News Roundup for November 28, 2023

November 28, 2023
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J Street In the News

We Must Help Our Friends to Help Us by Coming Up With a Plan, The Jerusalem Post
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “In the face of the disastrous plan led by messianic members of the coalition and the government in Israel, in the form of fantasies about Israeli settlements returning to the Gaza Strip, there is no clear and applicable formal plan for the day after. […] The Israeli government cannot continue waging a war without its citizens and partners understanding what its features are. What is the military and political purpose of war? The answer to this question is necessary to strengthen citizen trust in the government and is critical to continuing to win international support, first and foremost from our main ally, the United States.”

The Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza [Video], J Street
J Street was joined by Guy Shalev of Physicians for Human Rights Israel and Tania Hary of Gisha to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the ongoing efforts to aid and protect civilians, and what more the US and the international community can and should do to prevent further disaster.

Top News and Analysis

More Hostages Released After Israel and Hamas Agree to 2-Day Extension of Cease-Fire, CBS News
Hamas released another group of hostages on Monday, not long after officials announced an agreement between the Palestinian group and Israel to extend a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip for another two days. Israel’s military and security services confirmed that the 11 hostages are now back in Israeli territory. The Red Cross had said about three hours earlier that the freed group had been turned over into its care. Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, the spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the group includes 3 French citizens, 2 German citizens and 6 Argentinian citizens. In exchange, Al-Ansari said, Israel is releasing 33 Palestinians — 30 minors and 3 women — from Israeli prisons.

Irregular Meals, Benches as Beds. As Freed Hostages Return to Israel, Details of Captivity Emerge, AP
Plastic chairs as beds. Meals of bread and rice. Hours spent waiting for the bathroom. As former hostages return to Israel after seven weeks of Hamas captivity, information about the conditions of their confinement has emerged. The 58 hostages freed under a cease-fire deal over the past three days have largely stayed out of the public eye, with most still in hospitals. Nearly two months after Hamas militants dragged them into Gaza during a bloody cross-border attack on Israel that also killed 1,200 people, most freed hostages appear to be in stable physical condition.

Gaza Breathes Sigh of Relief as Pause in Fighting Is Extended, The Washington Post
All day, Palestinians were gripped by apprehension as the clock ticked down on the original four-day pause, which has brought a rare quiet to the skies and relief to residents bracing for the next round of violence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made clear that any extension of the pause will be short-lived and that the war will continue — repeating his vow to eliminate the Hamas militant group after its Oct. 7 attack. In addition to the hostage-for-prisoner exchanges, the deal stipulated that hundreds of trucks be allowed to enter Gaza with humanitarian relief, medical supplies and desperately needed fuel.

Biden Hopes to Alter the Trajectory of the War as Hostages Are Released, The New York Times
Israel has vowed to resume its withering assault on Hamas once the hostage releases end, and Mr. Biden has said repeatedly that the country has a right to defend itself after a terrorist attack that killed an estimated 1,200 people. At the same time, the president hopes to influence any fresh military action, ensuring that it is more targeted and does more to avoid civilian casualties. The White House has already warned Israel against moving into southern Gaza, where many Palestinians living in the coastal enclave have fled, without a concrete plan to protect civilians.

Prominent Israeli Human Rights Group Urges ICC Probe of Hamas for Rape and Other Sex Crimes, Haaretz
A prominent Israeli human rights organization is calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate whether the accounts and reports of sexual abuse committed against Israeli women by Hamas terrorists on October 7 constitute crimes against humanity. “Based on the currently available information and the accounts indicating that sexual and gender-based violence occurred across several locations, an inquiry must be conducted to examine whether their scope and manifestations amount to crimes against humanity under international humanitarian law,” wrote Physicians for Human Rights.

Why Israel Imprisons So Many Palestinians, Vox
Abdallah Fayyad writes, “Even beyond administrative detention, when charges are brought against Palestinians in the West Bank, they are almost always tried in military courts that have a near-perfect conviction rate. (By contrast, Israelis are usually tried in civil court.) Palestinians, in other words, are sent to a trapdoor instead of a fair trial. The result is that today, thousands of Palestinians, including hundreds of children, are held in Israeli custody on murky legal grounds — a problem that’s only gotten worse in recent years.”

