News Roundup for April 30, 2024

April 30, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

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 Endorses Former Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn in MD-3, J Street
“I’m honored to be endorsed by J Street. As money from anti-democracy Republican donors floods my race, it’s more important than ever for pro-democracy Democrats to stand together and tell these extremists they can’t buy this Congressional seat,” said Harry Dunn. “When I get to Congress, I’ll be honored to fight with J Street to support the shared democratic values at the heart of the US-Israel relationship, build on the Biden administration’s leadership toward peace, and secure a better future for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

Political Notes: Shaken Not Stirred, an AIPAC Counterpoint in CD-3, the Gloves Come Off about the Training Wheels Staying On, Maryland Matters
J Street, the liberal pro-Israel organization that advocates for a two-state solution, on Monday endorsed Harry Dunn, the former U.S. Capitol Police officer and one of the leading candidates in the race. “Officer Dunn defended our democratic values on January 6 and we know he’ll defend them in Congress,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street’s president. “We’re committed to electing strong pro-Israel, pro-peace, pro-democracy candidates and pushing back against MAGA extremism, and we know Harry Dunn will fight proudly for our values.”

Top News and Analysis

US Pushes for Gaza Cease-Fire, Seeing Narrow Window for a Deal Before Israel Launches Rafah Assault, NBC News
Blinken, speaking in Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, said that the cease-fire proposal handed to Hamas by mediators from Qatar and Egypt was “extraordinarily generous.” He added that Hamas had to “decide quickly” about the offer and that he was “hopeful that they will make the right decision.” An Israeli official and an Arab diplomat with knowledge of the negotiations told NBC News that the deal on the table would see 33 hostages freed in the first stage in exchange for a temporary cease-fire and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

US Determines 5 Israeli Security Units Committed Human Rights Violations Before Outbreak of Gaza War, CNN
The US is still deciding whether to restrict the military assistance to the remaining unit – reported to be the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda battalion. That battalion was implicated in the January 2022 death of an elderly Palestinian American man. According to a source familiar, the Israelis told the US in recent weeks about previously undisclosed actions they’ve taken and the US is reviewing those actions to see whether they are sufficient enough to hold off restricting aid.

Saudi Arabia to Normalize Relations With Israel, Unsure When to Formalize Move, Foreign Diplomat Says, Haaretz
“The debate in the Saudi government is whether to hand this ‘candy’ to President [Joe] Biden, who may not be reelected, or wait for the next president, assuming Biden will lose,” the diplomat said. “The Saudis are considering whether an agreement with Israel, assuming its demands are met, will not be seen as aiding Biden’s political campaign, which could damage relations with the next president.”

Palestinian Leader Appeals to US to Stop Israel’s Rafah Offensive, BBC
Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Saudi capital Riyadh earlier, Mr Abbas – whose Palestinian Authority is not present in Gaza, which has been under Hamas rule since 2007 – urged the US to intervene. We appeal to the United States of America to ask Israel to stop the Rafah operation because America is the only country capable of preventing Israel from committing this crime, he said, adding that only a “small strike” on Rafah would force the Palestinian population to flee the Gaza strip.

Torn Between Biden and Israel’s Far Right, a Reluctant Netanyahu Weighs Hostage Deal Proposals He Once Dismissed, Haaretz
Amos Harel reports, “The IDF is also not enthusiastic about the idea [of invading Rafah]. One need only listen to remarks on Channel 12 by Maj. Gen. (res.) Israel Ziv, the commentator closest to the positions of the IDF’s General Staff. In holiday eve comments, he said that “any hostage deal takes precedence over a military operation in Rafah, which it would be good if it didn’t take place at all. Rafah isn’t particularly important in bringing down Hamas and the strategic ambush that is awaiting us there is liable to lead to tough results.” And he added: “Netanyahu is getting lost along the way and doesn’t see the pit that he and Israel might soon fall into.’”


Israeli Strikes Kill at Least 40 Palestinians in Gaza, as Ceasefire Talks Begin, Reuters
Bombs hit three houses in Rafah on Monday. And in Gaza City, in the north of the strip, Israeli warplanes struck two houses, killing at least six people and wounding several others, health officials said. With nightfall, an Israeli air strike on a house in the Al-Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza killed three Palestinians, including a journalist, medics and Hamas media said. Six other people were killed in other central Gaza areas in separate Israeli air strikes, they added.

