News Roundup for February 6, 2024

February 6, 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.

J Street In the News

Unity Can Be Dangerous, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “The call for unity expects us to divest ourselves of substantively divided opinions and our own individual values. Instead of clarifying the national values, we are expected to gather under the umbrella of “the national interest,” which means a continuation of the status quo and excludes anyone who wishes to challenge it, notably left-wingers and Arabs.”

J Street Supports Comprehensive Military Aid Package to Israel, Rejects Republican Ploy, J Street
“For the United States to send billions in military aid to Israel and not one penny of assistance to the Palestinian people being killed, injured and displaced is unacceptable to us. We urge Members of the House to oppose Speaker Johnson’s cynical ploy. The Senate is about to consider a bipartisan compromise package that incorporates both aid to Israel and humanitarian assistance. It is far from a perfect bill as introduced, and we will support amendments, in particular, that strengthen transparency to ensure the aid we provide to Israel and other recipients is used in compliance with US and international law and that maintain congressional oversight over US arms sales.”

Top News and Analysis

Palestinians Hope Blinken Visit Can Deliver Gaza Truce Before Rafah Assault, Reuters
The offer, delivered to Hamas last week by Qatari and Egyptian mediators, awaits a reply from militants who say they want more guarantees it will bring an end to the four-month-old war in the Gaza Strip. “Impossible to say if we’ll get a breakthrough, when we’ll get a breakthrough,” a senior US official told reporters during the flight to the Saudi capital. “The ball right now is in Hamas’ court.”

What Israeli Soldiers’ Videos Reveal: Cheering Destruction and Mocking Gazans, The New York Times
The New York Times reports, “Since Israel’s invasion in October, soldiers have shared videos from Gaza on social media, offering a rare, unsanctioned look at operations on the ground. The New York Times reviewed hundreds of these videos. Some show unremarkable parts of a soldier’s life. Others capture soldiers vandalizing local shops and school classrooms, making derogatory comments about Palestinians, bulldozing what appear to be civilian areas and calling for the building of Israeli settlements in Gaza, an inflammatory idea that is promoted by some far-right Israeli politicians.”

Shocking Spike in Use of Unlawful Lethal Force by Israeli Forces Against Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, Amnesty International
Amnesty International reports, “With the world’s eyes fixed on Gaza, Israeli forces have over the past four months unleashed a brutal wave of violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, carrying out unlawful killings, including by using lethal force without necessity or disproportionately during protests and arrest raids, and denying medical assistance to those injured. The organization investigated four emblematic cases where Israeli forces used unlawful lethal force– three incidents in October and one in November – which resulted in the unlawful killing of 20 Palestinians, including seven children.”

Israeli Hostage Families Gain Clout as Political Landscape Shifts, Reuters
When pollsters asked a representative sample of the Israeli public in January to name anyone they would like to see entering politics, relatives of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza were among the names that cropped up most often. The previously unreported survey, seen by Reuters, shows the families’ appeal to Israelis who would like to see political change, at a time when Prime Minister Netanyahu’s popularity is at rock bottom.

Families of Nova Party Massacre Victims Demand Answers From Israeli Lawmakers, Haaretz
Some relatives of the victims of the Nova party massacre met in Jerusalem on Monday, where they took part in a Knesset committee and explained that they have not received information from the Israeli authorities about what happened to their loved ones or any support since Hamas’ massacre on October 7. The hearing was convened at the request of lawmaker Karine Elharrar of Yesh Atid, after Haaretz reported that many families are demanding answers and not getting them.

The Government Approved Millions to Farm Outposts, Peace Now
Peace Now reports, “Yesterday, the government approved the continuation of the indirect funding for farm outposts in the West Bank. Although pressure is mounting on Israel to prevent violence by settlers, and there is a risk of the evolvement of a third front in the West Bank, the government sees fit to persist in supporting farms, from which many of the violent attacks of settlers against Palestinians are coming.”

