News Roundup for November 6, 2023

November 6, 2023
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J Street In the News

Hamas Is the Enemy of Israelis and Palestinians, The Times of Israel
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir writes, “I believe that from this tragedy, a positive outcome can occur in the form of a turning point. Ultimately, the understanding that the existence of a sovereign Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel is an Israeli interest must be spread out around policy circles in Israel. Despite years of weakening the Palestinian Authority, it was and remains an important partner. Strengthening it and promoting a political solution that will also return it to rule Gaza must be a central component of the Israeli security concept.”

Top News and Analysis

Trapped in Hell: Palestinian Civilians Try to Survive in Northern Gaza, Focus of Israel’s Offensive, AP
Weeks after ordering northern Gaza’s 1.1 million inhabitants to evacuate south, the Israeli army is intensifying its bombardment of the area that stretches down toward the wetlands of Wadi Gaza, in the central strip. Israeli soldiers are also battling Hamas militants in close quarters just north of Gaza City — the start of what is expected to be a long and bloody ground invasion. Israel’s ground operation, under cover of heavy tank and artillery fire, has stranded hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who remain in northern Gaza. Residents say they are trapped in hell.

White House Frustrated by Israel’s Onslaught but Sees Few Options, The Washington Post
As Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza escalates, the Biden administration finds itself in a precarious position: Administration officials say Israel’s counterattack against Hamas has been too severe, too costly in civilian casualties, and lacking a coherent endgame, but they are unable to exert significant influence on America’s closest ally in the Middle East to change its course. US efforts to get Israel to scale back its counterattack in response to the Oct. 7 killings by Hamas that left at least 1,400 Israelis dead have failed or fallen short. The Biden administration urged Israel against a ground invasion, privately asked it to consider proportionality in its attacks, advocated a higher priority on avoiding civilian deaths, and called for a humanitarian pause — only for Israeli officials to dismiss or reject all of those suggestions.

Blinken in Israel: ‘We Need to Do More to Protect Palestinian Civilians’, CNN
In some of his most forceful comments to date, the top US diplomat said that “civilians should not suffer the consequences for (Hamas’) inhumanity and its brutality.” Still, Blinken continued to offer support for Israel’s “right” and “obligation” to defend itself after the brutal October 7 Hamas attacks. The top US diplomat, who appeared visibly shaken while speaking to the press, described seeing new graphic images and videos of the attacks, calling it “striking” and “shocking” that the brutality of the attack “has receded so quickly in the memories of so many.”

The Death Toll in Gaza Surpasses 10,000 as the Conflict Enters a Second Month, NPR
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has reached a gruesome milestone: More than 10,000 people have died in Gaza in the four weeks since the conflict began. On Monday, the Ministry of Health in Gaza reported more than 10,000 people killed — most of them women and children. This all started nearly one month ago, on Oct. 7, when Hamas attacked several communities in Israel, killing 1,400 people and kidnapping around 240 people.

Despite Israel’s Fierce Attacks, Hamas Leadership Maintains Control Over Gaza, Haaretz
Amos Harel writes, “The IDF has introduced large forces into the northern Strip, moving in large numbers of armored vehicles. This, in a war against guerilla forces hiding underground, provides the enemy many targets. Many of the confrontations are at the initiative of Hamas forces. When a ground force identifies an enemy nearby, it usually quickly calls in the air force to neutralize it, but there are costs to [the Israeli side] as well. For now, despite pressure exerted by the IDF, there is no apparent significant effect on Hamas command and control, which continues to function.”

What Happens to Gaza the Day After the War Ends?, The Guardian
Patrick Wintour writes, “When Antony Blinken arrived in the Middle East on his most recent visit, one of the US secretary of state’s aims was to lift some of the fog over what happens to Gaza in the war’s aftermath, but he is meeting resistance both from Israel and Arab states. Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said on Saturday at a press conference alongside Blinken: “What happens next? How can we even entertain what will happen in Gaza when we do not know what kind of Gaza will be left after this war is done? […] The tentative US proposal is for a reformed Palestinian Authority, dominated by the secularist Fatah, which administers the West Bank, to come back to Gaza. But this is rejected by Israel’s right.”

Four Bedouin Drove From Rahat to Evacuate Their Cousin in Be’Eri; They Rescued Dozens, The Times of Israel
Four Bedouin men from Rahat saved dozens of Israeli lives on October 7 while deployed by their uncle to evacuate his son Hisham from Kibbutz Be’eri. As described by Ismail Alqrinawi in an intense 7-minute video produced by the coexistence organization Have You Seen the Horizon Lately, his uncle pointed at his nephews at about 6:45 that Saturday morning and said, “You four, you’re going to bring back my boy.” They immediately got in a jeep and began what normally was a half-hour trip — but this one was amid the Hamas onslaught that killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, throughout the area and decimated the kibbutz’s population.


