News Roundup for June 24, 2024

June 24, 2024

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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

Top News and Analysis

Netanyahu Walks Back Proposal for Gaza Hostage-Ceasefire Deal Endorsed by Biden, Axios
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he is interested in a “partial deal” with Hamas that will free “some of the hostages” held in Gaza and allow Israel to continue fighting in the enclave. Netanyahu’s comments contradicted statements by Biden administration officials who in recent days said Netanyahu and his aides had reiterated their support for the proposal. In recent weeks, Netanyahu’s radical right-wing coalition partners, ultranationalist ministers Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich, threatened to leave the coalition and topple the government if the proposal turns into an agreement.

Israeli Official Describes Secret Government Bid to Cement Control of West Bank, The New York Times
The New York Times reports, “In a taped recording of the speech, the official, Bezalel Smotrich, can be heard suggesting at a private event earlier this month that the goal was to prevent the West Bank from becoming part of a Palestinian state. […] Mr. Smotrich’s June 9 speech at a West Bank gathering may make that posture harder to maintain. In it, he outlined a carefully orchestrated program to take authority over the West Bank out of the hands of the Israeli military and turn it over to civilians working for Mr. Smotrich in the defense ministry. […] Mr. Netanyahu is ‘with us full on,’ Mr. Smotrich said in the speech.”

Netanyahu Reiterates Claim About US Withholding Weapon Shipments as Democrats Grapple With Attending His Congress Address, CBS News
On Sunday, Netanyahu told his Cabinet that there was a “dramatic drop” in U.S. weapons about four months ago, without specifying which weapons. He said only that “certain items arrived sporadically but the munitions at large remained behind.” A White House official told CBS News on Sunday that the administration has “made our position clear on this repeatedly and we are not going to keep responding to the Prime Minister’s political statements. We look forward to constructive consultations with the Defense Minister in Washington this week.”

Netanyahu Says Israel Is Winding Down its Gaza Operations. But He Warns a Lebanon War Could Be Next, AP
The Israeli leader said in a lengthy TV interview that while the army is close to completing its current ground offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, that would not mean the war against Hamas is over. But he said fewer troops would be needed in Gaza, freeing up forces to battle Hezbollah. “We will have the possibility of transferring some of our forces north, and we will do that,” he said.


IDF Transfers Powers in Occupied West Bank to Pro-settler Civil Servants, The Guardian
An order posted by the Israel Defense Forces on its website on May 29 transfers responsibility for dozens of bylaws at the Civil Administration – the Israeli body governing in the West Bank – from the military to officials led by Smotrich at the defense ministry.

Israeli Airstrikes Kill Dozens in Gaza City, Authorities Say, The Washington Post
Israeli airstrikes on four neighborhoods in Gaza City killed at least 38 people Saturday, the Gaza civil defense force said, adding that rescue crews were continuing to search for more dead and wounded in the rubble.

Israel’s Defense Chief to Discuss Gaza War, Lebanon Hostilities on US Trip, Reuters
Some Israeli officials have linked the ongoing Israeli push into Rafah to a potential focus on Lebanon. Gallant appeared to make the same link in his statement. “The transition to Phase C in Gaza is of great importance. I will discuss this transition with U.S. officials, how it may enable additional things and I know that we will achieve close cooperation with the U.S. on this issue as well,” Gallant said.

Outrage Over Video of Israeli Soldiers Driving With Injured Palestinian Strapped to a Jeep, NBC News
The Israel Defense Forces said the incident violated military protocol and is under investigation. In the video, a man, apparently bloodied, can be seen lying on the hood of one of two military vehicles riding in a convoy past two ambulances on a narrow road in what appears to be a residential area.

Israel Kills Senior Gaza Health Official, Tanks Push Deeper into Rafah, Reuters
An Israeli air strike at a medical clinic in Gaza City killed the director of Gaza’s Ambulance and Emergency Department, the enclave’s health ministry said, while Israel’s military said the strike had killed a senior Hamas armed commander. The health ministry said the killing of Hani al-Jaafarawi brought the number of medical staff killed by Israeli fire since Oct. 7 to 500. At least 300 others have so far been detained.

Blaming Hamas for Gazans’ Suffering, Many Israelis Feel Little Sympathy, The New York Times
Many Israelis – both conservative and liberal – blame Hamas for starting the war and for embedding its fighters among the Gazan population, operating, according to the military, out of schools, hospitals and mosques, and in tunnels beneath Gazans’ homes. Many also see Gaza’s civilians as complicit, at least ideologically, in the atrocities of Oct. 7, saying that they brought Hamas to power in the first place.

Iran Liable to Join Fight If Israel Takes on Hezbollah, US Warns, The Times of Israel
Air Force Gen. Charles Q. Brown, chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iran “would be more inclined to support Hezbollah” than it does the Hamas terror group in Gaza, “particularly if they felt that Hezbollah was being significantly threatened.”

Israel’s Top Court Orders State to Reveal Conditions of Gaza Detainees at Sde Teiman Prison, Haaretz
The state will be required to address issues like medical treatment, punishment methods and cuffing conditions for Palestinians at the Sde Teiman detention facility, despite informing the High Court that it would remove all detainees from the site.

Palestinian factions trade blame as unity talks postponed, Reuters
After hosting a meeting of Palestinian factions in April, China said Fatah and Hamas had expressed the will to seek reconciliation through unity talks in Beijing. Fatah and Hamas officials had previously said the meeting would take place in mid-June. With the factions deeply divided, analysts had held out little hope of the talks achieving a breakthrough towards a reconciliation deal that could create a unified Palestinian administration.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Israel Acts the Way It Does, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “Israel’s ruling security ideology centers on the country’s collective “trauma,” an omnipresent word when you speak to Israelis about the conflict. Its core premise is the idea that the country has gone above and beyond to try and make peace with its neighbors and has been met with violence at every turn. Peace in the near term is seen as a pipedream; the need to stop terrorism and defang enemies is paramount. On this view, securing Israel requires unilateral military action — as aggressively as necessary.”

Israel Is Dangerously Close to a Three-front War: Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank, Haaretz
Amos Harel reports, “The Israeli media barely deals with developments in the West Bank, which is perceived as a secondary front to Gaza and Lebanon. But in practice, the situation there is dangerously close to disintegrating, which would merge the West Bank with the hostile fronts in Gaza and Lebanon.”

Why Netanyahu Doesn’t Take Biden Seriously, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof shares, “The bottom line is that Biden’s Gaza policy has helped Netanyahu stay in power without, in my view, advancing Israel’s long-term security interests. The war has made a mockery of Biden’s arguments that the United States backs the “rules-based international order” and has thus undermined our position in Ukraine. […] We all know that diplomacy involves sticks as well as carrots. If Netanyahu doesn’t take Biden seriously, that’s because Biden mostly speaks softly and carries a big carrot.”