News Roundup for December 7, 2023

December 7, 2023
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J Street In the News

‘Just Factually Wrong’: Jewish Dem Calls Out GOP Resolution Declaring ‘Anti-Zionism Is Antisemitism’, Salon
“J Street, a progressive pro-Israel organization, vehemently condemned the rise in antisemitism but criticized the resolution’s conflation of all anti-Zionism with antisemitism in a Tuesday statement. “While we will never waver in calling out antisemitism from any corner, we have been equally clear that not all beliefs, statements and actions that are anti-Zionist are also antisemitic,” the organization wrote.”

J Street Welcomes the Biden Administration’s Announcement of Visa Restrictions Against Perpetrators of Settler Violence, J Street
“J Street commends the Biden Administration for announcing the implementation of visa restrictions against extremist settlers who have committed acts of violence against Palestinian families in the West Bank. […] Settler violence has been termed “nationalist terrorism” by Israel’s own security chiefs and undermines the already tenuous situation in the West Bank, threatening to ignite another front in the conflict.”

The Homefront: Challenges to Israeli Society During War [Video], J Street
Hamas’ heinous attack on October 7 left thousands of Israelis around the Gaza envelope displaced from their homes and communities. Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s anti-democratic coalition has stepped up efforts to stifle free speech, including restrictions on Israelis advocating for peace, coexistence and Palestinian rights. We were joined by journalist Anshel Pfeffer and pro-democracy organizer Liat Weiss Shahaf for a discussion about the situation within Israel during the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Top News and Analysis

Israel Faces Mounting Calls for New Cease-Fire in War With Hamas From UN and Israeli Hostage Families, CBS News
Israel’s military says it is in the third phase of its ground operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel Defense Forces troops have encircled and entered the key southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, where they suspect senior Hamas commanders behind the group’s bloody Oct. 7 terror attack are hiding. The intensity of the IDF’s air and ground war in Gaza, however, has drawn mounting calls for another cease-fire from UN officials, humanitarian aid agencies — and even the families of some of the 138 Israeli hostages still believed to be held in Gaza.

UN Chief Uses Rare Power to Warn Security Council of Impending ‘Humanitarian Catastrophe’ in Gaza, AP
Guterres invoked Article 99 of the UN Charter, which says the secretary-general may inform the council of matters he believes threaten international peace and security. “The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” he said. His letter to the council’s 15 members said Gaza’s humanitarian system was at risk of collapse after two months of war that has created “appalling human suffering, physical destruction and collective trauma.”

Israeli Cabinet Approves Increasing Amount of Fuel Allowed Into Gaza, Axios
Israel will allow in “the minimal amount of fuel that is needed to prevent a humanitarian collapse and breakout of disease in southern Gaza,” according to the cabinet decision. The decision comes as Israeli Defense Forces push into southern Gaza and fighting intensifies around the city of Khan Younis. Israeli officials said the decision was made after strong pressure from the Biden administration.

Leaked Audio of Heated Meeting Reveals Hostages’ Fury at Netanyahu, CNN
A female abductee freed with her children – but without her husband, who remains in captivity – is heard on one recording saying: “The feeling we had there was that no one was doing anything for us. The fact is that I was in a hiding place that was shelled and we had to be smuggled out and we were wounded. That’s besides the helicopter that shot at us on the way to Gaza.” She adds: “You have no information.”

Gaza Doctor Describes Hellish Working Conditions as Israeli Troops Draw Near, NBC News
As head of Nasser’s plastic surgery and burn unit in Khan Younis, Moghrabi said that he has worked nonstop treating blast injuries. “I’m frustrated. I’m tired,” he said. “My God, I’m really exhausted.” He recently operated on a teenage girl whose arm had been badly burned in an explosion. A colleague snapped a picture of Moghrabi’s working conditions: The only light he could use to see what he was doing was from a cellphone held close by.

Amnesty Investigation Claims US-Made Weapon Used in Two Israeli Airstrikes in Gaza That Killed 43 Civilians, CNN
Fragments of the US-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions guidance system were found in the rubble of destroyed homes in the neighborhood of Deir al-Balah in central Gaza, according to a report released Tuesday by the human rights organization. Israel uses a wide variety of American weapons and munitions, but Amnesty International’s report is one of the first attempts to tie an American-made weapon to a specific attack that left a significant number of civilians dead.

The White House Is Changing Its Tune on Israel – But Does It Matter in Practice?, The Guardian
Robert Tait writes, “It all seems a far cry from the administration’s tone in the immediate aftermath of October 7, when a soothing approach – labelled “big hug, quiet punches” by one veteran analyst – was deployed, aimed at winning Israeli hearts and minds to better enable the US to play an influential behind-the-scenes restraining role. The changed posture is an admission of that approach’s failure, according to Joe Cirincione, a Washington national security analyst. Yet it is unlikely to yield better results, he warned, since it is not backed up by a threat of real consequences.”


Urging Deal, Hostages’ Families Tell War Cabinet Some Are Facing Death, The Times of Israel
“We received solid intelligence that there are abductees whose condition has deteriorated and there is now an immediate danger to their lives,” read the letter by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum sent on Tuesday evening. “We demand that you act urgently, with initiative and creativity, to reach a deal for the immediate release of all the hostages.” It indicated that some of that information came from hostages released recently by Hamas during a week-long temporary truce.

