News Roundup for March 27, 2024

March 27, 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

J Street Calls on Biden Administration to Comply With NSM-20 Requirements, J Street
“J Street calls on the Biden Administration to fully and impartially follow its own procedures under NSM-20, and to initiate immediate steps to evaluate and address potential violations. Credible reporting regarding Israeli conduct during the war in Gaza is sufficient to trigger the 45-day assessment and remediation procedure, and must be addressed in congressional reports. We note that NSM-20 specifically does not apply to purely defensive materiel, including Iron Dome.”

Top News and Analysis

Israel Presses On With Strikes in Gaza After UN Cease-Fire Resolution, The New York Times
Al-Amal Hospital went out of service on Monday night after Israeli forces besieged it a day earlier and forced everyone inside to leave before closing off its entrances with earthen barriers, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which runs the hospital. The organization said on Monday that two people had been killed and three others wounded when Israeli forces opened fire as they were being evacuated. The Israeli military also said on Tuesday that it was pressing on with its assault on Al-Shifa Hospital in the north for a ninth day.

Gaza Hostage Talks Deadlock and Spark US-Israel Blame Game, Axios
Shortly after the Israeli negotiations team was called back from Doha, the Israeli prime minister’s office issued a statement blaming Hamas for the deadlock. Israel also said the Biden administration’s decision not to veto the UN Security Council resolution on Monday calling for a ceasefire and the release of hostages led to Hamas hardening its position. The Israeli statement angered the White House, which sees it as an attempt by Netanyahu to continue the fight that started the day before between the US and Israel over the UN Security Council resolution, two senior US official said.

The Confusion Over Assessing Israel’s ‘Compliance’, Politico
“I do not believe they have complied with the national security memorandum,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), who signed a letter calling on the US to find Israel hasn’t complied with US law, told NatSec Daily. “You cannot transfer any more arms unless there is additional progress on humanitarian access.” If State has already made a final assessment that Israel is in compliance, the US is “totally detached from the reality on the ground,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who also signed the letter, told NatSec Daily.

Inside Israel’s Disturbing Denial of Starvation in Gaza, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “Tania Hary, director of Gisha, the Israeli human rights organization focused on Gaza, pointed out on X that before the war, nearly 2 million people were not displaced, they had local food production and agriculture (and they were still deprived relative to pre-closure crossings, 17 years ago). The need has grown exponentially; it can’t be compared to prewar demand, which wasn’t being met anyway. COGAT conveniently began counting the daily average from March (126), when the average since October is 60 per day, according to Gisha – less than the prewar numbers – in a far greater catastrophe.”


Israeli Hostage Says She Was Sexually Assaulted and Tortured in Gaza, The New York Times
Amit Soussana, 40, is the first Israeli to speak publicly about being sexually assaulted during captivity after the Hamas-led raid on southern Israel. In her interviews with The Times, conducted mostly in English, she provided extensive details of sexual and other violence she suffered during a 55-day ordeal.

At Least 12 Palestinians Drown Trying to Retrieve Aid Parcels Dropped Into the Sea, CNN
Footage obtained by CNN shows hundreds of Palestinians rushing to the site of the aid drop, with some venturing into the water as parcels crashed down on the shores of Gaza. One graphic scene shows civilians performing CPR on several unresponsive bodies in a desperate attempt to resuscitate them.

Netanyahu Aggravates Rift With Pro-Israel Democrats, Axios
“I think, by all appearances, Netanyahu is going out of his way to try to create a wedge between the US and Israel for his own internal politics. I think that’s unfortunate. I hope I’m wrong,” Rep. Brad Schneider told Axios on Monday while on a trip to Israel. Rep. Brad Sherman told Axios, “I think it is in Israel’s interest to come to Washington, talk to the administration, and implement those of their suggestions as are helpful. Refusing to come to Washington is a mistake.”

