News Roundup for January 11, 2024

January 11, 2024
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Top News and Analysis

South Africa Tells the UN Top Court Israel Is Committing Genocide in Gaza as a Landmark Case Begins, AP
The case over whether Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza amounts to genocide opened Thursday at the United Nations’ top court with preliminary hearings into South Africa’s call for judges to order an immediate suspension of Israel’s military actions. Israel stringently denies the genocide allegation. Israel normally considers UN and international tribunals unfair and biased. But it is sending a strong legal team to the International Court of Justice to defend its military operation launched in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

Inspections, Bottlenecks and Safety Concerns Hinder Gaza Aid, The New York Times
The trucks carrying aid for Gaza stop for exhaustive inspections by Israeli authorities. They can pass through two border crossings only during limited hours. Inside the territory, vehicles travel over a landscape of rubble and ruined roads to distribute the aid to desperate, hungry crowds. These obstacles are contributing to a growing humanitarian crisis, according to aid officials and two US senators who recently visited the Rafah crossing.

Netanyahu: Let Me Be Clear – Israel Has No Intention of Displacing Gaza’s Population, The Times of Israel
The premier’s English-language video posted to social media came on the eve of the International Court of Justice in The Hague hearing a highly charged case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. “I want to make a few points absolutely clear,” Netanyahu said. “Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population. Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”

Blinken Meets With Abbas to Talk About Gaza’s Future, The New York Times
The two discussed Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and the role that the Palestinian Authority might play there when the conflict ebbs. The Biden administration has said it envisions a role for the Palestinian Authority in governing both the West Bank and Gaza. Biden has also said Israel must allow for the formation of a Palestinian state, arguing that a political solution is the only way out of the decades-old conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Israeli Demolitions of Palestinian East Jerusalem Homes Spike Amid War; Negev Bulldozing Renewed, Haaretz
The Jerusalem Municipality has expedited the pace of house demolitions in East Jerusalem since the war began, with 140 homes demolished in 2023, marking a 60% increase from the preceding year. Alongside these, 84 other structures, including shops and warehouses, were also demolished. This current approach diverges from past Gaza conflict periods, where authorities refrained from demolishing homes in East Jerusalem to prevent escalating security tensions in the city. At the same time, on Wednesday morning, the first demolitions in unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev occurred since October 7.

Blinken Tells Bibi Saudis Want Peace Deal, but Not Without Two-State Solution, Axios
Blinken also made clear to the Israeli officials that Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries won’t get involved in day-after solutions for Gaza – mainly reconstruction – without a path to a future Palestinian state, the sources said. The demands from Saudi Arabia align with those from the Biden administration – giving the US leverage to try to get Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on board with its plan for the day after the war in Gaza.

Israelis Are Increasingly Questioning What War in Gaza Can Achieve, NPR
Daniel Estrin writes, “Netanyahu has promised Israeli citizens that the military offensive in Gaza will press on until reaching a “definitive victory over Hamas” but skepticism is growing about the kind of military victory that can really be achieved. Almost 100 days of Israel’s air-and-ground offensive have destroyed much of the Gaza Strip and killed more than 23,000 Palestinians. The Israeli military says its troops have killed and arrested thousands of militants, rounded up weapons and destroyed Hamas rocket launchers and tunnels. But the Palestinian militant group is still killing Israeli ground troops, firing rockets at Israel and holding more than 130 hostages captured on Oct. 7.”


Senior Biden Adviser to Visit Beirut as Tensions on Israel-Lebanon Border Escalate, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials told senior Biden adviser Amos Hochestein in Tel Aviv last week that there is only a short window of time to find a diplomatic solution that will prevent an all-out war between Israel and Hezbollah. Hochstein is expected to meet with acting Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other senior government and military officials to advance discussions on how to restore calm along the border.

Arab Neighbours Warn Against Israeli Reoccupation of Gaza, Reuters
While Israel presses forward with a military campaign it says will last for months, Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also restated their rejection of any plans to displace Palestinians from their lands – a risk Egypt says has grown as Israel’s war against Hamas has driven most Gaza residents southward towards the Egyptian border.

