know that they’re any less violent than the generation of Zionists of my father who are secular. This was a big concern in the past but now they’re everywhere and look at its current government. They hold the finance ministry, they hold the national security ministry, certainly in the military they’re everywhere, they hold many sub-cabinets, and they’re heads of committees in the Knesset, and so on. And they’ve done their work. They worked very hard to get to where they are today, which is where they call the shots. And Netanyahu’s guaranteed to remain in power. They’re his support group. That’s why you could have had, as we had earlier this year, hundreds of thousands of Israelis protesting in the streets and it didn’t affect him because he has his block in the Knesset that will never leave him as long as he allows them to play their game. And this is what’s happening. So in terms of violence and the facts on the ground, I don’t think these guys are any worse again than my parents’ generation who were young Zionists and zealots at the time and committed the 1948 Nakba and ran the country and operated the apartheid state for the first few decades. But it’s a new form of fanaticism being that it is religious as well as fascist. So it’s very toxic. And they have more of a stomach for killing civilians than we’ve ever seen before, even for Israelis. These numbers are beyond belief, even for Israel. Chris Hedges: I’m wondering if this religious Zionism probably has its profoundest effect within Israel, in terms of shutting down dissidents, civil liberties, this kind of stuff. Miko Peled: Well, Israelis love them. Israelis love these guys because they’re religious but they dress like us. They don’t look like the old Jews with the big beards and everything; They’re cool. They wear jeans. And the reason I say this is because one of their objectives is to take over Al-Aqsa and build a Jewish temple. They’re destroying Al-Aqsa and they conduct these tours. In the old city of Jerusalem, there’s a particular path that you take from where the western wall is up to Al-Aqsa, which is open for non-Muslims. And so they hold tours and there’s several odd times throughout the day. I’ve taken some of these tours to see what it’s about, what these guys do, you know? These are prayer tours and hundreds of thousands of Israelis go on these tours. And these are Israelis who are not religious at all, these are secular people. I see the people that go on the tours. To give you an idea of what this is about, you go up on that bridge and then you wait until the tour starts because you have to go in a group. And there’s a massive model of the new temple, of the Jewish temple that is going to be built there. And then you have a huge group of armed police –They’re not soldiers, they’re police but dressed completely militarized. And Muslim Palestinians are not allowed – That accompany the tour all around and they stop and they pray and they stop and they pray and they stop and pray at various places. The whole thing takes maybe an hour. But the interesting thing is that the people who go on these tours are secular Israelis. And then as I was doing this, I was remembering, even as a kid growing up completely secular, we would sing songs about the day that we build a temple. Why did we sing songs about building a temple? Because it went beyond our religious significance and became a national significance. And there’s no question in my mind that Netanyahu and secular Israelis would love to see this idea of destroying Al-Aqsa and having a Jewish temple there. It’s a sign that we’re back, King David is back. Even though it has nothing to do with history and there’s no truth in it, the connection that we are descendants of King David is something Israelis love. That’s what this is about, the relationship between the so-called settlers. That’s what they’re called in Israeli jargon. They’re called the settlers. Regular secular Israelis are an interesting one because on the one hand, they’re looked down upon because they’re religious, but on the other hand, they’re a cool religious. So there is an affinity. Chris Hedges: Great. That was Miko Peled, author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine and Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five. I want to thank the Real News Network and its production team: Cameron Granandino, Adam Coley, David Hebden, and Kayla Rivara. You can find me at chrishedges.substack.com. Creative Commons License Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license. https://therealnews.com/the-idfs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-israeli-society https://telegra.ph/The-IDFs-war-crimes-are-a-perfect-reflection-of-Israeli-society-04-02
    THEREALNEWS.COM
    The IDF's war crimes are a perfect reflection of Israeli society
    Miko Peled, author and former member of IDF Special Forces, explains how Israel indoctrinates its citizens in anti-Palestinian racism from the cradle to the grave.
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  • ‘No, dear. I will never leave Gaza.’
    I tried to convince my parents to leave Gaza, but my father’s resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly. The weight of our conversation lingered long after we said our goodbyes.

    Ghada HaniaMarch 30, 2024
    A Palestinian man sits near the damage to a building after an overnight Israeli air raid in Rafah, southern Gaza, March 29, 2024. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim/APA Images)
    A Palestinian man sits near the damage to a building after an overnight Israeli air raid in Rafah, southern Gaza, March 29, 2024. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim/APA Images)
    I sip my coffee, pondering whether my mother has enough coffee stocked at home. Recognizing the importance of this question, especially during the sacred month of Ramadan when she typically begins her fast with a sip of coffee, a ritual I have mirrored, I resolve to call her via WhatsApp.

    Dialing her number, I encounter the frustration of a phone call that fails to connect, indicating a lack of internet service. Undeterred, I make my way to the nearby supermarket, where I top up my phone with 60 RM, the maximum allowed per charge. With experience guiding me, I opt for three charges, estimating that 180 units should afford me about a 35-minute conversation.

    Each call to my mother serves as a conduit for updates on her well-being, my father’s health, and the overall status of our extended family, all residing together in one apartment.

    During Ramadan, these conversations delve into her preparations for breaking the fast. Perhaps this time, she’s managed to procure budget-friendly alternatives from the market, steering away from the monotony of canned meals like beans, hummus, or tuna, and perhaps opting for cherished dishes like chicken maqloubeh or mloukhiyyeh, beloved by both herself and our family.

    As the phone finally rings after multiple attempts, I eagerly await my mother’s answer. When she finally picks up on the fifth try, I greet her affectionately, “Hello, my love. How are you?”

    “I am fine, my dear Ghadoosh,” she responds, using her term of endearment for me.

    I ask about her third-day iftar meal, to which she replies, “Today, we’re preparing beans with lemon and tomato, served alongside saj bread.”

    “You know we’ve finished building a clay oven on the roof of the house, and we use it to bake bread.”

    “Oh, that sounds good, Mom. Bon appétit,” I replied, understanding how monotonous it can be to eat the same meal for more than 100 days.

    Concerned about her health, especially given her diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I ask about her condition. She acknowledges her discomfort, expressing gratitude for the doctor’s recommendations to avoid certain foods. Unfortunately, everything the doctor recommended is either unavailable or too expensive to afford.

    As our conversation progresses, the familiar sound of her voice brings comfort, even amidst the backdrop of challenges we face. Every time we talk, there’s a quiet sadness that hangs in the air, partly because of the miles between us and the heavy load of worries we both carry.

    “All praises to Allah,” my mother began, her voice tinged with discomfort. “I have persistent abdominal pain, but it’s bearable. It will pass,” she reassured me.

    Responding like a concerned physician, I rushed to advise her, “Mom, please pay careful attention to your diet and hydration during Ramadan. Make sure you drink plenty of water and consume nourishing foods like dates, while avoiding anything that exacerbates your discomfort. Choose light, healthy meals like thyme and cheese with bread, and incorporate olive oil. If canned foods like hummus, beans, or chickpeas make you feel tired or worsen your symptoms, refrain from eating them. Your well-being is paramount, so take care of yourself, my love. Remember to say bismillah before each meal, and trust in Allah for strength and healing.”

    “Okay, my love. Don’t worry,” she responded, her tone conveying gratitude for my concern.

    “How is your husband and his family?” she inquired. “How is your mother-in-law? Please convey my regards to them, and I hope we can meet soon once the war ends, Allah willing, if we are still alive on that day.”

    “Oh, mom, please don’t say that. May all negativity fade away. May Allah safeguard you and bring us all together again.”

    My husband’s family and I are unable to communicate with each other within Gaza due to poor connectivity. Therefore, when I speak to my husband’s relatives, I extend greetings from my family, and when I converse with my own family, I convey greetings from my husband’s family.

    “How are my sisters, mom? Have you been in touch with Sara? Did you manage to visit Mona?” I asked anxiously.

    “Sara is still in Gaza with her kids, husband, and his family. They’re facing immense struggles to find food and water. I’ve only managed to contact her once during these difficult months. Sadly, the call was abruptly cut off, and I couldn’t even say goodbye,” my mom explained with a heavy heart.

    “Mona and her family are living in a tent in Khan Younis. The conditions are harsh — when it rains, the tent floods, and when it stops, the sand’s smell makes them sick,” she continued.

    “We’ve had limited contact with your sisters, Ghada. Last week, we were able to confirm Sara’s well-being through one of your father’s cousins in Gaza. However, you know there’s a famine in the north. May Allah ease their hardships,” my mom said tearfully.

    After composing herself, she added, “Mona visited us briefly yesterday. Thankfully, she and her kids are doing okay. Don’t worry, dear.”

    “Don’t cry, mom. Let’s pray. It’s our most powerful tool. May Allah alleviate their suffering, guide us all, and bring an end to this war. May the situation improve,” I reassured her.

    The wail of an ambulance interrupted our conversation. My mother’s voice, usually composed, now shook with emotion as she recounted the struggles since being forcibly displaced from Gaza City to Rafah. Reflecting on our decision to settle in Rafah in my uncle’s home due to the lack of available housing, she expressed her sorrow, “If we had a home in Gaza, we would never have left, Ghada. They’ve destroyed everything in Gaza: the trees, the stones, the streets. There’s nothing left, my dear. The city has transformed; you wouldn’t recognize it.”

    “Inshallah everything will improve, mom. We’ll rebuild the city again,” I said optimistically.

    She replied softly, “Inshallah, dear.”

    I broached the topic of leaving Gaza for Malaysia, but his resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly, revealing a depth of sentiment I hadn’t fully grasped before.
    I seized the opportunity to speak to my father, eagerly greeting him, “Hello, Dad. How are you?”

    His warm voice comforted me, assuring me, “Everything is good, dear. Don’t worry. We’re in good spirits, and as long as we have each other, we’ll be fine.”

    “How much is the fish per kilo?” I asked. My father has always had a deep love for fish, enjoying it day after day before the war.

    He replied with sadness, “The price for a kilo of sardines is around 130 shekels. That’s the cheapest rate in the market. Prices have increased tenfold.”

    Despite his assurances, I couldn’t shake the heavy burden weighing on my heart. “May Allah protect you, dear Baba,” I said, my voice trembling with emotion. “I know it’s not easy, but please stay steadfast. Your strength gives me hope.”

    I broached the topic of leaving Gaza for Malaysia, but his resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly, revealing a depth of sentiment I hadn’t fully grasped before.

    “We’ve purchased tents in case the situation deteriorates further. We’ll relocate to Nuseirat refugee camp or Deir al-Balah,” he added.

    The weight of our conversation lingered long after we said our goodbyes. Despite my efforts to offer comfort, I couldn’t shake the sense of helplessness that settled over me, leaving me feeling powerless to ease their suffering.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/no-dear-i-will-never-leave-gaza/
    ‘No, dear. I will never leave Gaza.’ I tried to convince my parents to leave Gaza, but my father’s resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly. The weight of our conversation lingered long after we said our goodbyes. Ghada HaniaMarch 30, 2024 A Palestinian man sits near the damage to a building after an overnight Israeli air raid in Rafah, southern Gaza, March 29, 2024. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim/APA Images) A Palestinian man sits near the damage to a building after an overnight Israeli air raid in Rafah, southern Gaza, March 29, 2024. (Photo: Ahmed Ibrahim/APA Images) I sip my coffee, pondering whether my mother has enough coffee stocked at home. Recognizing the importance of this question, especially during the sacred month of Ramadan when she typically begins her fast with a sip of coffee, a ritual I have mirrored, I resolve to call her via WhatsApp. Dialing her number, I encounter the frustration of a phone call that fails to connect, indicating a lack of internet service. Undeterred, I make my way to the nearby supermarket, where I top up my phone with 60 RM, the maximum allowed per charge. With experience guiding me, I opt for three charges, estimating that 180 units should afford me about a 35-minute conversation. Each call to my mother serves as a conduit for updates on her well-being, my father’s health, and the overall status of our extended family, all residing together in one apartment. During Ramadan, these conversations delve into her preparations for breaking the fast. Perhaps this time, she’s managed to procure budget-friendly alternatives from the market, steering away from the monotony of canned meals like beans, hummus, or tuna, and perhaps opting for cherished dishes like chicken maqloubeh or mloukhiyyeh, beloved by both herself and our family. As the phone finally rings after multiple attempts, I eagerly await my mother’s answer. When she finally picks up on the fifth try, I greet her affectionately, “Hello, my love. How are you?” “I am fine, my dear Ghadoosh,” she responds, using her term of endearment for me. I ask about her third-day iftar meal, to which she replies, “Today, we’re preparing beans with lemon and tomato, served alongside saj bread.” “You know we’ve finished building a clay oven on the roof of the house, and we use it to bake bread.” “Oh, that sounds good, Mom. Bon appétit,” I replied, understanding how monotonous it can be to eat the same meal for more than 100 days. Concerned about her health, especially given her diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), I ask about her condition. She acknowledges her discomfort, expressing gratitude for the doctor’s recommendations to avoid certain foods. Unfortunately, everything the doctor recommended is either unavailable or too expensive to afford. As our conversation progresses, the familiar sound of her voice brings comfort, even amidst the backdrop of challenges we face. Every time we talk, there’s a quiet sadness that hangs in the air, partly because of the miles between us and the heavy load of worries we both carry. “All praises to Allah,” my mother began, her voice tinged with discomfort. “I have persistent abdominal pain, but it’s bearable. It will pass,” she reassured me. Responding like a concerned physician, I rushed to advise her, “Mom, please pay careful attention to your diet and hydration during Ramadan. Make sure you drink plenty of water and consume nourishing foods like dates, while avoiding anything that exacerbates your discomfort. Choose light, healthy meals like thyme and cheese with bread, and incorporate olive oil. If canned foods like hummus, beans, or chickpeas make you feel tired or worsen your symptoms, refrain from eating them. Your well-being is paramount, so take care of yourself, my love. Remember to say bismillah before each meal, and trust in Allah for strength and healing.” “Okay, my love. Don’t worry,” she responded, her tone conveying gratitude for my concern. “How is your husband and his family?” she inquired. “How is your mother-in-law? Please convey my regards to them, and I hope we can meet soon once the war ends, Allah willing, if we are still alive on that day.” “Oh, mom, please don’t say that. May all negativity fade away. May Allah safeguard you and bring us all together again.” My husband’s family and I are unable to communicate with each other within Gaza due to poor connectivity. Therefore, when I speak to my husband’s relatives, I extend greetings from my family, and when I converse with my own family, I convey greetings from my husband’s family. “How are my sisters, mom? Have you been in touch with Sara? Did you manage to visit Mona?” I asked anxiously. “Sara is still in Gaza with her kids, husband, and his family. They’re facing immense struggles to find food and water. I’ve only managed to contact her once during these difficult months. Sadly, the call was abruptly cut off, and I couldn’t even say goodbye,” my mom explained with a heavy heart. “Mona and her family are living in a tent in Khan Younis. The conditions are harsh — when it rains, the tent floods, and when it stops, the sand’s smell makes them sick,” she continued. “We’ve had limited contact with your sisters, Ghada. Last week, we were able to confirm Sara’s well-being through one of your father’s cousins in Gaza. However, you know there’s a famine in the north. May Allah ease their hardships,” my mom said tearfully. After composing herself, she added, “Mona visited us briefly yesterday. Thankfully, she and her kids are doing okay. Don’t worry, dear.” “Don’t cry, mom. Let’s pray. It’s our most powerful tool. May Allah alleviate their suffering, guide us all, and bring an end to this war. May the situation improve,” I reassured her. The wail of an ambulance interrupted our conversation. My mother’s voice, usually composed, now shook with emotion as she recounted the struggles since being forcibly displaced from Gaza City to Rafah. Reflecting on our decision to settle in Rafah in my uncle’s home due to the lack of available housing, she expressed her sorrow, “If we had a home in Gaza, we would never have left, Ghada. They’ve destroyed everything in Gaza: the trees, the stones, the streets. There’s nothing left, my dear. The city has transformed; you wouldn’t recognize it.” “Inshallah everything will improve, mom. We’ll rebuild the city again,” I said optimistically. She replied softly, “Inshallah, dear.” I broached the topic of leaving Gaza for Malaysia, but his resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly, revealing a depth of sentiment I hadn’t fully grasped before. I seized the opportunity to speak to my father, eagerly greeting him, “Hello, Dad. How are you?” His warm voice comforted me, assuring me, “Everything is good, dear. Don’t worry. We’re in good spirits, and as long as we have each other, we’ll be fine.” “How much is the fish per kilo?” I asked. My father has always had a deep love for fish, enjoying it day after day before the war. He replied with sadness, “The price for a kilo of sardines is around 130 shekels. That’s the cheapest rate in the market. Prices have increased tenfold.” Despite his assurances, I couldn’t shake the heavy burden weighing on my heart. “May Allah protect you, dear Baba,” I said, my voice trembling with emotion. “I know it’s not easy, but please stay steadfast. Your strength gives me hope.” I broached the topic of leaving Gaza for Malaysia, but his resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly, revealing a depth of sentiment I hadn’t fully grasped before. “We’ve purchased tents in case the situation deteriorates further. We’ll relocate to Nuseirat refugee camp or Deir al-Balah,” he added. The weight of our conversation lingered long after we said our goodbyes. Despite my efforts to offer comfort, I couldn’t shake the sense of helplessness that settled over me, leaving me feeling powerless to ease their suffering. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/no-dear-i-will-never-leave-gaza/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘No, dear. I will never leave Gaza.’
    I tried to convince my parents to leave Gaza, but my father’s resolute refusal caught me off guard. “No, dear. I will never leave Gaza,” he stated firmly. The weight of our conversation lingered long after we said our goodbyes.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 18458 Views
  • Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders
    Sam BiddleMarch 26 2024, 8:00 a.m.
    WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as he testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the Fed's "Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress," on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images)
    Citing the company’s “failure to provide answers to important questions,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are pressing Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to respond to reports of disproportionate censorship around the Israeli war on Gaza.

