CD292: Sabotaging Palestine

CD292: Sabotaging Palestine

May 23, 2024

President Biden has signed three new laws containing policy changes that will have long lasting effects on the people of Palestine. In this episode, seven months into the ongoing destruction of Gaza, see what Congress and the President have enacted in your name.

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Recommended Sources for Gaza News

Rising with Robby Soave and Briahna Joy Gray

Bisan Owda (@wizard_bisan1) on Instagram

AJ+ (@ajplus) on Instagram

Al Jazeera

Intercepted Podcast

Background Sources

Recommended Congressional Dish Episodes

CD290: Israel War Money: What’s Already Law

CD287: War Money

Who Pays for Corporate Media

“Raytheon TV Commercials” 2024.

“Boeing TV Commercials.” 2024.


“The number of hostages still alive in Gaza is a mystery, officials say.” Dan De Luce et al. April 18, 2024. NBC News.

“Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel)” December 29, 2023. International Court of Justice.

“How Hamas built a force to attack Israel on 7 October.” Abdelali Ragad et al. November 27, 2023. BBC.

Destruction of Khan Yunis

“‘Have you ever seen destruction like this? Even in the end-of-the-world movies?'” Bisan Owda. May 21, 2024. AJ+ (@ajplus) and Al Jazeera English (@aljazeeraenglish) on Instagram.

Israel’s Buffer Zone Around Gaza

“Cementing its military footprint, Israel is transforming Gaza’s geography.” Ruwaida Kamal Amer. May 21, 2024. +972 Magazine.

“How Israel’s Proposed Buffer Zone Reshapes the Gaza Strip.” Camille Bressange et al. March 16, 2024. The Wall Street Journal.

“Analysis shows destruction and possible buffer zone along Gaza Strip’s border with Israel.” February 2, 2024. Jon Gambrell. AP News.

“Israel Builds Buffer Zone Along Gaza Border, Risking New Rift With U.S.” Dov Liber et al. January 25, 2024. The Wall Street Journal.

“What to know about Israel’s controversial ‘buffer zone’ in Gaza.” Loveday Morris et al. January 24, 2024. The Washington Post.

Israeli Settlements

“‘That sounds like ethnic cleansing’: CNN questions lead figure in Israel’s settler movement.” March 20, 2024. CNN on YouTube.

“Smotrich’s Plan to Subjugate the Palestinians Goes Ahead.” Amira Hass. March 12, 2024. Haaretz.

“Israel plans to build 3,300 new settlement homes. It says it’s a response to a Palestinian attack.” Julia Frankel. February 23, 2024. AP News.

“Netanyahu Ministers Join Thousands of Israelis in ‘Resettle Gaza’ Conference Calling for Palestinians’ Transfer.” Nir Hasson and Rachel Fink. January 28, 2024. Haaretz.

“Israeli Far-right Lawmaker Calls for Settlements Across All Northern Gaza.” Itai Weiss. December 27, 2023. Haaretz.

“Highways to Annexation: Across the West Bank, Israel Is Bulldozing a Bright Future for Jewish Settlers.” Hagar Shezaf. December 11, 2020. Haaretz.

“United Nations Resolution 181”. Updated February 2, 2024. Encyclopedia Britannica.

AI Kill List

“Inside Israel’s Bombing Campaign in Gaza.” Isaac Chotiner. April 12, 2024. The New Yorker.

“Lavender & Where’s Daddy: How Israel Used AI to Form Kill Lists & Bomb Palestinians in Their Homes.” April 5, 2024. Amy Goodman and Yuval Abraham. Democracy Now!

“At Singapore Airshow, the Gaza War Was a Selling Point for Israeli Arms Makers.” Avi Scharf. April 5, 2024. Haaretz.

“Israel offers a glimpse into the terrifying world of military AI.” Ishaan Tharoor. April 5, 2024. The Washington Post.

“Israel Defence Forces’ response to claims about use of ‘Lavender’ AI database in Gaza.” April 3, 2024. The Guardian.

“‘Lavender’: The AI machine directing Israel’s bombing spree in Gaza.” Yuval Abraham. April 3, 2024. +972 Magazine.

“‘A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza.” Yuval Abraham. November 30, 2023. +972 Magazine.

