News Roundup for March 13, 2024

March 13, 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

Why Biden’s Shift on Netanyahu Matters, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Executive Director Nadav Tamir writes, “As President Biden made clear, there is a path to a future of peace, safety, and legitimacy: A comprehensive regional agreement including full recognition for both Israel and Palestine – two secure, independent states side-by-side. The full and complete realization of the dream of a safe, just, democratic homeland for the Jewish people. Perhaps uniquely among all American presidents, President Biden has the opportunity to guide us toward that better future.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Likely to Face Hamas Resistance ‘For Years to Come,’ US Intelligence Assessment Says, CBS News
Israel’s military will “struggle to neutralize” Hamas’s sprawling underground tunnel systems and is likely to face “lingering armed resistance” from the militant group “for years to come,” according to a new global threat assessment compiled by the US intelligence community. The crisis “has galvanized violence by a range of actors around the world and, while it is too early to tell, it is likely that the Gaza conflict will have a generational impact on terrorism,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said.

UN Uses New Land Route From Israel to Reach Northern Gaza, Reuters
The UN used a new land route on an Israeli military road on Tuesday to deliver food to northern Gaza for the first time in three weeks as global pressure grows on Israel to allow more access to the coastal enclave amid a looming famine. Enough food for 25,000 people was delivered to Gaza City in the early hours of Tuesday, said WFP spokesperson Shaza Moghraby. It was WFP’s first delivery to the north since Feb. 20 and “proves that moving food by road is possible.”

Many Aid Deliveries for Gaza Are Rejected for ‘Dual-Use’ Items, Groups Say, The New York Times
A UN official said a truck carrying aid was turned around in Gaza this week because it contained scissors included in medical kits for children, calling attention to what aid groups have said is a laborious Israeli inspection process that is slowing down crucial humanitarian assistance. Philippe Lazzarini, the head of UNRWA, said the truckload had been refused because medical scissors had been added to a list of items the Israeli authorities consider to be “dual use,” or having both civilian and military purposes.

The Hostages Are Stuck Between Israel’s Need for a Victory Image and Hamas’ Demands, Haaretz
Zvi Bar’el writes, “Hamas opposes any partial deals, even if these would result in the release of Palestinian prisoners. This is why a temporary cease-fire for six weeks, as agreed upon in Paris in exchange for the release of an agreed number of Palestinian prisoners and Israeli hostages, cannot be detached from an overall framework that Hamas sees as their true achievement. Herein lies the deep gap between Israel’s position, which is interested in a separate deal for the release of the hostages but in the meantime rules out any permanent cease-fire, and that of Hamas.”

Dual US-Israeli Citizen Itay Chen, Who Was Thought to Have Been Held Hostage in Gaza, Was Killed October 7, IDF Announces, CNN
Chen, 19, had been serving on the Gaza border on October 7, the Hostages and Missing Families Forum said Tuesday. He was one of six US citizens thought to have been held alive in Gaza and is at least the fourth dual US citizen whose body is being held in Gaza. Chen’s remains were taken into Gaza after he was killed, the IDF said. Thirty-two of the 130 October 7 hostages are now believed to be dead, according to CNN records.

Senate Democrats Says Blocking Weapons Shipments ‘On the Table’ if Israel Invades Rafah, Politico
“If the president’s gonna say something’s a red line, it’s essential the president have an accountability structure,” Van Hollen said in an interview, adding that Netanyahu’s comments show “why it’s all the more important that if we’re going to mean what we say, it’s very important to have … accountability.” Van Hollen said this would not apply to defensive weapons the US provides Israel, such as Iron Dome.

As First Ship Sails, Israel to Inspect All Aid From Cyprus; Aid Groups Will Distribute, The Times of Israel
Most aid currently gets into the south of Gaza via land crossings at Kerem Shalom and the Rafah gateway into Egypt, but the official said use of those crossings will be constricted once fighting begins in Rafah. That means Israel will need to open crossings directly into the northern Gaza Strip, said the official. With the lack of port infrastructure, World Central Kitchen is building a small landing jetty in Gaza with material from destroyed buildings and rubble. It has said it had another 500 tons of aid amassed in Cyprus which would also be dispatched.

US Asks Hamas to Release Women, Elderly Hostages for Longer Ceasefire, Reuters
“A ceasefire is on the table today, for six weeks to be built on into something more enduring if Hamas would simply release women, wounded and elderly,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters. Israel has accepted the terms of a six-week ceasefire. Hamas says it will only accept a deal based on a permanent ceasefire that ends the war.


As They Wait for a Truce, Palestinians and Israeli Hostage Families Voice Their Agony, NPR
Had a deal been reached a month ago, nearly 4,000 Palestinian lives would have been spared, among them 23 children who died of malnutrition. Salem Al-Najjar, 62, has been living in a tent in Rafah. “The truce is necessary, it’s essential,” said Najjar. “Aren’t you satisfied with those who have died? Isn’t it enough, the destruction.” In Israel, the families of hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 keep waiting for news of a deal. “It’s getting harder every day. You get very, very tired, both physically and mentally,” said Yair Moses, whose father Gadi remains held hostage.

