News Roundup for January 22, 2024

January 22, 2024
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Top News and Analysis

Palestinian Death Toll in Gaza Surpasses 25,000 While Israel Announces the Death of Another Hostage, AP
Israel’s military announced the death of 19-year-old Sgt. Shay Levinson, who was among the hostages. His date of death was given as Oct. 7, but there were no further details. According to Israeli media, his body is still in Gaza. Since the war started, 25,105 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, while another 62,681 have been wounded, the Health Ministry said. The toll included the 178 bodies brought to Gaza’s hospitals since Saturday.

Split in Israel’s War Leadership Breaks Into the Open, Financial Times
Neri Zilber and James Shotter write, “A sharp divide in Israel’s war leadership has broken into the open after former military chief Gadi Eisenkot called for elections within months and said the government was not being truthful with the public about its offensive against Hamas. […] In addition, Netanyahu and Gallant are barely on speaking terms, according to three people familiar with their relationship. The deterioration in relations is being sharpened by calls from many Israelis for a hostage release deal, even at the price of stopping the war — calls that have been categorically rejected by Netanyahu and Gallant.”

US, Egypt, Qatar Said Pushing Plan to End War, Free Hostages, Form Palestinian State, The Times of Israel
The plan, whose complete implementation would take 90 days, would reportedly bring all fighting to an extended halt, during which time the Palestinian terror group, in the first stage, would free all civilians. Israel would simultaneously release hundreds of Palestinian security prisoners, pull out of Gaza’s cities, allow freedom of movement in the Strip, cease drone surveillance over Gaza, and double the amount of aid entering the Hamas-controlled territory.

Biden and Netanyahu Have Finally Talked, but Their Visions Still Clash for Ending Israel-Hamas War, AP
Biden and Netanyahu finally spoke Friday after a glaring, nearly four-week gap in direct communication during which fundamental differences have come into focus over a possible pathway to Palestinian statehood once the fighting in Gaza ends. The leaders’ relationship has increasingly shown signs of strain as Netanyahu has repeatedly rebuffed Biden’s calls for Palestinian sovereignty, gumming up what the US president believes is the key to unlocking a durable peace in the Middle East.

Growing Number of Senate Democrats Question Biden’s Israel Strategy, The Washington Post
Liz Goodwin and Yasmeen Abutaleb write, “After weeks of unquestioning support, the Senate is emerging as a center of resistance to Biden’s unwavering embrace of Israel — at least in modest ways — as even centrist Democrats are signaling their discomfort with the president’s “bear hug” of Netanyahu. A number of prominent Democrats have proposed or backed measures that aim to hold Israel accountable or to shift American strategy, even if they are unlikely to garner enough support to pass. The growing willingness of establishment Democrats to criticize or push back on Israel — a move that would have come with serious political ramifications just a few months ago — signals a shift in the politics of the party since the war in Gaza began.”

Statement by UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Ted Chaiban Upon Conclusion of Visit to Gaza, UNICEF
Ted Chaiban shares,“Since my last visit, the situation has gone from catastrophic to near collapse. UNICEF has described Gaza as the most dangerous place in the world to be a child. We have said this is a war on children. But these truths do not seem to be getting through. Of the nearly 25,000 people reported to have been killed, up to 70 percent are reported to be women and children. […] I met 13-year-old Ibrahim. He was in a designated shelter with his family, in an area they were told was safe, when everything collapsed around them. Ibrahim’s hand was badly damaged and quickly became infected. Without medicine, gangrene took hold and he ultimately lost his arm during an amputation without anaesthetic.”

At Least 16 Cemeteries in Gaza Have Been Desecrated by Israeli Forces, Satellite Imagery and Videos Reveal, CNN
CNN has reviewed satellite imagery and social media footage showing the destruction of cemeteries and witnessed it firsthand while traveling with the IDF in a convoy. Together the evidence reveals a systemic practice where Israeli ground forces have advanced across the Gaza Strip. The intentional destruction of religious sites, such as cemeteries, violates international law, except under narrow circumstances relating to that site becoming a military objective, and legal experts told CNN that Israel’s acts could amount to war crimes.

Gaza Hostage Relatives Burst Into Israeli Parliament, Calls for Action Mount, Reuters
The action by about 20 people signaled growing domestic dissent in the fourth month of the Gaza war against Hamas. One woman held up pictures of three family members who were among the 253 people seized in the Hamas rampage of Oct. 7. “Just one I’d like to get back alive, one out of three!” the woman protester cried after pushing into the Knesset Finance Committee discussion. Other protesters held up signs reading: “You will not sit here while they die there.”


Top Biden Adviser to Visit Egypt and Qatar to Discuss Hostage Talks, Axios
Senior Biden adviser Brett McGurk’s trip is part of a renewed push by the Biden administration to get a hostage deal. US officials acknowledge that reaching such an agreement might be the only path that could lead to a ceasefire in Gaza. It’s McGurk’s second trip to the region this month to discuss the issue. He quietly visited Doha on Jan. 9.

A Kitchen Table Amputation Without Anesthetic in Gaza Is One of Many, The Washington Post
The gruesome scene of the kitchen amputation without anesthetic – which Bsaiso told The Washington Post he carried out with a normal cooking knife, scissors and a needle and sewing thread – highlights the daily horrors facing Gazans amid the collapse in the health-care system in the enclave. Doctors say they have been forced to carry out amputations and small surgeries without anesthesia or pain relief even for those who can reach a hospital because of the shortages of essential drugs.