‘Attempt to Set Other War Fronts on Fire:’ Israeli Opposition Head Blasts Far-right Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa March, Haaretz
On Thursday evening, around 200 Jewish far-right activists are set to join a police-authorized march through Jerusalem’s Old City. Their aim is to advocate for Jewish oversight of the Temple Mount/Al Aqsa compound, calling for an end to the control exercised by the Islamic endowment. Israeli Opposition Leader Yair Lapid took to X, saying that the so-called Maccabi March planned is “A blatant Kahanist attempt to set other [war] fronts on fire and to bring about more destruction and death.”

US Quietly Pushing Israel to Open a Second Gaza Crossing, Politico
Top administration figures raise the opening of Kerem Shalom — a vital throughway that Israel has kept closed over military and political concerns — “in every meeting,” a senior US official said. Critics say the closure keeps essential food, water, medicine, winter clothing and other aid from reaching Gaza’s 2.3 million people. The outreach comes as international aid organizations have pushed the administration in private meetings to use its leverage with Israel to open the crossing.

Reeling From October 7, Bedouin Citizens Struggle to Make Their Losses Known, +972
Seventeen Bedouin citizens from the Naqab (Negev) desert were killed Oct. 7, both as a result of rockets fired from Gaza and after being shot by militants who breached the fence that encages the Strip. A further six Bedouins were kidnapped and taken to Gaza; two of them were released as part of a hostage-prisoner exchange during last week’s temporary ceasefire, while the other four remain captives. “Do you understand that nobody is considering us?” al-Huzail asked, with desperation in his voice.

Video Shows Israeli Soldier Shooting Mentally Disabled Palestinian in West Bank, CNN
The Israel Defense Forces has launched an investigation after a video emerged of an Israeli soldier shooting and wounding a mentally disabled Palestinian near the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. Tarek Abu Abed, known to friends and family as “Ghazzawi,” was on his way home Tuesday when he was stopped by three soldiers and asked for identification.

Israel Is Trying to Arm More Citizens With Guns Since the Hamas Attack, NPR
In the aftermath of the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack in Israel, the Israeli government has moved to loosen the rules around gun ownership, fast-tracking the permitting process and speeding up approvals. This week, the national security minister said the ministry has received more than 260,000 new firearm permit requests since Oct. 7 and is approving up to 3,000 of them per day, compared with 100 approvals a day before the attack.

US Would Object to ‘Buffer Zone’ Inside Gaza Strip, State Department Says, Reuters
The US would object to any proposed buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip as it would violate Washington’s position that the size of the Palestinian enclave must not be reduced after the current conflict, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday. Reuters reported last week that Israel had informed several Arab states that it wants to carve out a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of Gaza’s border to prevent future attacks as part of proposals for the enclave after the war ends.

Democratic Bill With Billions in Aid for Ukraine and Israel Fails to Clear First Senate Hurdle, CBS News
The contours of a potential deal to resolve the impasse started to come into focus earlier Wednesday, when President Biden said he is “willing to do significantly more” on border security. But he also chided GOP lawmakers for their opposition to the package, saying that Republicans are “willing to give [Russian President Vladimir] Putin the greatest gift” if they don’t pass additional funding.

Harris Aide Meets With Palestinian Officials in West Bank, The Hill
“Throughout his meetings in Ramallah, Dr. Gordon emphasized the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to support the Palestinian people and their right to security, dignity, and self-determination,” the vice president’s office said in a readout of the meetings. “He underscored our commitment to the future establishment of a Palestinian state and made clear that the Palestinian people must have a hopeful political horizon. To that end, Dr. Gordon discussed the revitalization of the Palestinian Authority.”

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Failed Bombing Campaign in Gaza, Foreign Affairs
Robert A. Pape writes, “Whatever the ultimate goal, Israel’s collective devastation of Gaza raises deep moral problems. But even judged purely in strategic terms, Israel’s approach is doomed to failure—and indeed, it is already failing. Mass civilian punishment has not convinced Gaza’s residents to stop supporting Hamas. To the contrary, it has only heightened resentment among Palestinians. Nor has the campaign succeeded in dismantling the group ostensibly being targeted. Fifty-plus days of war show that while Israel can demolish Gaza, it cannot destroy Hamas. In fact, the group may be stronger now than it was before.”

Humanitarian Catastrophe as Policy, B’Tselem
In its latest analysis, B’Tselem shares, “Life in the Gaza Strip right now is an unimaginable nightmare, and its residents’ chances of survival are diminishing with each passing day. The Strip has been closed off almost entirely for two months, and the humanitarian crisis is breaking records daily. […] The humanitarian crisis currently underway in the Gaza Strip is not a side effect of the war, but the direct intended result of the policy implemented by Israel. The people behind this policy see inflicting a humanitarian crisis on more than two million people as a legitimate way to put pressure on Hamas.”

So Many Child Deaths in Gaza and for What?, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof writes, “By pulverizing entire neighborhoods and killing huge numbers of civilians instead of using smaller bombs and taking a much more surgical approach, as American officials have urged, Israel has provoked growing demands for an extended cease-fire that would arguably amount to a Hamas victory. In short, I fear that inflicting mass casualties is a strategic error as well as a moral one; while parts of Gaza were flattened with the goal of destroying Hamas, that might be what rescues Hamas.”

Dear Jewish College Students…, The Times of Israel
J Street U student leader Meirav Solomon shares, “All I can truly ask you to do is to not forget about the truths that exist that are not your own, to remember that accepting a multiplicity of truths is at the core of being a Jew, especially right now. Holding multiple truths is a superpower, one that bears a great deal of discomfort and turmoil and yet, is necessary to create the change we want to see in the world, the peace we need to bring about in the world, to ensure that everyone has the freedom to not only survive, but to thrive.”