News Roundup for March 5, 2024

March 5, 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

What President Biden Should Say in the State of the Union Address, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “Israelis, Palestinians and others in the region need more than empathy, though. They need your leadership. They look to the United States as the “indispensable player” – and those of good will hoping for a more secure and peaceful future are looking to you for a vision and a plan to get there. To that end, I hope you will make six key points on Thursday.” Read J Street’s recommendations to President Biden >>

Top News and Analysis

White House Ratchets Up Urgency for Temporary Israel-Hamas Ceasefire, The Hill
White House officials have aggressively lobbied for a six-week pause in fighting to allow hostages out and to get more aid into Gaza. Both Biden and Vice President Harris have in recent days called for an “immediate” cease-fire and argued the onus is on Hamas to accept the terms. But there are clear signs of strife between the White House and Israel as well, particularly when it comes to letting more aid into the enclave, a situation that Harris on Sunday deemed a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Gaza Ceasefire Talks Extended in Cairo for Another Day, Hamas Says, Reuters
Hamas negotiators will remain in Cairo for another day at the request of mediators, keeping ceasefire talks going after two days with no breakthrough, an official from the militant group said on Tuesday. A source told Reuters earlier that Israel was staying away because Hamas had rejected its demand to furnish a list of all hostages who are still alive.

How Israel’s Restrictions on Aid Put Gaza on the Brink of Famine, The Washington Post
Claire Parker reports, “Thursday’s aid convoy tragedy — in which more than 100 people were killed and 700 injured in Gaza City, according to Palestinian officials — underscored the desperation of civilians in the Gaza Strip, which is hurtling toward a famine that humanitarian officials say is largely of Israel’s making. They point to Israel’s limiting of land entry points for aid; an onerous and confusing Israeli inspection process; faulty deconfliction channels between aid groups and Israel’s military; Israeli efforts to undermine the United Nations; and its military’s recent targeting of Gazan police who once protected aid missions.”

UN Report Validates ‘Clear and Convincing’ Allegations of Hamas Sexual Violence, JTA
The report, compiled by a team led by Special Representative Pramila Patten, was written based on dozens of interviews, visits to the sites of Oct. 7 massacres and consultations with Israeli investigative and law enforcement bodies. Although the investigative team did not speak to any survivors of sexual violence, it concluded in graphic terms that such violence had occurred or, in the case of hostages, may be ongoing.

Deaths of Gazan Children Likely to ‘Rapidly’ Rise Amid Aid Snarls, UN Warns, The New York Times
Gaza’s health ministry said on Sunday that 15 children have died in recent days from what it described as malnutrition and dehydration at Kamal Adwan Hospital in the north. The ministry did not provide further details about the deaths, but said the hospital had run out of oxygen and fuel to power its generators and was barely operating, with very limited supplies. It added in a statement that the lives of six other children in the intensive care unit were in danger from malnutrition and dehydration.

Israel Must Not Let Netanyahu Reject the Biden Peace Plan, Time
Nimrod Novik writes, “The Biden approach gives Israel an alternative to an open-ended occupation of Gaza and hope to Palestinians who need an alternative to the Hamas ideology and the perpetual conflict it brings. It would seem to be politically suicidal for Netanyahu to stand up to an American president admired by Israelis for his unwavering support during an unprecedented hour of need, and who came over while war was raging and provided Israelis with the comforting father figure they didn’t have at home.”


Israeli Hostage Families Hold Silent March at Knesset With Photos of Captive Loved Ones, Haaretz
The march started with the participants standing outside the Knesset building, and counting together to 150 – the number of days their loved ones have been held in captivity. They later went inside and walked in various corridors of the building. Family members of the hostages then broke into a hearing of the Knesset Health Committee’s session on the health of the hostages’ families.

Hamas’ Top Priority in Hostage Deal Is Palestinians’ Return to Northern Gaza, Axios
In the negotiations, Hamas presents allowing Palestinians to return to the northern part of the Strip as a humanitarian issue, the official said. The Israeli government sees it as a political matter: if Palestinians are permitted to return to northern Gaza, it could strengthen Hamas as a governing body in the enclave and make Israel’s goal of toppling Hamas more difficult to achieve.