15 Jewish House Democrats Blast Netanyahu for Rejecting Two-State Solution, JTA
The statement, signed by some pro-Israel stalwarts, signifies growing impatience among Democrats with Netanyahu as the war persists indefinitely. The prime minister, who heads a coalition with far-right elements, has openly rejected the Biden administration’s hopes of forging a postwar two-state outcome.

Gaza Hospitals Overrun With Pregnant Women And Newborns — Despite US Promises Of Aid, HuffPost
Women in the besieged Palestinian enclave are giving birth in overcrowded shelters or tents, premature babies are dying without access to hospital incubators, and dire food shortages are leaving newborns malnourished. Despite promises by the US and other governments to use a UN Security Council resolution passed last month to dramatically increase humanitarian aid for Gaza, aid experts say they have yet to see a real improvement — instead, they say, conditions are worsening.

Families of Hostages Pitch Tent Outside Netanyahu’s Residence, Vow to Remain Until He ‘Agrees to a Deal’, The Times of Israel
According to a spokesman from the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, the demonstrators will remain in their tents until “the prime minister agrees to a deal to return the hostages.” The demonstration takes place on the backdrop of a proposed plan by the US, Egypt and Qatar to end the ongoing war and arrange the return of the hostages held in Hamas captivity.

US Teen Fatally Shot in West Bank by Israeli Forces, Palestinian Officials Say, CBS News
A Palestinian-American teenager was shot and killed Friday by Israeli troops in the West Bank. The 17-year-old boy was shot during clashes with Israeli forces, the victim’s uncle told Reuters. A State Department spokesperson would only confirm to CBS News that a US citizen had died in the West Bank, adding that “we are working to understand the circumstances of the incident and have asked the government of Israel for further information.”

An Israeli Airstrike on the Syrian Capital Killed at Least 5 Iranian Advisers, Officials Say, AP
An Israeli strike on the Syrian capital on Saturday destroyed a building used by the Iranian paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, killing at least five Iranians, Syrian and Iranian state media reported. The Syrian army said the building was entirely destroyed, adding that the Israeli air force fired the missiles while flying over Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

UN Chief Denounces Israel for ‘Utterly Unacceptable’ Killings as Gaza Death Toll Soars, Politico
“Israel’s military operations have spread massive destruction and killed civilians on a scale unprecedented during my time as secretary-general,” Guterres said at the opening of a summit of the G77+China in Uganda. He renewed calls for an “immediate humanitarian cease-fire to relieve the suffering in Gaza, allow humanitarian aid to reach everyone in need, and facilitate the release of hostages, which should be immediate and unconditional.”

Opinion and Analysis

As Hostages Suffer, Israel Needs to Make Tough Strategic Choices, The Washington Post
The Washington Post Editorial Board writes, “To speak with the hostages’ family members, as we have done, is to understand the limits of human anguish. Nothing justified the kidnapping of their loved ones — or Hamas’s refusal to release them unconditionally. And yet to hold those conversations is also to understand that these families’ desperation has instilled in them a kind of pragmatic clarity. If the Israeli military cannot destroy Hamas soon, and the only way to get the hostages out is a deal with Hamas, brokered by its patron Qatar, then do it, the family members we met with said. But Netanyahu still doesn’t see it that way.”

Both the Israeli and Palestinian Governments Should Be Obligated to Recognize the Other’s Right to Statehood, The Forward
Dylan Williams argues, “Biden has thus far declined to impose consequences on Netanyahu for his repeated disregard of US positions and interests. Ending the double standard which sets a lower bar for Israel, and requiring the mutual recognition of the right to statehood and compliance with the other Quartet Principles, would be an even-handed place to start. It is essential for the US to enforce this mutual recognition, as it seeks to not merely end the current war, but set a course to finally resolve the underlying conflict, and ensure that the horrors suffered by Israelis and Palestinians never happen again.”

Israel Is Facing Existential Threats From Inside and Out. There’s One Solution, Haaretz
Eva Illouz writes, “Democracy is the only stable political regime capable of containing so many contrasting groups and conflicting interests. It is the only type of regime capable of producing trust in institutions, and thus be able to both attract and produce human and economic capital. And trust is precisely what has disappeared in Israel because the populist rule of Netanyahu has led to the rot of the key institutions of the state from the inside and is still attempting to do the same with the few that remain uncorrupted. No sane person would trust the captain of the Titanic to command a ship during a storm.”

Speaking to the Next Generation of Liberal and Progressive American Jews about Israel
Rabbi John Rosove, co-chair of J Street’s Rabbinic and Cantorial Cabinet, writes, “Arguing on behalf of Israel in the current environment of war is difficult, to say the least. Add to that difficulty what preceded the war – the coming to power of the most extremist, racist, supremacist government in Israeli history. Then came Hamas’ October 7 attack and hostage-taking, Israel’s overwhelming military response, the destruction of Gaza and the killing and injury of so many thousands of Palestinian civilians. All of it is a toxic cocktail that has caused so many of our children and grandchildren to feel demoralized and disaffected from Israel, questioning what Israel has become and what their relationship is to the Jewish state.”