News Roundup for January 19, 2024

January 19, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Says He Has Told US He Opposes Palestinian State in Any Postwar Scenario, AP
Netanyahu on Thursday rejected US calls to scale back Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip or take steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state after the war, drawing an immediate scolding from the White House. The tense back and forth reflected what has become a wide rift between the two allies over the scope of Israel’s war and its plans for the future of the beleaguered territory. “We obviously see it differently,” White House national security spokesman John Kirby said.

‘Different Rules’: Special Policies Keep US Supplying Weapons to Israel Despite Alleged Abuses, The Guardian
Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports, “An investigation by the Guardian, which was based on a review of internal State Department documents and interviews with people familiar with sensitive internal deliberations, reveals how special mechanisms have been used over the last few years to shield Israel from US human rights laws, even as other allies’ military units who receive US support – including, sources say, Ukraine – have privately been sanctioned and faced consequences for committing human rights violations.”

Fighting in Central Gaza Rages on Amid Hostage Families’ Growing Doubts, The Washington Post
Israel pounded southern Gaza on Thursday, including one attack in Rafah near the Egyptian border that killed at least 16 people, according to reports. The major southern city of Khan Younis saw some of Gaza’s heaviest fighting in weeks, with at least 40 Hamas fighters killed, according to Israel. The fierce fighting, especially in central Gaza, suggested that Israeli forces are not yet fully scaling back their assault despite US pressure over heavy civilian casualties and increasing doubts among families of hostages held by Hamas and its allies.

Netanyahu: We’re Allowing ‘Minimum’ Amount of Aid Necessary in Order to Prevent Gaza Humanitarian Crisis, The Times of Israel
Answering a question about humanitarian aid, Netanyahu says that Israel is only allowing in the absolute “minimum” amount necessary to prevent a humanitarian crisis. He says this is required in order to enable Israel to continue fighting in Gaza.

As Gaza’s Communication Blackout Grinds On, Some Fear It Is Imperiling Lives, NPR
Gaza is approaching a week without internet and cellphone service. The lack of communications is making it difficult for the UN to distribute the small amount of food and supplies it can get into the territory, which has been under heavy Israeli bombardment since shortly after Hamas militants attacked Israel in October. “This one is now the longest single such blackout,” said Alp Toker, director of Netblocks, a company that tracks disruption to internet services in conflict zones.

Hamas Begins Rehabilitating Militant Units in Northern Gaza the Israeli Army Declared Dismantled, Haaretz
The Israeli Defense Forces are monitoring Hamas attempts to rebuild its fighting battalions in the northern Gaza Strip, which the army had declared as stripped of military capabilities, with some battalions significantly restored. Sources say Hamas is appointing new commanders and is attempting to bring together operatives from different battalions.

Contradicting Netanyahu, Eisenkot Says Those Talking About ‘Absolute Defeat’ of Hamas Aren’t Telling Truth, The Times of Israel
War cabinet minister Gadi Eisenkot appeared to criticize Netanyahu’s pledge to completely defeat Hamas, suggesting that such rhetoric is unrealistic. “Whoever speaks of absolute defeat is not speaking the truth,” Eisenkot said hours after Netanyahu pledged to continue the war until “complete victory” over Hamas. Asked whether Israel’s current leadership is telling the public the truth, Eisenkot responds, “No.”


The Benjamin Netanyahu Era Is Over, Sources in Likud Say, The Jerusalem Post
While the Likud’s ministers and Knesset members are projecting a united front in support of party leader Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a growing number of them believe that his days at the party’s helm are numbered, sources in the party said to the Jerusalem Post. In addition to the catastrophic events of October 7 and a growing sense amongst the party’s base that the prime minister will not deliver on his promise to destroy Hamas and return all hostages, MKs have noted the party’s poor performance in most polls.

Saudi Arabia: Peace With Israel Conditioned on Gaza Ceasefire, Path to Palestinian State, Axios
Without a ceasefire in Gaza, it’s impossible to talk about what happens after the war, Princess Reema said at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. She said that Saudi Arabia has extended its hand for peace with Israel, but it also has a responsibility for the Palestinians. “The Palestinian people deserve a state […] they deserve a pathway that is irrevocable […] We recognize the need for Israel to feel safe but it can’t be at the expense of the Palestinian people,” she added.

