News Roundup for November 21, 2023

November 21, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

Hopes of Hostage Exchange Rise Amid Fierce Fighting in Northern Gaza, The Washington Post
Fierce fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas engulfed the Jabalya region of the northern Gaza Strip on Tuesday amid heightened speculation that negotiations over a hostage exchange and a pause in the conflict could be reaching its final stages. The fighting was close to Gaza’s Indonesian Hospital, which was struck Monday and is now seeking to evacuate hundreds of staff and patients. For weeks, there have been reports of ongoing negotiations between the Israelis and Hamas through the mediation of Qatar and the United States to exchange some of the more than 230 hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners and a multiday humanitarian pause in fighting.

Hostages’ Families Clash With Israeli Politicians Over Talk of Death Penalty, The Guardian
Families of Israeli hostages held by Hamas have clashed with far-right Israeli politicians who want to bring in the death penalty as a possible sentence for captured Palestinian militants. The families said on Monday that even talk of doing so might endanger the lives of their relatives. The row underlines the deep divisions in Israel over how to deal with the hostage crisis. The US president, Joe Biden, said on Monday he believed a deal was near to secure the release of some of the hostages being held by Hamas, telling reporters: “I believe so,” when asked at the White House about a possible agreement. Israeli officials have sent mixed messages, repeatedly denying suggestions by senior US and Israeli officials, as well as the Qatari prime minister.

Deadly Strike Rocks a Hospital in Gaza, Where Few Are Still Working, The New York Times
Another hospital in the Gaza Strip came under fire on Monday, as the World Health Organization warned that the enclave’s devastated health system had largely collapsed, with none of its functioning hospitals capable of handling complicated medical cases. At least 12 people were killed and dozens of others were wounded in the latest attack, on the Indonesian Hospital in the far northern city of Beit Lahia, according to two hospital staff members and the Gazan health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.

Israel Reveals Signs of Hamas Activity at Shifa, but a Promised Command Center Remains Elusive, AP
Days after taking control of the hospital, the military has yet to unveil this purported center. But it has released videos of weapons allegedly seized inside the hospital, a tunnel running through the complex and videos appearing to show Hamas militants dragging hostages through the hospital’s hallways. Israel says there will be much more to come. What Israel finds – or fails to find – could play a large part in its efforts to rally international support for its war against Hamas, launched on Oct. 7 in response to a bloody cross-border attack by the Islamic militant group.

Palestinian Authority Claims Israel Fabricated Evidence of October 7 to Justify Its Attack on Gaza, The Times of Israel
The Palestinian Authority circulates a document falsely claiming that a preliminary investigation by the Israel Police revealed that Israel “fabricated” media material to justify its attack on Gaza. In a statement by its foreign ministry, the PA asserts that Israeli helicopters bombed Israeli civilians on October 7 during the Supernova music festival. The statement casts doubts on Israeli accounts of the atrocities on that day and on the visual material documenting the destruction and fires that affected the area near the Gaza border.

With the World’s Eyes on Gaza, Attacks Are on the Rise in the West Bank, Which Faces Its Own War, AP
When Israeli warplanes swooped over the Gaza Strip following Hamas militants’ deadly attack on southern Israel, Palestinians say a different kind of war took hold in the occupied West Bank. Overnight, the territory was closed off. Towns were raided, curfews imposed, teenagers arrested, detainees beaten, and villages stormed by Jewish vigilantes. With the world’s attention on Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there, the violence of war has also erupted in the West Bank. Israeli settler attacks have surged at an unprecedented rate, according to the United Nations.

Insight: Forever War? Israel Risks a Long, Bloody Insurgency in Gaza, Reuters
Reuters reports, “Israel risks facing a long and bloody insurgency if it defeats Hamas and occupies Gaza without a credible post-war plan to withdraw its troops and move toward the creation of a Palestinian state, US and Arab officials, diplomats and analysts said. None of the ideas floated so far by Israel, the United States and Arab nations for the post-war administration of Gaza have managed to gain traction, according to US and regional officials and diplomats, raising fears the Israeli military may become mired in a prolonged security operation. As Israel tightens its control over northern Gaza, some officials in Washington and Arab capitals fear it is ignoring lessons from the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan when swift military victories were followed by years of violent militancy.”


Israel’s Plan to Eradicate Hamas Is an Impossible Goal, Hamas Expert Says [Audio], NPR
One of Israel’s stated goals for its invasion of Gaza is to eliminate Hamas to prevent it from ever committing another attack like the one on October 7 that Israel says killed some 1,200 people and saw gunmen take some 240 hostages. Since then, Israel’s offensive has killed more than 12,000 people, according to Gaza health officials. But is that aim – to eliminate Hamas – even possible? Tareq Baconi, president of the think tank Al-Shabaka, says this is an impossible goal and one that enables Israel to put forward violent plans towards the Palestinian people.

‘A Horror Film’: Mothers in Gaza on Giving Birth in a War Zone, The New York Times
Women, children and newborns in Gaza are disproportionately bearing the burden of the war, both as casualties and in reduced access to health care services. The UN estimates there are around 50,000 pregnant women in Gaza, and that more than 160 babies are delivered every day. In the space of a few weeks, Ms. al-Abyad’s life had been turned upside down. She fled her home in Gaza City with many of her relatives on Oct. 14, after the Israeli military ordered over a million people to leave northern Gaza.