Protecting Palestinians a Moral Imperative, Pentagon Chief Tells Israeli Counterpart, Reuters
“In Gaza today, the number of civilian casualties is far too high and the amount of humanitarian aid is far too low,” Austin said, sitting across from Gallant, a key architect of the military campaign against Hamas. “Gaza is suffering a humanitarian catastrophe and the situation is getting even worse,” Austin said, using some of his most forceful language so far.

With War in Gaza, Israel Faces New Pressure to Draft the Ultra-Orthodox Into Service, NPR
Full-time religious students have been broadly exempt since the nation’s founding 76 years ago. A sky-high birth rate means the share who don’t serve has grown larger over the decades. Meanwhile, the Oct. 7 attack that killed 1,200 people — and Israel’s response to it — has led to both a mass mobilization and shortage of soldiers.

UN Special Rapporteur Report on Gaza Provides Crucial Evidence That Must Spur International Action to Prevent Genocide, Amnesty International
Amnesty International’s Secretary General Agnès Callamard stated, “The time to act to prevent genocide is now. Third states must apply political pressure on the warring parties to implement the UN Security Council resolution adopted yesterday. […] They must impose a comprehensive arms embargo against all parties to the conflict. They must also pressure Hamas and other armed groups to free all civilian hostages.”

Lebanon’s Hezbollah Says It Launched Dozens of Rockets After Israeli Strikes, Reuters
Lebanon’s Hezbollah said it launched dozens of rockets at Kiryat Shmona, an Israeli town over the border, early on Wednesday in response to deadly Israeli strikes on the village of Hebbariyeh in southern Lebanon a day earlier.

Israel Deploys Expansive Facial Recognition Program in Gaza, The New York Times
Mr. Abu Toha is one of hundreds of Palestinians who have been picked out by a previously undisclosed Israeli facial recognition program that was started in Gaza late last year. The expansive and experimental effort is being used to conduct mass surveillance there, collecting and cataloging the faces of Palestinians without their knowledge or consent, according to Israeli intelligence officers, military officials and soldiers.

As Israel’s Politicians Squabble, Some Soldiers Voice Their Anger, Reuters
“You must be worthy of us. You must be worthy of those fighters who have lost their lives,” Brigadier General Dan Goldfus said in his March 13 briefing, broadcast on Israel’s main television channels. Goldfus was reprimanded by the Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, two days later, the IDF said. But his words struck a chord among some Israelis back from the front.

Opinion and Analysis

Netanyahu Is Insulting, Not Engaging, the Biden Administration. It’s Time for Israel to Listen to America, Haaretz
Former US Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer writes, “The prime minister called the US decision to abstain a “retreat” from previous US positions. First, it is unseemly and insulting for any foreign leader to characterize American policy this way. The United States makes its own policy, taking into account the views of friends and allies. The constancy of US support for Israel at the United Nations Security Council should have given the prime minister pause before attacking the American abstention on this particular resolution. […] It is time for Israel to start listening as much as it is talking.”

The War at Stanford, The Atlantic
Theo Baker, a student journalist at Stanford, shares, “Extremism has swept through classrooms and dorms, and it is becoming normal for students to be harassed and intimidated for their faith, heritage, or appearance—they have been called perpetrators of genocide for wearing kippahs, and accused of supporting terrorism for wearing keffiyehs. The extremism and anti-Semitism at Ivy League universities on the East Coast have attracted so much media and congressional attention that two Ivy presidents have lost their jobs. But few people seem to have noticed the culture war that has taken over our California campus.”

Gaza’s Risk of Famine Is Accelerating Faster Than Anything We’ve Seen This Century, Vox
Ellen Ioanes and Nicole Narea report, “The share of Palestinians in Gaza facing the highest levels of food insecurity as defined by the IPC system makes this one of the worst acute hunger crises in recent memory. Even at the peak of the crisis in Somalia and amid the ongoing civil war in Yemen, there was not such a high concentration of people experiencing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity and famine […] NGOs, the United Nations, and international law experts have warned that Israel’s direct role in Gaza’s acute hunger crisis could amount to a war crime.”