News Roundup for March 1, 2024

March 1, 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.

J Street In the News

Ceasefire Calls in Congress Grow After Killings at Gaza Humanitarian Aid Convoy, The Hill
Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the liberal Jewish advocacy group J Street, said the alleged shooting Thursday “should never have happened.” “The government of Israel has put young Israeli soldiers and desperate Palestinian families in impossible positions with predictably catastrophic results,” Ben-Ami said in a statement. “It underscores the need to get more aid in, ensure it doesn’t come under fire after it enters, and secure an urgent temporary ceasefire to get hostages out and grant a reprieve to the devastation.”

J Street Horrified by Reports of Dozens Killed in Aid Convoy Incident Amid Humanitarian Catastrophe, J Street
“The Netanyahu government’s continued rejection of US and international appeals to change course runs against our values and interests and does real and lasting damage to Israel’s reputation across generations and around the world – placing Israel’s allies in an increasingly untenable position. There can be no legal or security justification for the purposeful restriction of life-sustaining aid to civilians in a war zone. Indeed, this incident illustrates the added security challenges brought about by humanitarian deprivation.”

Top News and Analysis

More Than 100 Killed as Israeli Troops Accused of Opening Fire on Gazans Crowded Around Aid Convoy, NBC News
Israeli forces are accused of opening fire Thursday on a crowd of Palestinians who were hoping to get food from aid trucks in Gaza City. At least 112 people were killed and more than 769 injured, Gaza’s Health Ministry said. The Israeli military confirmed that its forces used live fire in one of what it said were two incidents, which came as the death toll in Gaza surpassed 30,000.

Palestinians Say Israeli Troops Fired at People Seeking Food. Israel Says Scene Was Deadly Stampede, AP
Dr. Mohammed Salha, the acting director of the Al-Awda Hospital, said the facility received 161 wounded patients, most of whom appeared to have been shot. Kamel Abu Nahel, who was being treated for a gunshot wound at Shifa Hospital, said he and others went to the distribution point in the middle of the night because they heard there would be a delivery of food. “We’ve been eating animal feed for two months,” he said. He said Israeli troops opened fire on the crowd as people pulled boxes of flour and canned goods off the trucks, causing them to scatter, with some hiding under cars.

Two Israelis Killed in Shooting Attack Near West Bank Settlement of Eli, Haaretz
Two Israelis were killed in a shooting attack at a gas station at the entrance to the West Bank settlement of Eli on Thursday. The owner of a nearby restaurant shot the terrorist and was then joined by the security forces and other civilians who arrived at the scene. The two victims were identified as 57-year-old Yitzhak Zeiger and 16-year-old Uria Hartum.

Chaotic Aid Delivery Turns Deadly as Israeli, Gazan Officials Trade Blame, The Washington Post
The Post reports, “Though many details of the incident were still unclear — including, most critically, what had caused such a heavy human toll – it underscored the desperate plight of Gaza’s civilians and further complicated delicate international efforts to secure a cease-fire. For months, amid the wholesale destruction of urban areas, mass displacement and mounting hunger, aid groups and humanitarian officials had warned that Gazan society was nearing collapse. This was a moment when their warnings seemed prophetic.”

Biden Says Gaza Aid Convoy Incident Will Complicate Hostage Talks, Axios
President Biden told reporters Thursday he “knows” the aid convoy incident in Gaza in which dozens of Palestinians were killed will complicate the negotiations over a hostage deal and a temporary ceasefire. Biden, who also walked back his previous remarks about a possible ceasefire in Gaza by Monday, spoke to reporters shortly after a phone call with the emir of Qatar.

Israel Must Decide Where It’s Going – and Who Should Lead It There, Foreign Affairs
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak writes, “There is only one way to prevent Netanyahu from leading Israel into a long regional war and probably deceiving both the administration and the Israeli public: general elections. Yair Lapid, Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot should call for general elections to be held no later than June 2024. A coordinated opposition should run on a promise to conditionally accept Biden’s offer, to answer it with a “yes, but.” And they should explicitly say “No!” to the racist, messianic fanatics with whom Netanyahu has cast his lot.”

‘Wounded Child, No Surviving Family’: Gaza’s Doctors Spell out a Crisis, The Washington Post
UNICEF estimated this month that about 17,000 children in Gaza are unaccompanied or separated from their families. Israeli forces have destroyed more than 70,000 housing units, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and damaged 290,000 others — an assault the agency describes as “domicide.” People in Gaza seek refuge wherever they believe they might be safest, Abu Sitta said; extended families often cram into a single unit.

Israel Has Not Yet Provided Evidence to Back Hamas October 7 Attack Claims Against UNRWA, UN Says, The Guardian
A month after Israeli allegations that a dozen United Nations staff were involved in the 7 October Hamas attack, UN investigators have yet to receive any evidence from Israel to support the claims though they expect some material to be forthcoming “shortly.” Allegations against the 12 employees of UNRWA led 16 major donors to suspend contributions totaling $450m at a time when more than two million Gazans are facing famine. UNRWA says it is approaching “breaking point” and only has sufficient funds to continue functioning for the next month at most.

