News Roundup for January 18, 2024

January 18, 2024
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J Street In the News

The Worldwide Impact of the Gaza War, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “The Biden administration, which has openly supported Israel since the start of the war – also risking the lives of its own American soldiers in bases in Iraq that have been attacked – will not be able to continue to support Israel if the Netanyahu government does not help Biden to help us. The inability of the Netanyahu government to assist the US in creating a post-war scenario based on a political horizon for the Palestinians is damaging American interests. The support of some government ministers for violence against Palestinians and evicting them from their homes in Area C also creates strategic and political difficulties for the Biden administration.”

Top News and Analysis

As Famine Looms in Gaza, Aid Delivery Remains Difficult and Dangerous, The Washington Post
Aid agencies say the chief factors hampering the delivery of lifesaving assistance to Gazans fall almost entirely under Israel’s control — the Israeli inspection process for aid remains lengthy and inefficient; there aren’t enough trucks or fuel inside Gaza to distribute the aid; mechanisms to protect humanitarian workers are unreliable; and commercial goods have only just begun to trickle in. Large swaths of Gaza remain off-limits to aid workers. Frequent telecommunications blackouts complicate their work. And the war still rages.

Freed Hostages, Relatives Mark 1st Birthday of Kfir Bibas, Held by Hamas, The Times of Israel
Kfir Bibas was almost 10 months old when he was taken with his four-year-old brother, Ariel, and their mother Shiri Bibas, 32, from their home on the kibbutz on October 7 during Hamas’s cross-border killing spree in southern Israel, and became the youngest of some 240 people dragged back to the Gaza Strip as captives. Father Yarden Bibas, 34, was taken hostage separately from the rest of the family.

Frustrations Between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu Mount, NBC News
The Biden administration and Netanyahu’s divisions over Israel’s handling of its war with Hamas, as well as the Israeli leader’s refusal to consider US proposals for a post-war Gaza, have only become more pronounced since Blinken’s visit to Israel, according to multiple senior administration officials. The secretary of state returned to Washington, the officials said, having been rebuffed by Netanyahu on all but one of the administration’s asks: an understanding that Israel would not attack Hezbollah in Lebanon.

As Fighting Intensifies in Southern Gaza, Palestinians Flee Hospital Refuge, The New York Times
Videos verified by The New York Times show families fleeing the hospital, Nasser Medical Center in Khan Younis, carrying duffel bags, backpacks and blankets as the sound of explosions reverberated. The Israeli military said this week that they had detected mortar fire aimed at its forces from the hospital complex, the largest in the southern Gaza Strip. The fighting around the hospital underlines the dangers for civilians in southern Gaza as the Israeli military converges on Khan Younis.

Why Israel’s Political and Military Leaders Want a Perpetual War, Haaretz
Yossi Melman writes, “Many of the country’s decision-makers appear enamored of a situation in which the war continues with no end in sight and consider it an unavoidable necessity. At Sunday’s cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated that the war will continue for many more months. That’s no surprise. Since the initial weeks of the war, many Israelis have sensed that the war’s declared aims have been largely unrealistic and that Netanyahu’s hidden objectives are personal and political – evading testifying at his criminal corruption trial, preventing a resumption of the protests against his government and disrupting any attempt to hold early elections.”

Hezbollah Rejected US Overtures, Still Open to Diplomacy to Avoid Wider War, Reuters
Hezbollah has rebuffed Washington’s initial ideas for cooling tit-for-tat fighting with neighboring Israel, such as pulling its fighters further from the border, but remains open to US diplomacy to avoid a ruinous war, Lebanese officials said. US envoy Amos Hochstein has been leading a diplomatic outreach to restore security at the Israel-Lebanon frontier as the wider region teeters dangerously towards a major escalation of the conflict ignited by the Gaza war.


Medicine for Hostages, Gazans Enters Strip After Inspection in Israel, The Times of Israel
Five truckloads of medicine, including vital drugs long sought for hostages held for over 100 days, entered Gaza on Wednesday, after undergoing Israeli security checks, according to authorities. The shipment includes long-awaited medicine for Israeli hostages held by Hamas, many of whom rely on prescription drugs for chronic conditions, according to their families, as well as medical supplies, food, and other humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the war-torn Gaza Strip, as part of a deal brokered by Qatar and France.

New Polling Shows How Much Global Support Israel Has Lost, Time
Net favorability – the percentage of people viewing Israel positively after subtracting the percentage viewing it negatively – dropped globally by an average of 18.5 percentage points between September and December, decreasing in 42 out of the 43 countries polled. “The data shows just how tough of a road Israel has right now in the international community,” says Sonnet Frisbie, deputy head of political intelligence at Morning Consult.

