News Roundup for April 3, 2024

April 3, 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

J Street Horrified by World Central Kitchen Deaths, Calls for Urgent Changes, J Street
“We repeat our calls for Israeli forces to immediately review and reform tactics and deconfliction protocols to better protect civilians, aid workers, hostages and Israel’s own soldiers on the battlefield. We also reiterate our call on the Biden Administration to ensure it is undertaking a thorough review of the assurances provided by the Netanyahu government that it is complying with US and international law and sufficiently facilitating humanitarian aid.”

This Isn’t the First Time the US And Israel Have Disagreed Over Gaza, NPR
“So just how strained are relations right now? “I do see a very, very real risk for the state of Israel and its long-term interests,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the head of J Street, a Washington group that describes itself as pro-Israel, pro-peace and pro-democracy. He puts much of the blame on Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his far-right coalition government. “They are leading the country toward the loss of international legitimacy and American support,” Ben-Ami said.”

Jewish Groups are Anguished Over Israeli Strike That Killed Aid Workers — and Divided on Who to Blame, JTA
“The work of humanitarian groups and agencies in Gaza is nothing short of heroic, and is essential to alleviate the catastrophic level of suffering. They must be protected,” J Street said. “With famine beginning to spread in Gaza, there is an urgent need for the Israeli government to facilitate and coordinate the delivery of massively increased levels of humanitarian aid, rather than impede and obstruct it.”

Democratic Lawmakers Seek Ways to Change Israeli Approach in Gaza, Roll Call
“Hannah Morris, director of government affairs for the liberal pro-Israel lobby group J Street, said that ‘if a Rafah ground invasion proceeds without a clear and credible plan that is implemented to protect civilian life, there will be very real outrage in the Democratic caucus of both chambers.’”

Biden’s Approach to Gaza Conflict Angers Both Sides at Home, Wall Street Journal
“Polarization on these issues between these communities is getting deeper,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, a liberal Jewish lobby organization. “Both sides deserve to have their rights and security and ultimately their freedom—that’s what the administration is trying to do—build a path towards that, and that’s not easy.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel’s ‘Unintentional’ Strike on Aid Workers Stirs Global Outrage, The Washington Post
Ciarán Donnelly, a senior vice president at the International Rescue Committee, said that the strike will have “a chilling effect on the willingness of aid workers to deploy into Gaza” at a time when the war-ravaged territory is the site of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, with upward of half its population on the brink of famine. “It sends a signal that nowhere in Gaza is safe for anybody,” he said, adding that “activities and facilities that should be protected under international humanitarian law are very much in the firing line.”

Biden ‘Will Make Clear to Israel’ It Must Protect Gaza Aid Workers; US Expects ‘Comprehensive’ Public Investigation, Haaretz
White House National Security Spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that the US expects “the broader investigation to be conducted and to be done so in a swift and comprehensive manner. We hope that those findings will be made public and that there is appropriate accountability held.” He added that “the IDF must do much more to improve,” and that “the US will continue to press Israel to do more as well to ensure the safety of humanitarian workers.”

Israel and U.S. Deeply Divided in Meeting on Key Rafah Operation Issues, Axios
The U.S. officials told the Israelis the humanitarian crisis in Gaza that has been deteriorating over the last five months doesn’t create confidence in Israel’s ability to conduct an efficient and orderly evacuation of civilians from Rafah, the sources said. According to two sources, one of the U.S. representatives in the meeting said a planned and adequately thought-out evacuation could take up to four months. The Israelis rejected that claim.


Biden: Israel “Has Not Done Enough to Protect Aid Workers” in Gaza, Axios
The investigation that Israel’s government has pledged “must be swift,” bring accountability and its findings must be made public, Biden said. “Even more tragically, this is not a stand-alone incident. This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed,” he added.

Fears Grow That Syria Strike Could Spur Retaliatory Attacks on Israel and US, The New York Times
Ralph Goff, a former senior CIA official who served in the Middle East, called Israel’s strike “incredibly reckless.” “It will only result in escalation by Iran and its proxies, which is very dangerous” to American troops in the region who could be targeted in retaliatory strikes by Tehran’s proxies, Goff said.

Four Israeli Police Officers Wounded in Ramming and Stabbing Attack in Central Israel, Haaretz
Four Israeli police officers were wounded overnight into Wednesday in a ramming and stabbing attack that occurred near the central Israeli town of Kochav Yair near the West Bank. Two of the officers were rushed to the hospital in severe and moderate condition, and the rest were lightly wounded due to the ramming attack.