    “Meta insists that there’s been no discrimination against Palestinian-related content on their platforms, but at the same time, is refusing to provide us with any evidence or data to support that claim,” Warren told The Intercept. “If its ad-hoc changes and removal of millions of posts didn’t discriminate against Palestinian-related content, then what’s Meta hiding?”

    In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent last December, first reported by The Intercept, Warren presented the company with dozens of specific questions about the company’s Gaza-related content moderation efforts. Warren asked about the exact numbers of posts about the war, broken down by Hebrew or Arabic, that have been deleted or otherwise suppressed.

    The letter was written following widespread reporting in The Intercept and other outlets that detailed how posts on Meta platforms that are sympathetic to Palestinians, or merely depicting the destruction in Gaza, are routinely removed or hidden without explanation.

    A month later, Meta replied to Warren’s office with a six-page letter, obtained by The Intercept, that provided an overview of its moderation response to the war but little in the way of specifics or new information.

    Most Read

    “Meta’s lack of investment to safeguard its users significantly exacerbates the political situation in Palestine and perpetuates tech harms on fundamental rights in Palestine and other global majority countries, all while evading meaningful legal accountability,” Mona Shtaya, nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told The Intercept. “The time has come for Meta, among other tech giants, to publicly disclose detailed measures and investments aimed at safeguarding individuals amidst the ongoing genocide, and to be more responsive to experts and civil society.”

    Meta’s reply disclosed some censorship: “In the nine days following October 7, we removed or marked as disturbing more than 2,200,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic for violating our policies.” The company declined, however, to provide a breakdown of deletions by language or market, making it impossible to tell whether that figure reflects discriminatory moderation practices.

    Much of Meta’s letter is a rehash of an update it provided through its public relations portal at the war’s onset, some of it verbatim.

    Now, a second letter from Warren to Meta, joined this time by Sanders, says this isn’t enough. “Meta’s response, dated January 29, 2024, did not provide any of the requested information necessary to understand Meta’s treatment of Arabic language or Palestine-related content versus other forms of content,” the senators wrote.

    Both senators are asking Meta to again answer Warren’s specific questions about the extent to which Arabic and Hebrew posts about the war have been treated differently, how often censored posts are reinstated, Meta’s use of automated machine learning-based censorship tools, and more.

    Accusations of systemic moderation bias against Palestinians have been borne out by research from rights groups.

    “Since October 7, Human Rights Watch has documented over 1,000 cases of unjustified takedowns and other suppression of content on Instagram and Facebook related to Palestine and Palestinians, including about human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch said in a late December report. “The censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic, global, and a product of the company’s failure to meet its human rights due diligence responsibilities.”


    Related

    Meta Considering Increased Censorship of the Word “Zionist”

    A February report by AccessNow said Meta “suspended or restricted the accounts of Palestinian journalists and activists both in and outside of Gaza, and arbitrarily deleted a considerable amount of content, including documentation of atrocities and human rights abuses.”

    A third-party audit commissioned by Meta itself previously concluded it had given the short shrift to Palestinian rights during a May 2021 flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. “Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” said the auditor’s report.

    In response to this audit, Meta pledged an array of reforms, which free expression and digital rights advocates say have yet to produce a material improvement.

    In its December report, Human Rights Watch noted, “More than two years after committing to publishing data around government requests for taking down content that is not necessarily illegal, Meta has failed to increase transparency in this area.”

    Update: March 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. ET
    This story has been updated to include a statement received after publication from Mona Shtaya, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy.

    https://theintercept.com/2024/03/26/meta-gaza-censorship-warren-sanders/
    Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders Sam BiddleMarch 26 2024, 8:00 a.m. WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) questions U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as he testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on the Fed's "Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress," on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Tom Williams-Pool/Getty Images) Citing the company’s “failure to provide answers to important questions,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., are pressing Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, to respond to reports of disproportionate censorship around the Israeli war on Gaza. “Meta insists that there’s been no discrimination against Palestinian-related content on their platforms, but at the same time, is refusing to provide us with any evidence or data to support that claim,” Warren told The Intercept. “If its ad-hoc changes and removal of millions of posts didn’t discriminate against Palestinian-related content, then what’s Meta hiding?” In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg sent last December, first reported by The Intercept, Warren presented the company with dozens of specific questions about the company’s Gaza-related content moderation efforts. Warren asked about the exact numbers of posts about the war, broken down by Hebrew or Arabic, that have been deleted or otherwise suppressed. The letter was written following widespread reporting in The Intercept and other outlets that detailed how posts on Meta platforms that are sympathetic to Palestinians, or merely depicting the destruction in Gaza, are routinely removed or hidden without explanation. A month later, Meta replied to Warren’s office with a six-page letter, obtained by The Intercept, that provided an overview of its moderation response to the war but little in the way of specifics or new information. Most Read “Meta’s lack of investment to safeguard its users significantly exacerbates the political situation in Palestine and perpetuates tech harms on fundamental rights in Palestine and other global majority countries, all while evading meaningful legal accountability,” Mona Shtaya, nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told The Intercept. “The time has come for Meta, among other tech giants, to publicly disclose detailed measures and investments aimed at safeguarding individuals amidst the ongoing genocide, and to be more responsive to experts and civil society.” Meta’s reply disclosed some censorship: “In the nine days following October 7, we removed or marked as disturbing more than 2,200,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic for violating our policies.” The company declined, however, to provide a breakdown of deletions by language or market, making it impossible to tell whether that figure reflects discriminatory moderation practices. Much of Meta’s letter is a rehash of an update it provided through its public relations portal at the war’s onset, some of it verbatim. Now, a second letter from Warren to Meta, joined this time by Sanders, says this isn’t enough. “Meta’s response, dated January 29, 2024, did not provide any of the requested information necessary to understand Meta’s treatment of Arabic language or Palestine-related content versus other forms of content,” the senators wrote. Both senators are asking Meta to again answer Warren’s specific questions about the extent to which Arabic and Hebrew posts about the war have been treated differently, how often censored posts are reinstated, Meta’s use of automated machine learning-based censorship tools, and more. Accusations of systemic moderation bias against Palestinians have been borne out by research from rights groups. “Since October 7, Human Rights Watch has documented over 1,000 cases of unjustified takedowns and other suppression of content on Instagram and Facebook related to Palestine and Palestinians, including about human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch said in a late December report. “The censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic, global, and a product of the company’s failure to meet its human rights due diligence responsibilities.” Related Meta Considering Increased Censorship of the Word “Zionist” A February report by AccessNow said Meta “suspended or restricted the accounts of Palestinian journalists and activists both in and outside of Gaza, and arbitrarily deleted a considerable amount of content, including documentation of atrocities and human rights abuses.” A third-party audit commissioned by Meta itself previously concluded it had given the short shrift to Palestinian rights during a May 2021 flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. “Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” said the auditor’s report. In response to this audit, Meta pledged an array of reforms, which free expression and digital rights advocates say have yet to produce a material improvement. In its December report, Human Rights Watch noted, “More than two years after committing to publishing data around government requests for taking down content that is not necessarily illegal, Meta has failed to increase transparency in this area.” Update: March 26, 2024, 1:11 p.m. ET This story has been updated to include a statement received after publication from Mona Shtaya, a nonresident fellow at the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. https://theintercept.com/2024/03/26/meta-gaza-censorship-warren-sanders/
    THEINTERCEPT.COM
    Meta Refuses to Answer Questions on Gaza Censorship, Say Sens. Warren and Sanders
    Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta dodged questions from Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders about censorship of posts about Gaza.
    0 Comments 0 Shares 12835 Views
  • The WHO Wants to Rule the World
    Ramesh Thakur
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June. The new pandemic treaty needs a two-thirds majority for approval and, if and once adopted, will come into effect after 40 ratifications.

    The amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) can be adopted by a simple majority and will be binding on all states unless they recorded reservations by the end of last year. Because they will be changes to an existing agreement that states have already signed, the amendments do not require any follow-up ratification. The WHO describes the IHR as ‘an instrument of international law that is legally-binding’ on its 196 states parties, including the 194 WHO member states, even if they voted against it. Therein lies its promise and its threat.

    The new regime will change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation into a supra-national public health authority exercising quasi-legislative and executive powers over states; change the nature of the relationship between citizens, business enterprises, and governments domestically, and also between governments and other governments and the WHO internationally; and shift the locus of medical practice from the doctor-patient consultation in the clinic to public health bureaucrats in capital cities and WHO headquarters in Geneva and its six regional offices.

    From net zero to mass immigration and identity politics, the ‘expertocracy’ elite is in alliance with the global technocratic elite against majority national sentiment. The Covid years gave the elites a valuable lesson in how to exercise effective social control and they mean to apply it across all contentious issues.

    The changes to global health governance architecture must be understood in this light. It represents the transformation of the national security, administrative, and surveillance state into a globalised biosecurity state. But they are encountering pushback in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently Ireland. We can but hope that the resistance will spread to rejecting the WHO power grab.

    Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, WHO Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked ‘the litany of lies and conspiracy theories’ about the agreement that ‘are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual, for that matter.’ He insisted that critics are ‘either uninformed or lying.’ Could it be instead that, relying on aides, he himself has either not read or not understood the draft? The alternative explanation for his spray at the critics is that he is gaslighting us all.

    The Gostin, Klock, and Finch Paper

    In the Hastings Center Report “Making the World Safer and Fairer in Pandemics,” published on 23 December, Lawrence Gostin, Kevin Klock, and Alexandra Finch attempt to provide the justification to underpin the proposed new IHR and treaty instruments as ‘transformative normative and financial reforms that could reimagine pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.’

    The three authors decry the voluntary compliance under the existing ‘amorphous and unenforceable’ IHR regulations as ‘a critical shortcoming.’ And they concede that ‘While advocates have pressed for health-related human rights to be included in the pandemic agreement, the current draft does not do so.’ Directly contradicting the DG’s denial as quoted above, they describe the new treaty as ‘legally binding’. This is repeated several pages later:

    …the best way to contain transnational outbreaks is through international cooperation, led multilaterally through the WHO. That may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty in exchange for enhanced safety and fairness.

    What gives their analysis significance is that, as explained in the paper itself, Gostin is ‘actively involved in WHO processes for a pandemic agreement and IHR reform’ as the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law and a member of the WHO Review Committee on IHR amendments.

    The WHO as the World’s Guidance and Coordinating Authority

    The IHR amendments will expand the situations that constitute a public health emergency, grant the WHO additional emergency powers, and extend state duties to build ‘core capacities’ of surveillance to detect, assess, notify, and report events that could constitute an emergency.

    Under the new accords, the WHO would function as the guidance and coordinating authority for the world. The DG will become more powerful than the UN Secretary-General. The existing language of ‘should’ is replaced in many places by the imperative ‘shall,’ of non-binding recommendations with countries will ‘undertake to follow’ the guidance. And ‘full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons’ will be changed to principles of ‘equity’ and ‘inclusivity’ with different requirements for rich and poor countries, bleeding financial resources and pharmaceutical products from industrialised to developing countries.

    The WHO is first of all an international bureaucracy and only secondly a collective body of medical and health experts. Its Covid performance was not among its finest. Its credibility was badly damaged by tardiness in raising the alarm; by its acceptance and then rejection of China’s claim that there was no risk of human-human transmission; by the failure to hold China accountable for destroying evidence of the pandemic’s origins; by the initial investigation that whitewashed the origins of the virus; by flip-flops on masks and lockdowns; by ignoring the counterexample of Sweden that rejected lockdowns with no worse health outcomes and far better economic, social, and educational outcomes; and by the failure to stand up for children’s developmental, educational, social, and mental health rights and welfare.

