News Roundup for November 3, 2023

November 3, 2023
Receive the roundup in your inbox every morning!

J Street In the News

Secretary Blinken’s Message to Netanyahu, J Street
“As the US prepares to provide Israel with a massive new package of military assistance, the secretary should insist that as part of their receipt and use of this aid, Israeli authorities must acknowledge, respect and adhere to the asks and guardrails set by the US government for its conduct in Gaza and the West Bank, and for post-war moves toward lasting conflict resolution. […] Ensuring that the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza are addressed and further calamity averted must be of the highest priority right now if there is to be any road forward in the longer run.”

Top News and Analysis

‘A Curse to Be a Parent in Gaza’: More Than 3,600 Palestinian Children Killed in Just 3 Weeks of War, AP
More than 3,600 Palestinian children were killed in the first 25 days of the war between Israel and Hamas, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry. They were hit by airstrikes, smashed by misfired rockets, burned by blasts and crushed by buildings, and among them were newborns and toddlers, avid readers, aspiring journalists and boys who thought they’d be safe in a church. Nearly half of the crowded strip’s 2.3 million inhabitants are under 18, and children account for 40% of those killed so far in the war.

Israeli Forces Surround Gaza City on Three Sides, Says IDF Chief, The Guardian
Israel forces have surrounded Gaza City on three sides and are operating inside the city, fighting in close quarters, their top military commander has said. In a televised statement, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, the Israel Defence Forces chief of staff, said: “[Israeli forces] are in the heart of northern Gaza, operating in Gaza City, surrounding it.”

Why Egypt’s Rafah Border Crossing Is Vital for Gaza’s Humanitarian Crisis, The Washington Post
This week, a group of foreign nationals and dual citizens have left Gaza for Egypt through the Rafah border crossing. The crossing also allowed for some injured Palestinians to enter Egypt for treatment as Gaza’s hospitals collapse. It has also provided the only route for aid convoys to enter Gaza. Since the first aid delivery reached Gaza nearly two weeks ago, trucks have brought medicine, food and a limited supply of drinking water. But humanitarian officials warn the aid is nowhere near enough.

Blinken Heads to Israel to Discuss Bibi’s Plans for Gaza After War, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken is traveling to Israel to discuss with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials their plans for Gaza after the war. Israel’s stated goal for its operation is “destroying” Hamas and securing the release of the hostages the militant group is holding in Gaza. But it’s unclear what Israel is planning for Gaza if it achieves its goal. “We’re focused on the day of; we also need to be focused on the day after,” Blinken told reporters ahead of his departure.

US House Passes $14.3 Billion Aid Package for Israel Despite Democratic Opposition, The Guardian
The US House of Representatives on Thursday passed a Republican plan to provide $14.3bn in aid to Israel as it fights Hamas, despite Democrats’ insistence it has no future in the Senate and the White House’s promise of a veto. The measure passed 226-196, largely along party lines, with most Republicans supporting the bill and most Democrats objecting. Biden has asked Congress to approve a broader $106bn emergency spending package including funding for Israel, Taiwan and Ukraine, as well as humanitarian aid.

Hamas Is Hoarding Vast Amounts of Fuel as Gaza Hospitals Run Low, US Officials Say, NBC News
As UN officials say hospitals in Gaza are running dangerously low on fuel, Hamas is maintaining a stockpile of more than 200,000 gallons of fuel for the rockets it fires into Israel and the generators that provide clean air and electricity to its network of underground tunnels, according to US officials, current and former Israeli officials and academics.

Israel Seeks International Legitimacy, but Time Is Running Out, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The sympathy that Israel experienced over the tragedy of Black Saturday seems to be dwindling rapidly. World media is horrified by the images coming out of Gaza. But a considerable part of the media doesn’t provide any context about Hamas’ murderousness, the deliberate use of Palestinian civilians as human shields and the weapon depots that enhance the destruction of every airstrike. The strikes and the casualties also have an effect on Palestinian public opinion. The impression in Gaza, even more than during the Gaza war of 2014, is that Israel has put all caution aside and is attacking in a fit of rage. Perhaps this will raise doubts on the Palestinian side about the war’s chances of success.”


Israel’s Army Plans to Recruit Settlers With No IDF Experience to Defend Ultra-orthodox West Bank Settlements, Haaretz
The IDF intends to recruit settlers who have not undergone military service and place them as regional defense militiamen in their area of residence. The recruits are expected to undergo accelerated basic training for three weeks, after which they will be armed and stationed in the settlements. The program is open to civilians between the ages of 27 to 50, who have not served in the military. Only ultra-Orthodox West Bank settlements are included in the list of localities that the candidates will secure.

Biden Calls for ‘Pause’ in Israel-Gaza Conflict to Get Hostages Out, ABC News
President Joe Biden said Wednesday night he believes there should be a “pause” in the Israel-Gaza conflict to get the hostages out after he was interrupted by a heckler at a campaign fundraiser, according to a pool report from the event. “I think we need a pause,” Biden told the heckler, who had interrupted a speech to call for a cease-fire in the conflict. The heckler asked what Biden meant by his comment and the president replied, “A pause means give time to get the [hostages] out. Give time.”

