News Roundup for November 9, 2023

November 9, 2023
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J Street In the News

J Street Welcomes Senators’ Important Questions to Biden on Israel-Hamas War, Supplemental Military Assistance, J Street
“As Congress weighs the administration’s supplemental aid request, it’s critical that they ask key questions about the Israeli government’s strategy and tactics as it confronts Hamas in Gaza,” said J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami. “It’s vital for the Biden Administration to detail exactly how they are working to enhance Israel’s security, uphold international law, free the hostages, support the protection of innocent civilians, and ensure that there is a realistic exit strategy and long-term vision for a more secure and peaceful post-war future.” J Street has made clear that as the US prepares to provide Israel with a massive new package of military assistance, the Biden Administration should insist that Israeli authorities acknowledge, respect and adhere to the asks and guardrails set by the US government for its conduct in Gaza and the West Bank, and support post-war moves toward lasting conflict resolution.

Top News and Analysis

Senate Democrats Challenge Biden on Israel, Seeking Assurances About Aid, The New York Times
A majority of the Senate Democratic caucus called on President Biden on Wednesday to defend his request for $14.3 billion in emergency military assistance for Israel, seeking assurances that the Jewish state has a viable plan for defeating Hamas and that the United States will not be funding actions that run afoul of international and US laws. In a letter to the president, 24 Democrats and two independents who caucus with them asked for details on how the administration planned to guarantee that Israel was properly mitigating civilian casualties in Gaza.

‘Nothing Is Left’: Thousands of Palestinians Flee South as Israel Steps up Gaza City Offensive, CNN
Thousands of Palestinians fled northern Gaza on Wednesday, traveling miles on foot through the battered enclave in a growing exodus prompted by Israel’s intensified ground and air campaign. Streams of people – women, children, the elderly and disabled – made their way down Salah Eddin Street, one of the two north-south highways in Gaza, along an evacuation corridor announced by the Israel Defense Forces. One teenage girl compared the mass movement to the “Nakba,” or catastrophe, the Arabic term for the expulsion of Palestinians from their towns during the founding of Israel.

IDF Captures Terror Stronghold as Troops Said Closing in on Shifa Hospital’s Hamas HQ, The Times of Israel
The Israeli Defense Force said its troops captured a major Hamas stronghold in west Jabaliya, just north of Gaza City, in the early hours of Thursday morning following 10 hours of fighting, as the military meanwhile pushed further into the heart of Gaza City where the terror group is believed to have its underground headquarters. The IDF said that Nahal Infantry Brigade troops battled Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives in the west Jabaliya stronghold known as Outpost 17, who were both “above ground and in an underground route in the area.”

A Broken Netanyahu Is Miscalculating Over Gaza, Former Israeli PM Says, Politico
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been “destroyed emotionally” by his massive failure on national security and is now miscalculating by preparing to take overall control of Gaza’s security for an “indefinite period” after Hamas has been crushed, according to former leader Ehud Olmert. In an interview with POLITICO, Olmert argued Netanyahu was in a state of “nervous breakdown,” as he sought to avoid being thrown out of office for failing to safeguard national security in the murderous Hamas attacks of October 7. […] “[Netanyahu] has shrunk. He’s destroyed emotionally, that’s for sure. I mean, something terrible happened to him. Bibi has been working all his life on the false pretense that he is Mr. Security. He’s Mr. Bullshit,” he said.

Israel Cannot Reoccupy Gaza at End of Conflict, Says Antony Blinken, The Guardian
Israel must not reoccupy Gaza, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said, adding however that Israel might control the territory for a transition period. The comments, made at the end of a G7 foreign ministers’ meeting in Japan, echoed White House remarks on Tuesday suggesting opposition to a long-term occupation of Gaza. The G7 called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict, and urged Israel to comply with humanitarian law, but did not say in its joint statement whether Israel was currently doing so.

