News Roundup for April 25, 2024

April 25, 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

Pro-Israel, Anti-Netanyahu: How American Jews Are Reshaping Zionism, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Executive Director Nadav Tamir writes, “Today more than ever it is essential that there continue to be Jews in the US who object to the policies and actions of the Israeli government, but who at the same time are proud Zionists. Jews who believe in the right of the Jewish people to a national homeland, but who also understand that in order to protect that very right, the US must use every possible lever of power to save liberal Israel, which is being oppressed by the Netanyahu government, and thus help Israelis and Palestinians escape the never-ending cycle of violence.”

J Street U Columbia Statement on Ongoing Tensions on University Campus, J Street U Columbia
“The current campus climate is unacceptable, and campus stakeholders must take corrective steps to condemn antisemitism, ensure the safety of Jewish students and reaffirm the right to nonviolent protest. At this moment, we offer our support to every student who needs a space to express how they are feeling. We hope that Columbia will emerge from this moment into a future that is constructive, nuanced and free of bigotry. Our university must be a place where the rights of Jews, Israelis and protesters are fully respected. In the meantime, we call on Columbia to articulate a clear path forward that acknowledges our collective humanity and dignity.”

J Street Statement on Potential Application of Leahy Law to Netzah Yehuda Battalion, J Street
“J Street believes strongly that enforcement of US law regarding its security assistance to allies must be applied consistently and objectively. The Leahy Law prohibits the provision of US military assistance to individuals or security force units that commit gross violations of human rights. Indications from the Biden Administration that the Netzah Yehuda battalion of the Israel Defense Forces will likely be found to have violated the Leahy Law are deeply distressing but not surprising in light of the unit’s history of problematic and violent behavior toward Palestinians in the West Bank over the past decade.”

Top News and Analysis

After $15 Billion in Military Aid, Israel Calls Alliance With US ‘Ironclad’, The New York Times
The aid bill was signed as Israel continued to make plans to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million displaced Palestinians are sheltering. The Biden administration has said it will oppose such an invasion without a workable plan to protect civilians from harm. The legislation also provides $1 billion in additional humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza, including food, medical supplies and clean water, Biden said. “Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay,” he said.

Hamas Releases Video of Israeli Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, NBC News
Speaking to the camera in Hebrew, the 23-year-old, whose left arm is severed below his elbow, angrily asks the Israeli government to bring home the hostages, as the war in Gaza entered its 200th day Tuesday. It was unclear when the video was recorded or the conditions under which he spoke, given that he is a Hamas captive. It is likewise not clear if he is still alive. In a statement in response to the video, the Goldberg-Polin family said “Hersh’s cry is the collective cry of all the hostages — their time is rapidly running out. With each passing day, the fear of losing more innocent lives grows stronger.”

More Than 300 Bodies Found in Mass Grave at Gaza Hospital, Says Gaza Civil Defense, CNN
A mass grave with more than 300 bodies has been uncovered at a hospital in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, Gaza Civil Defense workers said, following the withdrawal of Israeli forces from the area earlier this month. Col. Yamen Abu Suleiman, Director of Civil Defense in Khan Younis told CNN that 35 bodies had been discovered at the Nasser Medical Complex on Tuesday, bringing the total to 310. Some 73 bodies had been discovered on Monday, Suleiman said.

Students Protesting on Campuses Across US Ask Colleges to Cut Investments Supporting Israel, AP
Student governments at some colleges in recent weeks have passed resolutions calling for an end to investments and academic partnerships with Israel. Such bills were passed by student bodies at Columbia, Harvard Law, Rutgers and American University. Officials at several universities say they want to have a conversation with students and honor their right to protest. But they also are echoing the concerns of many Jewish students that some of the demonstrators’ words and actions amount to antisemitism – and they say such behavior won’t be tolerated.

Top Israeli and Egyptian Officials Secretly Meet to Discuss Possible Rafah Invasion, Axios
Senior Israeli officials said that significant progress has been made in preparing for the evacuation of the civilian population from Rafah. According to the officials, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have set up large tent shelters between Rafah and Khan Yunis as well as in the Muassi area northwest of Rafah along the coast.

Hamas Official Says Group Would Lay Down Its Arms if an Independent Palestinian State Is Established, AP
A top Hamas political official told The Associated Press the Islamic militant group is willing to agree to a truce of five years or more with Israel and that it would lay down its weapons and convert into a political party if an independent Palestinian state is established along pre-1967 borders. The comments by Khalil al-Hayya in an interview Wednesday came amid a stalemate in months of talks for a cease-fire in Gaza. The suggestion that Hamas would disarm appeared to be a significant concession by the militant group officially committed to Israel’s destruction.


Biden Signs Aid Package with $17B for Israel, $1B Extra Humanitarian Aid for Gazans, Times of Israel
The legislation will send $17 billion in wartime assistance to Israel and $9 billion in humanitarian relief to citizens of Gaza and other war-torn regions — with Biden specifying at a White House event to announce the signing on Wednesday that the package “includes $1 billion for additional humanitarian aid in Gaza.”