UN Expert Will Investigate Reports of Sex Crimes by Hamas, Israel Says, The New York Times
The United Nations’ special representative on sexual violence in conflict has accepted Israel’s invitation to investigate allegations of sex crimes committed by Hamas on Oct. 7, a spokesman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday. The UN official, Pramila Patten, is expected to come to Israel within weeks and has been granted investigative authority by the foreign ministry, said the spokesman, Lior Haiat.

Israeli Vehicles Drove Over Palestinian Killed in Army Raid, Camera Footage Shows, Reuters
Security camera footage recorded in the West Bank city of Tulkarm showed Israeli security forces vehicles repeatedly running over the body of a Palestinian man shot during a raid by Israeli forces. The footage showed an Israeli security forces vehicle coming up to two bodies on the ground and driving over one of them, at one point coming to a stop on the man’s legs. Images apparently recorded later show one body having apparently been moved to the side of the road while another vehicle backs over the other body and then maneuvers over it twice more.

As Conflict on Israel’s Northern Border Grows, Residents Agonize Over Whether to Stay, NPR
Most of Kiryat Shmona’s 22,000 residents have long evacuated, fleeing after the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group Hamas on southern Israel that touched off the current war. For the few that remain, attacks by Hezbollah have become routine — especially over the past week, as rocket fire and aerial attacks from both sides of the border have ramped up after a strike in Lebanon’s capital of Beirut killed a top Hamas official.

Emissions From Israel’s War in Gaza Have ‘Immense’ Effect on Climate Catastrophe, The Guardian
The planet-warming emissions generated during the first two months of the war in Gaza were greater than the annual carbon footprint of more than 20 of the world’s most climate-vulnerable nations, new research reveals. The vast majority (over 99%) of the 281,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2 equivalent) estimated to have been generated in the first 60 days following the 7 October Hamas attack can be attributed to Israel’s aerial bombardment and ground invasion of Gaza.

ADL Counts 3,000 Antisemitic Incidents Since Oct. 7, Two-Thirds Tied to Israel, The Forward
The ADL acknowledged in a statement to the Forward that it significantly broadened its definition of antisemitic incidents following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack to include rallies that feature “anti-Zionist chants and slogans,” events that appear to account for around 1,317 of the total count. Overall, a large share of the incidents appear to be expressions of hostility toward Israel, rather than the traditional forms of antisemitism that the organization has focused on in previous years.

‘The Misconception Was That the Palestinians Aren’t a People. They’re Willing to Kill and Be Killed for Their Independence’, Haaretz
In his first interview since the war in Gaza began in October, former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon calls for the release of all the hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, including Marwan Barghouti, whom he sees as the only one who can lead the Palestinians after the war ends. “This campaign will have no picture of victory,” Ayalon says.

Opinion and Analysis

Israelis Can’t Understand How They Could Be Accused of Genocide, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin argues, “Precisely at the most wretched point in the history of this conflict, Israelis and Palestinians should confront the fact that they are not unique. No two horrors are exactly alike, and as a decades-long student of conflict, the creativity of human savagery never ceases to amaze me. But it’s time to accept that we’ve simply joined the grim list of people embroiled in mass atrocities, with perpetrators and victims, on this side or the other, wildly mixed.”

Jews Must Reject Calls for ‘Voluntary Emigration’ of Palestinians, The Forward
Daniel Sokatch shares, “The only way forward is to recognize that no one is going anywhere — not Israelis, and not Palestinians — and figure out how to live in this shared space in a way in which everyone is guaranteed equality and democracy. A resumption of the search for some version of the much-maligned two-state solution now appears to many to be the best (and indeed only) way out of the death spiral in which Israelis and Palestinians find themselves. Unfortunately, the Netanyahu government has devoted itself to ensuring that never happens.”

Israel Is Murdering Palestinian Journalists in Gaza. Where Is the Outrage?, The Guardian
Chris McGreal writes, “It is troubling that while western newspapers and television stations have reported the rising numbers of deaths of journalists in Gaza, many news organisations appear unwilling to directly address the pattern of killing that, as the Committee to Protect Journalists’ evidence appears to show, provides strong evidence of a war crime. It would surely be different if American or European reporters were the ones dying.”