“Tracking Cellphone Data by Neighborhood, Israel Gauges Gaza Evacuation.” Patrick Kingsley and Ronen Bergman. Updated Oct. 18, 2023. The New York Times.

“Commander of the Artificial Intelligence Center, 8200: Artificial intelligence enables faster classification and detection of terrorist targets.” Ami Rokhax Domba. February 14, 2023. Israel Defense.

“IDF Debuts Drone Swarms to Seek and Attack Hidden Targets.” Tamir Eshel. June 13, 2021. Defense Update.

Israelis Who Died in October

“Israel’s Dead: The Names of Those Killed in Hamas Attacks, Massacres and the Israel-Hamas War.” October 19, 2023. Haaretz.

Massacre at al-Shifa Hospital

“‘Come out, you animals’: how the massacre at al-Shifa Hospital happened.” Tareq S. Hajjaj. April 11, 2024. Mondoweiss.

“Israeli troops end Al-Shifa hospital raid, leaving behind bodies and trail of destruction.” Abeer Salman et al. April 1, 2024. CNN.

Supplemental Funding

“Biden signs bill that includes funding for Israel, aid for Gaza.” April 24, 2024. The Washington Post.

“A breakdown of what’s in the $95 billion foreign aid package passed by the House.” April 21, 2024. PBS NewsHour.


“An independent review finds no evidence for Israel’s claims about UNRWA and Hamas.” Ayesha Rascoe and Jackie Northam. April 28, 2024. NPR.

“Israel reveals 12 UNRWA staffers it says took part in Oct. 7, says 30 more assisted.” Emanuel Fabian. February 16, 2024. The Times of Israel.

Who Governs Palestine

“Unraveling the complexity: A guide to Palestinian governing groups.” Noa Rone. March 8, 2024. Unpacked.

UN Human Rights Council

“Human Rights Council’s Resolutions on Question of Palestine.” Updated April 5, 2024. United Nations Human Rights Council.

“Right of Palestinian People to Self-determination – HRC 52nd Session – Resolution (A/HRC/RES/52/34).” April 18, 2023. United Nations General Assembly.

‘Detainee’ treatment

“Israel/oPt: UN experts appalled by reported human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls.” February 19, 2024. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

“Special Rapporteur Says Israel’s Unlawful Carceral Practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory Are Tantamount to International Crimes and Have Turned it into an Open-Air Prison.” United Nations Information Service. July 10, 2023. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Suppression of Journalism

“Ben-Gvir orders closure of Voice of Palestine’s Jerusalem broadcast center.” March 20, 2023. Jewish News Syndicate.

“Palestinians seek $10m for radio attack.” January 24, 2002. BBC.

Why It’s Not a War

“Does Israel have a ‘right of self-defence’ under international law? No….” [X post] Ajit Singh (@ajitxsingh). November 14, 2023. X.

“IN FULL: Francesca Albanese’s Address to the National Press Club of Australia.” Francesca Albanese. November 14, 2023. National Press Club of Australia on Youtube.

Torture in Israeli Detention Facilities

“CNN exclusive: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in Sde Teiman prison.” May 11, 2024. Middle East Eye on YouTube.

“Strapped down, blindfolded, held in diapers: Israeli whistleblowers detail abuse of Palestinians in shadowy detention center.” CNN’s International Investigations and Visuals teams. May 11, 2024. CNN.

“‘Suddenly I Realize That I’m Burning’: Israelis Who Fought in Gaza Share What They Saw.” Netta Ahituv. May 4, 2024. Haaretz.

Leahy Amendment

“Leahy Law: Here’s What You Need to Know About the Law Roiling U.S.-Israel Ties.” Ben Samuels. April 27, 2024. Haaretz.

International Criminal Court

“The U.S. does not recognize the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Michel Martin and John Bellinger III on All Things Considered. April 16, 2022. NPR.