    With a funding model where 87 percent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions from the rich countries and private donors like the Gates Foundation, and 77 percent is for activities specified by them, the WHO has effectively ‘become a system of global public health patronage’, write Ben and Molly Kingsley of the UK children’s rights campaign group UsForThem. Human Rights Watch says the process has been ‘disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.’ The victims of this Catch-22 lack of accountability will be the peoples of the world.

    Much of the new surveillance network in a model divided into pre-, in, and post-pandemic periods will be provided by private and corporate interests that will profit from the mass testing and pharmaceutical interventions. According to Forbes, the net worth of Bill Gates jumped by one-third from $96.5 billion in 2019 to $129 billion in 2022: philanthropy can be profitable. Article 15.2 of the draft pandemic treaty requires states to set up ‘no fault vaccine-injury compensation schemes,’ conferring immunity on Big Pharma against liability, thereby codifying the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of risks.

    The changes would confer extraordinary new powers on the WHO’s DG and regional directors and mandate governments to implement their recommendations. This will result in a major expansion of the international health bureaucracy under the WHO, for example new implementation and compliance committees; shift the centre of gravity from the common deadliest diseases (discussed below) to relatively rare pandemic outbreaks (five including Covid in the last 120 years); and give the WHO authority to direct resources (money, pharmaceutical products, intellectual property rights) to itself and to other governments in breach of sovereign and copyright rights.

    Considering the impact of the amendments on national decision-making and mortgaging future generations to internationally determined spending obligations, this calls for an indefinite pause in the process until parliaments have done due diligence and debated the potentially far-reaching obligations.

    Yet disappointingly, relatively few countries have expressed reservations and few parliamentarians seem at all interested. We may pay a high price for the rise of careerist politicians whose primary interest is self-advancement, ministers who ask bureaucrats to draft replies to constituents expressing concern that they often sign without reading either the original letter or the reply in their name, and officials who disdain the constraints of democratic decision-making and accountability. Ministers relying on technical advice from staffers when officials are engaged in a silent coup against elected representatives give power without responsibility to bureaucrats while relegating ministers to being in office but not in power, with political accountability sans authority.

    US President Donald Trump and Australian and UK Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson were representative of national leaders who had lacked the science literacy, intellectual heft, moral clarity, and courage of conviction to stand up to their technocrats. It was a period of Yes, Prime Minister on steroids, with Sir Humphrey Appleby winning most of the guerrilla campaign waged by the permanent civil service against the transient and clueless Prime Minister Jim Hacker.

    At least some Australian, American, British, and European politicians have recently expressed concern at the WHO-centred ‘command and control’ model of a public health system, and the public spending and redistributive implications of the two proposed international instruments. US Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) warned on 5 February that ‘far too little scrutiny has been given, far too few questions asked as to what this legally binding agreement or treaty means to health policy in the United States and elsewhere.’

    Like Smith and Wenstrup, the most common criticism levelled has been that this represents a power grab at the cost of national sovereignty. Speaking in parliament in November, Australia’s Liberal Senator Alex Antic dubbed the effort a ‘WHO d’etat’.

    A more accurate reading may be that it represents collusion between the WHO and the richest countries, home to the biggest pharmaceutical companies, to dilute accountability for decisions, taken in the name of public health, that profit a narrow elite. The changes will lock in the seamless rule of the technocratic-managerial elite at both the national and the international levels. Yet the WHO edicts, although legally binding in theory, will be unenforceable against the most powerful countries in practice.

    Moreover, the new regime aims to eliminate transparency and critical scrutiny by criminalising any opinion that questions the official narrative from the WHO and governments, thereby elevating them to the status of dogma. The pandemic treaty calls for governments to tackle the ‘infodemics’ of false information, misinformation, disinformation, and even ‘too much information’ (Article 1c). This is censorship. Authorities have no right to be shielded from critical questioning of official information. Freedom of information is a cornerstone of an open and resilient society and a key means to hold authorities to public scrutiny and accountability.

    The changes are an effort to entrench and institutionalise the model of political, social, and messaging control trialled with great success during Covid. The foundational document of the international human rights regime is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pandemic management during Covid and in future emergencies threaten some of its core provisions regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, and rights to work, education, peaceful assembly, and association.

    Worst of all, they will create a perverse incentive: the rise of an international bureaucracy whose defining purpose, existence, powers, and budgets will depend on more frequent declarations of actual or anticipated pandemic outbreaks.

    It is a basic axiom of politics that power that can be abused, will be abused – some day, somewhere, by someone. The corollary holds that power once seized is seldom surrendered back voluntarily to the people. Lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, travel restrictions, and all the other shenanigans and theatre of the Covid era will likely be repeated on whim. Professor Angus Dalgliesh of London’s St George’s Medical School warns that the WHO ‘wants to inflict this incompetence on us all over again but this time be in total control.’

    Covid in the Context of Africa’s Disease Burden

    In the Hastings Center report referred to earlier, Gostin, Klock, and Finch claim that ‘lower-income countries experienced larger losses and longer-lasting economic setbacks.’ This is a casual elision that shifts the blame for harmful downstream effects away from lockdowns in the futile quest to eradicate the virus, to the virus itself. The chief damage to developing countries was caused by the worldwide shutdown of social life and economic activities and the drastic reduction in international trade.

    The discreet elision aroused my curiosity on the authors’ affiliations. It came as no surprise to read that they lead the O’Neill Institute–Foundation for the National Institutes of Health project on an international instrument for pandemic prevention and preparedness.

    Gostin et al. grounded the urgency for the new accords in the claim that ‘Zoonotic pathogens…are occurring with increasing frequency, enhancing the risk of new pandemics’ and cite research to suggest a threefold increase in ‘extreme pandemics’ over the next decade. In a report entitled “Rational Policy Over Panic,” published by Leeds University in February, a team that included our own David Bell subjected claims of increasing pandemic frequency and disease burden behind the drive to adopt the new treaty and amend the existing IHR to critical scrutiny.

    Specifically, they examined and found wanting a number of assumptions and several references in eight G20, World Bank, and WHO policy documents. On the one hand, the reported increase in natural outbreaks is best explained by technologically more sophisticated diagnostic testing equipment, while the disease burden has been effectively reduced with improved surveillance, response mechanisms, and other public health interventions. Consequently there is no real urgency to rush into the new accords. Instead, governments should take all the time they need to situate pandemic risk in the wider healthcare context and formulate policy tailored to the more accurate risk and interventions matrix.


    The lockdowns were responsible for reversals of decades worth of gains in critical childhood immunisations. UNICEF and WHO estimate that 7.6 million African children under 5 missed out on vaccination in 2021 and another 11 million were under-immunised, ‘making up over 40 percent of the under-immunised and missed children globally.’ How many quality adjusted life years does that add up to, I wonder? But don’t hold your breath that anyone will be held accountable for crimes against African children.

    Earlier this month the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group argued that lockdowns were a ‘class-based and unscientific instrument.’ It accused the WHO of trying to reintroduce ‘classical Western colonialism through the backdoor’ in the form of the new pandemic treaty and the IHR amendments. Medical knowledge and innovations do not come solely from Western capitals and Geneva, but from people and groups who have captured the WHO agenda.

    Lockdowns had caused significant harm to low-income countries, the group said, yet the WHO wanted legal authority to compel member states to comply with its advice in future pandemics, including with respect to vaccine passports and border closures. Instead of bowing to ‘health imperialism,’ it would be preferable for African countries to set their own priorities in alleviating the disease burden of their major killer diseases like cholera, malaria, and yellow fever.

    Europe and the US, comprising a little under ten and over four percent of world population, account for nearly 18 and 17 percent, respectively, of all Covid-related deaths in the world. By contrast Asia, with nearly 60 percent of the world’s people, accounts for 23 percent of all Covid-related deaths. Meantime Africa, with more than 17 percent of global population, has recorded less than four percent of global Covid deaths (Table 1).

    According to a report on the continent’s disease burden published last year by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Africa’s leading causes of death in 2021 were malaria (593,000 deaths), tuberculosis (501,000), and HIV/AIDS (420,000). The report does not provide the numbers for diarrhoeal deaths for Africa. There are 1.6 million such deaths globally per year, including 440,000 children under 5. And we know that most diarrhoeal deaths occur in Africa and South Asia.

    If we perform a linear extrapolation of 2021 deaths to estimate ballpark figures for the three years 2020–22 inclusive for numbers of Africans killed by these big three, approximately 1.78 million died from malaria, 1.5 million from TB, and 1.26 million from HIV/AIDS. (I exclude 2023 as Covid had faded by then, as can be seen in Table 1). By comparison, the total number of Covid-related deaths across Africa in the three years was 259,000.

    Whether or not the WHO is pursuing a policy of health colonialism, therefore, the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group has a point regarding the grossly exaggerated threat of Covid in the total picture of Africa’s disease burden.

    A shorter version of this was published in The Australian on 11 March

    Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
    For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author.

    Author

    Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

    View all posts
    Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work.

