News Roundup for January 4, 2024

January 4, 2024
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Top News and Analysis

Israeli Hostage Sahar Baruch Killed During IDF Rescue Operation in Gaza, Army Reveals, Haaretz
The Israeli army reported that Sahar Baruch, 25, from Kibbutz Be’eri, who was kidnapped to Gaza by Hamas on October 7, was killed during a rescue operation to free him. Kibbutz Be’eri announced Baruch’s death last month. Despite the army revealing on Wednesday that he was killed during a rescue attempt, it’s unclear when and how exactly he was killed.

Hezbollah Head Vows Group Will Not ‘Be Silent’ After Israeli Killing of Hamas Deputy Chief, Reuters
The head of Lebanon’s powerful armed group Hezbollah said on Wednesday that Israel’s killing of the deputy chief of allied Palestinian faction Hamas in Beirut was “a major, dangerous crime about which we cannot be silent.” In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah offered his condolences to Hamas for what he called a “flagrant Israeli aggression” on Tuesday night that killed Saleh al-Arouri.

Smotrich Doubles Down on Resettlement of Gazans, Rejecting US Criticism, The Times of Israel
Rejecting the US State Department’s condemnation of calls for the resettlement of Palestinians outside of Gaza, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Wednesday reiterated his support for encouraging “voluntary emigration” of the Strip’s population to other countries as part of his postwar vision. A resettlement policy is necessary, he said, because “a small country like ours cannot afford a reality where four minutes away from our communities there is a hotbed of hatred and terrorism.”

US Breathes Small Sigh of Relief as Israel Withdraws Some Troops From Gaza, Politico
The Biden administration sees Israel’s withdrawal of thousands of troops from Gaza as a sign it’s listening to Washington and shifting to lower-intensity military operations, per three US officials, though the transition is going slower than the US would like. The Israeli military confirmed on Monday that it was beginning to withdraw five brigades from operations in Gaza, including many reservists, citing the growing toll of the deployments on Israel’s economy.

Israel’s Supreme Court Just Overturned Netanyahu’s Pre-war Power Grab, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “If it weren’t for the war, the latest ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court would be the biggest news in the country in quite some time. The ruling, released on New Year’s Day, annulled the single biggest piece of legislation passed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right coalition. The Court’s reasoning fundamentally changes the balance of power in Israel’s democracy — so fundamentally, in fact, that some members of the elected government have vowed not to abide by it. If that happens, Israel will be thrown into a full-blown constitutional crisis.”

Killing of Hamas Leader in Lebanon Signals Shift in Israel’s War Effort, The Washington Post
Steve Hendrix writes, “For three months, Israel has pressed a full-scale military invasion of Gaza, leveling much of the strip and killing more than 22,000 people in its pursuit of the militants who planned and carried out the Oct. 7 attack on Israel. To date, it had not acted on another stated war aim: targeting the heads of Hamas “wherever they are.” Now, as the conflict enters its fourth month, Israel has apparently made good on that threat, risking a wider war along its border with Lebanon even as it begins to draw down troops in Gaza for the first time.”


Gaza’s Child Amputees Face Further Risks Without Expert Care, Reuters
In bombed-out Gaza, a generation of child amputees is emerging as Israel’s retaliatory blitz after Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attacks has led to blast and crush injuries as explosive weapons tear through densely-packed high-rise housing blocks. Doctors and aid workers say Gaza’s collapsed medical system is ill-placed to give children the intricate follow-up care they need to salvage their still-growing, truncated bones.

Israel Ready for Fight in the North, IDF Chief Says After Death of Top Hamas Official, The Times of Israel
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi told security officials Wednesday evening that the military was in a “very strong state of readiness in the north,” speaking during a visit to the border with Lebanon after repeated cross-border attacks carried out by the Hezbollah terror group. His remarks came a day after Israel allegedly assassinated Hamas’s deputy political leader Saleh Al-Arouri in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

After Tumbling in Polls, Netanyahu Clings to Power and Aims to Improve Political Standing During War, AP
Nearly three months after war erupted following the attack, Netanyahu remains firmly in charge and is putting up a fight. He has increasingly used his perch as wartime leader to test campaign slogans, appease his coalition partners and shirk responsibility for the calamity — all, critics say, with an eye on buying time and notching up his shrinking poll numbers.

