News Roundup for April 2, 2024

April 2, 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

World Central Kitchen Says Several Workers Killed in Gaza Airstrike, The New York Times
World Central Kitchen said in a statement that the team was leaving a warehouse in central Gaza in two armored cars after unloading humanitarian food aid. The group said the convoy was hit despite having coordinated movements with the Israeli military. Graphic video footage showed several bodies, some wearing protective gear with World Central Kitchen patches. Footage distributed by Reuters showed a white vehicle marked with the group’s logo on its roof, with a hole half of the width of the car. The nationalities of the seven killed included Australia, Poland, Britain, the United States, Canada and Palestine, according to World Central Kitchen.

US Pushes Alternatives to Rafah Invasion in Hamas War Talks With Israel, AP
The more than two-and-a-half-hour meeting by secure video conference was described by both sides as constructive and productive, as Washington encourages the Israelis to avoid an all-out assault on the city, where an estimated four battalions of Hamas fighters are dispersed among more than 1.3 million civilians. The White House has instead pushed Israel to take more targeted actions to kill or capture Hamas leaders while limiting civilian impacts.

Iran Vows Revenge as It Accuses Israel of Deadly Airstrike on Syria Consulate in Deepening Middle East Crisis, CNN
Iran has vowed to retaliate after it accused Israel of bombing its embassy complex in Syria on Monday, in a deadly escalation of regional tensions over the war in Gaza that once again appeared to raise the risk of a wider Middle Eastern conflict. The airstrike destroyed the consulate building in the capital Damascus, killing at least seven officials including Mohammed Reza Zahedi, a top commander in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), and senior commander Mohammad Hadi Haji Rahimi, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Inside the Ruins of Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, The Washington Post
William Booth and Lorenzo Tugnoli report, “A sprawling medical campus that housed maternity wards, surgery suites and emergency rooms has been mostly destroyed after two weeks of intense assault by Israeli troops battling Hamas militants who Israel said were barricading themselves inside the complex. Spokesmen for the Israel Defense Forces brought a handful of foreign journalists into the compound Sunday afternoon, just hours before the last special forces troops withdrew. A reporter and photographer from The Washington Post were there. The IDF offered a narrow view — a pinhole, really — but what we saw was destruction on a massive scale.”


Drone Strikes Israeli Navy Base in Eilat; Pro-Iranian Militia in Iraq Claims Responsibility, Haaretz
US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the attack “reinforces the point that Iranian-supported proxy groups committed to the destruction of Israel.” He added that the US is conducting “ongoing conversations with our Iraqi counterparts about the need to take action against proxy groups that launch attacks from inside Iraq.”

Israeli Government Says It Will Block Al Jazeera From Broadcasting, BBC
The US expressed concern over the move. With foreign journalists banned from entering Gaza, Al Jazeera staff based in the strip have been some of the only reporters able to cover the war on the ground.

U.S. Tells Iran it “Had no Involvement” in Israel Strike, Axios
The rare message shows the Biden administration is deeply concerned that the Israeli strike could lead to a regional escalation and the resumption of attacks by pro-Iranian militias against U.S. forces. Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Zahedi is the most senior Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps officer to be killed since the U.S. assassinated Qassen Soleimani in 2020.

Trump’s Call for Israel to ‘Finish Up’ War Alarms Some on the Right, The New York Times
The ambiguity of Trump’s rhetoric about the Israel-Hamas war has let different audiences hear what they want in his public statements. He has said nothing of substance about what he would do differently from Biden on Israel policy if he were president, and his team again refused to get into specifics when questioned by The New York Times.

Outside Israel’s Parliament, Protesters Explain Why They Think Netanyahu Must Go, The New York Times
“The government of Israel’s first responsibility is for the security of its citizens,” Haggai Schwartz, 47, said. “And they failed — completely failed.” Schwartz said he wanted the government to take responsibility for those failures. “So far they don’t,” he said. “So we call for elections.”

US Weighs Selling New Fighter Jets, Missiles and Guidance Kits to Israel, Politico
The US government is considering major new weapons sales to Israel as calls grow to withhold arms if Israel won’t do more to limit civilian casualties in Gaza. While the sale is still pending US government approval — and it will be years before the weapons arrive in Israel — the administration has already informally notified the relevant congressional committees.

Spain to Recognise Palestinian Statehood by July, Leader Says, Reuters
Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez expected Spain to extend recognition to the Palestinians by July, he said, adding that he believed there would soon be a “critical mass” within the European Union to push several member states to adopt the same position, according to state news agency EFE.

Scoop: Sullivan to Meet MBS to Push Saudi Side of Israel Mega-Deal, Axios
US officials hope to reach a bilateral agreement with the Saudis and then possibly present it to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose side of the deal would include committing to a path toward a two-state solution. Netanyahu would then face a choice: If he agrees, he could broke a historic peace deal with Saudi Arabia. If he says no, he could be exposed as a rejectionist and lose whatever US support he still has left.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Palestinians in Israel, Like Me, Keep Marching to Protect Our Land, Haaretz
Nagham Zbeedat shares, “While Land Day goes back nearly 40 years, we as Palestinians, on both sides of the Green Line, are still living it on a daily basis, and this year it is more relevant than ever. As we protest the land confiscation that happened in 1976, we are now also protesting to stop the war in Gaza and prevent the escalating calls inside Israel to turn the occupation of the northern Gaza Strip into a permanent reality, just like the West Bank and the illegal settlements.”

Oct. 7 Shattered Netanyahu’s Legacy. The War Saved Him – for Now, The New York Times
Joshua Leifer argues, “The protest movement will need to channel this rage and return, at least, to the strength it showed before the war. The movement’s leaders will have to do what they have so far refused – to articulate and present an actionable alternative vision for the country that breaks with Netanyahu’s view that Israel must “live forever by the sword”– if they are to seize the opportunity that the fall of his government might present. The movement, in other words, must do something that has become only more difficult in the atmosphere of fear and conformity that has followed Oct. 7. It must be brave.”

Why Do Arms Continue to Flow From Us to Israel Despite Ceasefire Resolution? The Guardian
Julian Borger writes, “Administration officials point to the fact that a major new war has not so far been ignited with Hezbollah in Lebanon as a success for US diplomacy, but the constant exchange of fire over Israel’s northern border is a reminder that the threat is still festering. Most observers expect a substantial conflict within a year. Hezbollah would present a much more serious military challenge than Hamas, with a reputed arsenal of more than 100,000 missiles and rockets.”