H.R. 815 – Making emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2024, and for other purposes

H.R.2882 – Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2024

H.R.2670 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2024

Audio Sources

‘If you’re watching this… then Al Jazeera has been banned in Israel’

May 5, 2024
Al Jazeera English on Instagram (@aljazeeraenglish)

Imran Khan: If you are watching this prerecorded report, then Al Jazeera has been banned in the territory of Israel. On April the first, the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, passed a law that allowed the Prime Minister to ban Al Jazeera. He’s now enacted that law. Let me just take you through some of the definitions. Within the law, they’ve banned our website, including anything that has the option of entering or accessing the website, even passwords that are needed whether they’re paid or not, and whether it’s stored on Israeli servers or outside of Israel. The website is now inaccessible. They’re also banning any device used for providing content. That includes my mobile phone. If I use that to do any kind of news gathering, then the Israelis can simply confiscate it. Our internet access provider, the guy that simply hosts, is also in danger of being fined if they host the website. The Al Jazeera TV channel [is] completely banned. Transmission by any kind of content provider is also banned and holding offices or operating them in the territory of Israel by the channel. Also, once again, any devices used to provide content for the channel can be taken away by the Israelis. It’s a wide ranging ban. We don’t know how long it’ll be in place for, but it does cover this territory of the state of Israel.

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy condemns Al Jazeera shutdown in Israel

May 5, 2024
Al Jazeera English on YouTube

Cyril Vanier: So what does the war look like, as presented by Israeli media to Israelis? Gideon Levy: Very, very simple picture. We are the victims. We are the only victims, as usual. There was the 7th of October, and we will stick to the 7th of October, which was almost the Holocaust in the eyes of most of the Israelis and this 7th of October enables us and legitimizes us to do whatever we want in Gaza. Gaza doesn’t interest us. Gaza is Hamas and Hamas, Gaza. And therefore, we should punish them all, and if possible, even kill them al, destroy them all, and we will. We have no interest to see what’s the suffer[ing] of Gaza, what’s the punishment of Gaza, what the innocent people of Gaza are going through. We are only interested in the brave soldiers, the hostages and the victims of the 7th of October. That’s our world, and that’s the world that the Israeli media as a whole is describing to its viewers for seven months now, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Only this, you don’t see Gaza.

USAID’s Foreign Policy and International Development Priorities in the Era of Great Power Competition

April 10, 2024
House Foreign Affairs Committee

Watch on YouTube


  • Samantha Power, Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development


47:15 Samantha Power: Again, you had very little, almost no child malnutrition before October 7, and you now have a massive spike. And particularly in the north, one in three kids are suffering from malnutrition. And again, the reports of famine also spreading to the south. It makes sense because so little assistance has gotten in commensurate to the needs of more than 2 million people.

1:13:55 Samantha Power: My understanding – this is something that Secretary Blinken is managing and you’ll have a chance I’m sure to engage him on – but the national security memorandum 20 that was issued not long ago is taking 620 I and those elements into consideration. I think that report is due out in early May.

1:41:40 Samantha Power: You know well, because you’ve been in so many of these countries, we don’t have an NGO out there — This is not your traditional UN agency, where you can have like schools in a box, teachers in a box, health workers in a box. Hamas was the state and Hamas won the election back in the day. And Hamas had far too much influence on certain individuals, or even certain individuals were, it seems, potentially part of Hamas. But the fact is, the administration of schools and health systems was UNRWA. There’s not an NGO or another UN agency that could perform the function of a State like that, or at least I haven’t encountered one in my years of humanitarian service.

2:02:20 Samantha Power: One little parenthetical is, Israel, about a month ago, in light of the horrific allegations, made a decision that UNRWA could not participate in convoys to the north – humanitarian convoys. But what that meant was, fundamentally there could be no convoys to the north because you can’t, as bombs are falling and kinetic operations are underway and terrorists are being pursued, suddenly invent an entire humanitarian infrastructure.

2:17:20 Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): I want to ask you obviously about the very urgent situation humanitarian situation in Gaza. In your testimony, you said that the entire population of Gaza is living under the threat of famine. News reports came out recently that certain USAID officials sent a cable to the National Security Council warning that famine is already likely occurring in parts of the Gaza Strip. According to the report “famine conditions are most severe and widespread in northern Gaza, which is under Israeli control.” Do you think that it’s plausible or likely that parts of Gaza and particularly northern Gaza, are already experiencing famine? Samantha Power: Well, the methodology that the IPC used is one that we had our experts scrub, it’s one that’s relied upon in other settings, and that is their assessments and we believe that assessment is credible. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): So there’s a famine is already occurring there. Samantha Power: That is… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): Yes, okay.