    https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-wants-to-rule-the-world/
    The WHO Wants to Rule the World Ramesh Thakur The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June. The new pandemic treaty needs a two-thirds majority for approval and, if and once adopted, will come into effect after 40 ratifications. The amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) can be adopted by a simple majority and will be binding on all states unless they recorded reservations by the end of last year. Because they will be changes to an existing agreement that states have already signed, the amendments do not require any follow-up ratification. The WHO describes the IHR as ‘an instrument of international law that is legally-binding’ on its 196 states parties, including the 194 WHO member states, even if they voted against it. Therein lies its promise and its threat. The new regime will change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation into a supra-national public health authority exercising quasi-legislative and executive powers over states; change the nature of the relationship between citizens, business enterprises, and governments domestically, and also between governments and other governments and the WHO internationally; and shift the locus of medical practice from the doctor-patient consultation in the clinic to public health bureaucrats in capital cities and WHO headquarters in Geneva and its six regional offices. From net zero to mass immigration and identity politics, the ‘expertocracy’ elite is in alliance with the global technocratic elite against majority national sentiment. The Covid years gave the elites a valuable lesson in how to exercise effective social control and they mean to apply it across all contentious issues. The changes to global health governance architecture must be understood in this light. It represents the transformation of the national security, administrative, and surveillance state into a globalised biosecurity state. But they are encountering pushback in Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, and most recently Ireland. We can but hope that the resistance will spread to rejecting the WHO power grab. Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, WHO Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked ‘the litany of lies and conspiracy theories’ about the agreement that ‘are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual, for that matter.’ He insisted that critics are ‘either uninformed or lying.’ Could it be instead that, relying on aides, he himself has either not read or not understood the draft? The alternative explanation for his spray at the critics is that he is gaslighting us all. The Gostin, Klock, and Finch Paper In the Hastings Center Report “Making the World Safer and Fairer in Pandemics,” published on 23 December, Lawrence Gostin, Kevin Klock, and Alexandra Finch attempt to provide the justification to underpin the proposed new IHR and treaty instruments as ‘transformative normative and financial reforms that could reimagine pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response.’ The three authors decry the voluntary compliance under the existing ‘amorphous and unenforceable’ IHR regulations as ‘a critical shortcoming.’ And they concede that ‘While advocates have pressed for health-related human rights to be included in the pandemic agreement, the current draft does not do so.’ Directly contradicting the DG’s denial as quoted above, they describe the new treaty as ‘legally binding’. This is repeated several pages later: …the best way to contain transnational outbreaks is through international cooperation, led multilaterally through the WHO. That may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty in exchange for enhanced safety and fairness. What gives their analysis significance is that, as explained in the paper itself, Gostin is ‘actively involved in WHO processes for a pandemic agreement and IHR reform’ as the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law and a member of the WHO Review Committee on IHR amendments. The WHO as the World’s Guidance and Coordinating Authority The IHR amendments will expand the situations that constitute a public health emergency, grant the WHO additional emergency powers, and extend state duties to build ‘core capacities’ of surveillance to detect, assess, notify, and report events that could constitute an emergency. Under the new accords, the WHO would function as the guidance and coordinating authority for the world. The DG will become more powerful than the UN Secretary-General. The existing language of ‘should’ is replaced in many places by the imperative ‘shall,’ of non-binding recommendations with countries will ‘undertake to follow’ the guidance. And ‘full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons’ will be changed to principles of ‘equity’ and ‘inclusivity’ with different requirements for rich and poor countries, bleeding financial resources and pharmaceutical products from industrialised to developing countries. The WHO is first of all an international bureaucracy and only secondly a collective body of medical and health experts. Its Covid performance was not among its finest. Its credibility was badly damaged by tardiness in raising the alarm; by its acceptance and then rejection of China’s claim that there was no risk of human-human transmission; by the failure to hold China accountable for destroying evidence of the pandemic’s origins; by the initial investigation that whitewashed the origins of the virus; by flip-flops on masks and lockdowns; by ignoring the counterexample of Sweden that rejected lockdowns with no worse health outcomes and far better economic, social, and educational outcomes; and by the failure to stand up for children’s developmental, educational, social, and mental health rights and welfare. With a funding model where 87 percent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions from the rich countries and private donors like the Gates Foundation, and 77 percent is for activities specified by them, the WHO has effectively ‘become a system of global public health patronage’, write Ben and Molly Kingsley of the UK children’s rights campaign group UsForThem. Human Rights Watch says the process has been ‘disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.’ The victims of this Catch-22 lack of accountability will be the peoples of the world. Much of the new surveillance network in a model divided into pre-, in, and post-pandemic periods will be provided by private and corporate interests that will profit from the mass testing and pharmaceutical interventions. According to Forbes, the net worth of Bill Gates jumped by one-third from $96.5 billion in 2019 to $129 billion in 2022: philanthropy can be profitable. Article 15.2 of the draft pandemic treaty requires states to set up ‘no fault vaccine-injury compensation schemes,’ conferring immunity on Big Pharma against liability, thereby codifying the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of risks. The changes would confer extraordinary new powers on the WHO’s DG and regional directors and mandate governments to implement their recommendations. This will result in a major expansion of the international health bureaucracy under the WHO, for example new implementation and compliance committees; shift the centre of gravity from the common deadliest diseases (discussed below) to relatively rare pandemic outbreaks (five including Covid in the last 120 years); and give the WHO authority to direct resources (money, pharmaceutical products, intellectual property rights) to itself and to other governments in breach of sovereign and copyright rights. Considering the impact of the amendments on national decision-making and mortgaging future generations to internationally determined spending obligations, this calls for an indefinite pause in the process until parliaments have done due diligence and debated the potentially far-reaching obligations. Yet disappointingly, relatively few countries have expressed reservations and few parliamentarians seem at all interested. We may pay a high price for the rise of careerist politicians whose primary interest is self-advancement, ministers who ask bureaucrats to draft replies to constituents expressing concern that they often sign without reading either the original letter or the reply in their name, and officials who disdain the constraints of democratic decision-making and accountability. Ministers relying on technical advice from staffers when officials are engaged in a silent coup against elected representatives give power without responsibility to bureaucrats while relegating ministers to being in office but not in power, with political accountability sans authority. US President Donald Trump and Australian and UK Prime Ministers Scott Morrison and Boris Johnson were representative of national leaders who had lacked the science literacy, intellectual heft, moral clarity, and courage of conviction to stand up to their technocrats. It was a period of Yes, Prime Minister on steroids, with Sir Humphrey Appleby winning most of the guerrilla campaign waged by the permanent civil service against the transient and clueless Prime Minister Jim Hacker. At least some Australian, American, British, and European politicians have recently expressed concern at the WHO-centred ‘command and control’ model of a public health system, and the public spending and redistributive implications of the two proposed international instruments. US Representatives Chris Smith (R-NJ) and Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) warned on 5 February that ‘far too little scrutiny has been given, far too few questions asked as to what this legally binding agreement or treaty means to health policy in the United States and elsewhere.’ Like Smith and Wenstrup, the most common criticism levelled has been that this represents a power grab at the cost of national sovereignty. Speaking in parliament in November, Australia’s Liberal Senator Alex Antic dubbed the effort a ‘WHO d’etat’. A more accurate reading may be that it represents collusion between the WHO and the richest countries, home to the biggest pharmaceutical companies, to dilute accountability for decisions, taken in the name of public health, that profit a narrow elite. The changes will lock in the seamless rule of the technocratic-managerial elite at both the national and the international levels. Yet the WHO edicts, although legally binding in theory, will be unenforceable against the most powerful countries in practice. Moreover, the new regime aims to eliminate transparency and critical scrutiny by criminalising any opinion that questions the official narrative from the WHO and governments, thereby elevating them to the status of dogma. The pandemic treaty calls for governments to tackle the ‘infodemics’ of false information, misinformation, disinformation, and even ‘too much information’ (Article 1c). This is censorship. Authorities have no right to be shielded from critical questioning of official information. Freedom of information is a cornerstone of an open and resilient society and a key means to hold authorities to public scrutiny and accountability. The changes are an effort to entrench and institutionalise the model of political, social, and messaging control trialled with great success during Covid. The foundational document of the international human rights regime is the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Pandemic management during Covid and in future emergencies threaten some of its core provisions regarding privacy, freedom of opinion and expression, and rights to work, education, peaceful assembly, and association. Worst of all, they will create a perverse incentive: the rise of an international bureaucracy whose defining purpose, existence, powers, and budgets will depend on more frequent declarations of actual or anticipated pandemic outbreaks. It is a basic axiom of politics that power that can be abused, will be abused – some day, somewhere, by someone. The corollary holds that power once seized is seldom surrendered back voluntarily to the people. Lockdowns, mask and vaccine mandates, travel restrictions, and all the other shenanigans and theatre of the Covid era will likely be repeated on whim. Professor Angus Dalgliesh of London’s St George’s Medical School warns that the WHO ‘wants to inflict this incompetence on us all over again but this time be in total control.’ Covid in the Context of Africa’s Disease Burden In the Hastings Center report referred to earlier, Gostin, Klock, and Finch claim that ‘lower-income countries experienced larger losses and longer-lasting economic setbacks.’ This is a casual elision that shifts the blame for harmful downstream effects away from lockdowns in the futile quest to eradicate the virus, to the virus itself. The chief damage to developing countries was caused by the worldwide shutdown of social life and economic activities and the drastic reduction in international trade. The discreet elision aroused my curiosity on the authors’ affiliations. It came as no surprise to read that they lead the O’Neill Institute–Foundation for the National Institutes of Health project on an international instrument for pandemic prevention and preparedness. Gostin et al. grounded the urgency for the new accords in the claim that ‘Zoonotic pathogens…are occurring with increasing frequency, enhancing the risk of new pandemics’ and cite research to suggest a threefold increase in ‘extreme pandemics’ over the next decade. In a report entitled “Rational Policy Over Panic,” published by Leeds University in February, a team that included our own David Bell subjected claims of increasing pandemic frequency and disease burden behind the drive to adopt the new treaty and amend the existing IHR to critical scrutiny. Specifically, they examined and found wanting a number of assumptions and several references in eight G20, World Bank, and WHO policy documents. On the one hand, the reported increase in natural outbreaks is best explained by technologically more sophisticated diagnostic testing equipment, while the disease burden has been effectively reduced with improved surveillance, response mechanisms, and other public health interventions. Consequently there is no real urgency to rush into the new accords. Instead, governments should take all the time they need to situate pandemic risk in the wider healthcare context and formulate policy tailored to the more accurate risk and interventions matrix. The lockdowns were responsible for reversals of decades worth of gains in critical childhood immunisations. UNICEF and WHO estimate that 7.6 million African children under 5 missed out on vaccination in 2021 and another 11 million were under-immunised, ‘making up over 40 percent of the under-immunised and missed children globally.’ How many quality adjusted life years does that add up to, I wonder? But don’t hold your breath that anyone will be held accountable for crimes against African children. Earlier this month the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group argued that lockdowns were a ‘class-based and unscientific instrument.’ It accused the WHO of trying to reintroduce ‘classical Western colonialism through the backdoor’ in the form of the new pandemic treaty and the IHR amendments. Medical knowledge and innovations do not come solely from Western capitals and Geneva, but from people and groups who have captured the WHO agenda. Lockdowns had caused significant harm to low-income countries, the group said, yet the WHO wanted legal authority to compel member states to comply with its advice in future pandemics, including with respect to vaccine passports and border closures. Instead of bowing to ‘health imperialism,’ it would be preferable for African countries to set their own priorities in alleviating the disease burden of their major killer diseases like cholera, malaria, and yellow fever. Europe and the US, comprising a little under ten and over four percent of world population, account for nearly 18 and 17 percent, respectively, of all Covid-related deaths in the world. By contrast Asia, with nearly 60 percent of the world’s people, accounts for 23 percent of all Covid-related deaths. Meantime Africa, with more than 17 percent of global population, has recorded less than four percent of global Covid deaths (Table 1). According to a report on the continent’s disease burden published last year by the WHO Regional Office for Africa, Africa’s leading causes of death in 2021 were malaria (593,000 deaths), tuberculosis (501,000), and HIV/AIDS (420,000). The report does not provide the numbers for diarrhoeal deaths for Africa. There are 1.6 million such deaths globally per year, including 440,000 children under 5. And we know that most diarrhoeal deaths occur in Africa and South Asia. If we perform a linear extrapolation of 2021 deaths to estimate ballpark figures for the three years 2020–22 inclusive for numbers of Africans killed by these big three, approximately 1.78 million died from malaria, 1.5 million from TB, and 1.26 million from HIV/AIDS. (I exclude 2023 as Covid had faded by then, as can be seen in Table 1). By comparison, the total number of Covid-related deaths across Africa in the three years was 259,000. Whether or not the WHO is pursuing a policy of health colonialism, therefore, the Pan-African Epidemic and Pandemic Working Group has a point regarding the grossly exaggerated threat of Covid in the total picture of Africa’s disease burden. A shorter version of this was published in The Australian on 11 March Published under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License For reprints, please set the canonical link back to the original Brownstone Institute Article and Author. Author Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University. View all posts Your financial backing of Brownstone Institute goes to support writers, lawyers, scientists, economists, and other people of courage who have been professionally purged and displaced during the upheaval of our times. You can help get the truth out through their ongoing work. https://brownstone.org/articles/the-who-wants-to-rule-the-world/
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    The WHO Wants to Rule the World ⋆ Brownstone Institute
    The World Health Organisation (WHO) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly comprising delegates from 194 member states, in Geneva on 27 May–1 June.
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  • Ukrainian ‘Caliphate’: What the West prefers not to notice when blaming ISIS for the terrorist attack in Moscow
    Kiev’s connections with terrorist groups and Islamists are recognized even in the West. Could Ukrainians be behind the massacre in Crocus City Hall?

    Jonas E. Alexis, Senior EditorMarch 27, 2024

    VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel

    $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts
    Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State.

    On March 22, Russia suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history, in the course of which 137 people were killed and 182 others were injured. The four terrorists who carried out the attack chose one of the largest exhibition and concert venues in the country, Crocus City Hall, in the city of Krasnogorsk on the outskirts of Moscow, which hosts large events every day.

    Even though the investigation is still ongoing, the West has already claimed that the Islamic State (IS) is responsible for the tragedy. This was first reported by some media outlets, including Reuters and CNN, and was later picked up by Western officials. For example, on Monday, this was stated by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

    However, when we compare this terrorist attack with other IS attacks, we notice more differences than similarities.

    How IS kills

    On that fateful Friday night, a concert by Picnic, a St. Petersburg rock band, was supposed to take place in Crocus City Hall. This fact gave rise to comparisons with the horrible terrorist attack in France in November 2015. Back then, terrorists broke into the Bataclan Theater in Paris, where a concert of the US band Eagles of Death Metal was taking place. IS claimed responsibility for the crime, which left 89 people dead.

    Weapon of mass distraction: Is the West scapegoating Islamic State over Moscow attack?

    Read more

    Weapon of mass distraction: Is the West scapegoating Islamic State over Moscow attack?

    In those years, IS became increasingly active throughout the world – but this was actually a sign of its decline. In its heyday, IS didn’t urge its supporters to carry out terrorist attacks, but instead called on them to “fulfill the hijrah” – i.e., move to the territories controlled by the organization. Over ten years ago, this was quite easy to do, since part of the Syrian border with Turkey was controlled by the jihadists, which allowed people to freely cross it and join their ranks.

    However, as the terrorists lost many of their territories, their rhetoric changed. Through its information resources, IS urged its followers to commit terrorist acts in places where they lived. This caused an upsurge in violence in Europe: a wave of terror swept through France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, and other countries. In Russia, the North Caucasus became a point of tension.

    The strategy was simple – anyone who supported the jihadists, wherever they lived, could record a video with an oath of allegiance to the “caliph,” send it via an automated feedback bot, and then commit a terrorist act. Often it was only the perpetrator who died, but for IS, this didn’t matter – it only cared about being mentioned in connection with the terrorist activity, which is why the organization occasionally took responsibility for crimes that it had nothing to do with.

    The terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, however, doesn’t match this straightforward strategy usually adopted by IS. In fact, the choice of a rock concert as the site of the terrorist attack is almost the only common feature between this attack and other acts of terror it has committed.

    What preceded the events at Crocus City Hall

    Four people who had not previously known each other were recruited to carry out the terrorist attack. One of them, Shamsidin Fariduni, was in Türkiye in February, and from there he flew to Russia on March 4. He spent at least ten days in Türkiye and investigators are currently determining who he communicated with while there.

    According to unofficial information, he met with a certain “Islamic preacher” in Istanbul. However, it is also known that the terrorists corresponded with the “preacher’s assistant.” According to Fariduni, this anonymous person sponsored and organized the terrorist attack.

    RT

    After arriving in Russia, Fariduni visited Crocus City Hall on March 7 in order to see the site where the crime was to be committed. From this, we may conclude that the attack was to take place soon after his arrival from Türkiye. On the same day, the US embassy in Russia warned its citizens to avoid large gatherings “over the next 48 hours” due to possible attacks by extremists.

    The next concert at Crocus City Hall was given by the singer Shaman, who is known for his patriotism. However, his concert on Saturday, March 9 passed without incident. In the following days, there were other performances at the venue, but apparently the terrorists were forced to adjust their plans.

    As a result, they chose the concert by the band Picnic, scheduled for March 22. Although this band is not as popular as Shaman, it is also known for its patriotic stance and for donating funds for the needs of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.

    ‘The Moscow terror attack was an inside job!’ The strange and twisted world of the West’s political and media Russia haters

    Read more

    ‘The Moscow terror attack was an inside job!’ The strange and twisted world of the West’s political and media Russia haters

    What happened afterwards

    None of the terrorists planned to “join the Houris in paradise,” as is usual for IS followers. After shooting people in Crocus City Hall and setting the building on fire, they did not attack the special forces which arrived at the scene and instead got in a car and fled from Moscow. Neither did they wear “suicide belts” – a characteristic detail of IS followers who are ready to die after committing their crime.

    Another detail which is uncharacteristic for IS is the monetary reward promised to the terrorists. The payment was supposed to be made in two installments – before and after the attack. The terrorists had already received the first payment, amounting to 250,000 rubles ($2,700).

    The most important detail is the location where the terrorists were detained. Traffic cameras allowed intelligence services to monitor where they were headed. They were eventually detained on the federal highway M-3 Ukraine – a route which used to connect Russia and Ukraine but lost much of its international importance after the deterioration of relations between the two countries in 2014, and particularly after the start of Russia’s military operation in 2022.

    The terrorists were detained after passing the turn to route A240, which leads to Belarus. At that moment, it became obvious that there was only one place where they could be headed: Ukraine.

    Despite the fact that the terrorists were armed, only one of them, Mukhammadsobir Fayzov, put up resistance. All of the terrorists were detained alive, which was most likely an order given to the security forces involved in the operation. However, as we mentioned above, the terrorists themselves did not want to die.

    RT

    Moreover, they knew where to go to save their lives: to the Ukrainian border. Later, in his address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a “window” for passage had been opened for them on the Ukrainian side.

    This, too, is uncharacteristic for IS, since someone who carries out a terrorist act, especially an outsider, is always considered “disposable.” Even if he makes it out alive, no one will help him. Moreover, in earlier years, IS usually didn’t take responsibility for an attack if the perpetrator remained alive, as this could harm him during the investigation. However, later the organization no longer cared about this due to the deplorable state in which it found itself.

    All this comes down to the fact that compared to other attacks carried out by IS in the past few years, this one is strikingly different when it comes to the level of preparation, detailed planning, and financial compensation.

    Dmitry Trenin: The American explanation for the Moscow terror attack doesn’t add up

    Read more

    Dmitry Trenin: The American explanation for the Moscow terror attack doesn’t add up

    What does Ukraine have to do with it?

    Having already mentioned Ukraine several times, we must note its links with terrorists. Since 2015, it has been known that the Security Service of Ukraine tried to recruit radical Islamists with the goal of carrying out sabotage and terrorist attacks, etc. on Russian territory. Ukraine’s intelligence services were also active among the terrorists in Syria. This cooperation was marked in particular by the arrival in Ukraine of Chechen terrorist Rustam Azhiev, who served in the International Legion controlled by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.

