News Roundup for February 28, 2024

February 28, 2024
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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.

Top News and Analysis

Gazans in Survival Mode With Cold Nights and Food Rations, BBC
Alice Cuddy and Amira Mhadhbi report, “The BBC has spent the day following the lives of people across Gaza – as they scoured markets for food, worked in overcrowded hospitals and tried to keep their children entertained. There were periods where we did not hear from our contacts – messages remained on one tick on WhatsApp and phone calls went to voicemail. […] This is a day in the life in Gaza.”

The Tragedy of Israel’s 135,000 Displaced Citizens, Haaretz
For some, routine is a distant dream. They were forced to evacuate their homes in the Gaza border communities or along the northern border in October – and ever since then have been drifting without knowing when and how they will return. The media and the Israeli public called them “evacuees.” But by international standards, anyone who has left his home during a war and remains in his country is defined as a “displaced person.” According to the most recent figures of the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, in Israel there are 135,000 people who match that definition.

Biden Warns Israel of Diminishing International Support Over Gaza Offensive, CNN
“Israel has had the overwhelming support of the vast majority of nations,” Biden said in an interview with Meyers. “If it keeps this up with this incredibly conservative government they have … they’re going to lose support from around the world.” Biden also addressed the looming Israeli offensive into Rafah, a city that has become home to around 1.5 million Palestinians that is viewed by Israel as the last stronghold of Hamas in Gaza.

After 4 Months of War, Biden and Netanyahu Are on Different Timetables, The New York Times
Peter Baker and Isabel Kershner write, “The disparity in visions reflects the opposing political calendars on which the two leaders are operating. Netanyahu has a compelling interest in prolonging the war against Hamas to postpone the day of reckoning when he will face accountability for failing to prevent the Oct. 7 terrorist attack. Biden conversely has a powerful incentive to end the war as soon as possible to tamp down anger in the left wing of his party before the fall re-election campaign when he will need all the support he can get.”

This Ramadan, Will Israel’s Far-right Ministers Set Fires or Be Reined In?, Haaretz
Linda Dayan writes,”With more influence than ever as a cabinet member, Ben-Gvir demanded limits on Muslim worshippers with Israeli citizenship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque for this year’s holiday – which was accepted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite warnings from the defense establishment against the move. Arab lawmakers warned that curtailing freedom of worship could even spark an intifada among Israeli Arabs.”

2024 Israeli Municipal Elections May Offer a Glimpse of the Political Mood, The New York Times
While the election is not be a referendum on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who opinion polls suggest is historically unpopular — more candidates than in previous elections have chosen not to advertise connections to his party, Likud, according to Ariel Finkelstein, a researcher at the Jerusalem-based nonpartisan Israel Democracy Institute, which could be a sign of his declining support.


US Wants Israeli Written Assurances on Using US Weapons in Gaza by Mid-March, Axios
The Biden administration gave Israel until mid-March to sign a letter, provided by the US on Tuesday, that gives assurances it will abide by international law while using US weapons and allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, three US and Israeli officials told Axios. The assurances are now a requirement under a memorandum issued earlier this month by President Biden.

Hostage Families Set Out on Four-Day March From Supernova Massacre Site to Jerusalem, The Times of Israel
Before setting off on the trek, organized by the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, marchers gathered in Kibbutz Re’im, in the cleared field ringed by eucalyptus trees where some 360 people were slaughtered by Hamas terrorists at the Supernova music festival on the morning of October 7. Then, returning to the place where his life was turned upside down, Supernova survivor Niv Cohen told the crowd that he can’t begin his rehabilitation until the friends he traveled to the music festival with are back alongside him.

One Quarter of Gaza’s People One Step Away From Famine, UN Says, Reuters
At least 576,000 people in the Gaza Strip – one quarter of the population – are one step away from famine, a senior UN aid official said. Rajasingham said the UN and aid groups face “overwhelming obstacles just to get a bare minimum of supplies into Gaza.” These include crossing closures, restrictions on movement and communication, onerous vetting procedures, unrest, damaged roads and unexploded ordnance, he said.

Palestinian Authority Gets a Shake-Up, but Abbas Clings to Power, The Washington Post
Even a clean sweep of ministers would make little difference to the authority, Palestinian analysts said, if it continues to be dominated by Mahmoud Abbas — its octogenarian president who has spent the last two decades consolidating power while his government has become increasingly powerless and unpopular.

The Airdrops Delivered Meals and Supplies, the Jordanian Military Says, The New York Times
Planes from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and France joined a Jordanian airdrop operation along the coast of Gaza on Tuesday, the Jordanian military said in a statement. Jordanian and French planes also airdropped aid on Monday, releasing ready-made meals and other supplies over several sites in Gaza, the Jordanian military said.

Israel Accused of Deliberately Starving Gaza Civilians as War Plans Leave Netanyahu ‘Increasingly Isolated’, CBS News
According to the UN, the amount of aid reaching the Palestinian territory dropped by 50% in February compared to the previous month. The dire circumstances have led the UN’s special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, to condemn Israel for what he said was an intentional and illegal bid to starve Palestinian civilians in retaliation for the Hamas attack.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden Has Been Bad for Palestinians. Trump Would Be Worse, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “Everything we know about the former president, from his extensive policy record on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to his top advisers’ statements on the war, suggests he would have no qualms about aligning himself completely with Israel’s far-right government. While Biden has pushed Israel behind the scenes on issues like food and medical aid to civilians — with some limited success — it’s hard to imagine Trump even lifting a finger in defense of Gazan civilians whom he wants to ban from entering the United States.”

Israel Is Losing Its Greatest Asset: Acceptance, The New York Times
Thomas Friedman argues, “I don’t think Israelis or the Biden administration fully appreciate the rage that is bubbling up around the world, fueled by social media and TV footage, over the deaths of so many thousands of Palestinian civilians, particularly children, with US-supplied weapons in Israel’s war in Gaza. Hamas has much to answer for in triggering this human tragedy, but Israel and the US are seen as driving events now and getting most of the blame.”

Biden Is Preparing to Defy Israel in Wartime – Something No President Has Done Since Eisenhower, The Forward
Eric Alterman shares, “Biden has a problem unlike any other president before him. He has paid dearly for his intense support for Israel after Oct.7, even as it embarked on a war that is killing tens of thousands of civilians, without any real hopes of achieving its aim of destroying Hamas. The fact that the now deeply unpopular Netanyahu may be looking at a jail sentence once the war ends and Israelis are able to return to the polls gives him all the incentive he needs to continue on this nihilistic path, regardless of its cost – in innocent lives, in Israel’s standing in the world and of course, in the political prospects of Biden, his most important and influential supporter.”