News Roundup for January 23, 2024

January 23, 2024
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J Street In the News

Time for Diplomacy, J Street
“In Eisenkot’s words: “It needs to be said, bravely, that… it’s not possible to return the hostages, alive, in the near term, without a deal.” We agree. It is time for a negotiated stop to the fighting to bring freedom to the hostages and relief to the people of Gaza. In parallel, we call for an immediate and dramatic surge in humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza – led by Israel and the United States – to address the horrific, unacceptable catastrophe there. The toll inflicted upon civilians in Gaza has been unbearably high, the suffering must stop now.”

Top News and Analysis

Hostage Talks Continue as Israel Rejects Hamas Demand for Full IDF Withdrawal and a Permanent Cease-Fire, NBC News
A Hamas official said in an interview that the group will not move forward with anything until it has a promise that the war will stop and all Israeli troops will leave Gaza. “This is the core of the discussion,” the Hamas official said. Israeli officials say their efforts to secure the release of the hostages have never stopped, but they balked last week at Hamas’ demands for a permanent cease-fire, according to a senior Israeli government official. Netanyahu publicly dismissed Hamas’ demands Sunday. “I reject outright the terms of surrender of Hamas,” Netanyahu said.

Israeli Forces Storm Hospital as Khan Younis Hit by Bloodiest Fighting of 2024, Reuters
Israeli forces, advancing deep into western Khan Younis in Gaza’s bloodiest fighting so far in January, stormed one hospital and put another under siege on Monday, cutting off the wounded from trauma care, Palestinian officials said. Gaza health ministry spokesman Ashraf al Qidra said at least 50 people were killed overnight in Khan Younis, while the sieges of medical facilities meant dozens of dead and wounded were beyond the reach of rescuers.

24 Israeli Soldiers Killed in Deadliest Day for IDF in Gaza Offensive, The Washington Post
Hamas militants fired a rocket-propelled grenade at an Israeli military mission preparing to demolish a building, killing 21 reserve soldiers, the Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday, the deadliest incident for Israel in its Gaza offensive. Three other soldiers were also killed in Monday’s fierce fighting. The latest casualties bring the number of Israeli soldiers killed since the ground operation began to 217.

Israel Proposes 2-Month Fighting Pause in Gaza for Release of All Hostages, Axios
Israel has given Hamas a proposal through Qatari and Egyptian mediators that includes up to two months of a pause in the fighting as part of a multi-phase deal that would include the release of all remaining hostages held in Gaza, two Israeli officials said. While the proposal doesn’t include an agreement to end the war, it is the longest period of ceasefire that Israel has offered Hamas. More than 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza. Israeli officials say several dozen hostages either died on October 7 or in the weeks since then.

Stripped, Beaten or Vanished: Israel’s Treatment of Gaza Detainees Raises Alarm, The New York Times
The Times reports, “Palestinian detainees from Gaza have been stripped, beaten, interrogated and held incommunicado over the past three months, according to accounts by nearly a dozen of the detainees or their relatives interviewed by The New York Times. Organizations representing Palestinian prisoners and detainees gave similar accounts in a report, accusing Israel of both indiscriminate detention of civilians and demeaning treatment of detainees.”

New Poll Suggests Israelis Open to Biden Plan Linking Palestinian State to Freeing Hostages, Saudi Normalization, Haaretz
Amid discussions about the “day after” the war in Gaza, the international community is concerned about potential opposition from the Israeli public to a two-state solution, especially given its rightward shift following the Hamas attack on October 7. However, a new survey indicates that the Israeli public might actually support an arrangement that includes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Netanyahu reiterated on Sunday his position that Israel must maintain security control “across the entire area west of the Jordan,” including the Gaza Strip, after the war.

US Seeks Probe Into Death of Palestinian-American Teen in West Bank Clashes, The Times of Israel
The US on Monday called for an investigation and for accountability “as appropriate,” following the West Bank death of a 17-year-old Palestinian American, who Palestinian health officials say was killed by Israeli security forces. Speaking at a regular briefing, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said the United States had called for an urgent investigation into the death of Tawfic Abdel Jabbar on Friday.


US Calls on Israel to Protect Staff and Patients as Military Reportedly Storms Gaza Hospital, The Guardian
The White House has called on Israel to protect innocent people as Palestinian officials said the Israeli military had stormed one hospital in Gaza and placed another under siege. National security council spokesperson John Kirby said on Monday Israel had a right to defend itself but added: “We expect them to do so in accordance with international law and to protect innocent people in hospitals, medical staff and patients as well, as much as possible.”