As Trauma of October 7 Massacres Endures, Israeli Support for Gaza War Remains High, The Times of Israel
Polls in Israel show consistently high support for its military offensive in Gaza against the Hamas terror group, even as optimism over whether it can achieve its stated goals has started to erode. The scale of the deaths and suffering in Gaza have shocked much of the world and prompted widespread criticism of Israel’s actions. But within the country, the media does not focus on the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Gaza, and for most people, the main concern is doing whatever it takes to keep Israelis safe and restore their shattered confidence.

EU Parliament Adopts Resolution Calling For Permanent Cease-Fire in Gaza but Hamas Must Go, AP
European lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution calling for a permanent cease-fire in Israel’s war against Hamas on the condition that Hamas be dismantled and that all hostages it holds be released. It was the first time the Parliament called for a cease-fire after lawmakers in October agreed on a call for a “humanitarian pause.”

Israel Says It Is Exhuming Bodies in Gaza to Determine if They’re Hostages, CNN
Israeli forces severely damaged a cemetery in Khan Younis in southern Gaza earlier this week, exhuming and removing bodies in what the IDF told CNN was part of a search for the remains of hostages seized by Hamas during the October 7 terror attacks. Footage of the burial ground showed the area bulldozed, with graves damaged and destroyed, and human remains left exposed after the IDF conducted operations.

Palestinian American College Student Paralyzed in Vermont Shooting Speaks Out for the First Time [Video], NBC News
College students Hisham Awartani, Kinnan Abdalhamid and Tahseen Ahmed were shot in Burlington, Vermont, in November. Sharing his story for the first time, Awartani told NBC News’ Tom Llamas he remembers walking down the street when a man came down from his porch and pulled out a pistol. Awartani is now paralyzed. He says he’s grateful for the medical care he’s received in the US but worries about people in Gaza unable to get the same care.

New Wave of Violence Sweeps West Bank as Israel Launches Series of Raids, The Guardian
Israeli forces remained in Tulkarem, in the north of the West Bank, on Thursday afternoon, more than 36 hours after launching a raid on a refugee camp there. Dr. Radwan Bleible, at the al-Zakat hospital, said at least seven people had been killed by Israeli forces, and a dozen injured, raising the overall death toll in the West Bank since Wednesday to at least 12. Wednesday was of the highest single daily total for many months.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Needs an Early Election – Before It’s Too Late, Haaretz
Former Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Barak writes, “Standing between Israel and a feasible solution are Netanyahu himself and his extortionists, ministers Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. They block Israel from acting for the sake of its security in coordination with the United States and drag it into the abyss in the service of private interests. This must be stopped. […] There must be an early election. This will happen when the rage of the families of the hostages, the communities of the evacuees, the reservists and the large numbers of Israelis who remember October 7 well erupts.”

Palestinians Struggle to Rebuild Their Lives After West Bank Settler Pogroms, +972
Reporting on the story of Naama Abiyat and her family, Yuval Abraham shares, “Between Oct. 11 and Nov. 1, [Abiyat’s] entire community fled after a series of pogroms by Israeli settlers who descended from the nearby settlement of Asfar and the adjacent outpost of Pnei Kedem. The settlers burned houses, set their dogs on the farm animals, and, at gunpoint, ordered the residents to leave or else they would be killed. Since then, Abiyat and her children have been wandering, without land and without a home. Now, Abiyat is busy figuring out how to get enough money to buy firewood for the winter.”

Peace Between Israelis and Palestinians Remains Possible, Foreign Affairs
Natan Sachs argues, “Even if a solution to the conflict is currently unavailable, aimlessly kicking the can down the road is not a reasonable strategy. That approach was not conflict management; it was a strategy that allowed the conflict to manage both sides. Effective, solution-oriented conflict management can look very different. It would set a clear horizon of political independence for both parties — something akin to a two-state solution — toward which all should work, and produce a genuine effort to steer things toward less violence and fewer grievances in the future. It would be extremely difficult, yet far easier and less bloody than any of the alternatives.”