News Roundup for December 5, 2023

December 5, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

Israel Orders Evacuations as It Widens Offensive but Palestinians Are Running Out of Places to Go, AP
Israeli warplanes heavily bombarded an area around Khan Younis in southern Gaza on Monday as the military ordered mass evacuations from the town in the face of a widening ground offensive that is pushing Palestinians into a progressively shrinking portion of the besieged territory. The expanded assault posed a deadly choice for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — either stay in the path of Israeli forces or flee within the confines of southern Gaza with no guarantee of safety. Aid workers warned that the mass movement would worsen the already dire humanitarian catastrophe in the territory.

‘Humiliated’ Hostage Families Demand to Meet Netanyahu, Say ‘Any Price’ for Release, The Times of Israel
Families of the hostages abducted by Hamas who remain captives in the Gaza Strip demanded Monday to meet with all three members of the war cabinet, warning they will step up protests against the government if they refuse. They noted that they had asked for a meeting two days ago, after a truce with Hamas broke down and hostage releases came to a halt, and said it was outrageous that they were being ignored.

US Is Pressing Israel and Hamas to Resume Talks, White House Official Says, The New York Times
The US government is making an intense effort to persuade Israel and Hamas to resume negotiations so they can once again pause hostilities and exchange more prisoners for hostages, a White House spokesman said on Sunday. “We are still working it really hard, hour by hour, to see if we can get the sides back to the table and see if we can get something moving,” said John F. Kirby, the strategic communications coordinator at the White House National Security Council.

In Gaza, Disease Could Be Even Deadlier Than Airstrikes, WHO Says, CNN
There could be more deaths in Gaza from disease and a broken health infrastructure than from bombs and missiles, the World Health Organization has warned. “Eventually, we will see more people dying from disease than we are even seeing from the bombardment if we are not able to put back [together] this health system and provide the basics of life: food, water, medicines and of course fuel to operate the hospitals,” WHO spokesperson Margaret Harris said.

Hundreds Killed in Gaza Since Truce With Israel Ended, Hamas-run Health Ministry Says, Haaretz
According to the ministry, which does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, the total death toll in Gaza since the terror group launched its massacre against Israelis on October 7 has now surpassed 15,890. On Sunday afternoon, it was reported that 316 were killed since the truce ended on Friday morning.

Return to Gush Katif: A Determined Movement Emerges to Resettle Israelis in Gaza, The Times of Israel
Though US President Joe Biden said it would be a “big mistake” and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the idea “unrealistic,” hundreds of activists at an Ashdod gathering in late November called for reestablishing Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip following the October 7 massacre by Hamas. “I call from here to all the ministers of the government and to their head, the prime minister — make your voices heard now, lift up your heads,” declared Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, to robust applause. “Let it be known that you support the appeal to renew Jewish settlement throughout all of the Gaza Strip.”

Israel’s Netanyahu Is Fighting Two Wars, and May Not Win Either, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “In the middle of a staggering crisis, Netanyahu is fighting for what’s left of his political career, while also trying to satisfactorily defeat Hamas. The endgame on both fronts looks fraught for the prime minister. Experts struggle to see how Netanyahu can survive in office after the war — even the venerated prime minister Golda Meir had to bow out after the shock of the 1973 Yom Kippur War. And it may also prove difficult for Israel to clinch the sort of maximalist victory sought by Netanyahu’s far-right allies.”


Accounts of Sexual Violence by Hamas Are Aired Amid Criticism of UN, The New York Times
Since the Oct. 7 attack, Israeli officials have accused the terrorists of also committing widespread sexual violence – rape and sexual mutilation – particularly against women. Yet those atrocities have received little scrutiny from human rights groups, or the news media, amid the larger war between Israel and Hamas – and until a few days ago, they had not been mentioned or condemned by UN Women, the United Nations’ women’s rights agency, which has regularly spoken out about the plight of Palestinian women and girls.

IDF Reservist Suspected of Reckless Homicide in Fatal Shooting of Israeli Man After Terror Attack, Haaretz
On Monday, the IDF Military Police disclosed the arrest of Aviad Frija, an Israeli reservist soldier involved in the fatal shooting of an Israeli civilian during last Thursday’s deadly attack in Jerusalem. He is under suspicion for reckless homicide. Frija was brought in for interrogation on Monday, along with another soldier, who was later released and also there during the attack.

