News Roundup for June 4, 2024

June 4, 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.

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J Street In the News

J Street Town Hall [Video], J Street
J Street senior staff answer questions about our work and priorities in this moment. We also share our plan to engage with President Biden’s ceasefire proposal and our candid analysis of the situation on the ground and in Washington

Top News and Analysis

Israeli Army: Four Hostages Taken Alive to Gaza Were Killed, Possibly by IDF Fire, Haaretz
The four were identified as Chaim Peri, 80; Yoram Metzger, 80; and Amiram Cooper, 84 of Nir Oz, as well as Nadav Popplewell, 51, from Nirim. The bodies of all four are being held by Hamas, and the army believes they were held together in Gaza. The IDF also believes that they were killed in Khan Yunis months ago. The total number of hostages whose death has been confirmed now stands at 43. Following the announcement of their deaths, the Hostage and Missing Families Forum said “their murder in captivity is a disgrace,” and a testament of the consequences of delaying hostage deals.

G7 Leaders ‘Fully Endorse’ Biden’s Gaza Peace Plan, Reuters
The deal “would lead to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza, and an enduring end to the crisis, with Israel’s security interests and Gazan civilian safety assured,” the statement said. “We call on Hamas to accept this deal, that Israel is ready to move forward with, and we urge countries with influence over Hamas to help ensure that it does so,” the G7 statement said.

Fires Rage Overnight Across North After Hezbollah Rocket and Drone Attacks, The Times of Israel
The fire service said the blazes had raged for over 13 hours, while noting the intense heatwave blanketing the area. The fires came amid intensifying cross-border skirmishes between Israel and Hezbollah, with the Iran-backed terror group firing numerous barrages at the Galilee and Golan Heights in recent days. According to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, a series of rocket and drone attacks on Sunday caused bushfires that consumed over 2,470 acres of foliage in open areas, including nature reserves.

US Urges UN Security Council to Support Biden’s Gaza Ceasefire Plan, TIME
Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador, said Security Council members “have consistently called for the steps outlined in this deal: bringing the hostages home, ensuring a complete ceasefire, enabling a surge of humanitarian assistance into Gaza and in the refurbishment of essential services, and setting the stage for a long-term reconstruction plan for Gaza.” “Council members should not let this opportunity pass by,” she said. “We must speak with one voice in support of this deal.”


Blinken Presses Gallant, Gantz on Hostage Deal Proposal, Says Onus on Hamas, The Times of Israel
In his call with Gallant, Blinken “commended Israel’s readiness to conclude a deal and affirmed that the onus is on Hamas to accept,” the State Department said in a readout of the conversation. He also “reaffirmed the United States ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” the statement added.

Israeli Airstrikes Near Syria’s Aleppo Kill Several, Including an Iranian Adviser, Reports Say, AP
It was the first strike to kill an Iranian official since the April 1 attack on the Iranian Consulate in the Syrian capital of Damascus that killed seven people, including two Iranian generals and a member of Lebanon’s militant Hezbollah group. The strike triggered a first-ever direct Iranian military assault on Israel, sparking fears of a regionwide war.

Rafah Border Crossing Can’t Reopen Unless Israeli Forces Quit Gaza Side, Egypt Says, Reuters
“It is difficult for the Rafah crossing to continue operating without a Palestinian administration,” said Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. Shoukry said the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty remained “a solid base for security and stability in the region and everyone must consider and take measures responsibly to preserve this important treaty.”

Democrats Face Another Israel Split with ICC Sanctions Vote, Axios
The House is set to vote Tuesday on the sanctions legislation, which was introduced by conservative Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) and is co-sponsored by more than 60 House Republicans. The legislation would sanction those involved in ICC prosecutions of Americans or citizens of U.S. allies that are not ICC members, such as Israel. The White House issued a statement on Monday saying President Biden “strongly opposes” the bill.

Hamas Still Strong in Areas ‘Cleared’ by Israel in Northern Gaza, Say Experts, The Guardian
There may be more Hamas militants in the north of Gaza, supposedly cleared by Israeli forces months ago, than in Rafah, the southern city in the territory described by Israeli officials as the extremist Islamist organization’s “last stronghold,” analysts believe.

