News Roundup for January 16, 2024

January 16, 2024
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J Street In the News

100 Days of Hell, J Street
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “It feels meaningful to share it today, as a reminder of what we have all faced in the last 100 days: 100 days of pain and anguish for the hostages and their families. 100 days of grief and loss for the families of those murdered. 100 days of fear and devastation for Palestinian families in Gaza.”

Top News and Analysis

Half a Million Gazans Are Suffering From Acute Hunger. Let That Sink In, Haaretz
“We’re hearing that food has entered Rafah, but hardly any gets to us. I swear to you by the life of Allah and the life of my children: We are living in hell. For a week and a half we have been in a house that was destroyed, without almost any walls, without windows and without electricity. Our luck is that until a week and a half ago there were Israeli soldiers in this house. We are living off the garbage they left behind,” says a resident of the northern Gaza Strip, who relates that his family cannot move south, because his wife is disabled.

100 Days Into War, Family of an Israeli Hostage Says “They Forgot About Us”, CBS News
Gil Dickmann’s 39-year-old cousin is among the 136 hostages still believed to be held captive in the Gaza Strip, and he isn’t sure what’s going on. “Now we feel desperate,” Dickmann said. “The whole point, as they told us, of the second stage of the war, of moving in through the ground, was in order to get the hostages back… and the hostages aren’t here.” Dickmann is one of hundreds of family members of the hostages who have been waiting, hoping, and pressing to get them back, and he has become increasingly disillusioned and angry with the progress made by Israel’s government, military and international partners.

Biden “Running Out” of Patience With Bibi as Gaza War Hits 100 Days, Axios
“The situation sucks and we are stuck. The president’s patience is running out,” one US official told Axios. “At every juncture, Netanyahu has given Biden the finger,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who has been in close contact with US officials about the war, told Axios. “They are pleading with the Netanyahu coalition, but getting slapped in the face over and over again.” Biden hasn’t spoken to Netanyahu in the 20 days since a tense Dec. 23 call, which a frustrated Biden ended with the words: “This conversation is over.” They had spoken almost every other day in the first two months of the war.

Car-Ramming Attack in Israel Kills 1 and Wounds 17, Officials Say, The New York Times
Two Palestinian men stole cars and ran over Israelis in a suburb of Tel Aviv on Monday, the Israeli police said. One person was killed and 17 others injured, according to emergency officials. Both assailants, residents of the Hebron area in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, were arrested, the police said in a statement. Their motivations were still being investigated, but the incident was being treated as a terrorist attack.

A Defiant Netanyahu Says No One Can Halt Israel’s War to Crush Hamas, Including the World Court, AP
Israel will pursue its war against Hamas until victory and will not be stopped by anyone, including the world court, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a defiant speech Saturday, as the fighting in Gaza approached the 100-day mark. Netanyahu spoke after the International Court of Justice at The Hague held two days of hearings on South Africa’s allegations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians, a charge Israel has rejected as libelous and hypocritical.

Israel Says It Fears for Lives of Two Hostages After Latest Hamas Propaganda Video, The Times of Israel
Hamas published videos showing hostages Itay Svirsky, Noa Argamani, and Yossi Sharabi. The latest propaganda video, published Monday evening, raised concerns regarding Svirsky and Sharabi. Argamani is believed by the IDF to be alive. Hagari said Hamas’s claim that the IDF targeted a building where three Israeli hostages were being held, killing two of them, was a lie. However, he indicated that it was possible that the hostages were located close to a building that was targeted by the IDF and may have been endangered.

How Israel’s Inspection Process Is Obstructing Aid Delivery, The New Yorker
In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Senator Chris Van Hollen shares, “My sense was things are not getting better, either in terms of the humanitarian situation in Gaza or a reduction in high levels of civilian casualties. I track the civilian casualties very closely. They’ve actually gone up in the last couple of days, since the Administration has said that the Israelis are reducing their footprint and tempo. It is true that Israel has removed some of the forces it has in northern Gaza because they’ve essentially taken control of that area of Gaza, but they’ve simply concentrated their efforts in the south, and so we’ve seen no real reduction in the high levels of civilian casualties.”