Humanitarian Groups Tell White House Ceasefire Is Only Viable Aid Option, Politico
Humanitarian organizations met privately with national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Monday to discuss ways to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, two people familiar with the meeting said. The six groups in attendance requested the conversation to present their view that only a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas would make it safe enough for assistance to reach those in need.

Democratic Senators Call for Israel to Open Its Border for Humanitarian Crossing Into Gaza, The Hill
A group of Democratic senators urged President Biden on Monday to work with Israel in an effort to convince the country to open its border for humanitarian aid to cross into the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. In a letter sent to Biden, the lawmakers asked the administration to work with Israel and its allied partners to implement a plan that will protect civilian life and deliver much-needed humanitarian aid to the war-torn Gaza. The senators also asked for the Kerem Shalom border, a border crossing between Israel and Gaza, to be reopened.

Lapid: Coalition Extremists’ Behavior Is ‘Terrible Insult’ to Families of Hostages, Entire State of Israel, The Times of Israel
Opposition Leader Yair Lapid says that coalition extremists created a “shameful” dynamic in today’s Knesset discussion over legislating a death penalty for terrorism, where lawmakers engaged in a screaming match with hostages’ families. Lapid says that the argument was “shameful, a disgrace, and a terrible insult not only to the families of hostages but also to the entire State of Israel.”

Polling Shows a Huge Age Gap Divides the Democratic Party on Israel, CNN
President Joe Biden has a problem with the Democratic base when it comes to the Israel-Hamas War. It’s not just that his approval rating on the conflict is lower among Democrats than his overall approval rating. It’s that his base is divided – by age. Younger Democrats are far more likely than older Democrats to view Israel skeptically when it comes to this war as well as the larger geopolitical context. The intra-party age gaps on this question are amongst the largest I’ve ever seen on any important issue.

Nakba Generation Relive Trauma of Displacement in Gaza, The Guardian
Umm Ghadeer’s earliest memories are of the Nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948, in which about 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homeland after the creation of Israel. She was three years old. Last month she was forced to abandon her home all over again, fleeing Shejaiya, a neighbourhood of Gaza City, after the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas.

Families Fear for the Health of Ailing, Frail Israelis Held Hostage, The New York Times
Hostages needing medical attention range in age from infants to octogenarians, and include a Thai foreign worker who was nine months pregnant on Oct. 7 and may have given birth in captivity. There are many kibbutz members in their mid-80s who were taking medications for chronic conditions like high blood pressure, and younger adults who have both psychiatric conditions and medical conditions that can be fatal if left untreated.

On October 7, Sexism in Israel’s Military Turned Lethal, Haaretz
For Maya and Yael, and dozens of other IDF women positioned on the Gaza border tasked with surveilling the Strip nonstop, collecting intelligence and knowledge about terrorist activity, the October 7 attack did not come as a surprise. They had a very good idea of how it would unfold from the second it started. Because for months, they had seen Hamas militants training for this very scenario.

Angling for War Cabinet Seat, Smotrich Says Gaza Should Be Allowed to Collapse, The Times of Israel
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich on Monday reiterated his call to expand the narrow war cabinet to include representatives from each coalition party, saying that politicians who in the past protested appeasing Hamas should be part of the wartime decision-making process. The far-right former settler activist also skirted a question as to whether Jewish settlement should return to Gaza.

Opinion and Analysis

Many West Bank Palestinians Are Being Forced Out of Their Villages. Is My Family Next?, The New York Times
Ali Awad writes, “Settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on — built near Tuba and partly on private Palestinian land not long after we returned — have done their share as well. In 2002, they cut off the main road that connected Tuba to the surrounding villages, including the children’s closest school and the city of Yatta, where we buy all of our food and medical supplies. Settlers have also resorted to violence, some directed at my own family. We believe it was nearby settlers who stabbed my uncle, attacked my cousins with stones, and, as I’ve written before, set fire to a year’s worth of food for our flocks of sheep.”

What Biden’s Staunch Support for Israel’s War in Gaza Will Cost America, The Los Angeles Times
Tuqa Nusairat writes, “Every US-made missile dropped on Gaza’s besieged population along with America’s tepid response to the war will damage US standing in the region and around the world for years to come. Many are horrified by the US’ inability to take a meaningful position in favor of immediately stemming the bloodshed, preventing an expanded regional conflict and protecting the rules-based order. The world is looking to the US, Israel’s closest ally and financial and military benefactor, to take a morally consistent position.”

Doctors in the US Can’t Be Silent in the Face of What’s Happening in Gaza, Time Magazine
Brett Lewis shares, “Close your eyes and imagine working long hours in the hospital, without the proper equipment to care for scores of injured patients crowding the hospital hallways. Imagine doing so knowing that you are facing certain death, knowing that you will be forced to leave your family behind. Imagine the fear and grief and rage and helplessness you would feel, that Dr. Alloh and his colleagues must have felt. And then remember that in the face of fear, Dr. Alloh chose to stay with his patients.”