2:18:14 Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): More than half of the population of Gaza is under the age of 18, as you know, and are seriously affected by the lack of access to food and nutrition. Various organizations, including the United Nations, have warned that hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children may die if they don’t get necessary food and nutrition assistance in just the next two to three weeks. Has USAID made such an assessment itself? And do you have a sense of how many such children might be at risk of dying if they don’t get access to food and nutrition that’s currently unavailable? Samantha Power: I do not have those assessments on hand. But I will say that in northern Gaza, the rate of malnutrition, prior to October 7, was almost zero. And it is now one in three, one in three kids. But extrapolating out is hard. And I will say just with some humility, because it is so hard to move around in Gaza, because the access challenges that give rise in part to the malnutrition are so severe, it is also hard to do the kind of scaled assessments that we would wish to do. But in terms of actual severe acute malnutrition for under fives, that rate was 16% in January, and became 30% in February, and we’re awaiting the the March numbers, but we expect it to — Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): So it got markedly worse. Samantha Power: Markedly worse. But extrapolating and giving you the overall numbers… Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): And just to be clear, I realize you’re not part of the DoD or the State Department even, working on these issues diplomatically. But is it your understanding that humanitarian assistance and food assistance is not supposed to be denied even when countries are at war with each other? Because there is this argument that if Hamas would release the hostages, if they would surrender, that this would stop, but there’s certain laws of war and certain conduct that nations are supposed to follow, and that includes allowing for humanitarian assistance. Samantha Power: Correct. I mean, I will say, of course, we all agree the hostages should be released, absolutely. An absolute outrage that they had been kept this long and the horror and terror for their families, the families of those individuals I can’t even contemplate but yes, food must flow. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX): Kids can’t be starved because you have two groups that are at war with each other. Samantha Power: Food must flow and food has not flowed in sufficient quantities to avoid this imminent famine in the south and these conditions that are giving rise already to child deaths in the north.

2:29:20 Samantha Power: Again, trusted partners like World Food Programme and UNICEF and others have not reported that Hamas is getting in the way of distributing humanitarian assistance. And I will say, nor are we getting those reports from the IDF who are present on the ground in Gaza. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): I have been getting reports, in fact, that Hamas is targeting, punishing or hindering Palestinians who are working with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance. You have not seen any evidence of that? Samantha Power: I would be very interested in those reports, but that is not what our partners are reporting back to us. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): Do you believe that Hamas is benefiting from the aid that we are providing to Gaza? Samantha Power: I mean, I don’t even know how to think about that question in this moment when Hamas is on the run and being pursued across Gaza. So, you know, I don’t think they are in a position, because of what the IDF is doing, to benefit per se. Would family members of Hamas potentially begin getting access at a food distribution? You know, that’s possible. It’s going to civilians. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): Do you have any idea how Hamas fighters are getting their food? Samantha Power: I don’t. Rep. Kathy Manning (D-NC): So it is a difficult balance to strike when we desperately want to make sure that innocent Palestinians don’t suffer and don’t starve, but we don’t want to do anything to embolden Hamas. 2:46:10 Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): There was already serious concern with the operations of UNRWA prior to the administration’s decision to cut funding. Further this past November, I led floor debate to pass the Peace and Tolerance in Palestinian Education Act, which discussed the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel curricula taught to children in Gaza and the West Bank, a curriculum taught by UNRWA employees. So while yes, we appreciate the prohibition on new funding in January, this is long overdue, as there were clear and present issues that UNRWA that look like were ignored by the administration.

