News Roundup for April 1, 2024

April 1, 2024
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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street In the News

Schumer Dodges Political Blowback on Israel, The Hill
Sam Berkman, the national director of communal relations for J Street, a group that describes itself as pro-Israel, pro-peace and pro-democracy, said Schumer gave voice to the many people “who care about Israel” but have concerns about “the direction the Netanyahu government is taking the country.” “He is speaking out critically,” he said, referring to Schumer, and “we should take pause to reflect on why that is.”

Top News and Analysis

Protests Against Netanyahu Intensify as Cease-Fire Talks Resume, The New York Times
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced growing challenges to power on Sunday as thousands gathered outside Parliament to call for early elections in what were shaping up to be one of the largest demonstrations against the government in Israel since the start of the war in the Gaza Strip. Some protesters carried signs calling for Mr. Netanyahu’s “immediate removal.” Others wielded posters calling for elections, saying “those who destroyed can’t be the ones to fix.” The protest came a day after thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv, waving flags and carrying pictures of the Israeli hostages with signs reading “Hostage deal now.”

US Sends More Weapons to Israel Amid Growing Calls for Cease-Fire, NBC News
The US is sending a fresh round of bombs to Israel, two senior administration officials told NBC News, undermining the Biden administration’s public expressions of frustration at Israel’s conduct in the war and its own efforts at brokering a cease-fire. The bombs include more than 1,800 Mark 84 (MK84) 2,000-pound bombs and approximately 500 Mark 82 (MK82) 500-pound bombs, the officials said. Even with precision guidance, these bombs likely lead to civilian deaths, and it’s believed that Israel has used them in its campaign in Gaza. “These are the bombs that can destroy entire blocks,” one senior administration official said of the MK84 bombs.

Israel Created ‘Kill Zones’ in Gaza. Anyone Who Crosses Into Them Is Shot, Haaretz
The Israeli army says 9,000 terrorists have been killed since the Gaza war began. Defense officials and soldiers, however, tell Haaretz that these are often civilians whose only crime was to cross an invisible line drawn by the Israeli Defense Forces. “In practice, a terrorist is anyone the IDF has killed in the areas in which its forces operate,” says a reserve officer who has served in Gaza.

“You Said No Excuses”: Senate Democrat Presses Biden Over Gaza Aid, Axios
“I’m just saying to President Biden, you said ‘no excuses’ when it comes to getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Prime Minister Netanyahu continues to drag his feet,” Van Hollen said on ABC’s “This Week.” “So, instead of just sending more bombs without in turn getting the request that you want, Mr. President, let’s at least make this a partnership.” Van Hollen has been a leading voice in efforts by Senate Democrats to try to convince Israel to improve the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, which the UN says is on the verge of famine.


Three Seriously Wounded in Terror Stabbing Spree at Gan Yavne Mall, The Times of Israel
The rescue group said all three were transported in serious condition and that medics had fought to save the 25-year-old man from dying of his wounds on the way to the hospital. The attack was the second of the day, after an off-duty soldier was stabbed and lightly injured at Beersheba’s main bus station.

After Nearly Six Months of War, Hostages’ Families Join With Anti-government Rallies, The Times of Israel
Tens of thousands of people turned out for mass protests across Israel on Saturday night, and the weekly demonstrations in Tel Aviv by the hostages’ families took a dramatic turn after speakers called on attendees to “take to the streets” and join the anti-government protesters in the heart of the city, announcing an apparent discontinuation of the separate gathering. Eli Albag, father of Hamas-held hostage Liri Albag, said there would be no more separate protests at Hostages Square in front of the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. “This is the last Shabbat that we will be here,” he said. “We won’t meet here anymore, we will be in the streets.”

Israeli Troops Leave Gaza’s Shifa Hospital a Wreck in Sea of Rubble, Reuters
Hundreds of residents rushed to the area around the Gaza Strip’s largest hospital to check on damage to surrounding residential districts after the fighting ended. The Israeli military said it had killed and detained hundreds of gunmen in clashes in the area of the hospital, and seized weaponry and intelligence documents.

