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UNRWA personnel in Gaza. UNRWA Facebook page

The initiatives underway and in the works around the world, to bring about a ceasefire in Gaza, to provide humanitarian aid—restoration of UNRWA in particular, and to bring a halt to the genocide and lies from Israel, backed by Washington, London and cohorts, are of utmost importance and urgency. This was discussed yesterday by those at the International Peace Coalition, at its 36th weekly online meeting, whose deliberations and initiatives are reported in the accompanying article.

At present, 1.5 million people in south Gaza, concentrated in and around the cities of Rafah and Khan Younis, are in the crosshairs of mass death, pending action on the directives issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to evacuate and dominate the area. Evacuate where? Northwards is rubble. Staying in place, under the aid cutoff is also deadly.

This week the Netanyahu government took various financial measures to shut down any vestige of UNRWA aid infrastructure, by shutting its bank accounts with Israel’s Bank Leumi, and cancelling any and all arrangements such as the tax-exemption for charitable work. Then today came the announcement that the IDF had found, some time ago, that a Hamas data center was located in tunnels under the former UNRWA headquarters in Gaza City.

Even without this new charge, which like other charges is without any pretense of verification, the intent of the totality of the Netanyahu actions in Gaza and the West Bank is clear: Palestinians must die. As the Jan. 26, 2024 decision stated from the UN International Court of Justice, there is plausibility of genocide taking place in Gaza and it must stop.

So far, the official death toll, as reported by the Hamas Health Ministry is over 28,000 Palestinians killed, with 67,700 wounded, and thousands more missing, believed dead. On Feb. 9 leaders of other UN agencies, besides UNRWA, spoke out on the deadly nature of what is taking place. UNICEF warned that 600,000 children are among the displaced in Rafah. The World Food Organization warned that as of May, famine could prevail in all Gaza.

What is the official stance of Washington, D.C., leading the group of nations suspending funding of UNRWA? Secretary of State Antony Blinken said to reporters in Tel Aviv on Feb. 7, we support saving “the functions of UNRWA.” But, as Blinken knows full well, no such effort is taking place. In fact, aid in the region is already blocked from entry into Gaza. A Turkish shipping convoy of more than 1,000 containers of relief food that could sustain a million people for a month (flour, rice, cooking oil, sugar, chickpeas) has been waiting off the port of Ashdod, blocked by Israel for weeks.

In the same devious and shameless mode as Blinken, President Joe Biden signed an executive security memorandum the evening of Feb. 8, ordering that foreign governments which deploy U.S.-donated weapons must observe human rights! White House press spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said yesterday that, “We did brief the Israelis on this. They reiterated their willingness to provide these types of assurances.”

Meantime, the U.S. joins with Israel in bombing in the region. On Feb. 9, there were U.S. airstrikes on Yemen, from early in the morning until night. Israel bombed Syria, near Damascus, from the occupied Golan.

Against this warfare escalation, there is diplomacy underway in the region for peace, but a worldwide escalation for peace is urgent. On Feb. 8, a meeting on the crisis and necessity for ceasefire took place in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, with foreign ministers from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority, hosted by the Saudis.

On Monday, Feb. 12, Jordan’s King Abdullah II will visit Washington to meet with President Biden and other leaders, and then proceed to Canada, France and Germany.

At the UN in New York, it was reported this week that Algeria, a member of the UN Security Council since Jan. 1, and a de facto representative of the world Arab and Muslim community, has a revised ceasefire UNSC resolution text, which could be submitted in the coming week or so.

Now is the time for action. That was stressed by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, Schiller Institute leader, at the conclusion of the Feb. 9 International Peace Coalition meeting, as reported in the article on the IPC discussion: “Helga Zepp-LaRouche emphasized that the Rafah situation must be viewed with utmost urgency, but at the same time the entire world is changing. No one can speak of a ‘rules-based order’ after the West has condoned what is happening in Gaza. Are we going to live by the law of the jungle, or by the universal principles in the UN Charter? These ideas must guide our activism in the weeks ahead.”