Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military on Feb. 9 to draw up plans for the "evacuation" of Palestinians from Rafah in southern Gaza as it prepares to launch a full-scale assault on the area. Where people would be evacuated to—and how—remains unclear. Over one million Palestinians forcibly displaced by Israel's military campaign—now entering its fifth month—have been pushed into Rafah. Aid groups warn that there is nowhere left for people to flee to. People in Rafah are already experiencing disease and starvation, with aid operations struggling to meet even basic needs. A ground invasion would "exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare," UN Secretary-General António Guterres said.
US District Judge Alia Moses of the Western District of Texas on Oct. 30 granted a temporary restraining order enjoining the federal government from interfering with fencing erected by Texas state authorities at the US-Mexico border. As part of Operation Lone Star, the Texas Military Department has deployed concertina wire fencing to deter illegal crossings at the border. The suit, brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, alleged that since Sept. 20, federal agents have implemented a policy of destroying the state-erected fencing. The complaint links to several videos posted on X, which purport to show federal agents cutting or lifting the fencing, and providing support to those attempting to cross after swimming the Rio Grande. The complaint alleged that from Sept. 21 to Sept. 28, federal agents allowed at least 400 migrants through.
The Biden administration announced Oct. 4 that it has waived 26 federal laws in an area of South Texas by executive order to allow border wall construction—a tactic often used during the Trump presidency. The Department of Homeland Security posted the waiver on the Federal Registry, affecting a "high illegal entry" sector in Starr County, Tex. According to government data, about 245,000 illegal entries have been recorded in this sector during the current fiscal year. The Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act and Endangered Species Act are among the laws suspended by the order.
Mexican authorities confirmed Aug. 3 that they recovered two bodies from the Rio Grande near the border town of Piedras Negras, Coahuila state. Authorities recovered one of the bodies, a Mexican national, from buoys recently floated by Texas in an effort to impede border crossings from Mexico. The second body, that of a Honduran national, was recovered further upstream, away from the buoys. The incidents have renewed attention on the floating barrier, which is now the subject of a lawsuit between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the state of Texas.
Turkish border guards are indiscriminately shooting at Syrian civilians on the border with Syria, as well as using excessive force and even torture against asylum-seekers and migrants trying to cross into Turkey, Human Rights Watch said in a report April 27. The report cited hundreds of deaths along the border in recent years, with several killings and abuses this year. Since the beginning of 2023, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has recorded 11 deaths and 20 injuries along the frontier caused by Turkish border guards. Human Rights Watch independently documented and verified two such incidents.
The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and "non-lethal" bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its Nov. 16 report on the installation, "critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm's way."
In a little-noted interview on the Oct. 28 episode of right-wing online video show "In The Trenches with Teddy Daniels," Arizona Republican Rep. Paul Gosar suggested that his party's gubernatorial candidate, Kari Lake, could order the state's National Guard to surround and blockade the Tohono O'odham Nation, a Native American reservation that borders Mexico, ensuring that "no one passes." Gosar also offered the notion that Lake could go to the US Supreme Court to seek state authority over the reservation.
A court in Nador, Morocco, on July 20 sentenced 33 migrants, mostly from Sudan and South Sudan, to 11 months behind bars for "illegal entry" into the country and "disobedience." The 33 are among the hundreds who on June 24 attempted to enter Spain's North African enclave of Melilla, sparking a violent response from authorities. Some 2,000 migrants stormed the heavily fortified border between the Moroccan region of Nador and the Spanish enclave, with many trying to scale the border wall. They were repelled by Moroccan and Spanish security forces, with up to 27 killed. The African Union is calling for an investigation into the repression. (InfoMigrants, RFI, AP, TNH)