Thousands Protest Across Israel Against the Government, Block Tel Aviv Highway, Haaretz
Several protesters blocked the Tel Aviv highway and six were arrested by police. Police also forcibly dispersed a demonstration of several dozen anti-war protesters in front of the American Consulate in Jerusalem. At the Tel Aviv rally, Lt. Col. (res) Yoram Buskila said that “calling for the replacement of the government and its leader is not a political statement. It’s a matter-of-fact, factual and moral statement, not to mention an existential necessity.”

Israeli Tanks Storm Back Into North Gaza Areas Where They Had Withdrawn, Reuters
Massive explosions could be seen over northern areas of Gaza from across the border with Israel – a rarity over the past two weeks after Israel announced a draw-down of forces in the north as part of a transition to smaller, targeted operations. Any path toward de-escalating the war still seems remote, with Israel saying it will not halt until Hamas is destroyed, and the fighters showing no sign of losing the ability to resist.

Israel Risking Serious Escalation by Killing Hezbollah Leaders, Say Diplomats, The Guardian
Diplomats who spoke to the Guardian said the targeted killings of two Hezbollah commanders in the aftermath of Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel in October risked rupturing the fragile understanding between the sides over what constituted a dangerous escalation. Though both sides have been firing across the border, observers have noted the targeted killings as a new departure in the conflict.

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Cut Gaza off From Egypt, Taking Control of Palestinian Enclave’s Remaining Border, CNN
The border between Egypt and Gaza “must” be closed, Netanyahu said Saturday – a move that would give Israel complete control over the Palestinian enclave’s access to the world. During a press briefing, Netanyahu said that Israel would not consider the war finished until it closes the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14km strip of land that serves as a buffer zone on the border between Egypt and Gaza.

US Says It Seized Iranian Weapons Bound for Houthis in Yemen, The Guardian
It was the first seizure of “lethal Iranian-supplied advanced conventional weapons” to the Houthis since the group began attacking merchant ships in November, it added. The seizure came as a Greek-owned cargo ship was hit by a missile off the coast of Yemen, a maritime risk management company said on Tuesday, following a string of attacks in the Red Sea by the Houthis.

A Former Israeli Hostage Fears for the Women She Left Behind in Gaza, The Washington Post
In her first interview with international media, Agam described the terror and confusion she endured over nearly two months as a hostage inside Gaza, held with her mother, Chen, and two brothers, Tal and Gal. Speaking from Shfayim, a kibbutz in central Israel that has transformed into a way station for hundreds of her displaced neighbors, she recounted the extreme exhaustion, the oppressive stench of the tunnels, the relentless psychological torture.

Report: IDF Chief Worried Gaza Battle Gains Will Erode Without a ‘Day After’ Strategy, The Times of Israel
“We are facing the erosion of gains made thus far in the war because no strategy has been put together for the day after,” Channel 13 news cited Halevi as saying in private conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and others. Attempts to convene ministers for conversations on managing the Strip and keeping Hamas out of power have been hampered by infighting and issues regarding the timing of the meetings.

Opinion and Analysis

Gaza Needs a Massive Increase in Humanitarian Aid Immediately, The Oregonian
Senator Jeff Merkley writes, “There is no justifiable reason a truck cannot be loaded, inspected and cleared to deliver its aid the same day rather than waiting a week or more. As we mark the hundredth day of war, I am calling on Israel and the United States — in partnership with Egypt, Jordan and non-governmental organizations – to fix these issues immediately so that the flow of humanitarian aid and commercial goods, like food and medicine, can be vastly increased to meet these urgent and enormous needs.”

South Africa Brought the Case, but One Man Dragged Israel Into the Dock at The Hague – Benjamin Netanyahu, The Guardian
Jonathan Freedland argues, “Netanyahu opened the door to this case by ushering into power an ultra-nationalist far right whose bigotry is unbound and whose rantings ended up as evidence at The Hague. He did that because he needs their votes if he is to stay in power and stay out of jail. But the cost, both for the people of Gaza and the people he claims to lead, could barely be heavier.”

How Israel and the Palestinians Go From War to Peace, The Washington Post
Jennifer Rubin writes, “Over time two peoples immersed in their own suffering will need to come to terms with a simple reality: Neither is going anywhere. Contrary to Hamas’s genocidal fantasy, Israel is not going to disappear. Likewise, Israelis must acknowledge that the bigoted view held by Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich that Palestinians can be ignored and denied self-determination defies reality.”