News Roundup for April 26, 2024

April 26, 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

Sen. Chris Van Hollen is a True Friend of Israel – and Maryland’s Jewish Community, Washington Jewish Week
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “Sen. Van Hollen has taken his role as a leading member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee extraordinarily seriously, traveling personally to Israel, and specifically to the border with Gaza, to witness the humanitarian relief effort firsthand. He has organized and led briefings with American, Israeli and Palestinian officials and non-governmental organizations to better understand precisely what is happening and what the United States can be doing.”

‘Time Is Running Out’: A Hostage Family’s Desperate Plea, J Street
“There are 133 people that are still in Gaza, and we know of about 34 who are dead already,” Meirav says, stressing the importance of US leadership in bringing all parties to the table and ratcheting up the pressure to reach another hostage release deal. The “US is the strongest nation among the free world. We already heard Hamas shouting, “Death to Israel, death to the US. It has to stop now, so the light of the free world will win over the darkness of Hamas.”

Top News and Analysis

18 Countries Demand Hostage Release; US: There’s a Deal on the Table, Hamas Rejected It, The Times of Israel
The leaders of Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom joined Biden in the statement. Israel was not included as the focus was on international support for the effort. “We call for the immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas in Gaza for over 200 days. They include our own citizens. The fate of the hostages and the civilian population in Gaza, who are protected under international law, is of international concern,” the leaders said.

Israel Intensifies Strikes on Rafah Ahead of Threatened Invasion, Reuters
Israel stepped up airstrikes on Rafah overnight after saying it would evacuate civilians from the southern Gazan city and launch an all-out assault despite allies’ warnings this could cause mass casualties. Medics in the besieged Palestinian enclave reported five Israeli airstrikes on Rafah early on Thursday that hit at least three houses, killing at least six people including a local journalist.

Israel Could Still Force an Exodus into Egypt, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “A major move would trigger the frantic flight of hundreds of thousands of Gazans, many of whom arrived in the city after their homes and neighborhoods elsewhere in Gaza were pulverized by the Israeli military in its post-Oct. 7 war against Hamas. For months, there’s been speculation over whether Egypt would allow tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee to safety in the Sinai desert. Cairo is not keen to admit a refugee influx, given both its own internal security concerns and larger Pan-Arab worries that the Palestinians will be blocked from returning to their homeland like a previous generation of Palestinian refugees.”

A US-Led Effort to Bring Aid to Gaza by Sea Is Moving Forward. But Big Concerns Remain, AP
A senior US military official said Thursday the US is on track to begin delivering aid using the new port and pier by early May. The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss details not yet made public, said deliveries through the sea route initially will total about 90 trucks a day and could quickly increase to about 150 trucks daily.

Pro-Palestinian Encampments Spread, Leading to Hundreds of Arrests, The New York Times
In the week since Columbia University started cracking down on pro-Palestinian protesters occupying a lawn on its campus, protests and encampments have sprung up at other colleges and universities across the country. Police interventions on several campuses have led to more than 400 arrests so far. Student protests against the war in Gaza and against their schools’ financial and academic ties to Israel and to weapons manufacturers have intensified since Columbia initially cleared the encampment, on April 18.


Gaza-Based Militants Attack Israeli Forces Preparing for US Pier, Politico
A “small number of mortars” caused “minimal damage” in Gaza in the vicinity of the “marshalling yard area for humanitarian assistance that will soon be delivered by sea,” said one of the officials, a member of the US military. The attack occurred before US personnel began constructing the floating pier, the official said, noting that “there will be no US forces on the ground in Gaza.”

Almost 400 Bodies Have Been Found in Mass Grave in Gaza Hospital, Says Palestinian Civil Defense, CNN
A CNN stringer who visited the scene Sunday spoke to people who said they had buried the bodies of family members who had been killed in the grounds of the hospital as a temporary measure in January. When they returned after the Israeli military withdrew on April 7, they discovered the bodies had been dug up and then placed in at least one collective grave, not all in the initial spots they were buried in, the stringer said.

José Andrés Mourns Slain World Central Kitchen Workers in National Cathedral Service, NPR
“They risked everything to feed people they did not know – and would never meet,” said chef José Andrés, the founder of World Central Kitchen, as he addressed those gathered at the National Cathedral. “In the worst moments, the best of humanity shows up.”

US Holds off on Sanctioning Israeli Military Units Accused of Human Rights Violations in West Bank before Start of War with Hamas, ABC
The US determination “will not delay the delivery of any US assistance and Israel will be able to receive the full amount appropriated by Congress,” Blinken wrote. The allegations involving each of the units occurred before the Oct. 7 war began when Hamas attacked Israel. None of the cases involves operations against Hamas in Gaza or against Iran or its proxies.

Israel’s Claim of Killing ‘Half’ of Hezbollah Commanders in Southern Lebanon Draws Skepticism, The New York Times
Some experts expressed skepticism about whether Israel’s targeted killings could achieve its goal of pushing Hezbollah north of the Litani River in Lebanon, thereby preventing cross-border attacks and allowing the tens of thousands Israeli civilians displaced by the fighting to return.

Egypt Sends Delegation to Israel, Its Latest Effort to Broker a Cease-fire Between Israel and Hamas, AP
A Western diplomat in Cairo also said that Egypt has intensified its efforts in recent days to reach a compromise and establish a short cease-fire in Gaza that will help negotiate a longer truce and avert a Rafah offensive.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Failed, and Hamas’ Cruelty Continues. Israel Must Make a Hostage Deal, Now, Haaretz
Amir Tibon writes, “The pressure applied by Israel thus far hasn’t budged Hamas, and in the meantime, increasing numbers of hostages are dying in the tunnels. Israel needs to make tough, painful choices – but they have to be made soon. Time is running out for Hersh, and for all the other Israelis in the hands of Hamas.”

‘We’re Aware of the Location’: Aid Groups in Gaza Coordinated With IDF but Still Came Under Fire [Video], The New York Times
Visual evidence and internal communications obtained by The Times show six aid groups based in Western countries, including Israel’s strongest allies, had humanitarian sites hit by Israeli strikes, even after the locations were shared with the IDF.

Why We Need to Stop Using ‘Pro-Palestine’ and ‘Pro-Israel’, The Guardian
Judith Levine argues, “In reporting on the encampments springing up on college campuses across the US, the media seem to have convened a terminology confab and agreed on two descriptions: “pro-Palestinian” and “anti-Israel”. These labels oversimplify Americans’ opinions on Israel’s onslaught against Gaza, which marked its 200th day on Tuesday with no end in sight. But the error is worse than semantic.”

First Rafah, Then Hezbollah, Then Iran’: Israel’s Government Plans for More War, Haaretz
Ravit Hecht writes, “This government has a busy schedule of wars planned for us, even though the worst disaster in Israel’s history occurred on its watch and more than half the public loathes it and doesn’t believe a word its leader says.”