UAE Pauses Gaza Aid Route Support After Israeli Strike Kills Humanitarian Workers, Axios
“The UAE holds Israel fully responsible for this dangerous development, and calls for an urgent, independent and transparent investigation, and punishment of those who have committed this heinous crime in contravention of international humanitarian law” the director for strategic communications in the Emirati foreign ministry Afra al-Hameli said in a statement.

Israeli Hostage, 71, Still Stunned by Reality of Rescue, Reuters
“On the way I even asked one of the soldiers – ‘Tell me, are you sure we’re not in a movie?’ Because I wasn’t sure. So much had happened. Is it real, is it not real,” Har said. “Even today, I don’t know what is real and what is not.” Har, now 71, was taken hostage in Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

Israeli Think Tank Behind Judicial Coup Curbs Operations After American Mogul Reportedly Cuts Funding, Haaretz
The Kohelet Policy Forum, a key player in the government’s attempted judicial overhaul, is cutting back operations, firing dozens of researchers and slashing its support for other rightist organizations that support similar aims. Israel Hayom reported on Tuesday that these steps were taken because of its main donor, billionaire Arthur Dantchik, had stopped funding it.

Wisconsin’s ‘Uninstructed’ Voters Send Biden a Strong Message on the War in Gaza, NPR
With more than 90 percent of the votes counted, the “uninstructed” option on Democratic presidential primary ballots has garnered more than 47,000 votes, according to results from The Associated Press. That’s just over 8 percent of the Democratic presidential primary vote counted so far.

Many Iranian Options to Retaliate Against Israel, But All Carry Risk, Reuters
“They have faced this real dilemma that if they respond they could be courting a confrontation which they clearly don’t want,” he said. “They are trying to modulate their actions in a way that shows that they are responsive but not escalatory.”

Israeli Army Withdraws From Major Gaza Hospital, Leaving Behind a Wasteland, The New York Times
“We had no alternative,” said Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, Israel’s chief military spokesman, who led the visit. “We wanted to leave those places functional, but what happened was Hamas and Islamic Jihad were barricading and firing at our forces from the beginning.” To the Palestinians who returned to Al-Shifa on Monday, searching for dead bodies after the Israelis withdrew, it was the embodiment of Israel’s perceived disregard for civilian life and infrastructure in its pursuit of Hamas: Exhibit A in what they see as a genocide of Gazans.

Opinion and Analysis

‘People Are Constantly Cursing Sinwar’: Gazans Opposing Hamas Are Sure They’re the Majority, Haaretz
Amira Hass reports, “Basel, 30, stayed in the northern Gaza Strip despite the Israeli army’s order to evacuate, because his elderly parents couldn’t move south. They live in a half-demolished house with plastic sheets – to cover the shattered windows – that don’t protect them from the cold. Many of his relatives have been killed in the bombardment, including nieces he was close to. They were playing outside when a target nearby was hit. Yes, Israel bombs and kills, Basel says, but he refuses to absolve Hamas from responsibility for the catastrophe that has befallen the Gazans. “People are constantly cursing Sinwar, but this isn’t reflected in the journalists’ reports,” he says.”

The Agonizing Story Told by Two Israeli Airstrikes, The Washington Post
David Ignatius writes, “When Biden administration officials argue that Netanyahu doesn’t have a strategy for ending the Gaza war and stabilizing the region, they are thinking about this lack of foresight and planning. It isn’t simply that Palestinians need a safe and stable Gaza but that it’s essential in the long run for Israel, too. Israel has a righteous cause in combating Hamas and its paymasters in Iran. But Monday’s events should remind us that enduring security doesn’t come through force of arms alone.”

13 things About Israelis in Wartime I’ve noticed by Living Among Them, The Forward
Susan Greene discusses her experience living in Israel and interviewing Israelis during the war. She notes that “Israeli television and other news outlets carry remarkably less coverage of the humanitarian crisis 40 miles away than their counterparts back home in Denver,” but also that compared to her home in Colorado, “where asking a hard question often gets the door slammed in my face. Israelis, in comparison, seem to relish hard questions and long conversations.”

‘Not a Normal War’: Doctors Say Children Have Been Targeted by Israeli Snipers in Gaza, The Guardian
Nine doctors gave the Guardian accounts of working in Gaza hospitals this year, all but one of them foreign volunteers. Their common assessment was that most of the dead and wounded children they treated were hit by shrapnel or burned during Israel’s extensive bombardment of residential neighbourhoods, in some cases wiping out entire families. Others were killed or injured by collapsing buildings with still more missing under the rubble. But doctors also reported treating a steady stream of children, elderly people and others who were clearly not combatants with single bullet wounds to the head or chest.