News Roundup for December 1, 2023

December 1, 2023
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J Street In the News

As Humanitarian Pause Nears End, US Must Demand Change in Israeli Tactics and Must Not Provide a Blank Check for Netanyahu, J Street
“There is no path to resolution of this conflict if Hamas retains the operational control of Gaza that made its brutal October 7 attack possible. But the path to a better future will also be out of reach if the US sets no guardrails for the Israeli government’s military campaign and provides its assistance in the form of a blank check. Our goal at J Street is clear – safety and peace for Israelis and Palestinians in states of their own. How these next weeks proceed will determine just how possible that goal will be when the fighting is done.”

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Airstrikes on Gaza Resume After Weeklong Truce With Hamas Ends, AP
Israeli fighter jets hit targets in the Gaza Strip minutes after a weeklong truce expired on Friday, as the war with Hamas resumed in full force. Black smoke billowed from the besieged territory, and Israel dropped leaflets over parts of southern Gaza urging people to leave their homes, suggesting it was preparing to widen its offensive. In Israel, sirens warning of incoming rockets blared at several communal farms near Gaza, a sign that militants also restarted attacks, but there were no reports of hits.

Israeli Prisoner Release Shines Light on System of Detaining Palestinians Without Charge, NBC News
According to an NBC News analysis of the Israeli government approved a list of Palestinian prisoners eligible for release, about 20% of them were convicted of crimes, the most serious of which is attempted murder. The list indicates that others were detained for offenses such as supporting terrorism, trespassing, belonging to an illegal organization, throwing incendiary devices and stones and carrying, possessing and manufacturing weapons, among others. Roughly 80% of those on the list were not convicted of any crimes. They were either charged with crimes that had not yet been prosecuted, or were detained under a practice known as administrative detention, whereby Israel holds Palestinians in the occupied territories with no formal charges or evidence presented against them.

Hostages Freed From Gaza Recount Violence, Hunger and Fear, The New York Times
Some of the hostages were held in sweltering tunnels deep beneath Gaza, while others were squeezed into tight quarters with strangers or confined in isolation. There were children forced to appear in hostage videos, and others forced to watch gruesome footage of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack. They bore physical and psychological wounds. As some hostages captured that day in the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel have been released, they have relayed these and other stories of their captivity to family members.

Blinken Said to Warn War Cabinet Israel May Not Have Months to Topple Hamas, The Times of Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Israel’s war cabinet on Thursday that it likely doesn’t have months to wage war against Hamas in Gaza, as domestic and international pressure mounts on US President Joe Biden’s administration to draw an end to the fighting, an Israeli official said. At a press conference, he also publicly cautioned Israel at considerable length against allowing the same scale of death and displacement in southern Gaza once fighting shifts there from northern Gaza.

As Gaza Fighting Renews, Qatari-mediated Talks to Return Israel-Hamas Truce Carry On, Haaretz
The week-long cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended Friday after the sides failed to reach a mutually agreed-upon list of hostages to be released Friday evening. Qatar’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that negotiations were still ongoing with Israelis and Palestinians to restore the cease-fire that collapsed overnight. In a statement, the ministry said that “The continuous bombardment of Gaza in the first hours after the end of the cease-fire complicates mediation efforts and intensifies the humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip.”

Wartime Unity Between the US and Israel Will Soon Face Its Toughest Test, CNN
Stephen Collinson writes, “Israel’s initial assault on Hamas led to huge civilian carnage in the densely populated Palestinian enclave in the first phase of the war, sending tens of thousands of protesters into the streets in the US and across the world while heaping political pressure on President Joe Biden from inside his own electoral coalition. The likely prospect that a second wave Israeli offensive against Hamas strongholds in southern Gaza would be even more bloody now threatens to open gaps between Washington and Netanyahu’s government and military leaders.”

‘A Mass Assassination Factory’: Inside Israel’s Calculated Bombing of Gaza, +972
Yuval Abraham writes, “Compared to previous Israeli assaults on Gaza, the current war — which Israel has named “Operation Iron Swords,” and which began in the wake of the Hamas-led assault on southern Israel on October 7 — has seen the army significantly expand its bombing of targets that are not distinctly military in nature. These include private residences as well as public buildings, infrastructure, and high-rise blocks, which sources say the army defines as “power targets” (“matarot otzem”). The bombing of power targets, according to intelligence sources who had first-hand experience with its application in Gaza in the past, is mainly intended to harm Palestinian civil society: to “create a shock” that, among other things, will reverberate powerfully and “lead civilians to put pressure on Hamas,” as one source put it.”

Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago, The New York Times
Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman write, “Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out. The approximately 40-page document outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people. The document did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases.”