Netanyahu’s Two-Front War Against Hamas and for His Own Political Survival, Reuters
Howard Goller writes, “Facing a huge wave of criticism over his failure to prevent the shock Hamas infiltration of Israel on Oct. 7, Netanyahu has largely avoided the limelight while conducting a two-front war, one against Hamas and the other for his own political survival. Netanyahu, 74, has long maintained an image as a security hawk, tough on Iran and backed by an army that ensured Jews would never again suffer a Holocaust – only to experience on his watch the deadliest single incident in Israel’s 75-year-old history.”

New Roads and Outposts Flourish in the West Bank amid Gaza War, Peace Now
Peace Now reports, “Since the beginning of the war that started following the Hamas massacre on October 7, we have witnessed an unprecedented surge in illegal construction by settlers across the West Bank. In the past six weeks alone, we have documented the establishment of at least four new outposts and the creation of no fewer than nine new unauthorized roads, many leading to illegal outposts. Illegal construction in the West Bank occurs throughout the year. However, in many instances, during times of war and military operations, we observe a notable increase in the number of outposts established on the ground.”


US Tells Israel Any Ground Campaign in Southern Gaza Must Limit Further Civilian Displacement, AP
The Biden administration told Israel that it must work to avoid “significant further displacement” of Palestinian civilians in southern Gaza if it renews its ground campaign aimed at eradicating Hamas, senior US officials said. The administration, seeking to avoid more large-scale civilian casualties or mass displacement like that seen before the current temporary pause in the fighting, underscored to the Israelis that they must operate with far greater precision in southern Gaza than they did in the north.

Mother of Palestinian Student Shot in Vermont Thought He Would Be Safer in US, NPR
“My husband didn’t want Hisham to come back for Christmas,” says Awartani’s mother Elizabeth Price. “He thought our son would be safer [in the US] than in Palestine.” On Saturday, Awartani, 20, was one of three men of Palestinian descent shot while visiting family in Burlington, Vermont. According to Price, her son was severely injured. “The doctors are currently saying it’s unlikely he’ll be able to use his legs again,” Price tells NPR by phone from her home in Ramallah.

Blinken Will Return to Israel and the West Bank to Discuss Further Extensions of the Gaza Cease-Fire, CBS News
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return this week to the Middle East to explore the possibility of further extensions of the cease-fire agreement in Gaza, a senior State Department official said Monday. It will be his third trip to the region since Israel’s war with Hamas began last month. The first agreement had been due to expire on Monday but was extended for an additional two days, meaning the extension will be expiring just as Blinken is arriving in Israel.

Father Welcomes His Imprisoned Son Back Home in West Bank, The New York Times
Crowds have gathered each evening for days in Ramallah to welcome the Palestinian prisoners and detainees who have been released in exchange for hostages held by Hamas. Tariq Dawoud was among the second group, which was announced on Saturday. An additional 39 Palestinians in custody were freed on Sunday, according to Israel’s prison service. After their release, hundreds of people crowded around them, hoisting them in the air and carrying them toward a main square in Ramallah.

Girl Freed From Gaza Without Her Mom Says Hamas Separated Them, in Breach of Deal, The Times of Israel
Hila Rotem Shoshani, a 13-year-old girl who was released from Gaza captivity overnight Saturday without her mother, Raya, told relatives that they were held hostage together until being separated two days before the release. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Hila’s uncle Yair Rotem said this contradicted Hamas claims that they did not know where Raya, 54, was — and constituted a clear violation of the truce deal.

Freed Israeli Hostage Briefly Escaped Hamas After Airstrike, Says Relative, The Guardian
According to his aunt Yelena Magid, Krivoy was being kept in a residential building. “Due to the bombings, the building collapsed and he managed to escape the rubble and break free,” she told Israeli media. “For a few days, he was hiding alone,” Magid said, as she described a half-hour long conversation with her nephew after his release as part of a deal negotiated between Israel and Hamas.

After Battling Hamas, Druze Leaders Ask Israel for More Than Special Status Law, Al-Monitor
After at least six Druze soldiers were killed in the surprise Hamas attack on Israel on Oct. 7, leaders from the Arabic-speaking minority told Al-Monitor that they reject the government’s intention to legislate a law offering special status to their community, demanding instead that the coalition amend the so-called Nation-State Law, which discriminates against them.

