News Roundup for March 6, 2024

March 6, 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

The Gaza War: The Forces Shaping Israeli Public Opinion [Video], J Street
With the world watching on in horror as the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza expands, there’s a growing disconnect between the views of the Israeli public – still reeling from the horror of October 7 and impacted by the continued trauma of a country at war – and those watching from abroad, including pro-Israel Americans. To examine the media, political and social forces shaping Israeli public opinion, we were joined by Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, leading analyst and pollster, Maya Roman, whose cousin was held by Hamas, and Alon-Lee Green, whose group Standing Together has been holding joint Jewish-Arab bilateral ceasefire rallies across Israel. Watch the webinar here >>

Top News and Analysis

Gaza Ceasefire Talks Fail to Achieve a Breakthrough With Ramadan Just Days Away, Egypt Says, AP
Egyptian officials said that the latest round of discussions ended on Tuesday. They said Hamas presented a proposal that mediators would discuss with Israel in the coming days. One of the officials said that mediators would meet Wednesday with the Hamas delegation, which didn’t leave Cairo. Hamas has refused to release all of the estimated 100 hostages it holds, and the remains of around 30 more, unless Israel ends its offensive, withdraws from Gaza and releases a large number of Palestinian prisoners, including senior militants serving life sentences.

Israeli Minister Lambasted at White House About Gaza and War Strategy, Axios
Israeli minister Benny Gantz encountered harsh criticism and tough questions about the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Israel’s war strategy during his meeting with Vice President Kamala Harris and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan at the White House on Monday, three Israeli and US officials said. Gantz absorbed a lot of the frustration the White House has with the Israeli government right now, a US official said.

As Gaza’s Hunger Crisis Worsens, Emaciated Children at Hospitals, Reuters
Two Palestinian toddlers with sunken eyes and emaciated faces were lying side by side on a bed in a Gaza clinic, their thin, bony legs protruding from diapers that looked too big for them. This was the scene on Monday at Al-Awda health centre in Rafah, southern Gaza, where nurse Diaa Al-Shaer said children suffering from malnutrition and from a range of diseases were arriving in unprecedented numbers.

US Pushing for Gaza Ceasefire Before Ramadan, but Sinwar Appears to Favor Escalation, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “Due to the religious character of the Ramadan period, Sinwar may be hoping to set off a regional conflagration, inflaming Jerusalem and the West Bank, and perhaps mass demonstrations in neighboring Arab countries. It looks like another big gamble on top of the gamble the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip took in October.”

Survivors of Gaza Aid Convoy Massacre Describe ‘Indiscriminate’ Israeli Fire, +972
Testimonies gathered by +972 Magazine from Palestinians who survived what they are calling the “starvation massacre” describe Israeli forces opening fire indiscriminately on the crowd. […] “The situation was catastrophic,” Said Al-Suwairki, a survivor of the massacre told +972. “After hours of waiting, the first aid trucks arrived and everyone rushed toward them. People were scrambling and pushing each other to get a bag of flour. Once people crowded the trucks, the Israeli army vehicles opened heavy gunfire on us. I saw the bullets hitting people directly.”

Biden’s Closest Allies Are Stepping up Pressure on White House to Do More to Ease Suffering in Gaza, AP
What had been dissent from independent Sen. Bernie Sanders and a small group of progressive Democrats has swelled in response to the soaring death toll in Gaza. Now even Biden’s closest confidant in Congress, Chris Coons, says it is time to get tougher with Netanyahu’s government on how it conducts the war.


US Makes Second Gaza Aid Airdrop, in Joint Operation With Jordan and Egypt, The Times of Israel
The US military, in coordination with Jordan, Egypt and France, airdropped more than 36,000 meals into northern Gaza on Tuesday. Airdrops by the US and other countries are aimed at supplementing what officials say is an insufficient supply of aid being brought in by ground to Gaza, where the United Nations and associated aid agencies have warned that famine is “almost inevitable.”

Trump Breaks Silence on Israel’s Military Campaign in Gaza: ‘Finish the Problem’, NBC News
“You’ve got to finish the problem,” Trump said on Fox News on Tuesday when asked about the war. “You had a horrible invasion that took place that would have never happened if I was president.” When asked on the program whether he supported a cease-fire in Gaza, Trump demurred, avoiding an explicit position on Israel’s military effort.

Protest Outside US Embassy in Tel Aviv Calling for Help in Securing a Hostage Deal [Video], AP
Dozens of Israeli protesters demonstrated outside the US Embassy in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, March 5 to call for US President Joe Biden to help secure the release of hostages held in Gaza. Three days of negotiations with Hamas over a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of Israeli hostages have ended without a breakthrough, Egyptian officials said.