    Azhiev participated in the second Chechen campaign against the Russian Armed Forces and eventually fled to Türkiye. In 2011, he moved to Syria, where he headed the terrorist group Ajnad Al-Kavkaz. Under his command, the militants participated in hostilities against the Syrian Armed Forces and were noted for terrorist attacks directed against civilians. Azhiev operated side-by-side with groups that are recognized as terrorist organizations not only in the United States, but throughout the world. The main ally of Ajnad Al-Kavkaz was Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria.

    Over time, the Russian Armed Forces and Syrian Armed Forces liberated territories from terrorists and significantly reduced their supply base. As a result, Azhiev and his associates became involved in contract killings, extortion, torture, and racketeering. In 2019, Azhiev even had to publicly apologize for the actions of his associates, who kidnapped the wrong person.

    The terrorists had been “unemployed” for several years when in 2022, Azhiev and his associates were approached by Ukrainian intelligence services through an intermediary – field commander Akhmed Zakayev. Azhiev and his associates took part in combat operations against the Russian Armed Forces and as a reward, Azhiev was given a Ukrainian passport.

    RT

    In 2024, led by Azhiev, the terrorists participated in an attack on border settlements in Belgorod Region. In a video, Azhiev publicly admitted that the purpose of the operation was to destabilize the situation in Russia before and during the presidential elections. This was confirmed by the fact that the attacks stopped right after the elections.

    After the terrorist attack in Crocus City Hall, the Austrian newspaper Heute discovered another link between Ukraine and radical Islamists. According to the publication, which cites information from intelligence services, many suspected terrorists had entered the EU from Ukraine. For example, in December 2023, a Tajik citizen and his wife, along with an accomplice, were detained in Vienna. They were preparing an attack on St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The couple had come to the EU from Ukraine in February 2022.

    ***

    Ukraine is the place of residence not only for many terrorists, but also IS administrators and those who sympathize with the terrorists. Some of these people are actively involved in raising funds for imprisoned IS fighters in Syria and Iraq. Some of this money goes to purchasing food and medicines. But quite often, it is spent on buying weapons to carry out attacks inside prisons, and for bribing guards. Since some of the terrorists are officially “employed” in Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and others work for the Security Service of Ukraine, they can both push their employers to organize a terrorist attack or do so on their own, without formally consulting the authorities. Currently, one of the versions is that an employee of the Ukrainian intelligence services could’ve been hiding under the guise of the “preacher’s assistant.”



    Moreover, Kiev has prior experience in carrying out terrorist acts on Russian territory – both directly, as in the case of Daria Dugina, and through intermediaries, as in the case of Vladlen Tatarsky. Therefore, using radical Islamists, such as IS followers, to carry out terrorist attacks fully corresponds to Ukraine’s strategy, which comes down to inflicting maximum damage on Russia and its residents.


    ATTENTION READERS

    We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed
    In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion.

    About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy
    Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT.

    https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/krainian-caliphate-what-the-west-prefers-not-to-notice-when-blaming-isis-for-the-terrorist-attack-in-moscow/
    Ukrainian ‘Caliphate’: What the West prefers not to notice when blaming ISIS for the terrorist attack in Moscow Kiev’s connections with terrorist groups and Islamists are recognized even in the West. Could Ukrainians be behind the massacre in Crocus City Hall? Jonas E. Alexis, Senior EditorMarch 27, 2024 VT Condemns the ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINIANS by USA/Israel $ 280 BILLION US TAXPAYER DOLLARS INVESTED since 1948 in US/Israeli Ethnic Cleansing and Occupation Operation; $ 150B direct "aid" and $ 130B in "Offense" contracts Source: Embassy of Israel, Washington, D.C. and US Department of State. On March 22, Russia suffered one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history, in the course of which 137 people were killed and 182 others were injured. The four terrorists who carried out the attack chose one of the largest exhibition and concert venues in the country, Crocus City Hall, in the city of Krasnogorsk on the outskirts of Moscow, which hosts large events every day. Even though the investigation is still ongoing, the West has already claimed that the Islamic State (IS) is responsible for the tragedy. This was first reported by some media outlets, including Reuters and CNN, and was later picked up by Western officials. For example, on Monday, this was stated by White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. However, when we compare this terrorist attack with other IS attacks, we notice more differences than similarities. How IS kills On that fateful Friday night, a concert by Picnic, a St. Petersburg rock band, was supposed to take place in Crocus City Hall. This fact gave rise to comparisons with the horrible terrorist attack in France in November 2015. Back then, terrorists broke into the Bataclan Theater in Paris, where a concert of the US band Eagles of Death Metal was taking place. IS claimed responsibility for the crime, which left 89 people dead. Weapon of mass distraction: Is the West scapegoating Islamic State over Moscow attack? Read more Weapon of mass distraction: Is the West scapegoating Islamic State over Moscow attack? In those years, IS became increasingly active throughout the world – but this was actually a sign of its decline. In its heyday, IS didn’t urge its supporters to carry out terrorist attacks, but instead called on them to “fulfill the hijrah” – i.e., move to the territories controlled by the organization. Over ten years ago, this was quite easy to do, since part of the Syrian border with Turkey was controlled by the jihadists, which allowed people to freely cross it and join their ranks. However, as the terrorists lost many of their territories, their rhetoric changed. Through its information resources, IS urged its followers to commit terrorist acts in places where they lived. This caused an upsurge in violence in Europe: a wave of terror swept through France, Belgium, Germany, the UK, and other countries. In Russia, the North Caucasus became a point of tension. The strategy was simple – anyone who supported the jihadists, wherever they lived, could record a video with an oath of allegiance to the “caliph,” send it via an automated feedback bot, and then commit a terrorist act. Often it was only the perpetrator who died, but for IS, this didn’t matter – it only cared about being mentioned in connection with the terrorist activity, which is why the organization occasionally took responsibility for crimes that it had nothing to do with. The terrorist attack in Krasnogorsk, however, doesn’t match this straightforward strategy usually adopted by IS. In fact, the choice of a rock concert as the site of the terrorist attack is almost the only common feature between this attack and other acts of terror it has committed. What preceded the events at Crocus City Hall Four people who had not previously known each other were recruited to carry out the terrorist attack. One of them, Shamsidin Fariduni, was in Türkiye in February, and from there he flew to Russia on March 4. He spent at least ten days in Türkiye and investigators are currently determining who he communicated with while there. According to unofficial information, he met with a certain “Islamic preacher” in Istanbul. However, it is also known that the terrorists corresponded with the “preacher’s assistant.” According to Fariduni, this anonymous person sponsored and organized the terrorist attack. RT After arriving in Russia, Fariduni visited Crocus City Hall on March 7 in order to see the site where the crime was to be committed. From this, we may conclude that the attack was to take place soon after his arrival from Türkiye. On the same day, the US embassy in Russia warned its citizens to avoid large gatherings “over the next 48 hours” due to possible attacks by extremists. The next concert at Crocus City Hall was given by the singer Shaman, who is known for his patriotism. However, his concert on Saturday, March 9 passed without incident. In the following days, there were other performances at the venue, but apparently the terrorists were forced to adjust their plans. As a result, they chose the concert by the band Picnic, scheduled for March 22. Although this band is not as popular as Shaman, it is also known for its patriotic stance and for donating funds for the needs of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. ‘The Moscow terror attack was an inside job!’ The strange and twisted world of the West’s political and media Russia haters Read more ‘The Moscow terror attack was an inside job!’ The strange and twisted world of the West’s political and media Russia haters What happened afterwards None of the terrorists planned to “join the Houris in paradise,” as is usual for IS followers. After shooting people in Crocus City Hall and setting the building on fire, they did not attack the special forces which arrived at the scene and instead got in a car and fled from Moscow. Neither did they wear “suicide belts” – a characteristic detail of IS followers who are ready to die after committing their crime. Another detail which is uncharacteristic for IS is the monetary reward promised to the terrorists. The payment was supposed to be made in two installments – before and after the attack. The terrorists had already received the first payment, amounting to 250,000 rubles ($2,700). The most important detail is the location where the terrorists were detained. Traffic cameras allowed intelligence services to monitor where they were headed. They were eventually detained on the federal highway M-3 Ukraine – a route which used to connect Russia and Ukraine but lost much of its international importance after the deterioration of relations between the two countries in 2014, and particularly after the start of Russia’s military operation in 2022. The terrorists were detained after passing the turn to route A240, which leads to Belarus. At that moment, it became obvious that there was only one place where they could be headed: Ukraine. Despite the fact that the terrorists were armed, only one of them, Mukhammadsobir Fayzov, put up resistance. All of the terrorists were detained alive, which was most likely an order given to the security forces involved in the operation. However, as we mentioned above, the terrorists themselves did not want to die. RT Moreover, they knew where to go to save their lives: to the Ukrainian border. Later, in his address to the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that a “window” for passage had been opened for them on the Ukrainian side. This, too, is uncharacteristic for IS, since someone who carries out a terrorist act, especially an outsider, is always considered “disposable.” Even if he makes it out alive, no one will help him. Moreover, in earlier years, IS usually didn’t take responsibility for an attack if the perpetrator remained alive, as this could harm him during the investigation. However, later the organization no longer cared about this due to the deplorable state in which it found itself. All this comes down to the fact that compared to other attacks carried out by IS in the past few years, this one is strikingly different when it comes to the level of preparation, detailed planning, and financial compensation. Dmitry Trenin: The American explanation for the Moscow terror attack doesn’t add up Read more Dmitry Trenin: The American explanation for the Moscow terror attack doesn’t add up What does Ukraine have to do with it? Having already mentioned Ukraine several times, we must note its links with terrorists. Since 2015, it has been known that the Security Service of Ukraine tried to recruit radical Islamists with the goal of carrying out sabotage and terrorist attacks, etc. on Russian territory. Ukraine’s intelligence services were also active among the terrorists in Syria. This cooperation was marked in particular by the arrival in Ukraine of Chechen terrorist Rustam Azhiev, who served in the International Legion controlled by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry. Azhiev participated in the second Chechen campaign against the Russian Armed Forces and eventually fled to Türkiye. In 2011, he moved to Syria, where he headed the terrorist group Ajnad Al-Kavkaz. Under his command, the militants participated in hostilities against the Syrian Armed Forces and were noted for terrorist attacks directed against civilians. Azhiev operated side-by-side with groups that are recognized as terrorist organizations not only in the United States, but throughout the world. The main ally of Ajnad Al-Kavkaz was Jabhat Al-Nusra in Syria. Over time, the Russian Armed Forces and Syrian Armed Forces liberated territories from terrorists and significantly reduced their supply base. As a result, Azhiev and his associates became involved in contract killings, extortion, torture, and racketeering. In 2019, Azhiev even had to publicly apologize for the actions of his associates, who kidnapped the wrong person. The terrorists had been “unemployed” for several years when in 2022, Azhiev and his associates were approached by Ukrainian intelligence services through an intermediary – field commander Akhmed Zakayev. Azhiev and his associates took part in combat operations against the Russian Armed Forces and as a reward, Azhiev was given a Ukrainian passport. RT In 2024, led by Azhiev, the terrorists participated in an attack on border settlements in Belgorod Region. In a video, Azhiev publicly admitted that the purpose of the operation was to destabilize the situation in Russia before and during the presidential elections. This was confirmed by the fact that the attacks stopped right after the elections. After the terrorist attack in Crocus City Hall, the Austrian newspaper Heute discovered another link between Ukraine and radical Islamists. According to the publication, which cites information from intelligence services, many suspected terrorists had entered the EU from Ukraine. For example, in December 2023, a Tajik citizen and his wife, along with an accomplice, were detained in Vienna. They were preparing an attack on St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The couple had come to the EU from Ukraine in February 2022. *** Ukraine is the place of residence not only for many terrorists, but also IS administrators and those who sympathize with the terrorists. Some of these people are actively involved in raising funds for imprisoned IS fighters in Syria and Iraq. Some of this money goes to purchasing food and medicines. But quite often, it is spent on buying weapons to carry out attacks inside prisons, and for bribing guards. Since some of the terrorists are officially “employed” in Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and others work for the Security Service of Ukraine, they can both push their employers to organize a terrorist attack or do so on their own, without formally consulting the authorities. Currently, one of the versions is that an employee of the Ukrainian intelligence services could’ve been hiding under the guise of the “preacher’s assistant.” Moreover, Kiev has prior experience in carrying out terrorist acts on Russian territory – both directly, as in the case of Daria Dugina, and through intermediaries, as in the case of Vladlen Tatarsky. Therefore, using radical Islamists, such as IS followers, to carry out terrorist attacks fully corresponds to Ukraine’s strategy, which comes down to inflicting maximum damage on Russia and its residents. ATTENTION READERS We See The World From All Sides and Want YOU To Be Fully Informed In fact, intentional disinformation is a disgraceful scourge in media today. So to assuage any possible errant incorrect information posted herein, we strongly encourage you to seek corroboration from other non-VT sources before forming an educated opinion. About VT - Policies & Disclosures - Comment Policy Due to the nature of uncensored content posted by VT's fully independent international writers, VT cannot guarantee absolute validity. All content is owned by the author exclusively. Expressed opinions are NOT necessarily the views of VT, other authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners, or technicians. Some content may be satirical in nature. All images are the full responsibility of the article author and NOT VT. https://www.vtforeignpolicy.com/2024/03/krainian-caliphate-what-the-west-prefers-not-to-notice-when-blaming-isis-for-the-terrorist-attack-in-moscow/
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    Ukrainian ‘Caliphate’: What the West prefers not to notice when blaming ISIS for the terrorist attack in Moscow
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  • ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals
    Leila WarahMarch 25, 2024
    Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images)
    Casualties

    32,333 + killed* and at least 74,694 wounded in the Gaza Strip.
    435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.**
    Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147.
    594 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.***
    *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead.

    ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure.

    *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.”

