News Roundup for January 9, 2024

January 9, 2024
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street In the News

US Should Seek Unequivocal Israeli Commitment, in Word and in Deed, Against Mass Transfer of Civilians From Gaza, J Street
“Given numerous, repeated statements by Israeli ministers who support the depopulation of Gaza, the US government should seek a firm, public commitment from the Prime Minister that his government is not pursuing and will not pursue any such civilian transfer policy. The mass permanent transfer of families in Gaza from their homeland would constitute a severe violation of international law. Statements by ministers in the Netanyahu government – many of whom have national security responsibilities – expressly calling for such violations must be repudiated by Prime Minister Netanyahu as Israel’s head of government.”

Don’t Quit the US Campus Challenge, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “As a proud graduate of the excellent leadership program of the Wexner Foundation, I believe that abandoning the elite universities of the US will prove to be a mistake that we will regret in the future. In years to come, we will ask ourselves why we abandoned the most significant arena in which future leaders from the most important countries in the world are educated and influenced. […] Beyond that, we will have given up the enriching experience of studying at the most prestigious university in the world with American and foreign students, which makes an irreplaceable contribution to the State of Israel and its public service.”

Top News and Analysis

One in 100 People in Gaza Has Been Killed Since October 7, CNN
About one in every 100 people in Gaza has been killed since the war between Israel and Hamas erupted on October 7, according to Palestinian statistics. The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah announced in its daily update on Monday that at least 22,835 people have been killed in the besieged enclave since the beginning of the war. That staggering death toll means that 1% of the enclave’s total pre-war population of 2.27 million people has now has been wiped out.

Israel Says Its Military Is Starting to Shift to a More Targeted Gaza Campaign, The New York Times
Israeli officials have privately told their American counterparts that they hoped the transition would be completed by the end of January, US officials said. Israel’s disclosure came as Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken was expected in Israel to press officials there to curtail their campaign in Gaza and to prevent the war from spreading across the region.

Settlers Killed a Palestinian Teen. Israeli Forces Didn’t Stop It, The Washington Post
A Washington Post review of exclusive visuals of the attack, medical records and interviews with witnesses and first responders reveals that one of the Palestinians killed, 17-year-old Obada Saed Abu Srour, was shot in the back by settlers, probably as he was running from gunfire. Israeli troops, meanwhile, did not forcefully intervene, despite their obligation under international and Israeli law to protect all residents of the West Bank, including Palestinians.

As Israel’s War With Hamas Rages On, the Family of an American Hostage Waits Anxiously, USA Today
Chris Kenning shares, “Omer Neutra’s absence hangs on a dog tag around his father’s neck, declaring in Hebrew that his heart is held captive in Gaza. His absence drives his mother’s daily inner talks with her missing son, and her plans for a new apartment to be waiting for him to rebuild his life. For three months, it has fueled Ronen and Orna Neutra’s all-consuming mission to free their son, who grew up on Long Island, New York, and deferred college to spend a year in Israel, leading him into the Israeli army and, on Oct. 7, to his apparent capture by Hamas.”

Why Netanyahu Can’t Talk About Post-War Gaza, Time
Yasmeen Serhan writes, “As a result [of his declining popularity], Netanyahu has avoided expressing any kind of vision for the “day after,” opting instead only to reveal what he would not accept. This includes not allowing the Palestinian Authority to have any role in the future governance of Gaza (a position that isn’t supported by the US and other regional partners) nor consenting to the creation of an international force to oversee security along the Israel-Gaza border. He has also reiterated his opposition to a Palestinian state, which both President Biden and Arab leaders have said must be the ultimate goal.”

Israeli Lawmakers Say It Out Loud: Mass Migration From Gaza and Jewish Settlement Instead, Haaretz
At a caucus meeting, right-wing Israeli lawmakers offered advice like “in the northern Gaza Strip we first have to conquer, annex, destroy all the houses.” Every time someone mentioned the resettlement of Gaza, loud applause erupted. According to caucus co-chairman Ohad Tal of Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party, “The goal of the war must be full control over the Gaza Strip. Gaza was the State of Israel; it must return to being the territory of the State of Israel.”

Israel is Starving Gaza, B’Tselem
In its latest report, B’Tselem shares, “This reality is not a byproduct of war, but a direct result of Israel’s declared policy. Residents now depend entirely on food supplies from outside Gaza, as they can no longer produce almost any food themselves. Most cultivated fields have been destroyed, and accessing open areas during the war is dangerous in any case. Bakeries, factories and food warehouses have been bombed or shut down due to lack of basic supplies, fuel and electricity. Stockpiles in private homes, stores and warehouses have long since run out. In these conditions, the family and social support networks that helped residents at the beginning of the war collapsed, too.”

A Glimpse Inside a Devastated Gaza, The New York Times
New York Times journalists report, “As we traveled through central Gaza on Monday, every village bore the marks of war. Some buildings had collapsed entirely, their floors stacked on top of the other like piles of books. Tower blocks, missing whole sections, stood precariously. The house in Bureij was missing an outer wall. A grove of trees next door had been leveled, the plants ripped from their roots and the land churned into mud. Ultimately, all the buildings near the house would most likely be destroyed, a senior commander said, once the army exploded a Hamas tunnel network that he said lay beneath them.”


