News Roundup for May 9, 2024

May 9, 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

J Street Supports Biden Administration’s “Measured Step” of Halting the Transfer of Certain Munitions to Israel, J Street
The United States has made clear to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it cannot support such military action without a credible and executable evacuation plan for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians sheltering in the area.

Top News and Analysis

Biden Says He Will Stop Sending Bombs and Artillery Shells to Israel If It Launches Major Invasion of Rafah, CNN
“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” Biden told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an exclusive interview on “Erin Burnett OutFront,” referring to 2,000-pound bombs that Biden paused shipments of last week.

Netanyahu Pushed for Rafah Offensive Last Week, Israel’s War Cabinet Opposed, Haaretz
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed starting the military operation in Rafah as soon as possible, and to carry out preparations for it. He did this despite senior Israeli officials’ assessments that Hamas was close to agreeing to release the hostages and a cease-fire, and that such a decision would torpedo the deal.

Hamas Says It Will Not Compromise Further with Israel to Win Gaza Ceasefire, Reuters
Izzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political office in Qatar, said in a statement late on Wednesday that the group would not go beyond a ceasefire proposal it accepted on Monday, which would also entail the release of some Israeli hostages in Gaza and Palestinian women and children detained in Israel. “Israel isn’t serious about reaching an agreement and it is using the negotiation as a cover to invade Rafah and occupy the crossing,” said Reshiq.

A High-Stakes Report Looms Over Biden on Whether Israel Violated International Law, CNN
Israeli officials, deeply wary that its findings could increase pressure on Biden to condition US military aid to Israel, have been in close touch with the administration as the report has developed, congressional sources said. If the report were to find that Israel is not in compliance with international law, it would likely trigger a firestorm within the Netanyahu government.


Israel Privately Conveys ‘Deep Frustration’ That US Confirmed Weapons Holdup, Politico
A senior Biden administration official, like others granted anonymity to detail a sensitive diplomatic moment, said the U.S. found it “a bit rich” that Israel is upset about weapons-pause leaks when it was Israeli officials who first confirmed it to Axios over the weekend. U.S. officials later told POLITICO and other outlets that Biden delayed the transfer of bombs Israel could potentially use in Rafah to target Hamas — and endanger civilians.

Israel hasn’t crossed “red line” with current Rafah operation, U.S. officials say, Axios
The two U.S. officials said Biden doesn’t see the current Israeli operation as “a breaking point” in relations with Israel. But they warned that if it broadens or gets out of control and Israeli forces go into the city of Rafah itself, it will be a breaking point. One U.S. official said Biden is approaching this the same way he approached the Israeli retaliation against the Iran attack — pressing Israel not to do it, then accepting something limited.

Israel Reopens Key Kerem Shalom Crossing Into Gaza but Vital Rafah Crossing Still Closed, CBS News
U.N. agencies and aid groups have ramped up humanitarian assistance in recent weeks as Israel has lifted some restrictions and opened an additional crossing in the north under pressure from the United States, its closest ally. But aid workers say the closure of Rafah, which is the only gateway for the entry of fuel for trucks and generators, could have severe repercussions.

Israeli Military Operations in Rafah Expand from Airstrikes to Ground Operations, Satellite Images Show, CNN
These Israeli ground operations follow a series of airstrikes on Rafah that have completely destroyed several buildings in the past 24 hours, and killed at least four people, according to a local hospital. Satellite images suggest these strikes are continuing, with one picture showing smoke still rising from one location.

Police Clear Pro-Palestinian Protest Camp and Arrest 33 at DC Campus as Mayor’s Hearing Is Canceled, AP
Moataz Salim, a Palestinian student at George Washington who has family in Gaza, said the authorities merely “destroyed a beautiful community space that was all about love.” “Less than 10 hours ago, I was pepper sprayed and assaulted by police,” he told a news conference held by organizers. “And why? Because we decided to pitch some tents, hold community activities and learn from each other. We built something incredible. We built something game-changing.”

Trump Attacks Biden For Threatening To Withhold Weapons From Israel, Forbes
The former president […] accused Biden of “taking the side of these terrorists, just like he has sided with the Radical Mobs taking over our college campuses.” Trump then claimed the war in Gaza and Ukraine would not have started if he was still in the White House and said “we will be back, and once again demanding PEACE THROUGH STRENGTH!”

Rafah’s Hospitals Will Run out of Fuel in 3 Days, WHO Says, AP
The World Health Organization says it has only three days of fuel for its medical operations in southern Gaza, with shortages already forcing one of three remaining hospitals in the city of Rafah to shut down.

Former IDF Chief: Israel Must Halt Gaza War to Secure Release of Hostages, Haaretz
Former IDF chief Aviv Kochavi states, “I constantly ask myself what we could have done differently,” he added. He also said that the attack would require “serious clarification and a major investigation.”

Opinion and Analysis

Israel’s Incursion Into Rafah Could Be a Costly Mistake, The New York Times
Shira Efron states, “Even if the limited military campaign in Rafah is successful in destroying Hamas, without a strategy and realistic vision for postwar Gaza that supports a revitalized Palestinian Authority and links Gaza with the West Bank, any achievements will be short-lived.”

Israel Is Already Becoming an International Pariah. Do Israelis Care?, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin argues, “Israel’s official position, and general orientation, always prefers to deflect blame by presuming that anti-Israel, antisemitic sentiment is the root of these trends, or terrible Israeli hasbara. But it’s undeniable that the worst such international developments for Israel appeared only because of this war, and even those are only beginning after roughly half a year of it.”

Disdain, Denial, Neglect: The Deep Roots of Israel’s Devastating Intelligence Failure on Hamas and October 7, Haaretz
Yaniv Kubovich writes, “Hamas saw through the IDF’s deception and most Hamas personnel didn’t enter the tunnels.” But this “didn’t keep the entire security and political elite from continuing the campaign of lies, and the campaign according to which the IDF exposed Hamas’ tunnel network,” says the officer. “It was simply a lie that they consciously presented to the media and the public.”