2:48:45 Samantha Power: Putting people who want to eliminate another people in power is not anything that anybody would have wished. But the effect is that the governing institution had significant leverage over the UN agency that was carrying out — Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): A terrorist state that has had control over this agency, which is in part why we have pushed to defund it. Would you support future year Appropriations defunding UNRWA? Samantha Power: I don’t know if you’ve had a chance to talk to the King of Jordan, for example. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): I’ve had dinner with him, in Jordan. Samantha Power: And about what it is going to mean for the Jordanian people to have 2 million young people basically looking for where their schools are going to get support. Now, it may be that the Europeans and others come in and address this issue and it doesn’t — Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Defunding UNWRA does not mean that we don’t deal with humanitarian issues. It doesn’t mean that we don’t — Samantha Power: No, no but it just is the school system. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): It doesn’t mean that we don’t deal with it, it means we find a different vehicle by which to do this, but UNRWA itself has proven to be corrupt. Samantha Power: You’ve been here for much of the exchange. There’s no NGO, there’s no UN agency that creates school systems. There’s no, like, U haul where there’s a school system that you just deploy in Jordan, to educate 2.6 million Jordanian kids, it just doesn’t work that way. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Respectfully, being snide about it is not actually solving the issue here. The reality is UNRWA is not the vehicle by which we should be sending American taxpayer dollars at this point. It’s just not. Samantha Power: We will follow the law. Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): Right, my question to you was, do you support moving forward? Samantha Power: I’m describing the benefits of educating young people across the region and providing health services, and I’m not seeing a viable alternative. So I would suggest — Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): So you believe we should continue? Samantha Power: I think, first of all, we don’t know what Gaza is going to look like after this war ends. Hopefully, Hamas will be dismantled and new institutions will be in place whereby they will take care of educating their own young people, and you won’t need a UN agency to do it. But it is extremely important that we look out for young people in Gaza, it is going to do nobody any favors for them not to have access to an education Rep. Michael Lawler (R-NY): No, the fact is, on October 7, part of the reason that you had that type of terrorist attack is because of the level of hatred and anti-semitism that is taught in schools in Gaza. That is part of the problem here. And UNRWA helped in terms of allowing for that to occur under the guise of a UN agency. It is disgusting. It is shameful, and the fact that we as the United States have helped support that organization helped fund it is an embarrassment. And that’s why we fought to defund it.

3:00:00 Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA): I am hypercritical of the alleged 12 or 15, who may have been infiltrating as Hamas, who may have participated in the October 7, horrendous barbaric attack. But you don’t throw everybody and all the good work out. Because I want to ask you, if we continue this pause, if the world said we will not help you UNRWA, your however many thousands of workers who are on the ground, who keep coming to work even when their whole families are killed, what will happen with famine in Gaza, if we just shut it down? No more UNRWA. By the way, they’re not educating. We know that they can’t even do that now. They have incredibly important vaccines and medical aid to to be a part of, but the essentialness of food and water. What happens if we continue this disinformation campaign of ‘Defund UNRWA’? Samantha Power: Well, first, thank you for bringing some facts into the conversation that I probably should have raised before, including just the horrific loss of life for those who work for UNRWA. And in general, you know, more than 228 workers killed by IDF or in my IDF military operations to this point, including, most recently of course, the World Central Kitchen colleagues, devastatingly. And thank you also for reminding us all. UNRWA is an organization in Gaza alone of 13,000 people. The vast majority of those people have not been propagating hate but have been actually trying to educate young people. The literacy rate in Gaza-West Bank, I think, is something like 99%. It’s one of the most effective literacy efforts in any of the places that USAID works. In terms of what would happen if the whole thing shut down….Right now, it looks like other countries are stepping up to avert that scenario. But, you know, I just cannot overstate how chaotic and how horrific the conditions in Gaza are. You’ve spoken to them. The visuals speak to the level of destruction. There’s no work-around for the infrastructure that they provide. After the war, when there’s a new administration of Gaza, if that comes about, obviously, that’s itself extremely complicated. You know, the question of who is providing education as they try to rebuild virtually everything from scratch and the education and the health sector? You know, some of these questions will be will be addressed. But right now, there is no way to avert large scale famine without relying on the humanitarian backbone that has been enriched for decades, and that remains UNRWA today. We are going to follow the law, we are going to work through other partners. But, I started to say this earlier: even the government of Israel, which had banned UNRWA’s participation in convoys, because of the food crisis – and US engagement, I hope – has now decided that UNRWA can in fact be part of convoys going to the North because they recognize there’s just no other way. Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-PA): Right. And I want to commend to anybody to please meet with the director of UNRWA who is stationed in Rafah: a 20-plus-year US military veteran. I don’t know how people stay at this kind of work with the risks that they are taking, but they are there.


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