News Roundup for November 29, 2023

November 29, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

Mediators Look To Extend Truce in Gaza on Its Final Day, With One More Hostage Swap Planned, AP
International mediators appeared to make progress Wednesday on extending the truce in Gaza, encouraging the territory’s Hamas rulers to keep freeing hostages in return for the release of Palestinian prisoners and further respite from Israel’s air and ground offensive. It will otherwise expire within a day. Israel has welcomed the release of dozens of hostages in recent days and says it will maintain the truce if Hamas keeps freeing captives. But its other major goal — the annihilation of Hamas — seems less and less likely.

Fifth Group of Hostages Released After Israel and Hamas Agree to Extend Cease-Fire, CBS News
Twelve more hostages who were held in Gaza were released on Tuesday after a humanitarian pause in fighting between Hamas and Israel was extended on Monday for an additional 48 hours. Red Cross representatives transferred the 12 hostages to Egypt, the IDF said. In exchange, 30 Palestinians were released from Israeli prisons — 15 minors and 15 women, Dr. Majed Al-Ansari, spokesperson for Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a statement.

Fearful, Humiliated and Desperate: Gazans Heading South Face Horrors, The New York Times
Those lucky enough or with means fled early, but some Gazans who spoke to the Times said they could not leave earlier because they do not have relatives or anyone they know in the south, cannot leave older family members behind or don’t have the resources. Instead, many sheltered in increasingly dangerous and desperate conditions at schools or hospitals in the north. But at some point, they made the difficult decision to leave. Even that decision was fraught. In the weeks leading up to the cease-fire, Israel has also bombed the southern part of the Gaza Strip, and some Gazans feel uprooting themselves further with no guarantee of shelter in the south is not worth it.

Baby Remains Hostage in Gaza as Others Go Free in Israel-Hamas Deal, Reuters
Ten-month-old Kfir Bibas has spent more than 50 days of his young life in captivity in Gaza and, according to Israel, has been handed over by Hamas to another Palestinian militant group in a possible complication of efforts to free him. On Tuesday, members of his extended family pleaded with the Israeli government and mediators of an Israel-Hamas truce from Egypt and Qatar to help get him, his parents and brother released.

Untreated Diseases Could Kill More Than Bombings in Gaza, WHO Warns, BBC
WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said that an assessment of shelters in Gaza found outbreaks of infectious diseases, with cases of diarrhoea among children aged five and older more than 100 times normal levels by early November. No treatment is available for them, she said, without which infants in particular can deteriorate and die very quickly.

A Strategic Dilemma, The New York Times
David Leonhardt writes, “Israel and Hamas had extended their truce for two days which will bring the pause in fighting to six days. The deal is a sign that both sides have benefited from it. What comes next is less clear, though. For Israel’s leaders in particular, the pause has created a strategic dilemma. They have big reasons to extend it again — and big reasons to resume fighting. On the one hand, many international groups and other countries support a cease-fire, pointing to the brutal death toll among Gazan civilians since Oct. 7. President Biden has also pushed for the pause to continue so long as Hamas is releasing hostages. Within Israel, families of the hostages have called on their country’s leaders to prioritize the release of all hostages.”

How Israel Keeps Hundreds of Palestinians in Detention Without Charge, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “But for freed Palestinians, the context in which they return is more barbed and fraught. In lists distributed to media, Israeli authorities label all the prisoners up for release as “terrorists.” Some were convicted of crimes such as attempted murder; others were detained for activities like “throwing stones” or carrying knives. And a few, like 59-year-old Hanan Barghouti, the eldest female prisoner to be released, were in indefinite Israeli custody without any charge. While there were scenes of jubilation in Ramallah in the West Bank as a group of released prisoners met their families over the weekend, Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister, issued directives cracking down on such celebrations in East Jerusalem, where the Israeli police can directly operate.”


Some Gaza Border Communities Refuse Netanyahu’s Request for Face-to-face Meeting, Haaretz
Netanyahu’s office requested to meet on Wednesday with representatives of the Gaza border-area communities, many of which have been critical of the prime minister for failing to meet with the survivors of the October 7 massacre. Several of the kibbutzim were asked to send representatives to the meeting. Kibbutz Be’eri told Haaretz that its members refused to send anyone. Kibbutz Kfar Azza said that, as of now, it would also not participate, citing short notice about the event.

Biden Navigates Divisions Over Gaza Inside the White House and Beyond, The New York Times
Biden is navigating deep anger among longtime supporters and even inside the White House, where some younger staff members, particularly those with Arab or Muslim backgrounds, have said they feel disenchanted with the president they serve. Biden administration officials say the president’s support for Israel’s right to defend itself is only part of the story. Increasingly, Biden has paired his words of support with more forceful calls for caution and the protection of Palestinian civilians.

1 of 3 Palestinian Students Shot in Vermont May Never Walk Again After Bullet Hit His Spine, His Mother Says, CNN
One of the three Palestinian college students who were shot while walking in Vermont may not be able to move his legs for the rest of his life after a bullet became lodged in his spine, according to his family. A 20-year-old junior at Brown University, Hisham Awartani, is starting to come to terms with the “very long road he has in front of him” after he and two longtime friends from the Israeli-occupied West Bank were shot while strolling through Burlington on Saturday.

