News Roundup for December 15, 2023

December 15, 2023
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J Street In the News

Democratic Critics of Israel Draw Challengers Eyeing AIPAC’s Help, The New York Times
“AIPAC critics argue that its unconditional support of the Israeli government and its willingness to spend against detractors in Congress can take the focus off critical domestic issues. “It is not what most American voters are showing up to the polls voting on,” said Tali deGroot, who runs the political action committee for J Street, a pro-Israeli group that is critical of Israel’s government. J Street has endorsed some of AIPAC’s targets, including Ms. Lee.”

Top News and Analysis

Gaza Families Beg for Bread, Eat Donkey Meat as Aid Deliveries Falter, Reuters
People in Gaza described begging for bread, paying 50 times more than usual for a single can of beans and slaughtering a donkey to feed a family as food aid trucks were unable to reach most parts of the bombarded Palestinian territory. Israel was pounding the length of the Gaza Strip in pursuit of its goal of destroying Hamas, the conflict making it almost impossible for aid convoys to move around and reach people going hungry.

Families of Israeli Hostages Held by Hamas Step up Criticism of Israeli Government [Video], ABC News
The families of hostages held in Gaza are demanding an “urgent update” from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after Israeli TV reported that Netanyahu’s war cabinet decided against sending the head of the Mossad to Qatar to advance negotiations on a new hostage deal.

‘High Intensity’ Phase of Gaza War Needs to End Within Weeks, Sullivan Tells Netanyahu, Axios
The rate of civilian deaths in Gaza is outpacing those of other conflict zones in the 21st century. Mounting casualties have been accompanied by a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in the enclave. Biden administration officials think that moving to lower-intensity fighting will decrease civilian casualties, allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza and decrease the risk for regional war. Biden said he wants Israel to be focused on how to save civilian lives in Gaza.

Gaza Flooding Latest Disaster to Hit Desperate Palestinians, UN News
OCHA said that in the overcrowded shelters, sewage cannot be managed. Combined with the flooding and the accumulation of waste, the conditions have attracted insects, mosquitoes and rats, further compounding risks of disease spread. Earlier this week the Gaza health authorities said that they had documented 360,000 cases of infectious diseases in shelters and that the actual numbers could be higher.

Bodies of Three Hostages Recovered by IDF, as Two More Soldiers Killed in Gaza, The Times of Israel
The IDF announced on Friday that troops operating in Gaza had recovered the bodies of two soldiers and one civilian hostage who were taken captive by Hamas terrorists on October 7. The soldiers were named as Cpl. Nik Beizer, 19, and Sgt. Ron Sherman, 19. The civilian was identified as Elia Toledano, a 28-year-old French-Israeli citizen.

Unprecedented Tensions Between White House and Netanyahu as Biden Feels Political Price for Standing With Israel, CNN
Stephen Collinson writes, “Biden’s political exposure on the issue shone through two extraordinary moments on Tuesday that revealed his ebbing patience with Israel. In the off-camera fundraiser, the president warned that Israel was losing international support because of “indiscriminate bombing that takes place.” And, continuing his habit of being startlingly frank in such events, Biden also said that Israel’s right-wing coalition government was “making it very difficult.” Clear differences are emerging between the two governments on what happens to Gaza immediately after the war and on the distant dream of a Palestinian state.”

Not Only Atrocity Denial and Desolation: Why This Palestinian Poll Matters, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Readers might be incensed at the denialism. But consider that in Israel, it’s hard to see or connect to the indescribable destruction in Gaza. No one is hiding it. But I flipped three channels of prime-time news last night; after a full hour analyzing Israel’s military attacks and eulogizing Israel’s dead, one channel carried a short item, two or three minutes, about the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. If the others did, it was so short, I missed it. […] The promised glimmers are relative and few, but there. For one, the gap between the West Bank and Gaza is striking, with Gazans being generally more critical of Hamas. This is a longtime finding, which makes it credible; but now it’s even more pronounced.”


Satellite Imagery and Video Shows Some Gazan Cemeteries Razed by Israeli Forces, The New York Times
Israeli ground forces have damaged or destroyed at least six cemeteries during their advance into the northern Gaza Strip, most of them in recent weeks, according to an analysis of new satellite imagery and video footage by The New York Times. The laws of armed conflict consider the intentional destruction of religious sites without military necessity a possible war crime.