Families of Israel Hostages Fear the World Will Forget. So They’re Traveling to Be Living Reminders, AP
Israel’s overwhelming military bombardment of Gaza, families say, raises questions about whether destroying Hamas or rescuing hostages is more important — or whether the two aspirations are mutually exclusive. Many families are turning for help to other governments — Germany, France and the United States, for example — in an implicit acknowledgement that Israel is unable to secure their loved ones’ releases.

The Long Road to the Rafah Crossing and Out of Gaza, The Washington Post
The exit gate from Gaza into Egypt slammed shut again Saturday, leaving hundreds, if not thousands, of foreigners still waiting to leave the embattled enclave as Hamas demanded that more injured Palestinians be allowed to depart first. A border official with the Hamas-controlled Gaza government said that “no foreign passport holders” would leave until “wounded people from hospitals” in Gaza City and other areas in the north, where Israeli warplanes this week struck hospitals and ambulances, were evacuated.

Biden’s 2024 Team Roiled by Israel-Hamas War, Axios
Part of President Biden’s political team is in turmoil over the Israel-Hamas war, as some aides see the White House as abetting an immoral attack on Palestinians — while others believe Biden is showing “moral clarity” in protecting Israel from terrorists. The strife within the Democratic National Committee — which Biden is leaning on for his re-election campaign — reflects larger generational and political divisions among Democrats.

Israel Says It Hit an Ambulance Used by Hamas. Gaza Officials Say It Was Carrying the Wounded, NBC News
At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured in the strike, which unfolded outside Gaza City’s Al Shifa hospital, Palestinian health ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra said in a televised interview aired by Al Jazeera. The Palestine Red Crescent Society, a humanitarian organization, corroborated the information in a statement.

Blinken Shuttles From the West Bank to Iraq Trying to Contain the Fallout From the Israel-Hamas War, AP
Blinken took his diplomatic push on the Israel-Hamas war to the occupied West Bank on Sunday, trying to assure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that the Biden administration was intensifying efforts to ease the plight of Gaza’s civilians and insisting that Palestinians must have a main say in whatever comes next for the territory. Blinken later flew to Baghdad for talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani as American forces in the region face a surge of attacks by Iranian-allied militias in Iraq and elsewhere.

US Officials Fear American Guns Ordered by Israel Could Fuel West Bank Violence, The New York Times
An Israeli government request for 24,000 assault rifles from the United States is drawing scrutiny from American lawmakers and some State Department officials who fear the weapons might end up in the hands of settlers and civilian militias trying to force Palestinians from land in the West Bank, where violence has been surging, US officials say. The three proposed tranches of semiautomatic and automatic rifles are valued at $34 million and are being ordered directly from American gunmakers, but they require State Department approval and congressional notification.

UN Cites ‘Alarming’ Rise in Israeli Army Operations in West Bank, Reuters
The United Nations rights office on Friday described “alarming” conditions in the occupied West Bank, saying Israeli forces were increasingly using military tactics and weapons in law enforcement operations there. “While much attention has been on the (Hamas) attacks inside Israel and the escalation of hostilities in Gaza since the 7th of October, the situation in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is alarming and urgent,” said Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Thousands March in Capitals Around the World Demanding Cease-Fire in Israel-Hamas War, PBS
The marches reflected growing disquiet about the mounting civilian casualty toll and suffering from the Israel-Hamas war. Protesters, particularly in countries with large Muslim populations, including the US, UK and France, expressed disillusionment with their governments for supporting Israel while its bombardments of hospitals and residential areas in the Gaza strip intensify.

Opinion and Analysis

Losing Hope in the West Bank, The New York Times
Nicholas Kristof writes, “When I was a law student backpacking through the Middle East in 1982, I met two Palestinian university students on a local bus in the West Bank. […] I wrote their names in my address book, but we never made contact again — until now. After 41 years, I dug up my old address book and found their names. I wondered: Are they still alive? Have they moved abroad? At this grim moment, what do they think of Israel, Hamas and America? With the help of a local reporter, I was able to locate them: Saleh Molhem, now 63 and graying, and Mahmoud Qaraqei, now 60. One reason it was possible to track them down is that Palestinian refugees aren’t very mobile. Both were still living in the same refugee camp. They remembered me and invited me to pay another visit.”

As a Holocaust Survivor, I’m Saddened by the Israeli UN Envoy’s Disgrace, Haaretz
Colette Avital writes, “One morning this week I woke up to a surreal sight: The ambassador of the sovereign State of Israel at the UN Security Council wore a yellow star on his jacket, as did all the members of the Israeli delegation. Suddenly, everyone was a victim of the Nazis. UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan’s political patron, Benjamin Netanyahu, has excelled at stunts and gimmicks in his annual appearances at the UN General Assembly, and now the drive to emulate him has pushed aside any logic.”

As Gaza Death Toll Soars, Secrecy Shrouds Israel’s Targeting Process, The Washington Post
The Washington Post reports, “Since the conflict began, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have already been killed, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, as the IDF presses for the destruction of the Hamas militant group that rules the enclave. Although Israeli officials insist that each strike is subject to legal approval, experts say the rules of engagement, which are classified, appear to include a higher threshold for civilian casualties than in previous rounds of fighting.”