WHO Axes Medical Aid Delivery to North Gaza in Absence of Security Guarantees, Reuters
The World Health Organization (WHO) said it had been compelled to cancel a mission to bring medical supplies to northern Gaza on Sunday after failing to receive security guarantees. It was the fourth time WHO had had to call off a planned mission to bring urgently needed medical supplies to Al-Awda Hospital and the central drug store in northern Gaza since Dec. 26, it said.

Biden: I’m Quietly Working With Israel to ‘Significantly’ Lower IDF Presence in Gaza, The Times of Israel
President Joe Biden said Monday that he was working to have Israel significantly reduce its military presence in Gaza, after being heckled by left protesters calling for a ceasefire in the Strip, during a speech at a church in South Carolina where a white supremacist killed nine Black worshipers in 2015.

US Secretary of State Rallies Mideast Leaders to Prepare for Gaza’s Post-war Future, AP
Blinken, who is on an urgent Mideast mission aimed primarily at preventing the conflict from spreading to a regional war, said Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey would consider participating in and contributing to “day after” scenarios for the Palestinian territory, which has been devastated by three months of deadly Israeli bombardment. Those countries had previously resisted US calls for post-war planning to begin, insisting that there must first be a cease-fire and a sharp reduction in the civilian suffering.

Israeli Minister Suggests Relocating Gazan Civilians in Order to ‘Improve Their Living Situation’, Haaretz
Otzma Yehudit minister Amichai Eliyahu is the latest Israeli coalition lawmaker to express support for the ‘voluntary emigration’ of Gazans out of their homes. Such comments are likely to be used against Israel in its impending trial at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

UN Experts Demand Accountability for Sexual Torture During Hamas Onslaught, The Times of Israel
“The growing body of evidence about reported sexual violence is particularly harrowing,” two UN-appointed independent experts said in a statement on Monday, referring to allegations of sexual torture including rape and gang rape as well as mutilations and gunshots to genital areas. “These acts constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes which, given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks, may also qualify as crimes against humanity,” the experts said.

Israel Shifts to Deadlier Strikes on Iran-Linked Targets in Syria, Reuters
Israel is carrying out an unprecedented wave of deadly strikes in Syria targeting cargo trucks, infrastructure and people involved in Iran’s weapons lifeline to its proxies in the region, six sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Although Israel has struck Iran-linked targets in Syria for years, it is now unleashing deadlier, more frequent air raids against Iranian arms transfers and air defense systems.

Israeli Forces Kill Young Palestinian Girl Amid Rising West Bank Unrest, HuffPost
Police said a man and woman inside the car were shot, but a girl in a van in front of them was shot as well. The girl, who was reported to be 3 or 4 years old, was pronounced dead by Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service. Police said a preliminary investigation found that “during the rapid response of the officers toward the terrorists’ vehicle, the vehicle with the child may have been affected.” They promised a “thorough investigation.”

Opinion and Analysis

Gazans Are Starving. Airdrops of Aid Could Help Change That, The Forward
Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib argues, “This crisis is unprecedented, and so should be the international response. We must act quickly — and smartly — to save lives. Thankfully, we have the tools to do so in a way that has broad international support: distribute humanitarian aid through airdrops. The United Nations, United States, Europe and Arab countries, in coordination with the IDF, should rapidly coordinate airdrops over Gaza to deliver desperately needed food to civilians who are starving.”

The Hard Truth of Israel’s Endgame in Gaza [Audio], The New York Times
What are Israel’s plans for Gaza if it succeeds in expelling Hamas? In this audio essay, Peter Beinart argues that the country’s goal is very clear: to force Palestinians to leave. Beinart believes America’s blanket support of Israel makes it complicit in crimes against humanity. “I want US diplomats to understand that the forced expulsion of a population or part of a population is a war crime,” Beinart says. “I want US government officials to fear that this will be their legacy and to ensure that it’s not.”

Israel Needs a Plan for the Day After the War, The Jerusalem Post
Tova Herzl writes, “Absent a plan, on the day after the war, Israel, with its military boots on hostile ground, will have to immediately think and plan and do, while scrambling for partners. If and until it succeeds in finding them, Israel will be exclusively responsible for everything, from ensuring clean water to paying teachers to organizing medical care for some two million people. This cannot be an efficient operation and will not be a pretty sight, and it will come at great cost – not only financial – to Israel.”

Liberal Zionists Are Finding Our Voices Again, Substack
Jay Michaelson shares, “We do not have to pick a side in this false dichotomy. We can both grieve for the victims and the hostages and also say yesh gvul, there’s a limit to what we will support, a line between legitimate and illegitimate, and this Israeli government is dancing on its edge. We reject the false choices offered by the far Right and the far Left. And after a period of silence, we are finding our voices again.”