Kamala Harris Pushes White House to Be More Sympathetic Toward Palestinians, Politico
Vice President Kamala Harris has been telling colleagues in the administration that she wants the White House to show more concern publicly for the humanitarian damage in Gaza, where Israel is locked in a bloody and prolonged battle with Hamas, according to three people familiar with Harris’ comments. President Joe Biden is among the officials Harris has urged to show more sensitivity to Palestinian civilians, these people said.

Israeli Soldiers’ Mosque Behavior Condemned by IDF, BBC
The IDF has condemned the behavior of some of its soldiers who were filmed singing and praying down a microphone in a mosque in Jenin in the occupied West Bank. The IDF said the soldiers “will be disciplined accordingly”. It said it would also act in similar cases which have been filmed in Gaza.

UK Bans Entry for Those Responsible for Settler Violence Against Palestinians, Reuters
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Thursday that those responsible for settler violence against Palestinians would be banned from entering Britain, following a similar plan by the European Union. UN figures show daily settler attacks in the Israeli-occupied West Bank have more than doubled since the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack on Israel from Gaza.

Far-Right Minister Calls for Israel to ‘Fully Occupy’ Gaza, Reestablish Settlements, The Times of Israel
Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, said Friday that Israel “should fully occupy the Gaza Strip” following the war, claiming the Palestinians are incapable of controlling the territory without turning it into a terror hotbed. “Anyone who is today selling the idea that [the Palestinians] can go back to running things doesn’t remember what happened on [October 7].”

3-Day Israeli Raid in Jenin Kills at Least 12 Palestinians, West Bank Officials Say, The New York Times
The Israeli military on Tuesday said it had carried out a drone strike that killed several people who had fired on Israeli forces. More than 100 Palestinians were arrested during the raid. The Israeli military describes the operations as part of its counterterrorism efforts against Hamas in the West Bank. Residents and local leaders in the Jenin refugee camp say that the raids are aimed at displacing residents and making conditions there unlivable.

Some Palestinian Americans Made It Out of Gaza, but Their Journeys to Safety Aren’t Over, The Guardian
The Abushaban family was finally able to leave Gaza thanks to Yousof’s US citizenship. But the family has a difficult road ahead, mourning Joud, processing what they’ve been through, trying to get their injuries treated – and keeping the family together. The Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund offered to treat nine-year-old Jihan’s hand injuries at the Shriners hospital in Philadelphia. She and her mother, neither of whom speaks English, arrived in the US this week.

Opinion and Analysis

The US Must Embrace Palestinian Statehood Now, The New York Times
R. David Harden and Larry Garber write, “It is time. The United States should recognize the state of Palestine and join the 139 other countries that have done so. President Biden, who has the power to grant recognition, should make history and in doing so preserve the possibility of a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians. For decades, US presidents have dangled the prospect of an independent Palestine living side by side in peace and security with Israel. For Palestinians, US recognition has been a mirage.”

How Israeli Settler Violence Is Forcing Palestinians to Flee Their Homes [Video], The Guardian
The Guardian’s Bethan McKernan traveled to Masafer Yatta and heard from Palestinian families how armed settlers – some in reservist uniforms, others covering their faces – have begun breaking into their homes at night, beating up adults, destroying and stealing belongings, and terrifying children. These West Bank settlements are illegal under international law.

I Saw the Haunting Reality of Palestinian Child Prisoners, Time
Fadi Quran shares, “The soldiers also accused me of assaulting them, which could have resulted in me spending up to three years in prison. They put me in solitary confinement for two days in a holding cell in the settlement. They then moved me to a heavily crowded underground holding cell in the Maskobiya prison in East Jerusalem, to await a military court hearing. But as a well-known activist, American citizen, and recent Stanford graduate, my case gained international attention. I was also lucky, as videos of my arrest emerged, showing that I did not assault the soldiers and that their testimony was false.”

A Despicable Campaign to Exploit Antisemitism and Suppress pro-Palestinian Voices, Haaretz
Naftali Kaminski writes, “Watching that congressional hearing felt like revisiting the public hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities during the McCarthy Years. The presidents made powerful statements, expressed shock at Hamas atrocities, denounced antisemitism and described actions they took on campus. But what followed was a highly orchestrated circus, with targeted questions, aimed to trap them into indefensible answers. In the public eye, the five-hour hearing, crystalized into 30-second viral clips, based on misrepresentations and lack of nuance made the university presidents look indecisive and equivocal, while their previous statements and actions were not.”