UN: Palestinians Are Dying in Hospitals as Estimated 60,000 Wounded Overwhelm Remaining Doctors, AP
Two health professionals described overwhelmed doctors trying to save the lives of thousands of wounded people amid collapsing hospitals that have turned into impromptu refugee camps. Al-Shifa Hospital, once Gaza’s leading hospital with 700 beds, has been reduced to treating only emergency trauma victims, and is filled with thousands of people who have fled their homes and are now living in operating rooms, corridors and stairs.

Herzog: ‘Nobody in His Right Mind’ Is Thinking About Peace Process Right Now, The Times of Israel
“If you ask an average Israeli now about his or her mental state, nobody in his right mind is willing now to think about what will be the solution of the peace agreements,” he said, “because everybody wants to know: Can we be promised real safety in the future?” After the shock assault of October 7, “every Israeli wants to know that he will not be attacked in the same way from north or south or east,” Herzog said.

Iran Says Missile Strikes Show It Will Be ‘Tough and Decisive’ With Foes, The New York Times
After hitting targets in neighboring Pakistan, Iraq and Syria with missiles, Iran talked tough on Wednesday, playing up — to friends and foes alike — not only its military capabilities but its determination to strike enemies at will. “We are a missile power in the world,” said Iran’s defense minister, Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, according to state media. “Wherever they want to threaten the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will react, and this reaction will definitely be proportionate, tough and decisive.”

Likud MKs Demand Israel Permanently Bar Palestinian Laborers Due to Security Risk, The Times of Israel
Palestinian laborers from the West Bank must not be allowed back into Israel, Likud lawmakers demand in an open letter to their party’s representatives in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, arguing that their presence poses a security risk and that they can be replaced by foreign workers. The lawmakers question why “the intention is still to continue to rely on [Palestinians] as a workforce” when an overwhelming majority “supported the terrible massacre.”

Israel Kills 9 Palestinians in West Bank Air Strikes, Reuters
An air strike on a car in Balata, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, killed five members of a local cell of militants that planned a large-scale attack on Israelis, the military said in a statement. Hours later, an air strike in the central West Bank city of Tulkarm killed four Palestinians, medics said. The military spokesperson confirmed that an operation was under way in Tulkarm but did not immediately provide details.

Hamas Rocket Barrage Stirs Debate in Israel Over Direction of War, The New York Times
Hamas’ rocket barrage from Gaza underlined the competing pressures Israeli leaders faced: the widespread popular demand to crush Hamas, the calls from right-wing politicians to be more aggressive in that campaign, the pleas by families of the hostages taken by Hamas to make concessions to secure their return and the outrage across the globe over the carnage and destruction in Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

Biden Must Enforce US Law Regarding Israel’s Military Aid, The Hill
Dylan Williams argues, “With hundreds of thousands of innocent lives in the balance, along with US credibility and moral authority, Biden should direct his administration to fulfill its constitutional duty to execute the law. President Biden should not wait to be compelled by Congress to act. He should direct his administration to fairly and impartially enforce these provisions of law, applying the same standard to Israel that we do to our other security partners.”

What Palestinians in Gaza May Fear Even More Than Israeli Bombardment, NPR
Lauren Frayer reports, “Over the past three months, the vast majority of Palestinians in Gaza — some 2 million people — have been internally displaced by war, according to the United Nations. Some members of Israel’s government want them to leave Gaza altogether. But family histories like the Abu Dahouks’ are why that idea hits such a nerve. It evokes the trauma of an earlier displacement that has become part of what it means to be Palestinian. And it explains why people in Gaza — many, or perhaps most of whom have seen their homes destroyed — may refuse to relocate outside the Gaza Strip, even temporarily.”

The Impossible Choice for My Family in Gaza: Stay and Be Killed Together, or Move and Risk Dying Apart, The Guardian
Ghada Ageel shares, “People in Gaza are asking themselves: shall we stay in our homes and face inevitable death together; or leave, and die in a strange place, perhaps alone? Many have witnessed the unfolding genocide and preferred to stay in their homes and die with their families. This way they might be helped, or rescued. Or their bodies might be identified. Or – at least – they might be buried and not left for the cats and dogs to eat.”

Netanyahu’s Voters Supported His Failed Hamas Policy, Haaretz
Avi Gil writes, “Will the commission of inquiry be authorized to rule that Netanyahu should have chosen the strategic alternative that is not occupation and containment of Palestinian terrorism? The answer is no. The right to choose between the two basic alternatives, perpetuation of the occupation or a political accord, belongs to the Israeli voter. This public has shown during the long years of Netanyahu’s rule that it rejects the alternative of an accord and prefers the alternative of the occupation. In other words, Netanyahu is not alone in his strategic conceptions.”