Many Israelis Want Netanyahu Out. But There Is No Simple Path to Do It, The New York Times
Steven Erlanger writes, “Netanyahu of Israel is on his last legs, it is widely believed, and will be forced to relinquish his post once the war against Hamas in Gaza ends. He is historically unpopular in the opinion polls and blamed for the governmental and security failures that led to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas. […] So how might Mr. Netanyahu leave office before then? Here are the most likely paths, together with their pitfalls.”


Blinken Meets MBS in Saudi Arabia as US Pushes for Post-war Deal, Axios
Under the US strategy, the administration is linking normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia to the creation of a pathway for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu would ultimately have to decide whether he is willing to take a political hit domestically in order to get a historic normalization deal, US officials say.

‘Feels Like Revenge’: Palestinians on Life Locked Down in Hebron’s Old City, The Guardian
The current restrictions in Hebron are unprecedented, residents say. Residents of “H2”, the part of Hebron controlled by Israeli forces – stationed there to protect about 800 Israeli settlers living among 34,000 Palestinians – say they have been confined to their homes, harassed and attacked since October 7.

After Suspending UNRWA Funding, US Aims to Send Aid to Other Agencies Operating in Gaza, The Times of Israel
“We’re looking at what options exist for supporting civilians in Gaza through partners like the World Food Program, UNICEF and other NGOs,” State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said during a press briefing. The supplemental funding package approved by the Senate last night includes roughly $1.4 billion in humanitarian funding for Gaza with a preclusion against any of it going to UNRWA.

Israeli Banks Heed US Anti-Settler Sanctions, Far-Right Ministers Object, Reuters
Israeli banks said on Monday they were heeding US sanctions against four West Bank settlers accused of violence against Palestinians. Netanyahu’s office said there was “no need” for such measures while his ultranationalist coalition allies, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, issued stronger condemnations.

Parents in Gaza Worry Over Their Children’s Needs [Video], AP
As the fighting between Israel and Hamas continues some parents in the Gaza Strip have resorted to desperate measures to look after their children.

A Requiem for Gaza’s Iconic Sites, Destroyed in the War, NPR
Many of Gaza City’s gems are no more. They withstood decades of upheaval, preserving the memory of Gaza’s ancient glory as a crossroads of civilizations. Now they have now been decimated in Israel’s ongoing bombardment of Gaza, the deadliest war Palestinians have ever faced, prompted by the deadliest day Israelis have ever endured, when Hamas attacked Oct 7.

Joe Biden’s Impotence Over Israel ‘Embarrassing’: Ahmad Tibi, Newsweek
Member of the Knesset and Ta’al party leader Ahmad Tibi says, “Those radical ministers (Ben Gvir and Smotrich) have much more influence on the situation and the decisions of Israel than President Biden. I do believe that President Biden can do much more, and he is not. He is engaged in the war, not in bringing an end to the war and opening new opportunities.” He continued, “The international community, mainly the American administration and Europe, is enabling this.”

Opinion and Analysis

Until Israelis and Palestinians See More Than a ‘Faceless Enemy’, There Will Never Be Peace, The Guardian
Samir El-Youssef shares, “It is surely the responsibility of both societies to take the first courageous step and lift the veil of denial and face the shameful truth. Both sides must realize that they have dehumanized one another to the extent that it “permitted” them to unleash extreme uses of violence. Both societies, with their civil institutions and organizations, groups and individuals, must no longer exempt themselves from the responsibility of what has been happening.”

Netanyahu’s Refusal to Plan for the ‘Day After’ May Doom Israel’s War Effort, The Washington Post
Max Boot writes, “Netanyahu could very well cling to power as Israel drifts into a costly quagmire. That would be a tragedy for both Israelis and Palestinians. Unless there is a postwar administration in Gaza that has some legitimacy and addresses the needs of its people, Hamas — or some other radical group — will simply spring from the rubble left by the Israeli offensive.”

Portraits of Gazans, The New York Times
Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is often conveyed in stark numbers and historical comparisons: Some 27,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Gaza health ministry. Nearly two million are displaced and more than 60 percent of residential buildings have been damaged or destroyed. Yet the lives behind those statistics are often hidden from view. Samar Abu Elouf, a photojournalist for The New York Times, spent weeks following a handful of Palestinians who seemed to have lost everything.