White House Blasts Protest of Israeli Restaurant in Philadelphia as ‘Unjustifiable’, NBC News
The White House on Monday condemned a group of protesters who massed and chanted in front of an Israeli-style falafel shop in Philadelphia on Sunday night, characterizing the demonstration as an act of anti-Jewish prejudice. “It is antisemitic and completely unjustifiable to target restaurants that serve Israeli food over disagreements with Israeli policy,” White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Monday.

Left-wing Israeli Activists Attacked While Protecting Settler-targeted West Bank Village, Haaretz
Unknown assailants attacked two Israeli left-wing activists on Monday in the Palestinian village of Al Farisiya, near the Israeli settlement of Rotem in the northeast West Bank. One of the activists, Sasha Povolotsky, sustained a head wound and required medical evacuation with bruises to the face and ribs, and another activist was pepper-sprayed. The Israeli police are investigating the incident, but have not yet arrested any suspects.

‘We Are Officially Hostages.’ How the Israeli Kibbutz of Nir Oz Embodied Hamas Hostage Strategy, AP
The kibbutz of Nir Oz is perhaps the best place to understand Hamas’ hostage strategy, an operation that was unprecedented both in scope and execution. For Israelis, Nir Oz stands out as the embodiment of their country’s vulnerability that day, with the absence of Israeli soldiers, the capture of unprotected civilians, their deaths and disappearance into Gaza, and their subsequent exchange for Palestinians. More than 100 Palestinian militants left Nir Oz with some 80 of its roughly 400 residents

Inside ‘Little Gaza’: The Civilians Trapped in a West Bank War Zone, The Washington Post
Residents of the Jenin refugee camp say Israeli military incursions over the last month have been more frequent — and more violent — than any they’ve experienced in decades. Fear of airstrikes appears to be driving the mass outflow from the camp at night, said Adam Bouloukos, West Bank director of affairs for UNRWA. His staff estimates as many as two-thirds of the camp’s residents have been leaving regularly to sleep elsewhere since the raids began in earnest in early November.

Father of Palestinian American Boy Slain Outside Chicago Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit, ABC News
The father of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy fatally stabbed in what authorities allege was a hate crime has filed a wrongful death lawsuit. Oday Al-Fayoume filed the lawsuit last month against the suburban Chicago landlord charged in the attack that left his child dead and the boy’s mother seriously wounded. The attack — which has renewed fears of anti-Islamic discrimination in the Chicago area’s large Palestinian community — has drawn condemnation from the White House.

Opinion and Analysis

To the One Who Could be the Next Leader of Palestine, The Times of Israel
Activist and former hostage negotiator Gershon Baskin writes, “Marwan, if you are really a leader then you will understand the challenge before you. Palestine does not need another hero willing to be a martyr for the cause. Palestine needs a leader who will liberate through the morality and the justice of the cause and by the way that is chosen by that leader to embrace the enemy with a full commitment to make peace. Peace is not surrender. Peace is embracing the limitation of power, force and violence and choosing life, dignity and compassion.”

Why Arab States Must Lead on Gaza, Foreign Affairs
Lina Khatib writes, “Although these separate efforts are promoting the interests of each country, much more could be accomplished if the Big Five pooled their resources, focusing on coordination rather than perfect alignment. The goal should be to jumpstart negotiations involving these countries plus Hamas, Israel, and the United States. The Big Five would be actively involved, but with a more equitable balance of power for themselves vis-à-vis Israel and the United States. They should insist on relaunching the peace process as a precondition for Israel’s normalization with Saudi Arabia so as to preserve Saudi Arabia’s credibility and status. And they should insist on a political rather than a military solution for containing Hamas.”

The Backlash to Anti-Israel Protests Threatens Free Speech, The New York Times
Michelle Goldberg shares, “As I write this, the internet is ablaze with outrage over a teach-in planned for this week by Columbia Social Workers 4 Palestine about the “counteroffensive on Oct. 7 and the centrality of revolutionary violence to anti-imperialism.” This rhetoric, with its grotesque mixture of euphemism and dogma, was disgusting, but it was still a mistake for the school to cancel the event on Monday; better allow the organizers to disgrace themselves in public than pose as silenced heroes. Given the growing pressure on school leaders from Israel’s partisans, administrators are going to feel a growing temptation to err on the side of censorship. If we don’t want escalating bigotry to enable escalating repression, we need to err on the side of speech.”