    Key Developments

    UNRWA: Israel says no more UNRWA food convoys to north Gaza.
    UNRWA chief: Israeli decision to deny all UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza is “obstruct[ing] lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.”
    Doctors Without Borders “deeply concerned” after medical staff arrested at al-Shifa Hospital amid “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” nearby.
    Tanks crushed bodies, ambulances at al-Shifa Hospital, reports AP News, citing witnesses.
    Footage emerges of Israeli soldiers assaulting Palestinian boy
    Casualties in Israeli attack on aid distributors at Kuwaiti roundabout in Gaza City, reports Al Jazeera.
    Israeli forces raid Al Aqsa mosque during nightly prayers, assault and expel worshipers, reports Al Jazeera journalist.
    WHO Chief: Israel must reverse decision on blocking north Gaza aid.
    Israeli war cabinet minister threatens to quit if bill exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription passes
    UNRWA: U.S. funding cut will ‘compromise access to food’ in Gaza.
    UN special rapporteurs decry underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians.
    Israel blocks access to Jerusalem for West Bank Christians on Palm Sunday, reports Wafa.
    PRCS says it has lost radio contact with staff at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis.
    Euro-Med: Israel’s attacks on academics in line with Gaza ‘genocide’
    WAFA correspondent killed along with son Israeli airstrike on Gaza
    MAP report: Doctor says conditions inside European Gaza Hospital ‘unimaginable’
    Gaza: Three Hospitals under military siege

    The Israeli military has imposed ongoing sieges on at least three medical facilities in the besieged enclave, terrorizing, injuring, and killing thousands of civilians in the process.

    Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has entered its seventh day under siege, and the civilians able to flee are reporting ruthless massacres in and around the medical complex.

    A teenage Palestinian boy, Farouk Mohammed Hamd, told Al Jazeera he witnessed Israeli soldiers executing a group of eight people, including his father and brother, inside al-Shifa Hospital.

    He said he and the others were stripped of their clothing and moved several times inside the al-Shifa Hospital building in central Gaza over the course of hours before being taken to the top floor of the facility.

    “They left us for about three hours, then said, ‘You are safe. You can go south.”

    “We stood up, but then they opened fire. We all laid down on the floor again. Then, the snipers entertained themselves by shooting us one after the other.”

    Hamad said his father told him before being killed to run away if he could, and he managed to run, but not before seeing the unresponsive bodies of the executed group.

    On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its staff have reported “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital, “endangering patients, medical staff and people trapped inside with very few supplies.”

    Jameel al-Ayoubi, one of the thousands of Palestinians sheltering at the hospital, saw Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers drive over at least four bodies in the hospital courtyard, AP News reports. Ambulances were also crushed, he says.

    Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters (328 feet) from the hospital, told AP he hid in his kitchen for days waiting as explosions shook the building.

    “From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he said. “It was to terrorise us.”

    MSF added that Israeli forces have carried out a mass-arrest campaign of medical staff and other people and that the organization is “deeply concerned” for the safety of those detained.

    Meanwhile, another two hospitals in Khan Younis have been under Israeli military siege for the last 24 hours: al-Amal and Nasser hospitals, reports Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud from Gaza.

    “Military vehicles, tanks and attack drones are encircling these two facilities. They’re also blocking the entrance with piles of sand, preventing medical staff, patients and injured people inside from leaving safely and constantly failing to provide a safe corridor for people and evacuees trapped inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said.

    Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) gave their latest update on the situation in al Amal hospital on Sunday afternoon, saying Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have completely surrounded all entrances to the hospital and control any movement in and out.

    Israeli forces attacked the hospital earlier on Sunday, surrounding it with tanks and forcing nearly everyone inside, from patients to displaced Palestinians sheltering there, to evacuate.

    “What we’re getting confirmed from al-Amal Hospital is that not only has it been under constant bombing and tank shells, but loudspeakers are ordering people inside the hospital to come out only with their underwear on. And that has been confirmed by multiple sources and witnesses on the ground, those who managed to flee the harrowing situation,” Mahmoud added.

    On Sunday evening, the PRCS announced that they lost radio contact with their staff at the hospital.

    While all displaced Palestinians and patients who could move independently were evacuated towards the al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis, hospital staff remain, along with nine patients and their ten companions and a displaced family with children who have disabilities. PCRS says all of them need to be safely evacuated.

    PRCS added that staff member Amir Abu Aisha and a wounded individual who was being treated at the hospital after being shot in the head by the Israeli military were both killed, and their bodies need to be removed.

    In a statement, Hamas said the Israeli military is systematically targeting hospitals across Gaza with the goal of displacing all Palestinians from their lands, showing Israel wants to continue its “war of extermination” against Palestinians and forcibly displace them from their land “by destroying all means of life in the Gaza Strip, especially hospitals,” reported Al Jazeera.

    Underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians

    Witnesses at al-Shifa hospital have reported that “Palestinian women have been subjected to rape, torture, and execution by Israeli forces.”

    Reem Alsalem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said in a post on X that it is “abhorrent” that reports of rape by Israeli forces keep coming out without any consequences.

    “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide! It must stop!”

    Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, similarly said, “I lost count of how many renowned journalists interviewed me on the alleged mistreatment of/sexual abuse against Palestinian women by Israeli forces, and never published any article on this.”

    “What we can see on the ground is a systematic creation of a corrosive environment in which Israel, with its destruction of neighborhoods and hospitals, is making Gaza unliveable for the majority of Palestinians,” said Al Jazeera co-respondent, Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza while reporting on the besieged hospitals.

    “Horrific scenes” at European Hospital

    Meanwhile, at Gaza’s European Hospital near Khan Younis, one of the last functioning medical facilities, medical staff report “horrific scenes” at the hospital with patients “dying from infections with evidence of serious malnutrition,” reported Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).

    Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon working at the hospital, says he and his staff are “managing with the bare minimum of resources” at the medical facility due to Israeli restrictions on medical aid entering the besieged enclave.

    “One day we wanted to do a plate and screw, which is a standard procedure for bone fixation, but we didn’t have the right equipment. Sometimes we’ve also lacked gauze which is a basic supply for surgery. We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed,” he said.

    Similarly, Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist, described the situation inside the medical facility as “unimaginable.”

    “This hospital had an original capacity of just 200 beds. Now, it has expanded to 1,000 beds,” she said.

    “There are around 22,000 displaced people sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.”

    Israel bars UNRWA from northern Gaza

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Sunday that Israel has officially barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest.

    “This is outrageous [and] makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted,” the head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote in an X post.

    Famine is likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July, according to the world’s hunger watchdog, Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC), said last week.

    Lazzarini warned that Israel’s decision would speed up the coming of famine in the north of the Strip and said that “many more will die of hunger, dehydration.”

    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Israel must “urgently reverse” its decision to block the entry of food convoys organized by UNRWA into northern Gaza, where humanitarian needs are most urgent.

    “The levels of hunger are acute. All efforts to deliver food should not only be permitted but there should be an immediate acceleration of food deliveries,” Ghebreyesus said in a post on X.

    Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, says he repeatedly urged Israel to lift all its restrictions on aid to Gaza. Still, it has now done the exact opposite.

    “UNRWA is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza,” Griffiths said on X , “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.”

    No other agency is able to provide lifesaving assistance in Gaza in the same way as UNRWA, Natalie Boucly, the deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency, has said on X.

    Boucly added that attempts to “isolate” UNRWA will result in more people dying, “UNRWA is part of the UN and it was given a specific mandate by the General Assembly.”

    In January, several countries cut funding to UNRWA following unverified Israeli allegations that less than a dozen employees participated in Hamas’s operation on October 7.

    While some countries, including Canada and Sweden, have since reinstated their funding, several countries, including the US, have yet to follow suit, which will have severe implications for Palestinians in Gaza and the region.

    Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera.
    “In Gaza, the humanitarian community is racing against the clock to avert famine. As the backbone of the humanitarian response, any gap in funding to UNRWA will compromise access to food, shelter, primary health care & education at a time of deep trauma,” the organization’s chief, Lazzarini, wrote on X.

    “Palestine Refugees are counting on the international community to step up support to meet their basic needs.”

    Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera.

    The “dream” of many far-right politicians in Israel is to make Gaza “uninhabitable” for Palestinians, with the goal of re-establishing settlements for the Israelis, Ghafar continued.

    “The destruction of schools, hospitals, infrastructure [is making Gaza] almost unlivable and it will force the international community to take further refugees and thin out the population of Gaza,” he said.

    “I think Israel wants to have a big chunk of the population leave and become refugees elsewhere.”

    UN Resolution for ceasefire

    On Monday, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on yet another resolution regarding Israel’s war on Gaza. Since October seven, only two of eight resolutions have been accepted, with both mainly dealing with humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave.

    Guterres says the most recent UN Security Council resolution does not link a ceasefire in Gaza to the release of Israeli captives, reported Al Jazeera.

    In the resolution, “a ceasefire is required together with, but not in a linkage with, the unconditional release of all hostages,” he said. “And we have also claimed the need for that release.”

    Diplomats told the AFP news agency that the resolution had been worked on with the U.S. to avoid a veto, reported France 24. The U.S. has vetoed three resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza.

    “We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the US will not vote against it,” one diplomat told AFP.

    Last Friday, the Security Council voted on a draft submitted by the U.S. that called for an “immediate” ceasefire linked to the release of captives. China and Russia vetoed the resolution, criticizing it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign.

    No progress on negotiations.

    Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas have continued negotiations mediated by Qatar with little progress.

    Hamas’s political bureau official Basem Naim says a lot of “misinformation” has recently been circulated through the media regarding the ongoing truce talks in Doha, reported Al Jazeera.

    Naim said the Israelis are focusing on only one aspect of the negotiations, the release of captives, and are unwilling to discuss Hamas’s three demands – a permanent end to the war, “total withdrawal” from Gaza, and the return of displaced people to their homes.

    Hamas had proposed the release of some 100 Israeli captives in phases in exchange for a permanent end to the war, total withdrawal of Israeli troops, and the return of displaced people to their homes; however, according to Al Jazeera, Israel rejected the demand to end the war and withdraw troops from Gaza.

    Al Jazeera added that Israeli negotiators said they would allow only 2,000 Palestinians to return to their homes each day, meaning it would take more than two years for all displaced Palestinians to leave Rafah.

    Meanwhile, Israel wants all Israeli captives released immediately. Hamas has indicated it will only release women and children in the first phase.

    As negotiations continue, Yossi Amrosi, an ex-senior official of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as admitting that the Israeli army does not have the means to return all captives currently held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups.

    Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said at the start of the war that it had taken 250 captives during its October 7 incursion into Israel.

    According to the Qassam Brigades, 50 captives have been killed in Israeli air raids. Israeli intelligence officers say 30 captives have died in Gaza so far since they were taken to the enclave.

