News Roundup for March 11, 2024

March 11, 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

Are Biden and the Democrats Finally Turning on Israel?, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “By all accounts, President Biden still holds a relatively old-school Democratic view of Israel — one that’s deeply sympathetic to the country and its security interests. As frustrated as he may be with Netanyahu’s brutish policies and rank partisanship, it’s far from obvious that he is willing to start putting real pressure on Israel. […] Yet at the same time, events appear to be moving toward a breaking point. Biden’s personal views on Israel are crashing on the shoals of Israel’s terrible war policy and long-brewing tension within his own political coalition.”

Netanyahu Vows to Defy Biden’s ‘Red Line’ and Invade Rafah, Politico
Amid signs of increasing frustration with Netanyahu, the US president told MSNBC on Saturday that he opposed an escalation of the conflict into Rafah, and that he could not accept “30,000 more Palestinians dead.” When asked on Sunday whether Israeli forces would move into Rafah, Netanyahu replied: “We’ll go there. We’re not going to leave. You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is, that October 7 doesn’t happen again. Never happens again.”

Israeli Police Block Hundreds of Palestinians From Al-Aqsa on Ramadan’s First Night, Hit Worshipers With Batons, Haaretz
Restrictions for the first prayers of Ramadan contradicted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent promise to allow freedom of worship. The police issued dozens of restraining orders against Palestinian activists and journalists over the past few days, barring them from the compound.

Sharpening Criticism, Biden Says Netanyahu ‘Hurting Israel More Than He’s Helping’, The Times of Israel
President Biden sought on Saturday to make the case that Jerusalem must dramatically alter its prosecution of the war against Hamas in Gaza, indicating that he is prepared to return to Israel and speak before the Knesset in order to do this. Biden, in a hard-hitting MSNBC interview, highlighted deep US concerns over civilian deaths in Gaza, asserted that Prime Minister Netanyahu was doing more harm than good to Israel and its interests.

Biden Breaks With Netanyahu but Sticks with Israel, Axios
No one incident led Biden to start changing his course with Netanyahu, whom he has known for 40 years. It’s an accumulation of events and decisions by the prime minister over the last few weeks, US officials tell Axios. Biden hoped for weeks that he could use the war to push his Saudi mega-deal after the fighting. But in many ways, Biden sees Netanyahu as the one responsible for the deal slipping away.

Five Palestinians Killed in Gaza After Aid Airdrop Malfunctions, The Times of Israel
A medic at Gaza’s largest hospital said Friday a humanitarian airdrop in the north of the Palestinian territory killed five people and wounded 10. A witness from the camp told AFP he and his brother followed the parachuted aid in the hope of getting “a bag of flour.” “Then, all of a sudden, the parachute didn’t open and [the package] fell down like a rocket on the roof of one of the houses,” said Mohammed al-Ghoul.

Canada Will Restore Funding to UNRWA, the Embattled UN Agency in Gaza, AP
“Canada is resuming its funding to UNRWA so more can be done to respond to the urgent needs of Palestinian civilians. Canada will continue to take the allegations against some of UNRWA’s staff extremely seriously and we will remain closely engaged with UNRWA and the UN to pursue accountability and reforms,” Ahmed Hussen, Minister of International Development, said.

There Are Enormous Logistical Hurdles to Delivering Aid to Gaza by Sea, The New York Times
Aid officials have criticized the plans, saying delivering aid by truck is by far the most efficient way to help Gazans. They have called for Israel to open new crossing points in northern Gaza and to ease its entry restrictions. US officials have conceded it will take weeks to establish a maritime corridor, but say it will eventually enable them to significantly increase the amount of aid.

Israeli Road Splitting Gaza in Two Has Reached the Mediterranean Coast, Satellite Imagery Shows, CNN
The IDF told CNN they were using the route to “establish (an) operational foothold in the area” and allow “the passage of forces as well as logistical equipment.” Emily Harding, director of the Intelligence, National Security, and Technology Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, told CNN that the Netzarim Corridor is an attempt “to control population movement.”

Pro-Israel Group Spent Millions in Tight Race for Southern California House Seat – And Lost, The Guardian
AIPAC poured more than $4.5m into an Orange County congressional race in hopes of keeping Dave Min from advancing to the November election. But on Tuesday, the California state senator did exactly that – outpacing his Democratic competitor Joanna Weiss. AIPAC’s massive spending has perplexed analysts and Min himself. Min’s positions regarding Israel aren’t particularly radical – he has criticized the country’s move to expand settlements in the West Bank and blamed the Israeli prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, for “security failures.”


UN Human Rights Chief Deplores New Moves to Expand Israeli Settlements in Occupied West Bank, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
UN Human Rights Chief Volker Türk said the move exacerbates long-standing patterns of oppression, violence and discrimination against Palestinians. “Reports this week that Israel plans to build a further 3,476 settler homes in Maale Adumim, Efrat and Kedar fly in the face of international law,” Türk said.

