News Roundup for January 25, 2024

January 25, 2024
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Top News and Analysis

Israel Orders Evacuation of Packed Gaza Area With 2 Major Hospitals, The New York Times
Thousands of people were trapped at a hospital by heavy fighting in southern Gaza, and Israeli forces on Wednesday had surrounded a second hospital where displaced people were sheltering, aid agencies said. The evacuation order posted by the military designated blocks that include the grounds of the two facilities, Nasser Hospital and Al-Amal Hospital. They are among the last hospitals still providing some medical care to Gazan patients.

Netanyahu Pushes Most Pro-Israel US Democrats to Take Previously Unimaginable Measures, Haaretz
Netanyahu’s recent remarks reaffirming Israel’s intent on maintaining security control over “the entire area west of the Jordan” after the Gaza war, has led to rifts between a growing number of US Democratic lawmakers and the Biden administration. A statement this week by 15 Jewish Democrats read rebuked Netanyahu’s statement and pushed for a two-state solution. One of the lawmakers on the statement, Rep. Brad Sherman, is among the most traditionally pro-Israel members of Congress.

UN Court to Issue Ruling Friday on South Africa’s Request for Order to Halt Israel’s Gaza Offensive, AP
The decision is a preliminary stage of a case filed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel’s military action in its war with Hamas in Gaza amounts to genocide. Israel strongly rejects the accusation and has asked the court to throw out the case. If the court grants some or all of South Africa’s eight requests for so-called provisional measures, it is unclear if Israel will comply.

Protesters Block Tel Aviv Highway as Women’s Groups Demand Immediate Hostage Deal, The Times of Israel
“We united to no longer stay silent. We are taking to the streets to choose life before everything,” the women’s protest group for the return of hostages said in a statement. “Women were and still are changing reality and we will do it this time as well. We are hurting and angry, but for the first time we have hope. Let’s unite women of all sectors with a call to the cabinet to advance a deal to return the hostages.”

Netanyahu’s Collapsing Support, Time
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “If the surveys prove out, Israel’s longest serving prime minister will exit office on his own petard. Historically, when Netanyahu feels under the gun, he seizes on the same themes Israel is under existential threat; Israel will be annihilated if opponents have their way (whether political competitors in elections, or the US President seeking a two-state solution); and his favorite theme; that he alone can prevent the certain destruction.”

Nine Killed in Direct Hit on UNRWA Shelter in Gaza, UN News
Nine people were killed and 75 injured on Wednesday in a direct hit on a training center turned shelter in southern Gaza run by UNRWA, the UN agency that assists Palestinians, according to initial reports. “The compound is a clearly marked ‘UN facility’ and its coordinates were shared with Israeli authorities, as we do for all our facilities,” said Philippe Lazzarini, UNRWA Commissioner General, adding “once again a blatant disregard of basic rules of war.”

Israel Demolishes Buildings to Create Buffer Zone Within Gaza, Financial Times
Israel’s military is working to establish a buffer zone inside Gaza, demolishing buildings near the border despite warnings from the US against any long-term reduction of the enclave’s territory. A person familiar with the matter said the aim was to “keep this area completely clean of any terrorists or infrastructure, rocket launchers, mortars.” The topic is one of several areas of disagreement between Israel and the US, which has repeatedly said it will oppose any moves that result in Gaza’s territory being diminished.


US Envoy Discusses Possible New Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal in Qatar, The Washington Post
“Brett McGurk is in Doha having discussions with our Qatari counterparts about the possibility of another hostage deal,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “We certainly want to see another humanitarian pause put in place. … How close we are to that, what parameters are going to look like … that’s all part of the discussions.” On Tuesday, Kirby cautioned conversations were still at an early stage. “I wouldn’t even classify them as ‘negotiations’ quite at this point,” he said, “but ‘ongoing discussions with counterparts’ about what’s in the realm of the possible here.”