At Least 83 Journalists Killed in Israel-Hamas War, Watchdog Says, Axios
At least 83 journalists have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began Oct. 7, according to the latest tally from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) out Monday. It’s a staggering number of journalist deaths to be documented across such a short period of time. Many others have been reported missing or injured. For context, a total of 15 journalists have been killed in Ukraine between 2022 and 2023, per CPJ.

US and British Militaries Launch New Round of Joint Strikes Against Multiple Houthi Sites in Yemen, AP
The chaotic wave of attacks and reprisals involving the United States, its allies and foes suggests that the retaliatory strikes haven’t deterred the Houthis from their campaign against Red Sea shipping, and that the broader regional war that the US has spent months trying to avoid is becoming closer to reality.

Police Drag Away Protesters Blocking Knesset at Rally Calling for New Elections, The Times of Israel
Law enforcement removed the demonstrators from the street by their arms and legs one by one. Protesters shouted at the police, calling them “criminals” who have “destroyed the country.” Though small, the group of demonstrators represented a cross-section of the political spectrum, from former Likud stalwarts to activists opposed to Israel’s presence in the West Bank, underlining the broad base of opposition to Netanyahu and his handling of the war.

Hostage Released From Gaza Says Hamas Treated Female Hostages ‘Like Dolls’, Haaretz
Released hostage Aviva Siegel said Tuesday morning in a Knesset lobby for the victims of sexual and gender violence that Hamas terrorists turned the hostages in the Gaza Strip into “puppets with whom they could do what they wanted, when they wanted, and it’s beyond belief that they’re still there.” Meirav Leshem Gonen, whose daughter Romi Leshem Gonen is still held in Gaza by Hamas, slammed cabinet members for not attending the hearing. “How dare you not show up?”

Father of US Teen Killed in West Bank Criticizes Military Support for Israel, The Guardian
The family of a New Orleans-area teenager who was reportedly shot dead by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank on Friday mourned the high schooler this weekend while also criticizing US military support for Israel. “They are killer machines – they are using our tax dollars in the US to support the weapons to kill our own children,” Hafez Ajaq, the father of late 17-year-old Tawfiq Ajaq, said of Israel’s forces. “How many fathers and mothers have to say goodbye to their children? How many more?”

Salam Fayyad Outlines Potential for Future Palestinian Leadership [Video], CNN
Christiane Amanpour speaks with Salam Fayyad, former Palestinian Prime Minister, about future leadership for Palestinians and engagement with Israel. He discusses creating a unified authority to govern Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank in one independent Palestinian state.

US Citizens With Chicago-Area Roots Stuck in Gaza: ‘Our Lives Are at Stake’, Chicago Sun-Times
Elagha, 18, and his 20-year-old brother Hashem are Palestinian Americans who are US citizens born in Chicago’s western suburbs. They say their pleas to the US government to secure their evacuation from the besieged enclave through the Rafah Crossing at the Egyptian border have fallen on deaf ears. “We thought there would be care from the government,” Elagha wrote in a text. “But unfortunately, they didn’t put any serious pressure to evacuate us … on the Egyptian and Israeli parties.”

Opinion and Analysis

Stop Fantasizing on a Heroic Military Operation. Israel Must Strike a Hostage Deal, Now, Haaretz
Noa Limone argues, “The idea that it’s possible to free the hostages through heroic military operations is also a ridiculous fantasy. Such operations will only endanger the lives of both the hostages and the soldiers. The fighting is portrayed as the thing that made the first hostage deal possible. But whether that’s true, it’s clear that now, contrary to the claims of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, that is no longer the case because the fighting is now less intense.”

What Netanyahu Sees From the River to the Sea, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “A canny operator, Netanyahu may yet see a path to clinging on to power, keeping the war rumbling while awaiting the potential return of his friend, former president Donald Trump, to office and a change in the political dispensation in Washington. As it is, critics of the Biden administration from the left believe the White House is complicit in the staggering devastation of Gaza and too weak to check Netanyahu’s uncompromising, hard-right agenda.”

Catch-2028: How Long Will the US Continue to Support Israel?, YNet News
Tova Herzl shares, “Whoever believes that Israel has alternatives to US support, is convinced that we can do just fine on our own, or feels that “everything will turn out fine,” is exempt from drawing practical conclusions from all of the above. Others are advised to consider how to respond to attitudes among young voters and to developments in the Democratic party, whose support for Israel has been consistent and remains vital. We should also take into account American interests, as we expect the United States to consider Israel’s needs and wants.”