US Flying Drones Over Gaza in Search of Hostages, Reuters
The two US officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the US was flying intelligence-gathering drones over Gaza to assist with hostage location efforts. One of the officials said they had been carrying out the drone flights for over a week. US officials have said 10 Americans who remain unaccounted for may be among the more than 200 people taken as hostages into Gaza, where they are believed to be held in Hamas’ extensive tunnel network.

Videos Appear to Show Israeli Soldiers Abusing Bound and Blindfolded Palestinian Detainees, NBC News
Several videos have emerged on social media appearing to show Israeli troops abusing bound and blindfolded Palestinian detainees. Some of the footage, first noticed on the social media platform X on Tuesday and reviewed by NBC News, shows Palestinian detainees lying on the ground naked. In one video, a man is kicked in the stomach as he kneels, then spit on. In the most graphic scene, soldiers stand around a group of blindfolded Palestinian men whose hands are tied behind their backs. Most of the detainees are shirtless or naked. An Israeli soldier can be seen stomping on the head of one Palestinian man who is on his back, his bound hands covering his face.

Netanyahu Has Sidestepped Accountability for Failing to Prevent Hamas Attack, Instead Blaming Others, AP
A growing list of Israeli officials have accepted responsibility for failing to prevent Hamas’ brutal attack on Israeli communities during the October 7 incursion that triggered the current Israel-Hamas war. Conspicuously absent from that roll call is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Following the horrific assault, which saw the deadliest day for Israelis since the country was established 75 years ago, Netanyahu has repeatedly sidestepped accountability. He has instead blamed others, in what critics say shows a leader thinking more about his own political survival than soothing and steering a traumatized nation.

Strikes on South Gaza: BBC Verifies Attacks in Areas of ‘Safety’, BBC
To better understand the risk to civilians in south Gaza, BBC Verify has identified and analysed four specific instances of strikes in that region. We also looked at some of the warnings and evacuation instructions that were issued to Gazan civilians, including some advising them to move to certain areas in the south. Some of these warnings were accompanied by maps with arrows pointing to vaguely defined areas to move towards. Three strikes we examined hit within, or close to, those areas in the days after the warnings were issued.

Ministers Vote to Transfer Tax Funds to PA, Subtracting Money Designated for Gaza, The Times of Israel
The security cabinet voted late Thursday evening to transfer frozen tax funds to the Palestinian Authority but hold back those monies designated for Gaza, ending a standoff between government ministers. The move was backed by security chiefs and Washington who viewed the transfer of such funds as necessary to shore up the beleaguered PA’s position in the West Bank as a more moderate force against extremists.

Opinion and Analysis

A Tribute to Khalil, +972
On Monday, October 30, Khalil Abu Yahia, a past contributor to +972, was killed by an Israeli airstrike on the Gaza Strip. Here is a tribute to Khalil from his friend Sahar Vardi, an Israeli human rights and anti-militarism activist and occasional +972 contributor. Vardi writes, “He will no longer submit his PhD application — which, he told me during one of these conversations, he’d have worked on, even during all of this, if he’d had a little more electricity. He will no longer respond to me with an impossible combination of horror and optimism. He will no longer tell me how much he is waiting to meet me one day, when all this is over. The only thing he is still able to do is make me cry. And maybe one other thing: to remind us that this is why we are here, the human rights activists and freedom fighters. To struggle. To keep going. So that this won’t happen again to anyone.”

An Unarmed Teen Was Shot During a Cease-Fire. Israel Was Never Held to Account, The New York Times
Human rights lawyer Rabea Eghbariah writes, “On the afternoon of his 15th birthday, Attiya Nabaheen was walking home from his school in Gaza when an Israeli soldier shot him in the neck. It was November 2014, and Mr. Nabaheen was on his family’s land, situated about 500 meters from the militarized Green Line demarcating the Gaza Strip. The injury left Mr. Nabaheen permanently paralyzed and wheelchair bound for the rest of his life. […] I say Mr. Nabaheen was my client because last month I received word that he, along with 12 of his family members, 10 of them children, was killed in an Israeli airstrike on his family’s building the day after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. Mr. Nabaheen, who was 24 at the time of his death, had survived five major attacks on Gaza. This was the one that finally killed him.”

Amid the Mourning, Israel’s Settlement Enterprise Celebrates a Great Victory, Haaretz
Amira Hass shares, “Everything they used to do bit by bit and undercover – and then more openly and undisturbed – they’re now doing on steroids. The army has been trained to protect the settlers and thus neglected the communities near Gaza. And even now, the soldiers are accompanying the settlers on their raids – or even finishing the job for them. The soldiers too destroy buildings and crops, threaten, shoot, wound and kill. The settlement enterprise – which is based on the systematic destruction of Palestinian human and national rights and on viewing the Palestinians as inferior and superfluous – is celebrating its spectacular victory as we mourn and bereave.”

I Worked With Netanyahu. It’s Time for Him to Step Down, Foreign Policy
Former US Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer writes, “Benjamin Netanyahu’s days as prime minister of Israel are numbered. He can either accept responsibility for the political, intelligence, and operational failures that were evident on October 7, when Hamas massacred more than 1,400 Israelis—or he will be forced out by the commission of inquiry that will follow the war. He should leave now, while some small measure of respectability is intact. Netanyahu has served longer than any other Israeli leader, a reflection of his astute political skills and the image he created of himself as Mr. Security. Hamas burst this image in dramatic fashion, in a barbaric attack that will tear at Israel’s soul for many years to come.”