News Roundup for May 31, 2024

May 31, 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

Most Israelis Rate Military’s Campaign in Gaza ‘About Right’ or Not Enough, The Washington Post
The survey found 39 percent of Israelis said that the country’s military response against Hamas in Gaza has been about right, and 34 percent said it has not gone far enough — indicating continued support for the war. Another 19 percent said they think it has gone too far. The survey was conducted between March 3 and April 4, mostly before Israeli airstrikes killed seven aid workers for the charity group World Central Kitchen and predating last weekend’s airstrike in Rafah that killed at least 45 Palestinians.

Hamas Says It Is Ready for a ‘Complete Agreement’ If Israel Stops War, Reuters
Hamas said on Thursday it had told mediators it would not take part in more negotiations during ongoing aggression but was ready for a “complete agreement” including an exchange of hostages and prisoners if Israel stopped the war. Israel has rejected past Hamas offers as insufficient and said it is determined to wipe out a group bent on its destruction.

Israel’s Claim of Control Over Border Zone Risks Raising Tensions With Egypt, The New York Times
Earlier this year, the Egyptian government warned that if Israeli forces occupied a roughly eight-mile-long border strip between Egypt and Gaza — known in Israel as the Philadelphi Corridor — it would pose a “serious threat” to ties between the two countries. Yet so far there has been little Egyptian response to Israel’s announcement on Wednesday that it had taken “tactical control” of the zone.

Exclusive: Israel Reopens Gaza Food Sales as Rafah Raid Chokes Aid, Reuters
The Israeli military has lifted a ban on the sale of food to Gaza from Israel and the occupied West Bank as its battlefield offensive chokes international aid, according to Palestinian officials, businessmen and international aid workers. Army authorities gave Gazan traders the green light to resume their purchases from Israeli and Palestinian suppliers of food such as fresh fruit, vegetables and dairy goods this month.

Netanyahu’s Top Security Adviser Tells Hostage Families He Doesn’t Think Gov’t Will Complete Hostage Deal, Haaretz
Head of the National Security Council Tzachi Hanegbi insulted and reprimanded members of hostage families after they confronted him when he told them that the government “won’t make a decision to stop the war for returning all the hostages.”

PIJ Airs Second Video of Hostage Sasha Trufanov, With Apparent Proof of Recency, The Times of Israel
In the nearly three-minute-long video, Trufanov — in a statement almost certainly dictated by his captors in the Gaza Strip — refers to Israel’s decision to pull the Qatari-owned Al Jazeera news channel off the air on May 5, indicating that the footage was likely filmed within the last month and that he was alive then.

Israel Will Not Agree to Halt in Gaza Fighting Without Hostage Return, Official Says, Reuters
The comment came after a statement from Hamas declaring that it would be ready to reach an agreement including an exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners, as long as Israel stopped the fighting in Gaza. “There will be no truce, or any halt in fighting whatsoever, in Gaza which is not part-and-parcel of a hostage-release deal,” the official said in comments sent to Reuters.

Israel Could Have Used Smaller Weapons against Hamas to Avoid Deaths in Gaza Tent Fire, Experts Say, AP
Based on those images and satellite photos of the debris field, two defense experts said the bombs used were likely U.S.-made 250-pound GBU-39 small-diameter bombs. Though they’re smaller than many other weapons the U.S. has provided to Israel, these bombs can still create a wide swath of damage.

Israeli Airstrike on Rafah Kills 12 Palestinians, Gaza Medics Say, Reuters
Gaza medical sources said the 12 Palestinians, whom it said were civilians, had been killed and an unspecified number of others wounded in an Israeli airstrike as they tried to recover the body of a civilian in the centre of Rafah. Another Palestinian civilian was killed in an airstrike on Al-Shati refugee camp, the medics said.

U.S., Egypt and Israel to Meet to Discuss Gaza Border Security, Axios
The U.S. wants to discuss with Egypt the possibility of forming a “transitional force” that would be in charge of security in Gaza on the day after the war, the officials said. The U.S. would want Egypt to take a major role in a security force along with other Arab countries.

‘I’ll Be Strong for You.’ A Former Hostage Awaits Her Husband’s Release, The New York Times
“Knowing what they’re going through,” she said, “is too much for me to handle.” She said that she and her husband of over four decades were moved more than a dozen times and were kept in apartments and tunnels, which felt particularly stifling. Ms. Siegel said that they were denied food and water, while their captors ate, and that she lost over 20 pounds.

Netanyahu Frequently Makes Claims of Antisemitism. Critics Say He’s Deflecting from His Own Problems, AP
[Netanyahu’s] detractors say he is overusing the label to further his political agenda and try to stifle even legitimate criticism, and that doing so risks diluting the term’s meaning at a time when antisemitism is surging worldwide. “The moment you say it is antisemitic hate … you take away all legitimacy from the criticism and try to crush the debate,” said Tom Segev, an Israeli historian.

US Envoy Hochstein Envisions Israel-Lebanon Border Deal in Bid to Cool Conflict, The Times of Israel
A land border agreement between Israel and Lebanon implemented in phases could dampen the simmering and deadly conflict between the Jewish state and the Iran-backed Hezbollah terror group, a senior adviser to US President Joe Biden said on Thursday.

Opinion and Analysis

What Is the Philadelphi Corridor, and Why Does It Matter?, The New York Times
Matthew Mpoke Bigg reports, “Senior Israeli officials had set control of the strip, which in Israel is called the Philadelphi Corridor, as a military objective. Hamas had dug tunnels beneath the strip — some wide enough for trucks, according to military experts — and used them to smuggle weapons and personnel into Gazan territory.”

Gantz’s Exit From Netanyahu’s Wartime Government Will Be Good News for Israel, Haaretz
Yossi Verter argues, “The world, especially the American administration, will be far tougher and more impatient with the prime minister when Gantz and Eisenkot are not sitting beside him. For Netanyahu, this is bad news. For the country, it is good news. Every reinforcement Netanyahu receives is not used for the good of the war nor the nation, but only for himself. We all see it. In general, the motto is: Bad for the government, good for the country, and vice versa.”

We’re Israelis Who Study Fascism. This Week, Our Country Took a Terrifying Step Toward the Abyss, Forward
Shira Klein and Lior B. Sternfeld write, “Countless words have been written in recent months on Israel’s rapid devolvement into an anti-liberal state. And this week, the country took a big step toward full-fledged fascism. The National Union of Israeli Students on Tuesday proposed a new law that would require universities to fire all academics who express dissent, including tenured professors. […] Institutions that fail to comply would lose their state funding.”

‘No Secret Police’: Israel’s Shin Bet Declined to Step Up Surveillance of anti-Netanyahu Protesters, Haaretz
Gidi Weitz shares, “The government’s efforts to take over legal enforcement and stamp out the protest movement are not restricted to Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir’s aggressive pressure on law enforcement. ‘In internal meetings, they express an expectation that the Shin Bet use its tools against parts of the protest [movement],’ says a government official who took part in the meetings. “They want to turn it into a thought police.’”