Harris: Israelis Deserve Security, Don’t ‘Conflate’ Them With the Israeli Government, The Times of Israel
“It’s important for us to distinguish or at least not conflate the Israeli government with the Israeli people. The Israeli people are entitled to security – as are the Palestinians. In equal measure,” she said in the interview with CBS News. “And our work as always as the US is to do what we must, and what we always have, to stand for the security of Israel and its people, and also to do what we have done behind closed doors and in public around forcing a better path forward in terms of what’s happening currently in Gaza.”

White Supremacists, Seizing on Israel-Hamas War, Have Accelerated Their Antisemitism Since Oct. 7, JTA
White supremacist activity targeting Jews has ticked up sharply in the months since the war in Israel and Gaza began, and it shows no signs of dissipating. Watchdogs say white supremacists are also capitalizing on widespread anti-Israel rhetoric to find quarter in public meetings and protests. Researchers who track extremist activity online told JTA that violent threats specifically directed at Jews on unmoderated social networks shot up after the Hamas attacks.

The Long, Lonely Fight of an Israeli Hostage’s Sister, Who Fears Time Is Running Out, NPR
Carmit Palty Katzir’s family was shattered on Oct. 7, when Hamas-led militants attacked her childhood home of Nir Oz, near the Gaza border. They killed her father Rami, 79, and took her mother Hana, 77, and her older brother Elad, 47, into Gaza as hostages. Since then, like many other relatives of people currently held hostage by Hamas, Katzir has been fighting for her brother’s life. She says she has had no opportunity to grieve the loss of her father, minimal support from the government, and she fears time is running out to bring her brother back alive.

Israel Strikes Landmark Residential Building in Rafah [Video], NBC News
Israeli forces struck one of the largest residential towers in Rafah in southern Gaza, where around 300 families were sheltering. One of the tower’s residents told NBC News they were given a 30-minute advanced warning to evacuate the 12-story building overnight.

Netanyahu Denies Palestinians Are Starving, Politico
Hunger and malnutrition are widespread in the Gaza Strip. The United Nations warns that famine is imminent, with the organization’s expert on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, accusing Israel of starving Gazans deliberately. Responding to these claims, Netanyahu said: “We don’t have that kind of information. That’s not the information we have. And we monitor it closely.”

Ramadan in Gaza: ‘We Used to Adorn Our Street, Now Everything Around Us Is Bleak’, The Guardian
Masry will prepare neither suhoor, the meal taken before the start of the ritual day-long fast, nor iftar at its end. It saddens her: “I used to love preparing a meal of cheese, jam, beans and eggs to sustain my family throughout the fast and then something tasty for iftar.” Conditions in Rafah are better than in the north of territory, where local health officials say 20 deaths by starvation have been recorded, but basics are still in short supply.

Spain’s Prime Minister Says He Will Propose That Parliament Recognizes a Palestinian State, AP
“I will propose granting Spain’s recognition to the Palestinian state,” Sánchez said. “I do this out of moral conviction, for a just cause and because it is the only way that the two states, Israel and Palestine, can live together in peace.”

Opinion and Analysis

‘People Are Hoping That Israel Nukes Us So We Get Rid of This Pain’, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof shares, “When President Biden weighs American policy toward Gaza, may he think of a gentle scholar named Mohammed Alshannat. […] With Alshannat’s permission, I am quoting from his texts to a fellow doctoral student. These are his words: “My injured son’s health is deteriorating because of the famine. There is no milk, meat, vegetables, fruit or anything to feed him. He lost most of his weight. Medicine and other stuff completely disappeared from the markets. My mother’s diabetes medicine has run out and she is very, very sick. My children are crying from hunger all the time. People are hoping that Israel nukes us so we get rid of this pain.” […] Think of Alshannat and multiply him by two million.”

I and Other Israelis Abroad Must Rally to Support Biden’s Efforts to Save Israel, Haaretz
Roni Tamari urges, “I call on all Israeli-Americans and American Jews who care about the survival of the State of Israel – not only as a spot on the map that arouses nostalgic memories but as a functioning country, a country of which we’ll be proud to say that we’re its citizens – to make their voice heard and to express support for the Biden administration and its plan to rescue Israel. This isn’t an anti-Israel protest, it’s a call for a solution.”

Continued American Support Is Not an Inherent or Unconditional Right, YNet News
Tova Herzl writes, “It should be remembered that it is not only Israel’s elected officials who are motivated by polls and driven by internal political considerations. Israeli decision-makers would be well advised to take into account that as American politicians try to help Israel overcome recent blows, they find it increasingly difficult to ignore questions regarding Israel as an embodiment of democracy that seeks liberty, equality and pluralism, and which can be relied upon regarding shared American interests.”

Strangled by Israel for Decades, Gaza’s Future Must Begin With Free Movement, +972
Noa Galili shares, “Despite persistent claims to the contrary, Israel’s ongoing control effectively amounts to a continuation of the occupation — and such control entails moral and legal obligations toward the civilian population. But instead of acknowledging its fundamental duty to protect the human rights of Palestinians, Israel has consistently disavowed its responsibility and opted for collective punishment and economic warfare, in violation of international law.”