Protesters Prevent 51 Aid Trucks From Entering Gaza, Saying It’s ‘Insane to Aid the Enemy’, The Times of Israel
Only nine out of the 60 trucks that arrived today at the Kerem Shalom border crossing made it through, according to Ynet. The remaining 51 returned to Egypt after a six-hour wait at the crossing because hundreds of protesters from the Tsav 9 and Combatants’ Mothers groups, among others, physically blocked the trucks in an unauthorized protest action.

Family of American-Palestinian Teen Killed in West Bank by Israeli Fire Calls for Justice [Video], AP
An American-Palestinian teen who was killed by Israeli fire last week was struck by shots fired into the back of a pickup truck he was driving at the time, according to a witness, who said the shooting was unprovoked.

Dozens of Female IDF Spotter Recruits Refuse to Serve in Unit After Assignment, Haaretz
Approximately 50 female recruits who were chosen to be spotters, a unit that was attacked on October 7 and whose soldiers remain hostages in Gaza, patently refused to accept their assignment to the unit. A spokesperson for the IDF said those that who refused their assignment were not jailed but rather sent home to be with their family and are expected to return to the base.

Qatar: Bibi’s Criticism of Doha’s Mediation Efforts “Destructive” to Hostage Talks, Axios
Qatar on Wednesday slammed Prime Minister Netanyahu after he was heard in a leaked recording earlier this week criticizing Doha’s mediation efforts in the talks to secure the release of hostages being held in Gaza. “We are appalled by the alleged remarks attributed to the Israeli Prime Minister in various media reports about Qatar’s mediation role. These remarks, if validated, are irresponsible and destructive to the efforts to save innocent lives, but are not surprising,” Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majid al-Ansary said in a statement.

Israel Destroys Hundreds of Educational Institutions in Gaza Since the War Started [Audio], NPR
As they respond to the October 7 attack by Hamas, Israeli forces have destroyed many Palestinian schools and universities – more than 390 educational institutions in total. Ahmed Alhussaina, vice president of Israa University in Gaza City which in now destpyed, said, “We just almost finished a university hospital built next to the school – also destroyed. That [would have been the] first university hospital in Gaza. And we had a museum there. We had almost 3,000 pieces of artifacts from all over Gaza. Some of them go back to Roman Empire. And that was all gone.”

Iran’s ‘Brazen’ Strikes Around the Middle East Send a Message to Israel and the US, Analysts Say, CNBC
While Iran’s actions in Pakistan and Syria were in response to domestic security concerns, the developments upped the intensity and risk of wider escalation in a region already mired in war since Israel began its offensive against Gaza in retaliation to a Hamas terrorist attack on Oct. 7, 2023. They were also the first time Iran had deployed its military directly at any time since the Israel-Hamas war began.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Has Nothing Left to Gain From the War. Stop Sending Our Children to Die in Gaza, Haaretz
Uri Misgav shares, “The rhetoric dominating Israel is insufferable. There is no greater insolence than to speak in the name of those who have fallen in battle. No one knows what they bequeathed at their death. […] Declaring automatically that we must continue the war infinitely, otherwise “the death of the fallen will have been in vain,” is blatantly ridiculous logic. The meaning is that only by means of more death will it be possible to justify the previous deaths, in an endless loop.”

Will Biden Ever Stand up to Benjamin Netanyahu? Don’t Bet on It, The Guardian
Chris McGreal argues, “Occasional objections to particularly egregious statements or actions by Netanyahu’s racist cabinet ministers might be raised, but no one was going to back up words with consequential action, least of all the Biden administration. This White House went a long way to avoid confrontation with Israel even before its largely unconditional support for the present war in Gaza, which has claimed more than 25,000 lives, most of them children and women, according to the health ministry there.”

Israel and Hamas Probe for a Pause That Both Sides Need, The Washington Post
David Ignatius writes, “If negotiators can address the two most anguishing issues – Israel’s Oct. 7 hostages and the suffering of Palestinian civilians – that might open the way to progress on other problems that now seem irreconcilable. […] Israel needs this cease-fire and prisoner swap as badly as Hamas does. The endgame of the tunnel war could go on for many months. But aboveground, Gaza is becoming a version of warlord-dominated Somalia. Israel and Hamas need to start moving toward de-escalation of this conflict now, while they still have a chance.”