News Roundup for March 8, 2024

March 8, 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

Biden Sends Sharp Message to Israel During State of the Union: Don’t Use Gaza Aid as Bargaining Chip, Haaretz
President Biden directly urged Israel’s leadership during his State of the Union address to dramatically boost humanitarian aid into Gaza while stressing the necessity of pursuing a two-state solution. “There is no other path that guarantees Israel’s security and democracy. There is no other path that guarantees Palestinians can live with peace and dignity. There is no other path that guarantees peace between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Biden Orders US Military to Set up Temporary Aid Port for Gaza as Famine Threatens, AP
Biden ordered the US military Thursday to set up a temporary port off the coast of Gaza, joining international partners in trying to carve out a sea route to deliver food and other aid to desperate Palestinian civilians cut off by the Hamas-Israel war and by Israeli restrictions on humanitarian access by land. A US official said it would likely take weeks before the pier was operational.

Netanyahu Says Israel Will Push On With Gaza Offensive, Including in Rafah, Reuters
“There is international pressure and it’s growing, but particularly when the international pressure rises, we must close ranks, we need to stand together against the attempts to stop the war,” Netanyahu said. About 1.5 million people are estimated to be crammed into Rafah, on the southernmost fringe of the enclave close to the border with Egypt, most of them having fled their homes further north to escape Israel’s military onslaught.

It’s Not Just Israeli Bombs That Have Killed Children in Gaza. Now Some Are Dying of Hunger Too, AP
Hunger is most acute in northern Gaza, which has been isolated by Israeli forces and has suffered long cutoffs of food supply deliveries. At least 20 people have died from malnutrition and dehydration at the north’s Kamal Adwan and Shifa hospitals, according to the Health Ministry. Most of the dead are children — including ones as old as 15 — as well as a 72-year-old man.

‘We Were Not Allowed to Cry:’ Released Israeli Hostage Describes the ‘Hell’ of Being Held in Gaza, CNN
Chen Almog Goldstein, who was kidnapped with her surviving children during Hamas’ October 7 attacks on Israel, said they were held in tunnels and an apartment in Gaza until their release after 51 days. “They humiliated us, sometimes mocking us,” she told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “They told us that we had been forgotten, that the only important thing for Israel was fighting.” She urged the release of the remaining hostages, asking, “Are we, as a society and the world, doing everything for them? I can testify that it is hell there.”

Vengeance, Ignorance and Incompetence: Israel’s Disastrous Humanitarian Aid Policy for Gaza, Haaretz
Anshel Pfeffer writes, “To some senior officers in the IDF, it was clear that, as the occupying power, they would have to take responsibility. […] Until now, five months into the war, that order hasn’t come. The IDF doesn’t just have the plans. It has the personnel – both in the regular soldiers and professional officers, and among population affairs officers, veteran reservists, who have undergone a course training them to be their battalion’s expert on dealing with the needs of an enemy civilian population in a war zone.”

Desperate to Escape Gaza Carnage, Palestinians Are Forced to Pay Exorbitant Fees to Enter Egypt, The Intercept
Khalid Mohammed reports, “In most cases, it takes having a foreign passport to be evacuated from Gaza into neighboring Egypt, though some people with serious injuries are sometimes allowed to exit as well. As Israel threatens to invade Rafah, where more than 1 million people from across Gaza have been displaced, Palestinians are increasingly desperate to get out. With no other options, they are turning to unofficial channels instead: paying what is known as a “coordination” fee for a travel permit. These days, that can cost $5,000 to $7,500 per person — an exorbitant markup of the prewar cost of $250 to $600.”


In East Jerusalem, Hopes for a Calm Ramadan Mix With Fears of Al-Aqsa Restrictions, The Times of Israel
As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, Arab residents of East Jerusalem are in the grip of uncertainty, concerned about possible restrictions on access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque as well as the possibility of clashes between young worshipers and security forces, especially if they are denied access.