UNICEF Leader Describes Israel-Hamas War’s Brutal Impact on Children in Gaza [Video], PBS
Hamas freed more Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinians held by Israel after an 11th-hour deal extended the temporary Gaza ceasefire through Thursday night. The conflict has had the deadliest impact on children with more than 5,300 reportedly killed. Geoff Bennett discussed the brutal impact of this war on its youngest victims with UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

Dissent, and a Generation Gap, Inside the Biden Administration Over the Israel-Hamas War, NBC News
Hundreds of federal government employees have signed an open letter to Biden demanding his administration push for a cease-fire to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians. Dozens of foreign service officers at the State Department have voiced objections to the administration’s handling of the conflict in several official dissent cables, congressional and administration officials say. And at the US Agency for International Development, hundreds of employees signed a letter critical of the administration’s approach.

The Scope of Hamas’ Campaign of Rape Against Israeli Women Is Revealed, Testimony After Testimony, Haaretz
During these past weeks, the women of the nongovernmental commission have been hard at work gathering testimony and documentary materials related to the day of the massacre, with the aim of putting together a database of crimes against women and children. They are assembling one account after another, one piece of evidence after another, and gradually putting together all the pieces of the puzzle. The aggregation of the evidence presents a horrifying picture that leaves no room for doubt.

Palestinian Vermont Shooting Victim: ‘I’m Not Safe in America’, The Hill
One of the Palestinian American college students shot in an attack in Burlington, Vt., over the weekend says the incident is “very hard to grapple with” and made him question his safety in the United States. “In the West Bank, we’re not safe because of the occupation, and as a Palestinian American, I’m not safe in America because of people like this that might come out,” Kinnan Abdalhamid, 20, said.

Gazans Mourn Loss of Their Libraries: Cultural Beacons and Communal Spaces, The Washington Post
Amid the bombed-out buildings and thousands of dead in Gaza City, there is another often overlooked casualty: the embattled enclave’s shattered cultural institutions, particularly its few libraries. Both the Gaza Municipal Library and the Rashad al-Shawa Cultural Center — which hosted a meeting between President Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat 25 years ago — have been shelled into rubble during the nearly two months of war as Israel attempts to destroy the militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Ben-Gvir’s Ministry Cuts Corners to Issue Gun Permits to Israelis, Haaretz
Israel’s National Security Ministry has appointed people with no legal authorization to issue conditional gun permits, and the people designated as “temporary licensing clerks” include cronies and employees of National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. Among them were people who work in Ben-Gvir’s office, people working at the Knesset and girls doing their national service in the National Security Ministry.

Democrats Say Talk Of Conditions On Aid Is ‘Already’ Having Effect On Israel, HuffPost
Senate Democrats are scattered on the question of putting new conditions on a package of billions of dollars in aid that Congress hopes to approve for Israel amid its war against Hamas. Some, like Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), say they oppose trying to “micromanage what Israel does on the battlefield.” Others, like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, say they know that people in America and around the world are “very dispirited” by the number of Palestinian civilians who have been killed in Israeli attacks pummeling the Gaza Strip, where Hamas is based.

Wartime Israel Shows Little Tolerance for Palestinian Dissent, AP
More than 270 Palestinian citizens have been arrested in an Israeli crackdown on free speech and political activity since the Hamas attack, according to Adalah, an advocacy organization for Palestinians inside Israel. Palestinian citizens have also reported intimidation, firings and expulsions from universities, as well as surveillance of their online speech by other civilians. The arrests go to the heart of the dual identity of Palestinian citizens as they struggle to navigate a Jewish-majority society.

Opinion and Analysis

I Lost My Son to the War With Hamas. Force and Violence Aren’t the Solution, Haaretz
Elana Kaminka shares, “The idea that seven million Jews can rule millions of Palestinians with violent force, forever, without paying a steep price in the loss of democracy or of our children’s blood, is an illusion. An illusion that was shattered on October 7. There are some who believe that all that’s needed is more force, better protection. Yet we have seen that there is no wall high enough to block hatred. It’s not bleeding-heart idealism that motivates me – I have three other children and I want them to have the prospect of a better future.”

Netanyahu Is Stuck as He Battles Hamas: He Can’t Afford to Lose, Yet Can’t Find a Way to Win, The Guardian
Alon Pinkas notes, “The US has asked, and keeps asking, Israel about its vision of postwar Gaza and the political vacuum that will be left if Hamas is eliminated. Who will govern? Does Israel intend to stay? For how long? Will it assume governance responsibilities? Netanyahu has so far evaded the issue, with hollow one-liners such as: “There will be no Hamas.”’ As far as the Americans are concerned, Netanyahu’s reluctance to address the issue increases the likelihood of eventual escalation and reflects his cluelessness and indifference.”

Henry Kissinger and His Original Sins of US Middle East Policy, The Forward
Arash Azizi writes, “Celebratory accounts miss is that Kissinger’s intransigence on several points have helped prolong the conflicts of the Middle East. In fact, he missed several opportunities for helping to avoid the Yom Kippur War in the first place, while his antipathy to Palestinians helped prolong the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and, with it, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that continues to claim so many lives to this day. Even Indyk admits that that Kissinger “might have averted the Yom Kippur War” by taking Sadat seriously earlier, and that he could have helped end Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, thus solving “the most intractable dimension of the conflict.’”