‘Finish the Job’: At GOP Presidential Debate, Candidates Compete to Back Israel’s War on Hamas, Haaretz
Republican presidential contenders, not named Donald Trump, on Wednesday attempted to differentiate themselves from the pack, as well as the GOP front-runner, by highlighting their pro-Israel bona fides and how they would combat the domestic spillover of the October 7 attack and the subsequent Gaza war. The debate capped a banner few weeks for the Republican Jewish Coalition, which has consolidated its importance in the GOP as it aims to make its disagreements with Democrats on Israel one of the key differentiating points between the parties.

Behind Hamas’s Bloody Gambit to Create a ‘Permanent’ State of War, The New York Times
The Times reports, “But in the bloody arithmetic of Hamas’s leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation. Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel. It was necessary to “change the entire equation and not just have a clash,” Khalil al-Hayya, a member of Hamas’s top leadership body, told The New York Times in Doha, Qatar. “We succeeded in putting the Palestinian issue back on the table, and now no one in the region is experiencing calm,” he said.”

More Questions Than Answers as Israeli PM Netanyahu Seeks Security Control Over Gaza, Reuters
James Mackenzie writes, “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration this week that Israel would take control of security in Gaza for an indefinite period has added to uncertainty over the future of the besieged enclave, more than a month into the war. Israeli officials have since tried to make clear they do not intend to reoccupy Gaza, from which Israeli forces withdrew in 2005, but there has been no clarity on how to ensure security without maintaining a military presence in the territory.”


Israel and Hamas Nearly Struck a Deal to Free Up to 50 Hostages, The New York Times
Days before Israel launched its ground invasion of Gaza, it was closing in on a deal for Hamas to release up to 50 hostages in exchange for pausing the bombardment unleashed in response to the militants’ Oct. 7 attacks in Israel, according to Arab and Western officials with knowledge of the talks. But once Israel’s ground assault on Gaza got underway on Oct. 27, the negotiations came to an abrupt halt, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive negotiations. The talks resumed days later and are still underway.

PM Pans West Bank Attacks by ‘Handful of Extremists,’ Says They’re Not Representative, The Times of Israel
Netanyahu on Wednesday warned settlement mayors about a “tiny handful of extremists” carrying out violence against Palestinians that could lead to an escalation in the West Bank, amid concerns from Washington. But within hours of issuing that statement, his office issued an additional quote from the meeting with Israeli mayors of West Bank towns in which Netanyahu also told them, “I told President Biden that the accusations against the settlement movement are baseless.”

Emotions Are Running High at the White House as Some Aides’ Frustration With Israel Is Growing, CNN
Angst, unease and outrage are spreading through corners of the Biden administration as Israeli forces show no signs of letting up their relentless attacks inside Gaza and the civilian death toll – already in the thousands – continues to climb. One month into the Israel-Hamas war, some senior officials privately say there are aspects of Israel’s military operations they simply cannot stomach defending.

The Israel-Hamas War Has Not Quashed Their Compassion, Their Empathy, Their Hope, NPR
On the morning of October 7, Maoz Inon says a Hamas fighter launched a rocket-propelled grenade that directly hit his parents’ wooden house and killing his father and mother. And yet, amid this sea of grief that he’s cratered into, Inon says he feels no urge for revenge. And when he cries, somehow the tears aren’t for his parents. “I was crying, and I’m still crying, for all the innocent victims from both sides that will die,” he says. “And I’m crying for this 100 years of bloodshed, of cycle of death.” Inon says that this cycle can seem endless, but he has hope. “It seems like there is no solution,” he says, “but there is.”

UN Chief: Gaza Death Toll Suggests Israel’s Tactics Are ‘Clearly Wrong’, Politico
UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday said the death toll in Gaza amid Israel’s war with Hamas demonstrates something is wrong with Israel’s military operations. “There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” he said at the Reuters NEXT conference.