    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-171-horrific-eyewitness-accounts-continue-to-emerge-from-israels-siege-on-gazas-hospitals/
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals Leila WarahMarch 25, 2024 Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Injured Palestinians, including children, are brought to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir El-Balah for treatment following the Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2024. (Photo: Omar Ashtawy/APA Images) Casualties 32,333 + killed* and at least 74,694 wounded in the Gaza Strip. 435+ Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.** Israel revises its estimated October 7 death toll down from 1,400 to 1,147. 594 Israeli soldiers killed since October 7, and at least 3,221 injured.*** *Gaza’s Ministry of Health confirmed this figure on its Telegram channel. Some rights groups estimate the death toll to be much higher when accounting for those presumed dead. ** The death toll in the West Bank and Jerusalem is not updated regularly. According to the PA’s Ministry of Health on March 17, this is the latest figure. *** This figure is released by the Israeli military, showing the soldiers whose names “were allowed to be published.” Key Developments UNRWA: Israel says no more UNRWA food convoys to north Gaza. UNRWA chief: Israeli decision to deny all UNRWA food convoys to northern Gaza is “obstruct[ing] lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine.” Doctors Without Borders “deeply concerned” after medical staff arrested at al-Shifa Hospital amid “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” nearby. Tanks crushed bodies, ambulances at al-Shifa Hospital, reports AP News, citing witnesses. Footage emerges of Israeli soldiers assaulting Palestinian boy Casualties in Israeli attack on aid distributors at Kuwaiti roundabout in Gaza City, reports Al Jazeera. Israeli forces raid Al Aqsa mosque during nightly prayers, assault and expel worshipers, reports Al Jazeera journalist. WHO Chief: Israel must reverse decision on blocking north Gaza aid. Israeli war cabinet minister threatens to quit if bill exempting ultra-Orthodox Jews from conscription passes UNRWA: U.S. funding cut will ‘compromise access to food’ in Gaza. UN special rapporteurs decry underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians. Israel blocks access to Jerusalem for West Bank Christians on Palm Sunday, reports Wafa. PRCS says it has lost radio contact with staff at al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis. Euro-Med: Israel’s attacks on academics in line with Gaza ‘genocide’ WAFA correspondent killed along with son Israeli airstrike on Gaza MAP report: Doctor says conditions inside European Gaza Hospital ‘unimaginable’ Gaza: Three Hospitals under military siege The Israeli military has imposed ongoing sieges on at least three medical facilities in the besieged enclave, terrorizing, injuring, and killing thousands of civilians in the process. Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza has entered its seventh day under siege, and the civilians able to flee are reporting ruthless massacres in and around the medical complex. A teenage Palestinian boy, Farouk Mohammed Hamd, told Al Jazeera he witnessed Israeli soldiers executing a group of eight people, including his father and brother, inside al-Shifa Hospital. He said he and the others were stripped of their clothing and moved several times inside the al-Shifa Hospital building in central Gaza over the course of hours before being taken to the top floor of the facility. “They left us for about three hours, then said, ‘You are safe. You can go south.” “We stood up, but then they opened fire. We all laid down on the floor again. Then, the snipers entertained themselves by shooting us one after the other.” Hamad said his father told him before being killed to run away if he could, and he managed to run, but not before seeing the unresponsive bodies of the executed group. On Sunday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said its staff have reported “heavy air strikes by Israeli forces and fierce fighting” in the vicinity of al-Shifa hospital, “endangering patients, medical staff and people trapped inside with very few supplies.” Jameel al-Ayoubi, one of the thousands of Palestinians sheltering at the hospital, saw Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers drive over at least four bodies in the hospital courtyard, AP News reports. Ambulances were also crushed, he says. Kareem Ayman Hathat, who lived in a five-story building about 100 meters (328 feet) from the hospital, told AP he hid in his kitchen for days waiting as explosions shook the building. “From time to time, the tank would fire a shell,” he said. “It was to terrorise us.” MSF added that Israeli forces have carried out a mass-arrest campaign of medical staff and other people and that the organization is “deeply concerned” for the safety of those detained. Meanwhile, another two hospitals in Khan Younis have been under Israeli military siege for the last 24 hours: al-Amal and Nasser hospitals, reports Al Jazeera correspondent Hani Mahmoud from Gaza. “Military vehicles, tanks and attack drones are encircling these two facilities. They’re also blocking the entrance with piles of sand, preventing medical staff, patients and injured people inside from leaving safely and constantly failing to provide a safe corridor for people and evacuees trapped inside the hospital,” Mahmoud said. Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) gave their latest update on the situation in al Amal hospital on Sunday afternoon, saying Israeli tanks and armored vehicles have completely surrounded all entrances to the hospital and control any movement in and out. Israeli forces attacked the hospital earlier on Sunday, surrounding it with tanks and forcing nearly everyone inside, from patients to displaced Palestinians sheltering there, to evacuate. “What we’re getting confirmed from al-Amal Hospital is that not only has it been under constant bombing and tank shells, but loudspeakers are ordering people inside the hospital to come out only with their underwear on. And that has been confirmed by multiple sources and witnesses on the ground, those who managed to flee the harrowing situation,” Mahmoud added. On Sunday evening, the PRCS announced that they lost radio contact with their staff at the hospital. While all displaced Palestinians and patients who could move independently were evacuated towards the al-Mawasi area west of Khan Younis, hospital staff remain, along with nine patients and their ten companions and a displaced family with children who have disabilities. PCRS says all of them need to be safely evacuated. PRCS added that staff member Amir Abu Aisha and a wounded individual who was being treated at the hospital after being shot in the head by the Israeli military were both killed, and their bodies need to be removed. In a statement, Hamas said the Israeli military is systematically targeting hospitals across Gaza with the goal of displacing all Palestinians from their lands, showing Israel wants to continue its “war of extermination” against Palestinians and forcibly displace them from their land “by destroying all means of life in the Gaza Strip, especially hospitals,” reported Al Jazeera. Underreporting of sexual violence against Palestinians Witnesses at al-Shifa hospital have reported that “Palestinian women have been subjected to rape, torture, and execution by Israeli forces.” Reem Alsalem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said in a post on X that it is “abhorrent” that reports of rape by Israeli forces keep coming out without any consequences. “Rape and other forms of sexual violence can constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity or a constitutive act with respect to genocide! It must stop!” Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territory, similarly said, “I lost count of how many renowned journalists interviewed me on the alleged mistreatment of/sexual abuse against Palestinian women by Israeli forces, and never published any article on this.” “What we can see on the ground is a systematic creation of a corrosive environment in which Israel, with its destruction of neighborhoods and hospitals, is making Gaza unliveable for the majority of Palestinians,” said Al Jazeera co-respondent, Tareq Abu Azzoum from Gaza while reporting on the besieged hospitals. “Horrific scenes” at European Hospital Meanwhile, at Gaza’s European Hospital near Khan Younis, one of the last functioning medical facilities, medical staff report “horrific scenes” at the hospital with patients “dying from infections with evidence of serious malnutrition,” reported Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP). Husam Basheer, an orthopedic surgeon working at the hospital, says he and his staff are “managing with the bare minimum of resources” at the medical facility due to Israeli restrictions on medical aid entering the besieged enclave. “One day we wanted to do a plate and screw, which is a standard procedure for bone fixation, but we didn’t have the right equipment. Sometimes we’ve also lacked gauze which is a basic supply for surgery. We worked around the challenges we faced and managed in a different way, but the staff here are overwhelmed,” he said. Similarly, Konstantina Ilia Karydi, an anesthetist, described the situation inside the medical facility as “unimaginable.” “This hospital had an original capacity of just 200 beds. Now, it has expanded to 1,000 beds,” she said. “There are around 22,000 displaced people sheltering in the corridors and in tents inside the hospital because people feel that it’s safer to be here than anywhere else.” Israel bars UNRWA from northern Gaza The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) announced on Sunday that Israel has officially barred it from making aid deliveries in northern Gaza, where the threat of famine is highest. “This is outrageous [and] makes it intentional to obstruct lifesaving assistance during a man-made famine. These restrictions must be lifted,” the head of the UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote in an X post. Famine is likely to occur by May in northern Gaza and could spread across the enclave by July, according to the world’s hunger watchdog, Integrated Food-Security Phase Classification (IPC), said last week. Lazzarini warned that Israel’s decision would speed up the coming of famine in the north of the Strip and said that “many more will die of hunger, dehydration.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), says Israel must “urgently reverse” its decision to block the entry of food convoys organized by UNRWA into northern Gaza, where humanitarian needs are most urgent. “The levels of hunger are acute. All efforts to deliver food should not only be permitted but there should be an immediate acceleration of food deliveries,” Ghebreyesus said in a post on X. Martin Griffiths, the undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the UN, says he repeatedly urged Israel to lift all its restrictions on aid to Gaza. Still, it has now done the exact opposite. “UNRWA is the beating heart of the humanitarian response in Gaza,” Griffiths said on X , “The decision to block its food convoys to the north only pushes thousands closer to famine. It must be revoked.” No other agency is able to provide lifesaving assistance in Gaza in the same way as UNRWA, Natalie Boucly, the deputy commissioner-general of the UN agency, has said on X. Boucly added that attempts to “isolate” UNRWA will result in more people dying, “UNRWA is part of the UN and it was given a specific mandate by the General Assembly.” In January, several countries cut funding to UNRWA following unverified Israeli allegations that less than a dozen employees participated in Hamas’s operation on October 7. While some countries, including Canada and Sweden, have since reinstated their funding, several countries, including the US, have yet to follow suit, which will have severe implications for Palestinians in Gaza and the region. Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera. “In Gaza, the humanitarian community is racing against the clock to avert famine. As the backbone of the humanitarian response, any gap in funding to UNRWA will compromise access to food, shelter, primary health care & education at a time of deep trauma,” the organization’s chief, Lazzarini, wrote on X. “Palestine Refugees are counting on the international community to step up support to meet their basic needs.” Israel is using famine as a “weapon of war” in Gaza to put pressure on the Palestinian people to leave the besieged enclave, Adel Abdel Ghafar, an analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, told Al Jazeera. The “dream” of many far-right politicians in Israel is to make Gaza “uninhabitable” for Palestinians, with the goal of re-establishing settlements for the Israelis, Ghafar continued. “The destruction of schools, hospitals, infrastructure [is making Gaza] almost unlivable and it will force the international community to take further refugees and thin out the population of Gaza,” he said. “I think Israel wants to have a big chunk of the population leave and become refugees elsewhere.” UN Resolution for ceasefire On Monday, the UN Security Council is expected to vote on yet another resolution regarding Israel’s war on Gaza. Since October seven, only two of eight resolutions have been accepted, with both mainly dealing with humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave. Guterres says the most recent UN Security Council resolution does not link a ceasefire in Gaza to the release of Israeli captives, reported Al Jazeera. In the resolution, “a ceasefire is required together with, but not in a linkage with, the unconditional release of all hostages,” he said. “And we have also claimed the need for that release.” Diplomats told the AFP news agency that the resolution had been worked on with the U.S. to avoid a veto, reported France 24. The U.S. has vetoed three resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. “We expect, barring a last-minute twist, that the resolution will be adopted and that the US will not vote against it,” one diplomat told AFP. Last Friday, the Security Council voted on a draft submitted by the U.S. that called for an “immediate” ceasefire linked to the release of captives. China and Russia vetoed the resolution, criticizing it for stopping short of explicitly demanding Israel halt its campaign. No progress on negotiations. Meanwhile, Israel and Hamas have continued negotiations mediated by Qatar with little progress. Hamas’s political bureau official Basem Naim says a lot of “misinformation” has recently been circulated through the media regarding the ongoing truce talks in Doha, reported Al Jazeera. Naim said the Israelis are focusing on only one aspect of the negotiations, the release of captives, and are unwilling to discuss Hamas’s three demands – a permanent end to the war, “total withdrawal” from Gaza, and the return of displaced people to their homes. Hamas had proposed the release of some 100 Israeli captives in phases in exchange for a permanent end to the war, total withdrawal of Israeli troops, and the return of displaced people to their homes; however, according to Al Jazeera, Israel rejected the demand to end the war and withdraw troops from Gaza. Al Jazeera added that Israeli negotiators said they would allow only 2,000 Palestinians to return to their homes each day, meaning it would take more than two years for all displaced Palestinians to leave Rafah. Meanwhile, Israel wants all Israeli captives released immediately. Hamas has indicated it will only release women and children in the first phase. As negotiations continue, Yossi Amrosi, an ex-senior official of Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, was quoted by The Jerusalem Post as admitting that the Israeli army does not have the means to return all captives currently held in Gaza by Hamas and other Palestinian groups. Hamas’s armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said at the start of the war that it had taken 250 captives during its October 7 incursion into Israel. According to the Qassam Brigades, 50 captives have been killed in Israeli air raids. Israeli intelligence officers say 30 captives have died in Gaza so far since they were taken to the enclave. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/operation-al-aqsa-flood-day-171-horrific-eyewitness-accounts-continue-to-emerge-from-israels-siege-on-gazas-hospitals/
    MONDOWEISS.NET
    ‘Operation Al-Aqsa Flood’ Day 171: ‘Horrific’ eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Israel’s siege on Gaza’s hospitals
    Eyewitness accounts continue to emerge from Gaza’s hospitals, including rape, torture, mass executions, and soldiers crushing Palestinian bodies with tanks. Hamas says Israel’s systematic attack on hospitals is central to its “war of extermination.”
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  • The story of Yazan Kafarneh, the boy who starved to death in Gaza
    Tareq S. HajjajMarch 25, 2024
    Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee' Abu Naqirah)
    Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee’ Abu Naqirah)
    This is not a photo of a mummy or an embalmed body retrieved from one of Gaza’s ancient cemeteries. This is a photo of Yazan Kafarneh, a child who died of severe malnutrition during Israel’s genocidal war on the Gaza Strip.

    Yazan’s family now lives in the Rab’a School in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah City. His father, Sharif Kafarneh, along with his mother, Marwa, and his three younger brothers, had fled Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza early on in the war.

    Yazan Kafarneh died at the age of nine, the eldest of four brothers — Mouin, 6, Ramzi, 4, and Muhammad, born during the war in a shelter four months ago.

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    Living in conditions not fit for human habitation, the grieving family had witnessed Yazan’s death before their eyes. It didn’t happen all at once but unfolded gradually over time, his frail body wasting away one day after another until there was nothing left of Yazan but skin and bones.

    Sharif was unable to do anything for his son. He died due to a congenital illness that required a special dietary regimen to keep him healthy. Israel’s systematic prevention of food from reaching the civilian population in Gaza meant that severe malnutrition — suffered by most children in the besieged enclave — in the case of Yazan meant death.

    “We first left from Beit Hanoun to Jabalia refugee camp,” Sharif told Mondoweiss. “Then the occupation called us again and warned us against staying where we were. So we left for Gaza City. Then, the occupation forced us to flee further south, and we did.”

    Yazan Kafarneh's parents and three brothers in their shelter in Rafah. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj/Mondoweiss)
    Sharif Kafarneh’ (left), his wife Marwa (right), and their three surviving sons (center) in their shelter in Rafah. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj/Mondoweiss)
    “If it weren’t for Yazan, I would have never left my home,” Sharif maintained. “Yazan required special care and nutrition.”

    Yazan suffered from a congenital form of muscular atrophy that made movement and speech difficult, but Sharif said that it never caused him much grief in his nine short years before the war.

    “He just had advanced nutritional needs,” Sharif explained. “But getting that food for him was never an issue before the war.”

    It was a point of pride for Sharif that he, a taxi driver, had never left his child wanting or deprived.

    “That changed in the war. The specific foods that he needed were cut off,” he said. “For instance, Yazan had to have milk and bananas for dinner every day. He can’t go a day without it, and sometimes he can have only bananas. This is what the doctors told us.”

    “After the war, I couldn’t get a single banana,” Sharif continued. “And for lunch, he had to have boiled vegetables and fruits that were pureed in a blender. We had no electricity for the blender, and there were no fruits or vegetables anymore.”

    As for breakfast, Yazan’s regimen demanded that he eat eggs. “Of course, there aren’t any more eggs in Rafah City,” Sharif said. “No fruits, no vegetables, no eggs, no bananas, nothing.”

    “But our child’s needs were never a problem for us,” Sharif rushed to add. “We loved taking care of him. He was the spoiled child of the family, and his younger brothers loved him and took care of him, too. God gave me a living so I could take care of him.”

    Due to his special needs, charitable societies used to visit Yazan’s home in Beit Hanoun before the war, providing various treatments such as physical therapy and speech therapy. All in all, Yazan had a functional, happy childhood.

    ‘He got thinner and thinner’

    The family continued to take care of Yazan throughout the war. They tried to make do with what they could find, trying as much as possible to find alternatives to the foods Yazan required. “I replaced bananas with halawa [a tahini-based confection], and I replaced eggs with bread soaked in tea,” Sharif said. “But these foods did not contain the nutrients that Yazan needed.”

    In addition to his nutritional needs, Yazan had specific medicines to take. Sharif used to bring him brain and muscle stimulants that helped him stay alive and mobile, allowing him to move around and crawl throughout their home. Those medicines ran out during the second week of the war.

    With the lack of nutrition and medication, his health took a turn for the worse. “I noticed him getting sick, and his body was becoming emaciated,” Sharif recounts. “He got thinner and thinner.”

    His family took him to al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, where his health continued to deteriorate over the course of eleven days.

    “Even after we took him to the hospital, they couldn’t do anything for him,” Sharif continued. “All they were able to give him were IV fluids, and when his situation got worse, the hospital staff placed a feeding tube in his nose.”

    “My son required a tube with a 14-unit measurement, but all the hospital had was an 8-unit,” he added.

    When asked what was the most important factor that led to the deterioration of his son’s condition, Sharif said that it was the environment he lived in. “Before the war, he was in the right environment. After, everything was wrong. He was in his own home, but then he was uprooted to a shelter in Rafah.”

    “The situation we’re living in isn’t fit for humans, let alone a sick child,” Sharif explained. “In the camps, people would light fires to keep themselves warm, but the smoke would cause Yazan to cough and suffocate, and we weren’t able to tell them to turn their fires off because everyone was so cold.”

    Dr. Muhammad al-Sabe’, a pediatric surgeon in Rafah who works at the al-Awda, al-Najjar, and al-Kuwaiti hospitals, took a special interest in Yazan’s case.

    “The harsh conditions Yazan had to endure, including malnutrition, were the main factors contributing to the deterioration of his health and his ultimate death,” Dr. al-Sabe’ told Mondoweiss. “This is a genetic and congenital illness, and it requires special care every day, including specific proteins, IV medicines, and daily physical therapy, which isn’t available at Rafah.”

    “If things don’t change, if they stay the way they are, we’re going to witness mass death among children.”
    Dr. Muhammad al-Sabe’normal
    Dr. al-Sabe’ said that most foods administered to patients who cannot feed themselves through feeding tubes are unavailable in Gaza. “The occupation prevents these specific foods and medicines from coming in,” he explained. “Including a medicine called Ensure.”