Israel Says More than a Third of Gaza Hostages Are Dead, Reuters
The government tally said 120 remain in captivity, 43 of whom have been declared dead in absentia by Israeli officials based on various sources of information, including intelligence tip-offs, CCTV or bystander videos and forensic analysis. Some officials have privately said that the number of dead could be higher.

PM Says Biden Version of Deal ‘Incomplete’; US: It Accurately Reflects Israeli Offer, The Times of Israel
“The claim that we agreed to a ceasefire without our conditions being met is incorrect,” the prime minister reportedly told lawmakers. Netanyahu said in a Knesset meeting that Israel will not end the war in Gaza until it achieves its three war aims, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel: destroying Hamas’s military and civil governance capabilities, securing the release of all hostages, and ensuring that Gaza no longer poses a threat to Israel.

Hostage’s Father Urges Conservative US Jews to Drop ‘Fantasies’ About ‘Total Victory’ Over Hamas, Haaretz
Anticipating pushback from his audience for supporting a cease-fire deal, Jonathan Dekel-Chen said: “No one here in this room or anywhere else needs to convince me what Hamas is. I’ve lived on that border since 1981. I’ve been under Hamas mortars, rocket fire and explosive balloons since 2008, so spare me the patriotism. We have held forth until October 7. There is no military solution. We have to negotiate with Satan to get our loved ones home.”

Netanyahu Remarks Could Damage Gaza Hostage-Ceasefire Deal, Israeli Officials Say, Axios
Instead of keeping things ambiguous, his statements are pushing Hamas to ask for more clarification, making it harder to get a deal, a second Israeli official said. He added this seems to happen because of Netanyahu’s efforts to appease Ben Gvir and Smotrich and prevent the collapse of the coalition.

Saudi Arabia Largely Removes Negative Portrayal of Israel From Its School Curriculum, The Times of Israel
Designations of Israel as an “enemy state” have been expunged, but references to the “Israeli occupation” can still be found, and the curriculum still underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the Palestinian cause. […] Fostering religious tolerance appears to be the path followed by Saudi rulers to prepare public opinion for a possible new chapter in relations with Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

How Hamas Ends, Foreign Affairs
Audrey Kurth Cronin shares, “To help Hamas fail, Israel should be doing everything in its power to give Palestinians in Gaza a sense that there is an alternative to Hamas and that a more hopeful future is possible. Instead of restricting humanitarian aid to a trickle, Israel should be providing it in massive quantities. Instead of merely destroying infrastructure and homes, Israel should also be sharing plans for rebuilding the territory in a post-Hamas future. Instead of carrying out collective punishment and hoping that Palestinians will eventually blame Hamas, Israel should be conveying that it sees a distinction between Hamas fighters and the vast majority of Gazans, who have nothing to do with the group and are themselves victims of its thuggish rule and reckless violence.”

Proposed Gaza Cease-Fire Puts Netanyahu at a Crossroads That Could Shape His Legacy, AP
Tia Goldenberg writes, “The proposal offers the possibility of ending Israel’s war against Hamas, returning scores of hostages held by the Islamic militant group, quieting the northern border with Lebanon and potentially advancing a historic agreement to normalize ties with Saudi Arabia. But it would also likely shatter Netanyahu’s governing coalition, potentially sending him into the opposition and making him more vulnerable to a conviction in his corruption trial. The full withdrawal of Israeli forces called for in the agreement could allow Hamas to claim victory and reconstitute itself.”

Israel is Not Fighting for its Survival, Vox
Eric Levitz argues, “Hamas may have genocidal intentions, but it does not have genocidal capacities. Waging total war on Gaza is not necessary for averting the imminent slaughter of Israeli civilians; to the contrary, doing so risks the lives of the few Israelis whom Hamas is currently in a position to destroy.”

Iran’s Allies in Iraq Are Firing at Israel. Could That Trigger a Wider War?, Reuters
Reuters spoke to more than a dozen people, including sources in Iraqi armed groups and other factions in Iran’s network of regional allies known as the Axis of Resistance, alongside U.S. and other regional officials, most of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to give candid assessments of a sensitive issue. They said the attacks by Iraqi factions, including Kataib Hezbollah and Nujaba, were a cause for rising concern for Washington and also viewed with unease among some in Iran and its powerful Axis ally Hezbollah in Lebanon, which has carefully calibrated its own engagements with Israel to prevent all-out regional conflict.