Visual Evidence Shows Illegal Settler Construction in West Bank Surging [Video], The Wall Street Journal
A Wall Street Journal investigation found that since Oct. 7, Israeli settlers have been rapidly building illegal roads and outposts across the West Bank.

Leading NGOs Slam Israel’s Halt in Visa Renewals for Aid Workers in Gaza and West Bank, AP
Israel’s halt in renewing visas for international aid workers in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli occupied West Bank is kneecapping aid work just when it’s needed the most, a coalition of humanitarian and nongovernmental groups says. People are dying of hunger in northern part of the Gaza Strip while more than a million have fled south. The situation in the West Bank has reached a boiling point, aid workers say.

Bleak Women’s Day for Mothers Whose Daughters Are Still Hostages in Gaza, Reuters
Simona Steinbrecher holds up two images of her daughter, Doron. One shows a young woman with twinkling eyes and a big smile. The other, from a video distributed by Hamas 107 days into the war, shows an emaciated, pale woman, with an almost lifeless gaze. Doron, 30 years old, was abducted to Gaza from her home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. “It’s every mother’s worst nightmare,” Steinbrecher said.

This Women’s Day, Palestinian Women in Gaza Are Making Period Products Out of Tents, Haaretz
International Women’s Day, which takes place on Friday, serves this year as a reminder of the women still suffering and fighting for their rights – not just because they are women, but because they are Palestinians in Gaza. According to the international non-governmental organization ActionAid, Gaza is now one of the most dangerous places for women, with seven killed every two hours.

Israel Destroying Gaza’s Food System in ‘Starvation’ Tactic, UN Expert Says, Reuters
A UN expert said on Thursday that Israel was destroying Gaza’s food system as part of a broader “starvation campaign” in its war against Hamas militants and berated a UN human rights body for not doing more.

In Show of Solidarity, Left-Wing Activists Attempt to Deliver Aid to Civilians in Gaza, The Times of Israel
The 30-vehicle convoy got within three kilometers of the Kerem Shalom Crossing before police turned it back. Organizers expected that outcome, and they acknowledged the convoy was a symbolic act in a society in which their focus on the plight of Palestinians places them in the minority.

Opinion and Analysis

Why America Isn’t Using Its Leverage with Israel, The New Yorker
In an interview with Isaac Chotiner, Senator Chris Van Hollen says, “I do think that the Administration recognizes how bad it looks to repeatedly request the Netanyahu government take action and to repeatedly be ignored, while at the same time the Administration has been providing a substantial amount of military aid that’s being used in Gaza. I think the Administration recognizes the contradictions, but has not yet resolved those contradictions. One way to resolve the contradictions would be to make better use of the leverage that the United States has, both through current law, like the Humanitarian Aid Corridor Act, and prospectively, really applying the terms of National Security Memorandum 20.”

We Need to Talk About This Republican Candidate’s Antisemitism, The New York Times
Michelle Goldberg shares, “We should be clear about which political faction is willing to give antisemites power. And even if you believe that the Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib’s use of the anti-Zionist slogan “from the river to the sea” is obviously antisemitic – I don’t – it’s worth asking why it received so much more coverage than Robinson’s apparent Holocaust denial, or for that matter, the promotion of antisemitic websites and social media posts by Republican congressmen like Arizona’s Paul Gosar and Georgia’s Mike Collins.”

Foreign Media Is Banned From Gaza. Biden Should Press Israel for Access, The Hill
Robert Mahoney writes, “Foreign outlets are relying on an ever-shrinking pool of Gazan journalists. Dozens of international news organizations pledged their support for these journalists in an open letter on Feb. 28 noting that they continue working “despite the loss of family, friends, and colleagues, the destruction of homes and offices, constant displacement, communications blackouts and shortages of food and fuel.” The news leaders reminded Israel that journalists are civilians and warrant protection as non-combatants.”