Democrat Grills Austin on Lack of Consequences for Israel Over Gaza Death Toll, The Hill
Asked whether he would commit to halt any future military sales to Israel should the country move forward on an assault in Rafah with no plan in place for civilian safety, Austin deferred, saying that was a decision for President Biden. Pressed again by Khanna, who asked if the Pentagon would commit to not sending future arm sales to Israel if it stops American-paid aid from getting into Gaza, Austin again deflected.


Democrats Grew More Divided on Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Poll Shows, The Washington Post
The survey data, published Thursday by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Ipsos, shows how once bipartisan views on the conflict have shifted along partisan lines, a change that has only accelerated since Oct. 7. While Democrats have made a small shift toward Palestinian interests, a growing majority of Republicans continue to favor Israel.

Hostage Families March With Stretchers to Honor Captives on Third Day of Trek to Jerusalem, The Times of Israel
The families of hostages gather in the center of Beit Shemesh ahead of the third day of their march to Jerusalem which began Wednesday in Kibbutz Re’im on the Gaza border. Today’s portion of the trek will start with a “stretcher march,” in which the participants will depart Beit Shemesh with 134 stretchers between them, one for each hostage still in captivity.

The Palestinian Authority Is Promising Change. Many Palestinians Say It’s Not Enough, NPR
The group is deeply unpopular among Palestinians, regularly accused of corruption and dysfunction, and it is blamed for failing to maintain security in parts of the West Bank – particularly in areas where Israeli settlements have been growing. In all, more than 60% of Palestinians want the body dissolved, according to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, and 92% want the organization’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, to step down.

Concern Rising Among Biden Officials Israel May Launch Incursion Into Lebanon, CNN
American administration and intelligence officials are concerned that Israel is planning a ground incursion into Lebanon that could be launched in the late spring or early summer if diplomatic efforts fail to push Hezbollah back from the northern border with Israel, senior administration officials and officials familiar with the intelligence say.

‘They Took Our Home, Our Land, Everything’: Palestinians Displaced by Illegal Settlers Tell Their Stories, The Guardian
“I hope the sanctions mean something,” said Abu Awad as he grazed his animals on a rocky, windswept hill. “We have suffered a lot from Yinon and Ely. They have confronted me many times, tried to steal my sheep, and ransacked my home.” Abu Awad, who has eight children from two wives, said he still grazed his animals “like a thief” out of fear of settler attacks, which have increased since Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel.

Israel’s Netanyahu Says He Will Pave Way to Conscript Ultra-Orthodox, Reuters
Netanyahu said on Thursday his government would find a way to end exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israeli military service in the face of political pressures that threaten his narrow coalition’s future. “We will determine goals for conscripting ultra-Orthodox people to the IDF and national civil service,” Netanyahu said at a press conference.

Far-Right Activists Break Into Gaza, Try to Reestablish Israeli Settlement, The Times of Israel
Dozens of far-right activists broke through an Israeli military checkpoint and crossed into Gazan territory on Thursday afternoon, with some making it hundreds of meters into the Strip before being corralled by troops, the army said. Some managed to set up at least two buildings adjacent to the border fence, declaring it the rebirth of a settlement movement ended by Israel in 2005.

Bakeries Smashed in Israel Bombardment Key to Gaza Hunger Crisis, Reuters
Bread will be critical to any sustained effort to relieve Palestinian hunger, with one in six children in northern Gaza wasting from malnutrition, but most bakeries lie in rubble from Israeli bombardment and aid deliveries of flour are rare. With bakeries destroyed or unable to function for lack of fuel, people have had to bake bread themselves as best they can over fires made with wood salvaged from ruined buildings.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Is More Fortress Than Home Right Now, The New York Times
David Grossman writes, “At present, I fear that Israel is more fortress than home. It offers neither security nor ease, and my neighbors harbor many doubts and demands of its rooms and its walls and, in some cases, of its very existence. On that awful black Saturday, it turned out that not only is Israel still far from being a home in the full sense of the word, it also does not even know how to be a true fortress.”

After More Than 100 Gazans Died Trying to Access Food, Will the World Finally Address Their Starvation?, The Forward
Nora Berman writes, “Israel’s role in Gazans’ starvation is a profound violation of Jewish values, which hold that enforced deprivation like that we underwent in Warsaw is an astonishing injustice: Jews are commanded in the Torah not to ignore the suffering of their neighbor. It’s obvious that Gazans should not be killed en masse for seeking access to food — and it should be just as obvious that they should never have faced such food scarcity in the first place.”

‘Reduced To Dust’: An Elegy for Gazan Life, The Washington Post
Negar Azimi shares, “Over the past weeks, I invited Gazans to share memories of places they have lost. The result is an oral history of buildings and locales that are at once iconic and sentimental. Some of these are many centuries old, built and rebuilt after earlier devastations. Some are new, emerging only in the past decade. All of them testify to lives lived against terrible odds. Places that have become unrecognizable; in the words of one resident, ‘reduced to dust.’”

Free the Hostages, Establish a Palestinian State: Israel’s Path Back to Normality, Haaretz
Amos Schocken writes, “This is a very desirable outcome for Israel because it will rectify part of the disaster of October 7 and relieve Israel of the cruel apartheid regime and control over the lives of millions of Palestinians who are not citizens of Israel. This control that has continued for 57 years now is causing Israel heavy damage from terrorism, which there is no way to overcome.”