US Now Pushes UN to Back ‘Immediate’ Gaza Ceasefire to Free Hostages, Reuters
The US on Tuesday revised language in a draft UN Security Council resolution to back “an immediate ceasefire of roughly six-weeks in Gaza together with the release of all hostages,” according to the text seen by Reuters. The third revision of the text now reflects blunt remarks by Vice President Kamala Harris. The initial US draft had shown support for “a temporary ceasefire” in the Israel-Hamas war.

Despite Ben-Gvir’s Demand, Israel Will Not Impose New Limits on Worshippers at Al-Aqsa During Ramadan, Haaretz
In response to a statement published by Netanyahu’s Office, Ben-Gvir charged that the prime minister’s decision “teaches that Netanyahu and the war cabinet think that nothing happened on October 7. This decision puts Israel’s citizens in danger and could give Hamas a victory image.” United Arab List leader MK Mansour Abbas praised Netanyahu’s move and urged the Arab community to “execute their right to worship and observe the holiday in the coming month, while abiding by the law and maintaining public order.”

17 Relatives of Americans Taken Hostage by Hamas Will Attend Biden’s State of the Union Address, JTA
The six hostages believed to still be alive and in captivity who will be represented are Edan Alexander, Itai Chen, Sagui Dekel-Chen, Omer Neutra, Hersh Goldberg-Polin and Keith Siegel. The two released hostages who will be represented are Liat Atzili and Abigail Mor Edan, who turned 4 in captivity before being released during a truce in November. The two murdered hostages who will be represented are Judy Weinstein and Gad Haggai.

Majority of Biden Voters Oppose Weapons Shipments to Israel, Poll Says, Politico
A new poll released Tuesday shows that a sizable majority of voters who backed President Joe Biden in 2020 oppose weapons shipments to Israel, the latest sign that Israel’s offensive in Gaza remains a political liability for the president’s reelection campaign. The poll comes as the Biden administration faces pressure from progressives and Arab American voters in swing states over its level of support for Israel.

‘Uncommitted’ Vote in Protest of Biden’s Israel-Gaza Policy Again Makes Presence Felt, Haaretz
Biden and Trump continued down their path toward their respective parties’ nominations after Super Tuesday, though both leave with warning signs from their respective bases. Building upon momentum created in Michigan by voters who voted “uncommitted” in protest of Biden’s Israeli-Palestinian conflict policies, Minnesota’s follow-up highly overperformed with nearly 46,000, which is more than Hillary Clinton’s margin of victory over Donald Trump in the state in 2016.

Opinion and Analysis

The Guardian View on Starvation in Gaza: Palestinians Need Solutions, Not Symbols, The Guardian
The Guardian’s Editorial Board writes, “The opening of more aid routes is essential, especially for the north, and more aid needs to flow. Israeli authorities are still turning whole trucks back when a single item fails to meet their approval. Donors, including the US and the UK, should also resume aid to the UNRWA, as the EU has partially done, after suspending it over Israel’s claims that some employees were involved in the October 7 atrocities, for which UN investigators are awaiting evidence. Large‑scale relief efforts in Gaza are impossible without the agency.”

Ben-Gvir is Good for the Palestinians, The Jerusalem Post
Avi Gil shares, “Under Ben-Gvir’s duress, Netanyahu can no longer camouflage his intentions. He is compelled to unequivocally retract his false promises from the past, and can no longer feign commitment to the two-state formula. The prime minister withstood the heat for many years, but now that he is captive to the messianic Right, his genius for concealing the ideology that guides him is collapsing. […] The pompous government statements decrying unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state and international attempts to dictate a settlement are as effective as the whistle of a frightened person desperate to dispel the darkness.”

Israel Drastically Restricting Movement in West Bank Since Start of Gaza War, Disrupting Lives of 2 Million Palestinians, B’Tselem
B’Tselem reports, “These restrictions do not allow Palestinians in the West Bank to maintain a reasonable routine and disrupt every area of life. They cause major financial losses, limit access to medical care and studies, and harm family life and social activities. They also create a state of constant uncertainty that makes it difficult to stick to a schedule: Palestinians who set out from home in the West Bank cannot know whether they will make it to work or when, whether they can keep a medical appointment and whether they can visit family.”

The US Finally Realized: Netanyahu Broke an Unbreakable Alliance, Haaretz
Alon Pinkas writes, “The US asked Israel to define the political goals of the war, from which military operations would be derived. Israel never bothered; it just said “eradicate, annihilate and topple Hamas.” The US said, “Fine, absolutely, but explain the how and the deliverables.” The US asked for proportionality and restraint in northern Gaza. Israel did the opposite. The US implored Israel to rethink a full invasion into northern Gaza and to use the threat of doing so to extract a hostage release agreement. Israel ignored that.”