Hamas Fires Rockets Into Israel from Lebanon, The New York Times
Mohanad Hage Ali, a Beirut-based fellow with the Carnegie Middle East Center, said the attack was likely an attempt by Hamas to signal that it was “still part of the fight.” While it was largely symbolic, it could also be a means to apply pressure amid the Gaza cease-fire negotiations, he said.

Over 100 Human Rights Groups Blast Biden and Congress for Suspending Critical Aid to Palestinians, HuffPost
More than 100 immigrant, refugee, human rights and humanitarian organizations sent a letter Monday demanding Congress and President Joe Biden reinstate funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The letter, first seen by HuffPost, was addressed to President Biden, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) a week after Congress passed a foreign aid package that finalized the Biden administration’s suspension of U.S. funding for the UNRWA, which was providing critical support in Gaza.

Amnesty International Says Biden Must Halt Arms Transfers to Israel, The Washington Post
The incidents cited by Amnesty include strikes in December and January on residential buildings in Rafah that the organization said employed U.S.-manufactured arms and killed at least 95 people, including more than 40 children. Amnesty later visited the sites of those attacks to interview survivors and analyze weapons fragments.

Two Israeli Reservists Killed in Central Gaza, Another Soldier Seriously Wounded, Haaretz
The Israeli army announced the deaths of Sgt. (Res.) Ido Aviv, from the city of Karmiel in northern Israel, and Sgt. (Res.) Kalkidan Mehari, from the city of Petah Tikva in central Israel. The two were killed in combat in the central Gaza Strip. Another soldier was seriously wounded, the military announced.

What Is the International Criminal Court and Why It Has Israeli Officials Worried, AP
Current ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan said “international humanitarian law must still apply” in the Israel-Hamas war and “the Israeli military knows the law that must be applied.” After the visit, Khan said an ICC investigation into possible crimes by Hamas militants and Israeli forces “is a priority for my office.”

Opinion and Analysis

We’ve Become Addicted to Explosions’ The IDF Unit Responsible for Demolishing Homes Across Gaza, Bellingcat
A Bellingcat investigation reports, “The constant repetition of images of destruction inside Gaza, where entire neighborhoods have been turned into rubble, can result in desensitization about the impact of the offensive. Yet behind each ruined building, each demolished minaret, each pile of rubble, there is a decision and an action which has been carried out by a specific unit or person. We used social media to track a single IDF combat engineering battalion, 8219 Commando, as they moved across Gaza, demolishing tunnels, houses, and mosques.”

Confronting Antisemitism on American College Campuses, The Times of Israel
J Street Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet co-chair Rabbi John L. Rosove writes, “I am concerned that Israel has used far too many 2000-pound “dumb bombs” to root out Hamas commanders hiding in their 400 miles of deeply dug tunnels everywhere under Gaza and consequently killed too many innocent Palestinians whenever it dropped those bombs. But, I ask those students to weigh their motives that have drawn them to the ramparts of protest against Israel, and to ask themselves whether they are also offended by the suffering of Israelis on October 7 at the hands of Hamas.”

The Anti-Defamation League Has Abandoned Some of the People It Exists to Protect, Slate
Emily Tamkin shares, “Greenblatt, then, is committing something worse than a failure of imagination. He is failing to stand up for the rights of all American Jews—not only the ones with whom he agrees. This failure will likely become more pronounced, not less, with time. One cannot simply insult or defame younger Jews into changing their positions or interpreting the news differently. Still, he can try. And it’s entirely possible that, in the end, Greenblatt will win the fight over the definition of antisemitism, over who counts as a “Jewish student.” After all, he is the head of a major Jewish organization, and, in pushing these definitions and boundaries, he’ll have some powerful allies on his side.”

An Open Letter to the Columbia University Gaza War Protesters from a Pro-Palestinian Activist in Israel, Forward
Haviva Ner-David states, “My ideal is for us to all live in peace and dignity on this land from the River to the Sea. That means two states, with perhaps down the line more open borders and cooperation — if we do the work to reconcile and heal. That is what my Zionism is about. Not Jewish supremacy or theocracy or even having a Jewish state; it is about having a safe place for Jews to live. But not at the expense of another nation. And so, my vision for this place would have to be safe for everyone?