    Ensure is a special nutritional supplement used in medical settings for what is called “enteral nutrition” — feeding patients through a nasal tube.

    “Special treatment for patients, especially children, is nonexistent,” Dr. al-Sabe’ added. “We don’t even have diapers, let alone baby formula and nutritional supplements.”

    “If things don’t change, if they stay the way they are, we’re going to witness mass death among children,” he stressed. “If any child doesn’t receive nutrition for an entire week, that child will eventually die. And even if malnourished children are eventually provided with nutrition, they will likely suffer lifelong health consequences.”

    “If medicine is cut off from children who need it for one week, this will also likely lead to their death,” he continued.

    Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee' Abu Naqirah)
    Images of Yazan Kafarneh’s emaciated body circulated widely on social media. (Photo: Rabee’ Abu Naqirah)
    Children disproportionately affected by famine

    According to a UNICEF humanitarian situation report on March 22, 2.23 million people in Gaza suffer at least from “acute food insecurity,” while half of that population (1.1 million people) suffers from “catastrophic food insecurity,” meaning that “famine is imminent for half of the population.”

    An earlier report in December 2023 had already concluded that all children in Gaza under five years old (estimated to be 335,000 children) are “at high risk of severe malnutrition and preventable death.” UNICEF’s most recent March 22 report estimates that the famine threshold for “acute food insecurity” has already been “far exceeded,” while it is highly likely that the famine threshold for “acute malnutrition” has also been exceeded. Moreover, UNICEF said that the Famine Review Committee predicted that famine would manifest in Gaza anywhere between March and May of this year.

    Dr. al-Sabe’ stresses that such dire conditions disproportionately affect children, who have advanced nutritional needs compared to adults.

    “Their bodies are weak, and they don’t have large stores of muscle and fat,” he explained. “Even one day of no food for a young child will lead to consequences that are difficult to control in the future.”

    “An adult male may go a week without food before signs of malnutrition begin to show,” he continued. “Not so with children. Their muscle mass increases whenever they eat, which in turn leads to a greater need for nutrients.”

    The lack of nutrients means that children will grow weak, the pediatric surgeon said, and that they will quickly begin to exhibit symptoms such as fatigue, sleepiness, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, sunken eyes, and joint pains. For the same reason, Dr. al-Sabe maintained, children also respond to treatment fairly quickly — but “on the condition that they have not experienced malnutrition for more than a week.”

    After one week, reversing the effects of malnutrition becomes much more difficult. Al-Sabe’ asserts that children’s digestive tracts will slow down, they might begin to suffer from kidney failure, and their bellies can swell with fluids.

    That is what is particularly devastating for Gaza — over 335,000 children have undergone varying degrees of extreme malnutrition for months on end. The consequences are difficult to fathom on a population-wide level and for future generations. As of the time of writing, over 30 children have already died due to malnutrition in northern Gaza, but the real number is likely much higher given the lack of reporting in many areas in the north.

    ‘He didn’t need a miracle to save him’

    Yazan’s mother, Marwa Kafarneh, could barely contain her tears as she spoke of her son.

    “He was a normal boy despite his illness,” she told Mondoweiss. “He played with his brothers. He crawled and moved about, and he could open closets and use the phone, and he would watch things on it for hours.”

    “He could have lived a long life, a normal life,” she continued. “His father would have brought him everything that he needed. He wouldn’t have had to feel hungry for even a single day.”

    When she saw that the images of her son’s emaciated body had gone viral on social media, Marwa said that she preferred death over looking at the photos. “My eldest son died in front of my eyes, in front of all of our eyes,” she said. “We weren’t able to save him. And he didn’t need a miracle to save him either. All he needed was the food that we’ve always been able to provide for him.”

    Reflecting as she cried, she added: “But finding that food in Gaza today takes nothing less than a miracle.”

    Tareq S. Hajjaj
    Tareq S. Hajjaj is the Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent and a member of the Palestinian Writers Union. He studied English Literature at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. He started his career in journalism in 2015, working as a news writer and translator for the local newspaper Donia al-Watan. He has reported for Elbadi, Middle East Eye, and Al-Monitor. Follow him on Twitter at @Tareqshajjaj.

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    https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/the-story-of-yazan-kafarneh-the-boy-who-starved-to-death-in-gaza/
    The story of Yazan Kafarneh, the boy who starved to death in Gaza Tareq S. HajjajMarch 25, 2024 Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee' Abu Naqirah) Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee’ Abu Naqirah) This is not a photo of a mummy or an embalmed body retrieved from one of Gaza’s ancient cemeteries. This is a photo of Yazan Kafarneh, a child who died of severe malnutrition during Israel’s genocidal war on the Gaza Strip. Yazan’s family now lives in the Rab’a School in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in Rafah City. His father, Sharif Kafarneh, along with his mother, Marwa, and his three younger brothers, had fled Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza early on in the war. Yazan Kafarneh died at the age of nine, the eldest of four brothers — Mouin, 6, Ramzi, 4, and Muhammad, born during the war in a shelter four months ago. Advertisement Watch now: ANGELA DAVIS on Witnessing Palestine with Frank Barat Living in conditions not fit for human habitation, the grieving family had witnessed Yazan’s death before their eyes. It didn’t happen all at once but unfolded gradually over time, his frail body wasting away one day after another until there was nothing left of Yazan but skin and bones. Sharif was unable to do anything for his son. He died due to a congenital illness that required a special dietary regimen to keep him healthy. Israel’s systematic prevention of food from reaching the civilian population in Gaza meant that severe malnutrition — suffered by most children in the besieged enclave — in the case of Yazan meant death. “We first left from Beit Hanoun to Jabalia refugee camp,” Sharif told Mondoweiss. “Then the occupation called us again and warned us against staying where we were. So we left for Gaza City. Then, the occupation forced us to flee further south, and we did.” Yazan Kafarneh's parents and three brothers in their shelter in Rafah. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj/Mondoweiss) Sharif Kafarneh’ (left), his wife Marwa (right), and their three surviving sons (center) in their shelter in Rafah. (Photo: Tareq Hajjaj/Mondoweiss) “If it weren’t for Yazan, I would have never left my home,” Sharif maintained. “Yazan required special care and nutrition.” Yazan suffered from a congenital form of muscular atrophy that made movement and speech difficult, but Sharif said that it never caused him much grief in his nine short years before the war. “He just had advanced nutritional needs,” Sharif explained. “But getting that food for him was never an issue before the war.” It was a point of pride for Sharif that he, a taxi driver, had never left his child wanting or deprived. “That changed in the war. The specific foods that he needed were cut off,” he said. “For instance, Yazan had to have milk and bananas for dinner every day. He can’t go a day without it, and sometimes he can have only bananas. This is what the doctors told us.” “After the war, I couldn’t get a single banana,” Sharif continued. “And for lunch, he had to have boiled vegetables and fruits that were pureed in a blender. We had no electricity for the blender, and there were no fruits or vegetables anymore.” As for breakfast, Yazan’s regimen demanded that he eat eggs. “Of course, there aren’t any more eggs in Rafah City,” Sharif said. “No fruits, no vegetables, no eggs, no bananas, nothing.” “But our child’s needs were never a problem for us,” Sharif rushed to add. “We loved taking care of him. He was the spoiled child of the family, and his younger brothers loved him and took care of him, too. God gave me a living so I could take care of him.” Due to his special needs, charitable societies used to visit Yazan’s home in Beit Hanoun before the war, providing various treatments such as physical therapy and speech therapy. All in all, Yazan had a functional, happy childhood. ‘He got thinner and thinner’ The family continued to take care of Yazan throughout the war. They tried to make do with what they could find, trying as much as possible to find alternatives to the foods Yazan required. “I replaced bananas with halawa [a tahini-based confection], and I replaced eggs with bread soaked in tea,” Sharif said. “But these foods did not contain the nutrients that Yazan needed.” In addition to his nutritional needs, Yazan had specific medicines to take. Sharif used to bring him brain and muscle stimulants that helped him stay alive and mobile, allowing him to move around and crawl throughout their home. Those medicines ran out during the second week of the war. With the lack of nutrition and medication, his health took a turn for the worse. “I noticed him getting sick, and his body was becoming emaciated,” Sharif recounts. “He got thinner and thinner.” His family took him to al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, where his health continued to deteriorate over the course of eleven days. “Even after we took him to the hospital, they couldn’t do anything for him,” Sharif continued. “All they were able to give him were IV fluids, and when his situation got worse, the hospital staff placed a feeding tube in his nose.” “My son required a tube with a 14-unit measurement, but all the hospital had was an 8-unit,” he added. When asked what was the most important factor that led to the deterioration of his son’s condition, Sharif said that it was the environment he lived in. “Before the war, he was in the right environment. After, everything was wrong. He was in his own home, but then he was uprooted to a shelter in Rafah.” “The situation we’re living in isn’t fit for humans, let alone a sick child,” Sharif explained. “In the camps, people would light fires to keep themselves warm, but the smoke would cause Yazan to cough and suffocate, and we weren’t able to tell them to turn their fires off because everyone was so cold.” Dr. Muhammad al-Sabe’, a pediatric surgeon in Rafah who works at the al-Awda, al-Najjar, and al-Kuwaiti hospitals, took a special interest in Yazan’s case. “The harsh conditions Yazan had to endure, including malnutrition, were the main factors contributing to the deterioration of his health and his ultimate death,” Dr. al-Sabe’ told Mondoweiss. “This is a genetic and congenital illness, and it requires special care every day, including specific proteins, IV medicines, and daily physical therapy, which isn’t available at Rafah.” “If things don’t change, if they stay the way they are, we’re going to witness mass death among children.” Dr. Muhammad al-Sabe’normal Dr. al-Sabe’ said that most foods administered to patients who cannot feed themselves through feeding tubes are unavailable in Gaza. “The occupation prevents these specific foods and medicines from coming in,” he explained. “Including a medicine called Ensure.” Ensure is a special nutritional supplement used in medical settings for what is called “enteral nutrition” — feeding patients through a nasal tube. “Special treatment for patients, especially children, is nonexistent,” Dr. al-Sabe’ added. “We don’t even have diapers, let alone baby formula and nutritional supplements.” “If things don’t change, if they stay the way they are, we’re going to witness mass death among children,” he stressed. “If any child doesn’t receive nutrition for an entire week, that child will eventually die. And even if malnourished children are eventually provided with nutrition, they will likely suffer lifelong health consequences.” “If medicine is cut off from children who need it for one week, this will also likely lead to their death,” he continued. Yazan Kafarneh after dying of starvation. (Photo: Rabee' Abu Naqirah) Images of Yazan Kafarneh’s emaciated body circulated widely on social media. (Photo: Rabee’ Abu Naqirah) Children disproportionately affected by famine According to a UNICEF humanitarian situation report on March 22, 2.23 million people in Gaza suffer at least from “acute food insecurity,” while half of that population (1.1 million people) suffers from “catastrophic food insecurity,” meaning that “famine is imminent for half of the population.” An earlier report in December 2023 had already concluded that all children in Gaza under five years old (estimated to be 335,000 children) are “at high risk of severe malnutrition and preventable death.” UNICEF’s most recent March 22 report estimates that the famine threshold for “acute food insecurity” has already been “far exceeded,” while it is highly likely that the famine threshold for “acute malnutrition” has also been exceeded. Moreover, UNICEF said that the Famine Review Committee predicted that famine would manifest in Gaza anywhere between March and May of this year. Dr. al-Sabe’ stresses that such dire conditions disproportionately affect children, who have advanced nutritional needs compared to adults. “Their bodies are weak, and they don’t have large stores of muscle and fat,” he explained. “Even one day of no food for a young child will lead to consequences that are difficult to control in the future.” “An adult male may go a week without food before signs of malnutrition begin to show,” he continued. “Not so with children. Their muscle mass increases whenever they eat, which in turn leads to a greater need for nutrients.” The lack of nutrients means that children will grow weak, the pediatric surgeon said, and that they will quickly begin to exhibit symptoms such as fatigue, sleepiness, diarrhea, vomiting, anemia, sunken eyes, and joint pains. For the same reason, Dr. al-Sabe maintained, children also respond to treatment fairly quickly — but “on the condition that they have not experienced malnutrition for more than a week.” After one week, reversing the effects of malnutrition becomes much more difficult. Al-Sabe’ asserts that children’s digestive tracts will slow down, they might begin to suffer from kidney failure, and their bellies can swell with fluids. That is what is particularly devastating for Gaza — over 335,000 children have undergone varying degrees of extreme malnutrition for months on end. The consequences are difficult to fathom on a population-wide level and for future generations. As of the time of writing, over 30 children have already died due to malnutrition in northern Gaza, but the real number is likely much higher given the lack of reporting in many areas in the north. ‘He didn’t need a miracle to save him’ Yazan’s mother, Marwa Kafarneh, could barely contain her tears as she spoke of her son. “He was a normal boy despite his illness,” she told Mondoweiss. “He played with his brothers. He crawled and moved about, and he could open closets and use the phone, and he would watch things on it for hours.” “He could have lived a long life, a normal life,” she continued. “His father would have brought him everything that he needed. He wouldn’t have had to feel hungry for even a single day.” When she saw that the images of her son’s emaciated body had gone viral on social media, Marwa said that she preferred death over looking at the photos. “My eldest son died in front of my eyes, in front of all of our eyes,” she said. “We weren’t able to save him. And he didn’t need a miracle to save him either. All he needed was the food that we’ve always been able to provide for him.” Reflecting as she cried, she added: “But finding that food in Gaza today takes nothing less than a miracle.” Tareq S. Hajjaj Tareq S. Hajjaj is the Mondoweiss Gaza Correspondent and a member of the Palestinian Writers Union. He studied English Literature at Al-Azhar University in Gaza. He started his career in journalism in 2015, working as a news writer and translator for the local newspaper Donia al-Watan. He has reported for Elbadi, Middle East Eye, and Al-Monitor. Follow him on Twitter at @Tareqshajjaj. BEFORE YOU GO – At Mondoweiss, we understand the power of telling Palestinian stories. For 17 years, we have pushed back when the mainstream media published lies or echoed politicians’ hateful rhetoric. Now, Palestinian voices are more important than ever. Our traffic has increased ten times since October 7, and we need your help to cover our increased expenses. Support our journalists with a donation today. https://mondoweiss.net/2024/03/the-story-of-yazan-kafarneh-the-boy-who-starved-to-death-in-gaza/
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    The story of Yazan Kafarneh, the boy who starved to death in Gaza
    9-year-old Yazan Kafarneh died of a congenital illness turned deadly by severe malnutrition under Israel’s genocidal siege. “He didn’t need a miracle to save him,” cries his mother. “All he needed was the food we’ve always been able to provide him.”
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