Israel Says It Is Poised to Move on Rafah, Reuters
Video circulating online appeared to show rows of square white tents going up in Khan Younis, a city some 5 km (3 miles) from Rafah. Reuters could not verify the video but reviewed images from satellite company Maxar Technologies which showed tent camps on Khan Younis land that had been vacant weeks ago. An Israeli government source said Netanyahu’s war cabinet planned to meet in the coming two weeks to authorise civilian evacuations, expected to take around a month.

Aid Into Gaza Increased after Israel Killed 7 Workers, but Groups Say They’re Not Celebrating, NBC News
Bob Kitchen, vice president for emergencies at the New York-based International Rescue Committee aid organization, said it was “going to take a sustained, huge uplift in aid just to catch up” with the amount of aid required for Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people. “It needs to be a tenfold increase to catch up with the needs that we see,” he said.

Top Israeli Officials Acknowledge Failure of Campaign to Halt UNRWA International Funding, Haaretz
Germany also believes that “in light of the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza, this is more important than ever” to support the various UN agencies operating in Gaza, and to do so before funding to UNRWA suffers in a way that makes it impossible to continue its welfare and education projects.

Another Ex-State Department Official Alleges Israeli Military Gets ‘Special Treatment’ on Abuses, AP
“In my experience, Israel gets special treatment that no other country gets,” Blaha said. “And there is undue deference, in many cases, given” to Israeli officials’ side of things when the US asks questions about allegations of Israeli wrongdoing against Palestinians, he added.

Report Says Israel Hasn’t Proved Alleged Widespread UNRWA Staff Links to Hamas, Axios
A UN-appointed independent commission of inquiry said in its report published on Monday that “Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence” to its claim that many of the UNRWA staff in Gaza are members of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations.

Trump Downplays Deadly Charlottesville Rally as a ‘Peanut’ Compared to Israel-Gaza Protests, CNN
Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday night downplayed the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which led to a woman’s death, as a “peanut” compared to the demonstrations happening across the US against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Israel Says Rafah Assault Looms; Massive Gaza Airstrikes End Weeks of Relative Calm, Reuters
After an abrupt Israeli pullback at the start of this month, Palestinians at both ends of the Gaza Strip were again fleeing for their lives from bombing they described as some of the war’s worst.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Tries to Pin Oct 7 Disaster on the Army. He’s the One Who Must Resign in Shame, Haaretz
The Haaretz Editorial Board shares, “The fact that this doctrine, which Netanyahu spearheaded throughout his long years in power, culminated in the massacre of October 7 hasn’t spurred him to accept any responsibility. Ever since the disaster, he has done nothing but divert fire toward the IDF, the defense establishment, US President Joe Biden, the United Nations, the entire world. Everyone is guilty, except the man who has led Israel for 15 years already and pushed it to the abyss.”

Shot by Israeli Troops While Getting Aid, a Boy in Gaza Fights for His Life, NPR
Rob Schmitz writes, “Nimer now lies inside a makeshift tent propped up by two-by-fours. The roof is a sheet of transparent plastic. The walls, old billboards and other scrap found here among the refugee camps of Rafah, on the opposite side of the Gaza Strip from his home. Nimer is in pain. It comes in waves. He’s just had surgery on his stomach, back, legs and hand to remove bullets. […] Health officials say Palestinian children in Gaza are suffering the most from the Israel-Hamas war, as it continues through its seventh month.”

Manufacturing Famine: Israel is Committing the War Crime of Starvation in the Gaza Strip, B’Tselem
B’Tselem reports, “The current change in policy cannot absolve Israel of its responsibility for the hunger crisis in the Gaza Strip, and it is doubtful whether the “new measures” it recently announced – whose effect on the ground, to the extent they actually exist, it is to early to analyze – can meet the current needs of the civilian population there. […] Based on various reports from international bodies about the situation in Gaza and on testimonies gathered by B’Tselem’s field researchers, we unfortunately conclude that for months, Israel has been committing the crime of starvation under international law in the Gaza Strip.”

The Fifth Question: Where Are Our Loved Ones This Seder?, The Jerusalem Post
Rachel Goldberg-Polin, mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, shares, “But this year there is a fifth person we should be thinking about. It is a hostage who may have one of those personality traits, but they are not present because they are trapped in an unimaginable place. With tears running down my face, I ask and write another question right now … How. Can. This. Be? When thinking back to last Passover, to our last Seder, it is unfathomable to imagine that we would be where we are now; as a family, as a nation, or as a people. But … Hope is Mandatory. That is what it is to be part of the Jewish nation. We are a people who will never give up.”

Students Protested for Palestine Before Israel Was Even Founded, Vox
Fabiola Cineas writes, “Student organizers who spoke to Vox said that they denounce antisemitism and take time to welcome their Jewish peers at protests. At the Columbia encampment last week, students held Shabbat and sang prayers, and for the first night of Passover on Monday, students held a seder at the tents. But other Jewish students have reported feeling unsafe. The focus on their protest strategies, their mistakes, and the discipline they’re facing, student organizers told Vox, only detract from the reality that Israel has killed 34,000 Palestinians and has destroyed nearly 70 percent of homes in Gaza.”