News Roundup for April 10, 2024

April 10, 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.

Top News and Analysis

US Has Seen No Evidence That Israel Has Committed Genocide, Austin Says, Politico
“We don’t have any evidence of genocide being [committed]” by Israel in Gaza, Austin told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a budget hearing, where his testimony was interrupted several times by protesters. Austin’s comments come as pressure builds on the Biden administration and Democrats over U.S. support for the conflict. They also come after a committee member, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), said last week that international officials could determine that the war in Gaza legally constitutes genocide.

Austin Tells Congress Israel Is Taking Steps to Boost Aid to Gaza as Lawmakers Question Us Support, AP
Austin also said that the military is moving ahead with plans to build a pier off the Gaza coast to increase the delivery of humanitarian aid, and initial operations will probably be ready to start by the third week of this month. He said that details are still being worked out but that aid organizations will help do that. Six U.S. military ships with personnel and components to build a humanitarian aid pier are enroute to Gaza, with several in the Mediterranean Sea, heading toward Cyprus.

Netanyahu’s Defense Minister Contradicts Him, Tells U.S. Rafah Invasion Date Not Set, Axios
Gallant told Austin that Israel would have to take several crucial steps before an operation commences, including an orderly evacuation of the civilian population and an increase in humanitarian aid, per the source. Gallant’s office declined to comment. What they’re saying: Secretary of State Tony Blinken said in a press conference with his British counterpart David Cameron on Tuesday that Israel hasn’t notified the Biden administration about a date for an operation in Rafah. To the contrary, he said the U.S. was engaged in discussions with Israel about “alternative and more effective” ways to operate in Rafah without endangering innocent civilians.

Israel Threatens to Strike Iran Directly If Iran Launches Attack from Its Territory, AP
Khamenei spoke at a prayer ceremony celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, saying the airstrike was “wrongdoing” and akin to an attack on Iranian territory. “When they attacked our consulate area, it was like they attacked our territory,” Khamenei said, in remarks broadcast by Iranian state TV. “The evil regime must be punished, and it will be punished.” Neither Katz nor the Ayatollah elaborated on the way they would retaliate.


Israel’s Palestinian Citizens Grow Louder in Protesting the Gaza War, NPR
Palestinians make up 20% of Israel’s population, but have long felt treated like second-class citizens due to lack of job opportunities, disproportionate poverty and under-investment in Arab communities. Many grieve the suffering in Gaza, but expressing solidarity with Palestinians there can be perilous.

Hamas Tells Negotiators it Doesn’t Have 40 Israeli Hostages Needed for First Round of Ceasefire, CNN
Hamas has indicated it is currently unable to identify and track down 40 Israeli hostages needed for the first phase of a ceasefire deal, according to an Israeli official and a source familiar with the discussions, raising fears that more hostages may be dead than are publicly known.

Israel Says More Aid Is Entering Gaza, but Figures Disputed, Reuters
OCHA spokesperson Laerke, said Israel typically counted the half-filled trucks going through an initial screening process, rather than repacked, full trucks for delivery inside Gaza. Trucks that go in, screened by COGAT, are typically only half full. That is a requirement that they have put in place for screening purposes. When we count the trucks on the other side, when they have been reloaded, they are full, Laerke said. He said a bigger problem remained distribution inside Gaza. Food convoys that should be going particularly to the north, where 70% of people face famine conditions, are more likely, actually three times more likely, to be denied than any other humanitarian convoy with other kinds of material, he said.

Amnesty International Urges Israel to Return Body of Palestinian Who Died of Cancer in Custody, Reuters
Daqqa was due to be released last year after completing a 37-year sentence but a court ruling extended his jail term by two more years over accusations he provided mobile phones to other prisoners, the Palestinian Prisoners Society said. It said Daqqa was the 14th Palestinian political prisoner to die in Israeli custody over the past six months as a result of Israeli practices that include torture and medical neglect. A spokesperson for the Israel Prison Service (IPS) did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The IPS has previously said all prisoners in its custody are detained “according to the provisions of the law”.

Iran Smuggles Arms to West Bank, Officials Say, to Foment Unrest With Israel, The New York Times
The majority of the smuggled weapons, analysts said, are small arms like handguns and assault rifles. Iran is also smuggling advanced weapons, according to the American officials and Israeli officials. Those weapons, the Israeli officials said, include antitank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, which fly fast and low to the ground, creating a challenge for Israel when defending civilian and military targets from close-range fire.

In Potential Game-changer, Top Democrat Won’t Grant Biden Rubber Stamp on Pending F-15 Sales to Israel, Haaretz
Rep. Gregory Meeks, the ranking Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said that he is still awaiting assurances from the Biden administration before signing off on an anticipated $18 billion sale of F-15 fighter jets to Israel. Approximately one-quarter of House Democrats are now calling for halted military sales and conditioned future aid — a seemingly unthinkable development as recently as several months ago. At least nine Democratic senators have made similar calls, citing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s role in blocking U.S.-led humanitarian efforts to alleviate the ongoing crisis in Gaza.

Hezbollah banker accused of funneling money from Iran to Hamas found killed in Lebanon, The Times of Israel
The paper reports that Hamas’s main issue is that it does not include a reference to ending the war. The group will put out its own proposal instead later this week, based on an earlier proffer, the paper reports. The earlier offer was for a staged deal in which Israel would release prisoners for some hostages, along with a partial troop withdrawal and unfettered access to northern Gaza for displaced Palestinians, with more hostages to be released later once all troops withdraw.

Hamas Tells Negotiators It Doesn’t Have 40 Israeli Hostages Needed for First Round of Ceasefire, CNN
The inability – or unwillingness – of Hamas to tell Israel which hostages would be released, alive, is a major obstacle, the second source added.With Hamas appearing to be unable to reach 40 in the proposed categories, Israel has pushed for Hamas fill out the initial release with younger male hostages, including soldiers, the Israeli official said.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel: Cease-Fire, Get Hostages, Leave Gaza, Rethink Everything, New York Times
Thomas Friedman writes, “Israel today is at a strategic point in its war in Gaza, and there is every indication that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going to choose the wrong path — and take the Biden administration along for a very dangerous and troubling ride.”

Six Months Into Israel’s War in Gaza, U.S. Rabbis Are Perplexed Over Its Goal and Toll, Haaretz
Calls for a cease-fire have become increasingly widespread, including among rabbis. The rabbinic human rights group T’ruah was one of a coalition of liberal Zionist groups to call for a bilateral cease-fire and release of hostages a month ago. I believe we must hold many truths at the same time right now, and that is very hard, said Rabbi Amy Schwartzman of the Reform Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Virginia, who endorsed the T’ruah stance.

Israel Turns on Netanyahu – But Is It Enough to End His Premiership?, The Guardian
Archie Bland writes, “Netanyahu’s unpopularity is exactly what is making him hard to dislodge: the polls in Israel are so bad for the prime minister and his Likud party that even with a difficult coalition, there is no appetite to go to the voters any time soon. ‘There is a degree of truth to the idea that he would like to prolong the war for as long as possible in the hope that something will turn up to save him,’ Peter Beaumont said. ‘If the IDF could find and kill [Hamas leaders] Mohammed Deif and Yahya Sinwar, I don’t know if that would be enough, but it is the kind of thing he is hoping for.’

Israeli Army Pulls Out Troops From Southern Gaza Without Meeting Its Primary Objectives, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The two main goals of the Khan Yunis operation haven’t been achieved. The two top Hamas officials in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, remain at large. Nor has any breakthrough occurred in the hunt for the Israeli hostages held in Gaza, aside from the rescue of two hostages in Rafah two months ago.”