IDF Announces Terms for West Bank Palestinians’ Entry to Temple Mount During Ramadan, The Times of Israel
The rules announced Monday would limit West Bank Palestinians’ access to the compound for Friday’s prayers to men over 55, women over 50, and children under 10, COGAT chief Ghassan Elian said in an Arabic-language post on Facebook. Worshipers will need a valid permit from COGAT, subject to security approval, and there may be changes per fresh assessments of the situation and other developments.

House Democrats Try to Force Floor Vote on Foreign Aid for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, CBS News
Democrats are using a rarely successful legislative maneuver called a discharge petition to try to bypass Republican leaders. They’ll need 218 signatures to force a vote on the Senate bill. The discharge petition went live Tuesday morning, and had dozens of signatures within hours of the announcement. Democrats, who hold 213 seats in the lower chamber, would need Republicans to sign the petition because they are likely to lose the support of progressives over the inclusion of Israel aid.

Hezbollah Fires More Than 100 Rockets Into Israel, Drawing Retaliation, The New York Times
It was one of the heaviest barrages in the months of cross-border strikes that have fed fears that the war in Gaza could expand. Since Oct. 7, Hezbollah has been firing rockets into northern Israel on a near-daily basis. The Israeli military regularly responds with strikes against Hezbollah-linked targets inside Lebanon. The violence has displaced about 80,000 Israelis from areas near the border; a similar number of Lebanese have fled their homes on the other side.

Two Lightly Injured in Stabbing at West Bank Checkpoint, Assailant Shot Dead, The Times of Israel
A Palestinian teen stabbed two people, a 25-year-old civilian security guard and a 19-year-old serving with IDF Military Police, at a West Bank checkpoint near Jerusalem Wednesday. Both victims were hospitalized with light injuries, medics and hospital spokespeople said. The assailant was shot dead, police said.

Gaza Medics Tell BBC That Israeli Troops Beat and Humiliated Them After Hospital Raid, BBC
Palestinian medical staff in Gaza have told the BBC they were blindfolded, detained, forced to strip and repeatedly beaten by Israeli troops after a raid at their hospital last month. Ahmed Abu Sabha, a doctor at Nasser hospital, described being held for a week in detention, where, he said, muzzled dogs were set upon him and his hand was broken by an Israeli soldier.

Israeli Police Fatally Shot a 13-year-old Who Launched Fireworks at Them in East Jerusalem, Haaretz
The boy, Rami Hamdan, was rushed to the Hadassah Medical Center, where his death was announced. According to a resident of the refugee camp, the fireworks were not aimed at the officers and did not pose a threat to them. A police source stated that the boy “fired fireworks directly at the force, endangering them, and therefore was shot.”

Abbas to Appoint Economist Mohammad Mustafa as Next PA Prime Minister, The Times of Israel
The move is part of an effort by Abbas to reform the PA, creating a technocratic government in the West Bank, which will be better prepared to eventually return to governing Gaza as well after Israel’s war against Hamas concludes. Mustafa will have several weeks to assemble a cabinet, during which outgoing PA Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh will remain at the helm, a Palestinian official, a senior European diplomat and a US official said.

Gideon Sa’ar to Break Away From National Unity, Demands to Join Israel’s War Cabinet, The Jerusalem Post
National Unity MK Gideon Sa’ar announced his intentions to break away from Benny Gantz’s faction in a conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday. “I respect my friends, the representatives of National Unity in the war cabinet, but unfortunately, they do not express in it the voice, positions, and emphases I would bring there.” Sources close to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said, “If Netanyahu responds to Sa’ar’s demand to join the war cabinet – Minister Ben-Gvir will also demand to join.”

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Is Making Israel Radioactive, The New York Times
Thomas Friedman writes, “Israel has a prime minister who apparently would rather see Gaza devolve into Somalia, ruled by warlords, and risk Israel’s military gains in dismantling Hamas than partner with the Palestinian Authority or any legitimate, broad-based, non-Hamas Palestinian governing body — because his far-right cabinet allies, who dream of Israel controlling all the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, including Gaza, will oust him from power if he does.”

Biden Has Huge Leverage on Israel. He Hasn’t Really Used It Yet, The Washington Post
Adam Taylor reports, “The United States has quietly approved and delivered more than 100 separate foreign military sales to Israel since Oct. 7. US officials offered that triple-digit number to members of Congress at a recent classified briefing, according to reporting from The Post. They were not public because they fell under a specific dollar amount that required individual notification to Congress, even though they included lethal aid such as precision-guided munitions and bunker buster bombs.”

Why Israel’s New Nationalistic Judaism Doesn’t Care About the Hostages in Gaza, Haaretz
Ishay Rosen-Zvi shares, “Why is the Israeli right absent, by and large, from demonstrations for the hostages? What could be more sacred and urgent than saving the lives of fellow Israelis? The answer seems deceptively simple: these activities are conceived as a continuation of the protests against Netanyahu’s government and its attempt to overhaul the judiciary, from before October 7.”

Will Gaza Ever Recover?, Foreign Policy
Daniel Byman writes, “Whatever limited gains Palestinians in Gaza may have made under Hamas rule have been shattered by Israel’s military response to the attacks committed by Hamas on Oct. 7. The Israeli campaign has killed more than 30,000 Palestinians and displaced 1.9 million people – 85 percent of the enclave’s population. More than half of Gaza’s buildings had been damaged or fully destroyed by late January. The United Nations estimates that Gaza will need decades to recover at the cost of tens of billions of dollars – money that may never be provided.”