1,600 Israeli Soldiers Suffer From PTSD Since Start of War; 90 Discharged From Service, Haaretz
According to the IDF, most of the PTSD cases are soldiers who were exposed to the October 7 Hamas massacre. The IDF mental health department is worried about reservists returning to civilian life, says concerned of “functioning difficulties, of a situation where daily life starts to feel meaningless.”

‘Enough Is Enough’: Sanders Says Congress Should Reject Aid For Israel’s War In Gaza, HuffPost
The Biden administration has asked Congress to approve an additional support package for US allies, including Israel, which Sanders described as “unconditional military aid” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to continue with their brutal war. “Enough is enough,” Sanders said in a statement. “Congress must reject that funding. The taxpayers of the United States must no longer be complicit in destroying the lives of innocent men, women, and children in Gaza.”

Top Executive Leaves ADL Over CEO’s Praise of Elon Musk, Jewish Currents
Yaël Eisenstat, the head of the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center for Technology and Society (CTS), is leaving the organization due to disagreement with the ADL CEO’s praise of Elon Musk, according to a current ADL staffer with knowledge of CTS-related decisions. Eisenstat’s decision to leave comes after three other staffers at CTS, which focuses on online expressions of hate speech, also quit due to disagreement with ADL leadership’s post-October 7 policies.

Under US Pressure, Israel Weighs Opening Erez Crossing for Gaza Humanitarian Aid, Haaretz
This comes under pressure from the United States, which is conditioning its continued support of the fighting on increased aid to Gaza, and ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken planned visit to Israel next week. Concurrently, Israel is considering bringing aid trucks in through a gap in the border fence near Kibbutz Be’eri, which is used by the IDF to transport troops into the Strip.

Second Administration Official Resigns in Protest of Biden’s Support for Israeli War in Gaza, AP
Tariq Habash, a Biden administration appointee who had worked in the education department to help overhaul the student loan system and address inequities in higher education, told The Associated Press he submitted his resignation Wednesday. That was after he and others had “done everything imaginable” to work within the system to try to register their objections to administration leaders, he said.

Opinion and Analysis

Gaza is Starving, The New Yorker
Isaac Chotiner interviews Arif Husain, chief economist at the United Nations World Food Program, about food scarcity in Gaza. Husain says, “I’ve been doing this for the past two decades, and I’ve been to all kinds of conflicts and all kinds of crises. And, for me, this is unprecedented because of, one, the magnitude, the scale, the entire population of a particular place; second, the severity; and, third, the speed at which this is happening, at which this has unfolded, is unprecedented. In my life, I’ve never seen anything like this in terms of severity, in terms of scale, and then in terms of speed.”

What Just Happened at Harvard Is Bigger Than Me, The New York Times
Dr. Claudine Gay, former president of Harvard University, shares, “At tense moments, every one of us must be more skeptical than ever of the loudest and most extreme voices in our culture, however well organized or well connected they might be. Too often they are pursuing self-serving agendas that should be met with more questions and less credulity. College campuses in our country must remain places where students can learn, share and grow together, not spaces where proxy battles and political grandstanding take root.”

Hamas Killed My Daughter. My Husband Is Still a Hostage, Newsweek
Gali Idan, a member of Kibbutz Nahal Oz, writes, “Almost three months later, the kids are still crying. They miss their father every day. My son only sleeps with me. The Red Cross hasn’t visited Tsachi or any of the other hostages, we are told. But, our entire family and a community of friends that has embraced us is resolved to bring Tsachi home. I am doing everything in my power to bring him home alive and well.”

Israelis Should Want to Stop the War for Their Own Sake, if Not for Gaza’s, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Young people and children are suffering the effects, showing symptoms of deep fears, reluctance to go to school, behavioral problems and regressive behaviors, depression. A new center established just to deal with the war has received over 200 requests for help, mostly people suffering from fear. The displacement, financial pressure, fear and trauma will undoubtedly lead to rising rates of domestic violence.”