Israel Under Pressure to Justify Its Use of AI in Gaza, Politico
As the civilian death toll mounts, regional human rights groups are asking if Israel’s AI targeting systems have enough guardrails. It’s a push for accountability that could force Washington to confront some uncomfortable questions about the extent to which the US is letting its ally off the hook for its use of AI-powered warfare.

UN Agency Accuses Israel of Detaining, Coercing Staffers Into False Confessions About Ties to Hamas, CNN
“Some of our staff have conveyed to UNRWA teams that they were forced to (make) confessions under torture and ill-treatment. These false confessions were in response to questioning about relations between UNRWA and Hamas and involvement in the 7 October attack against Israel,” UNRWA spokeswoman Juliette Touma said in a statement.

Israel Escalates Its Criticism of a UN Agency in Gaza. It Says 450 of Its Workers Are Militants, AP
Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the agency known as UNRWA, told a press conference Monday that he “has never been informed” or received any evidence of Israel’s claims. The only allegation communicated to him verbally was about 12 UNRWA staffers alleged to have participated in the Oct. 7 attacks, he said, and they appeared so serious that they were fired, and two UN-ordered investigations are underway.

‘I Can’t Breathe Anymore’: At Knesset, Emotional Hostage Relatives Beg for Better Care, The Times of Israel
Data and testimonies given at the heated two-hour session made clear that efforts of government agencies, the military, and citizen groups to support the physical and mental health needs of the families have been insufficient. Members of hostages’ families painted the system cobbled together by government ministries and agencies after the Hamas massacres as disorganized, overly bureaucratic, and reactive.

Americans’ Views of Both Israel, Palestinian Authority Down, Gallup
Americans’ opinions of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority have worsened in the past year amid escalating tensions between the two sides since last fall. Fifty-eight percent of Americans, down from 68% last year, have a “very” or “mostly favorable” view of Israel. This is the lowest favorable rating for Israel in over two decades. At the same time, positive opinions of the Palestinian Authority have dropped from 26% to 18%, the lowest since 2015.

Opinion and Analysis

I Met the Israeli Settlers Biden Placed Sanctions On. They’re Bad – But Part of a Rotten System, The Guardian
Zak Witus argues, “Settler violence is not a glitch in the system. It is a feature. While the state pursues a slow and steady strategy of dispossession by issuing demolition orders, night raids of villages and onerous checkpoints, settlers like Levi and Federman use vigilante violence and illegal construction to more quickly and directly achieve the same goals. […] But targeting individuals, even powerful ones, fails on a basic level: it leaves intact the structures which allow Jewish Israelis to militarily, economically and legally dominate Palestinians in the West Bank.”

In Rafah, We Fear Israel’s Endgame, Time
Abdallah Al-Haddad shares, “In Gaza, we don’t have the luxury of mourning. There is no respite between our sorrows. Each day, terrifying news passes by us, such as the death of a friend or the destruction of a nearby home. In early November, we learned of the killing of our cousin’s aunts through a chain of WhatsApp messages. We hear the news, mourn for a moment, then return to our tragedy, searching for water and food in our struggle to survive. But the knowledge that even if we survive the onslaught, our futures, our hopes, and our communities now lie in ruin lingers all around us.”

The Myth of Israel’s ‘Moral Army’, Foreign Affairs
Avner Gvaryahu writes, “Israel’s army has waged a brutal campaign in Gaza, only loosely upholding the protocols its armed forces are supposed to follow to minimize civilian deaths. But even those guidelines are insufficient: an investigation of prior campaigns in Gaza reveals the inadequacy of Israeli targeting guidelines, which do not truly curb civilian casualties. In the latest round of fighting in Gaza, Israel has failed to follow even those restrictions – leading to untold devastation and making a resolution to the conflict even harder to reach.”