News Roundup for May 7, 2024

May 7, 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

Decisions Loom in Critical Days for Israel-Hamas War, J Street
“J Street – a pro-Israel organization that has supported every single appropriation of security aid to Israel, including the emergency supplemental legislation signed into law two weeks ago – continues to fervently believe that any further military assistance to Israel must be provided in full accordance with US and international law, and with President’s Biden’s own NSM-20.”

Biden to Condemn Antisemitism, Praise Free Speech at Holocaust Remembrance, Reuters
“Passions are high. The issue is being heavily politicized. There’s a lot of tension. So this is a very important moment for the president to step forward,” said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of liberal advocacy group J Street, who has also been consulted by the White House.

Top News and Analysis

Hamas Accepts Gaza Cease-Fire; Israel Says It Will Continue Talks but Presses on with Rafah Attacks, AP
Hamas’s abrupt acceptance of the cease-fire deal came hours after Israel ordered an evacuation of some 100,000 Palestinians from eastern neighborhoods of Rafah, signaling an invasion was imminent. The Israeli military said it was conducting “targeted strikes” against Hamas in eastern Rafah. Soon after, Israeli tanks entered Rafah, reaching as close as 200 meters (yards) from Rafah’s crossing with neighboring Egypt, a Palestinian security official and an Egyptian official said.

Live Updates: Israeli Forces Seize Gaza Side of Key Rafah Border Crossing, NBC News
NBC’s live coverage reports, “The ground incursion into the crowded city of Rafah is “a very limited” operation designed to achieve tactical military goals and put pressure on Hamas in cease-fire talks, an Israeli official told NBC News, after the militant group announced it had accepted a truce proposal.”

For Biden, a Tough Call Looms on Whether Israel Violated Laws in Gaza, The Washington Post
A finding by the administration that Israel has violated U.S. or international law will almost certainly amplify calls for a suspension of American military aid, and is sure to anger conservatives who have railed against American criticisms of the Jewish state, as well as centrist political donors and many voters as Biden mounts a difficult reelection bid. Yet to conclude otherwise, amid the conflict’s enormous civilian toll, would risk a backlash from liberals.

Israel Moves to Capture the Palestinian Side of Rafah Border Crossing, Sources Say, Axios
Israeli forces moved to capture the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza in the next few hours as Israel pushes forward with its military operation in the southern Gaza city, two sources with direct knowledge told Axios. The Rafah crossing is a main entry point for humanitarian aid into Gaza and Israel says the eastern part of the city is a strategic site for Hamas. More than one million displaced Palestinians are sheltering in the city.


Biden Speaks With Netanyahu as Israelis Appear Closer to Major Rafah Offensive, AP
President Joe Biden again urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against launching an offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah as Israel on Monday appeared to be moving closer to a major military operation to root out Hamas militants.

Palestinians Leave Eastern Rafah After Israeli Warnings to Evacuate the Area [Video], NBC News
An NBC News crew encountered Palestinians packing up their belongings and heading away from eastern Rafah after Israeli warnings to leave to area.

Key Aid Crossing Into Gaza Closed After Rocket Attack Kills Israeli Soldiers, The Guardian
One of the main crossings used to deliver humanitarian aid into Gaza was closed after a rocket attack claimed by Hamas killed three soldiers, the Israeli military said, with a reprisal strike on a house in Rafah reportedly killing at least three Palestinians.

Republican Senators Warn ICC Prosecutor: Target Israel, and We Will Target You, The Times of Israel
A dozen Republican senators on Monday sent a letter warning International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Karim Khan not to issue arrest warrants for senior Israeli officials, days after the British lawyer cautioned against efforts to try to sway the court.

Israelis Frustrated with US Handling of Hostage Talks, Axios
Two Israeli officials said Israel is deeply suspicious that the Biden administration gave guarantees to Hamas through the Egyptian and Qatari mediators about its key demand that a hostage deal will lead to the end of the war.

Officials Describe Pact Hamas Has Embraced as US-Israel Proposal with Small Changes, The New York Times
The proposal, they said, calls for Hamas to free hostages — women, the elderly and those in need of medical treatment — in return for a 42-day cease-fire and the release of a much larger number of Palestinian prisoners.

Thousands Rally Across Israel Calling for Netanyahu to Accept Ceasefire Deal, The Guardian
Thousands of Israelis around the country have joined rallies calling for the government of Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to the terms of a ceasefire deal that Hamas accepted on Monday. Protesters gathered near the defence headquarters in Tel Aviv, while in Jerusalem at least 100 protesters marched towards Netanyahu’s residence with a banner saying: “The blood is on your hands.”

UN Denounces ‘Onslaught of Violence Against Women’ by Israel, Notes Mass Graves in Gaza, Politico
Experts from the UN released a joint statement Monday condemning what they described as systemic violence against Palestinians in Gaza, mostly against women and children. The statement, co-written by seven human rights professionals, also said that 390 bodies have been discovered in mass graves near the Al Shifa and Nasser hospitals.

Opinion and Analysis

How Many Hostages Will Be Released? The Gaps Between Israel and Hamas, Haaretz
Jonathan Lis, Amir Tibon and Jack Khoury argue, “Netanyahu does not want a deal at this time and prefers a ground incursion into Rafah over a diplomatic move which could paralyze any further IDF operation in Gaza. The second option is that Netanyahu has intensified his threats to send troops into Rafah in recent days as political leverage over Hamas, in an effort to force the organization to agree to the deal.”

Senators Need to Stop the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act, The New York Times
Michelle Goldberg argues, “Should the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act become law, there’s no reason to believe that only those views that liberals find most objectionable will be targeted. Stefanik and her allies, after all, are currently attacking Harvard for having the heroic Filipina journalist Maria Ressa, winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, as a commencement speaker, because Ressa’s publication called for a cease-fire in Gaza and because she signed an open letter about the killing of Gazan journalists. As the war in Israel moves into a brutal new phase, so do efforts to stifle those speaking out against it.”

How Iran’s Attack Could Change Israel’s Strategy, Foreign Policy
Azriel Bermant writes, “The United States has played a vital role in funding and developing Israel’s missile defenses, including by connecting Israel to the U.S. global missile warning system. The dependence on the United States that was demonstrated during the attack in April is likely to circumscribe Israel’s room for unilateral military action against Iran, and it underlines the existential importance of having allies—including allies in the Middle East.”