‘Immense Relief’ as UN Deliveries to Northern Gaza Ramp Up, Reuters
A UN official who took part in a humanitarian aid convoy to northern Gaza said on Sunday aid groups were on track to deliver the biggest shipment in over a month, describing thin, gaunt residents slaking their thirst as soon as water arrived. Before a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas got underway on Friday, UN agencies had voiced fears of disease and dehydration in the north, cut off from outside aid for weeks in a siege within a siege.

Jake Sullivan Does Not Reject Possibility Of Biden Attaching Conditions On Israel Aid, HuffPost
President Joe Biden on Friday called the idea a “worthwhile thought,” before adding: “We have to take this a piece at a time.” Sullivan echoed Biden, noting that the current approach the president has taken with regards to the Middle East conflict, which includes “direct presidential diplomacy behind closed doors with the Israelis and with our Arab partners” is working, as proven by the release of hostages by Hamas during the truce deal. But, notably Sullivan did not exclude the possibility of Biden securing concessions from Israelis before delivering more support in the future.

CIA Director in Qatar for Talks on More Hostage Releases, Axios
CIA director Bill Burns will meet with Mossad director David Barnea and Qatar’s prime minister in Doha on Tuesday to discuss a possible second extension of the pause in the fighting in Gaza if Hamas releases more hostages, according to a US official and two sources with direct knowledge of the plan. If the extended deal holds, the pause in fighting will last through Wednesday and Hamas will have released 92 of the 240 hostages the terror group and its allies took captive on Oct. 7.

Opinion and Analysis

Why Recognizing Palestine Is the Key to Ending the War in Gaza, The Washington Post
Daoud Kuttab writes, “Washington’s refusal to recognize a Palestinian state deprives Israel of any reason to take the Palestinians seriously. It is this egregious lack of political imagination on the Americans’ part that has helped bring us to the catastrophe that is now engulfing the region. Recognizing Palestine as a full member state would have a number of positive effects. It would demonstrate that Biden is truly serious about his professed aim of a two-state solution. And it would undermine the positions of radicals on both sides — the Palestinian extremists who refuse to recognize Israel, as well as those on Israel’s far right, who want to annex all the Palestinian territory west of the River Jordan.”

I Believed Diverse Coalitions Would Benefit Jewish Women. Now I Fear We Were All Alone, JTA
Daphne Lazar Price, executive director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, shares, “When the groups I’ve worked with over the years fail to speak out against these atrocities committed against women, I take it personally. I hope my former colleagues’ hearts will open up. I hope my own heart will heal. I’m not optimistic, but I’m hopeful they will come around and try to reconcile. As a Jewish person of faith, and an activist who looks for the good and seeks out justice, my work in this space to fight for a fairer world for all girls and women is not complete. But I can’t continue to work with those who don’t see me in the same light, as someone deserving of love and respect, no matter how they feel about my Judaism or Israel.”

Repeal the Exclusionary Nation-state Law, for the Sake of All Israelis, Haaretz
Carolina Landsmann notes, “The nation-state law should be repealed not for the sake of the Druze, but for the sake of all Israelis. The state must nurture an overarching Israeli identity to which every group can feel that it belongs. Israel needs a leadership that aspires to draw in everyone who currently feels left out of Israeliness, rather than one that deepens the rift by continuing to exclude them from the state’s self-definition. Without Israeli – not Jewish – solidarity, Israel won’t be able to defeat its enemies or preserve the Israeli way of life over time.”

My Black and Jewish Background Has Made Me Uniquely Equipped to Acknowledge the Multiple Truths of the Israel-Hamas War, The Forward
J Street U student leader Jospeh Hillyard writes, “We must recognize that the interests, safety and basic rights of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples are intertwined, and struggle for a solution that guarantees true freedom and self-determination for both peoples. Any effort to dismantle the status quo of occupation, terrorism and morally bankrupt leadership requires that we embrace this fact. The next time I walk by Washington Square, I hope I will see more people who are willing to truly engage with this complexity, and build genuine empathy for the peoples at the center of this conflict.”