Members of a UN Peacekeeping Team Are Wounded in an Explosion in Lebanon, The New York Times
Three UN military observers and a Lebanese translator were injured in an explosion as they were patrolling the border with Israel on Saturday morning, the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon said, adding that it was investigating the source of the blast.

Buffer Zone and Control Corridor: What the Israeli Army’s Entrenchment in Gaza Looks Like, Haaretz
Under the radar, the Israeli Defense Forces are creating a border buffer zone that occupies 16 percent of the Gaza Strip’s territory, and an east-west control corridor to monitor Palestinians moving north. This is what it looks like in satellite images.

Michigan Lawmaker Says Gaza Should Be Approached ‘Like Nagasaki and Hiroshima’, The Washington Post
Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), who is not seen in the video, responds to an audience question by saying that the United States “shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid” and then references the two Japanese cities where the United States dropped atomic bombs during World War II. “It should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick,” Walberg said.

Israel Admits Killing 2 Palestinians and Then Burying Them With a Bulldozer After Shocking Video Surfaces, CNN
The IDF has admitted to killing two Palestinian men and burying their bodies with a bulldozer after Al Jazeera published a video purportedly showing the incident. In a statement to CNN, the IDF said the Israelis killed the men after they approached the IDF’s operational area in central Gaza “in a suspicious manner” and didn’t respond to a warning shot.

Lapid Slams Government Decision Not to Cancel Knesset Recess in Light of War, The Times of Israel
“I’m a politician, but this is not a political demonstration,” Opposition Leader Yair Lapid said as thousands gathered outside the Knesset to call for new elections. “These are just worried Israelis who do not understand how come this building over there is going on recess during such a hectic time when there is no recess for the hostages,” he says, waving his arm toward the nearby parliament building.

Dispute Over Conscription for Ultra-Orthodox Jews Presents New Threat to Netanyahu, The New York Times
An unwieldy right-wing alliance of secular and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers, the coalition’s members are divided about whether the state should continue to allow young ultra-Orthodox men to study at religious seminaries instead of serving in the military, as most other Jewish Israelis do. If the government abolishes the exemption, it risks a walkout from the ultra-Orthodox lawmakers; if it lets the exemption stand, the secular members could withdraw. Either way, the coalition could collapse. The situation poses the gravest challenge to Mr. Netanyahu’s grip on power since Hamas raided Israel on Oct. 7.

Opinion and Analysis

It’s Not Only the Gaza Strip That Needs Rebuilding – So Does the Israeli Ethos, Haaretz
Michael Sfard writes, “A society that destroys cities, towns and villages, killing 32,000 people (so far), most of them civilians, that is up to its neck in genocidal incitement with no response from law enforcement authorities, that is turning 1.5 million people into destitute refugees, that trades (openly!) in their hunger and makes do with a command reprimand to an officer who, on his own decision, blew up a university – such a society no longer purports to adhere to a notion of ‘purity of arms.’”

Ending the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Requires a Sadat-Style Leader, The Washington Post
Max Boot shares, “It is enough to make an observer despair. Israelis and Palestinians are trapped in a death spiral. The only way to break out of this deadly impasse is for at least one farsighted leader to emerge who is willing to seek an alternative to endless war. In other words, another Anwar Sadat. Such a figure, sadly, is nowhere in sight. Instead, we have two cynical time-servers – Netanyahu and Abbas – and the fanatical men of Hamas. But there is still a sliver of hope.”

BDS Resolutions and the Empathy Gap on College Campuses, The Times of Israel
J Street U student leader Rachel Burnett argues, “This resolution, like many resolutions similar to it across the country, relies on its simultaneous vagueness and binary categorization without creating any meaningful difference on our campus or in Israel-Palestine. As students at American universities, we are incredibly privileged to have the opportunity to speak about these issues far removed from the threat of bombs and rockets. It would be a grave mistake for any of us to abuse this privilege and resort to anger and divisiveness rather than compassion, education, and solutions.”