Israel Aid Debate Flares Up Among Senate Democrats, Axios
Senate Democrats are set to spend the week debating whether to condition military assistance to Israel on a set of demands addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The discourse is heating up as senators in both parties negotiate the scope of an emergency aid package not only to Israel, but potentially including funds for Ukraine, Taiwan and border security. Senators Bernie Sanders and Chris Murphy have called for conditioning aid. Sanders has floated demands for Israel to end its “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza, allow aid into the region and take other steps to lay the groundwork for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

Delayed by War, Gaza’s Olive Harvest Is Too Little, Too Late, Say Farmers, Reuters
In a normal year the harvest would have started weeks earlier, but until the truce farmers were afraid of being mistaken for Hamas militants and targeted by Israeli forces if they ventured out into the olive groves. Some lands were also damaged by fighting or the passage of military vehicles, while some farmers were displaced from their homes and unable to get back to their groves.

What They Missed: Freed Israeli Hostages Return to Tragedy and Joys, The Washington Post
As dozens of former hostages emerge from nearly two months of total isolation, they return to lives both familiar and forever changed. Some learned that loved ones survived the Oct. 7 attack. Others had their worst fears confirmed — that they would never again see siblings, mothers, fathers and children. Amid the joy of family reunions, hostages discovered they would have new pets waiting for them at home, or that they have no homes to return to. Or even hometowns.

Students Are Lawyering Up in the Wake of the Israel-Hamas War, CNN
Hafez is among the politically and ethnically diverse students across the country who are filing lawsuits in the wake of October 7. Some are invoking the Civil Rights Act, claiming their schools aren’t protecting them from religious discrimination. Others are suing third-party organizations. More are seeking legal advice for claims of stifled First Amendment rights.

In the West Bank, Release of Prisoners Deepens Support for Hamas, The New York Times
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and the elation over the prisoners’ release have deepened support for Hamas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Now, as many in the West Bank fear the war could spread to the occupied territory, some believe Hamas and other armed groups are the only ones they can trust to protect them. The Palestinian Authority is deeply unpopular in the West Bank and widely seen as a subcontractor to the Israeli occupation.

Jewish Democrats Rebuke GOP Bill to Expel Palestinians, Axios
A pair of Jewish House Democrats introduced a resolution on Tuesday condemning a Republican bill to expel Palestinians from the US. The resolution is being introduced by Reps. Greg Landsman (D-Ohio) and Dan Goldman (D-NY), both of whom are Jewish and steadfastly pro-Israel. The GOP bill, introduced by Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) with 10 Republican co-sponsors, would ban or revoke visas, refugee status and asylum for Palestinian Authority passport holders dating back to Oct 1, before the Hamas attack on Israel.

Opinion and Analysis

These Palestinian Boys Received Life-Saving Surgery in the US. An Israeli Airstrike Killed Them in Their Home, The Guardian
Rhana Natour shares, “Seven years ago, an NGO, a team of craniofacial surgeons and a community of host families in Shreveport, Louisiana, moved mountains to bring Farid and Qoosay Salout from Gaza to the US for medical treatment. The surgeries were a resounding success. But on 8 November 2023, 12-year-old Farid and Qoosay, 14, were killed in an Israeli airstrike. The trajectory of the Salout boys’ fight to save themselves from the ravages of a rare medical condition only to die a violent death is a portrait of the profound limitations of life in Gaza long before the war began and of the disproportionate toll the war has had on children.”

Why Netanyahu Loves Antisemites Like Elon Musk So Much, Haaretz
David Rothkopf writes, “One by one, Netanyahu and his courtiers have reached out to some of the world’s most prominent Jew-haters, offering them absolution for their sins and Israel’s official license to carry on. By taking Musk to the scene of the Hamas massacres, he is also expropriating Jewish suffering to whitewash his antisemitism and his promotion of other antisemites on his website. “I’ll overlook your hatred of the Jews if you bond with me on the basis of our mutual authoritarianism and racism,” is their message. And it has led to close ties with a vile club of the world’s most notorious antisemites including Putin, Orban, Musk, Erdogan, Trump and others.”

What American Jews Fear Most, The New York Times
Senator Chuck Schumer notes, “For many Jewish people today, the rise of antisemitism is more than a crisis — it’s a five-alarm fire. That’s why I feel compelled to speak out, especially considering the growing disparity between how Jewish people understand the rise of antisemitism, and how many of my non-Jewish friends regard it. While American Jews have always been wary of the hatemongers lurking on the edges of our society, we are proud to be American, because in this country, unlike so many others, our ancestors were able to put down roots and flourish.”

Why Arab Americans Don’t Want to Vote for Biden in 2024, The Washington Post
Shadi Hamid writes, “I reminded my sample of Arab Americans that Trump would be less sympathetic to Palestinians than Biden is. They said they understood the risk but needed some way to register their disgust. They mentioned Biden’s now-infamous remarks in which he questioned whether dead Palestinians were, in fact, dead. “I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” the president said. […] Stripped of dignity in this life, Palestinians would be denied it in death. It was rhetoric, perhaps, but it captured a decades-long frustration: American politicians on all sides seem either unwilling or unable to view Palestinians as full-fledged human beings.”