Why an American Nurse Who Got Out of Gaza Says She Would Go Back [Video], CNN
CNN’s Anderson Cooper speaks with Emily “Cali” Callahan, an American nurse activity manager with Doctors Without Borders, who shared her experience working with Palestinians in Gaza before returning to the US. Callahan routinely saw “children with just massive burns down their faces, down their necks, all over their limbs,” she said. Because the hospitals are so overwhelmed, she and other medical staff had to discharge the children “immediately” after seeing them. “They’re being discharged to these camps with no access to running water,” she said, describing one refugee camp with “50,000 people and four toilets.”

Several GOP Presidential Candidates Vow to Punish Colleges, Students Protesting Against Israel or for Hamas, CBS News
Multiple GOP candidates say they’d take punitive action, including canceling visas for international students who demonstrate in support of Hamas, or even more broadly, “anti-American and antisemitic foreigners at our colleges.” But the candidates have not offered details about how or whether they would distinguish international students who express support for the Palestinian people from those they claim have links to Hamas. Nor have they said what mechanism would be used to revoke student visas.

Far From Gaza, the War Between Israel and Hamas Upends Lives [Audio], NPR
NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly reports from the occupied West Bank on how Israeli military and settlers hassle Palestinian farmers as they try to pick their olive harvest. The report takes a dramatic turn. Kelly spends time talking with Ayoub Abuhejleh, a 54-year-old Palestinian man from a small town called Deir Istiya. Ever since the war began last month, Israeli soldiers and settlers have blocked him from his land where Abuhejleh planted olive trees, grapes and figs. Abuhejleh then offers to show Kelly and NPR reporters his land.

Democratic Lawmakers Want President Biden to Protect Palestinians in US From Being Forced Home, AP
Dozens of Democratic lawmakers are urging President Joe Biden to take steps to protect Palestinians in the United States as Israeli forces continue to fight Hamas militants inside Gaza City and thousands flee the area amid increasingly dire humanitarian circumstances. In a letter Wednesday to Biden, the Democrats call for enacting temporary protections for Palestinians through government programs that shield immigrants from returning to countries that are ravaged by natural disasters or war.

Four Former Arab Israeli Lawmakers Detained for Questioning by Police Over Plans for Anti-war Protest, Haaretz
The Israel Police detained Mohammed Barakeh, the chairman of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee in Israel, for questioning in Nazareth on Thursday in connection with plans to organize a protest there against the war in Gaza. They later questioned three former Arab Knesset members from the Balad party as well as the party’s director general.

Opinion and Analysis

The Line Between Gaza and America, The New Yorker
Rozina Ali shares, “Since early October, I’ve tried to capture fragments of life in Gaza from afar, largely through WhatsApp conversations with people there and with Palestinian Americans. It seemed that every other person knew someone who had died. Hossin Shaqur, an insurance broker who lives in Santa Barbara, California, was born in the Jabalia refugee camp, in northern Gaza, after his family was displaced in 1948 from a village that is now part of southern Israel. In 1967, some of the family moved to Qatar and eventually to the United States, but his sister, his nieces and nephews, his cousins, and his aunts and uncles remained in Jabalia. Since Israel’s bombing campaign began, Hossin told me, he has been able to confirm that nearly seventy of his relatives have been killed.”

Antisemitism Is a Problem. But Shuttering Speech Is No Solution, The New Republic
Eric Alterman writes, “Do some professors’ arguments and the rhetoric of campus protests over Israel make some Jewish students uncomfortable? They sure do, just as the opposite is true for many Arab students and those who identify with the Palestinians’ struggle for self-determination. But absent actual threats to students’ safety and explicit expressions of Jew-hatred (or Islamophobia), neither administrators nor, for goodness’ sake, donors, ought to have anything to say about what is taught in the classroom or said aloud in a peaceful protest. If freedom of expression is not safe on our college campuses, it is not safe anywhere.”

The Road Back From Hell, The New York Times
Daniel Levy writes, “Israel’s failure to offer detailed plans for postwar Gaza indicates the degree of dysfunction in Israeli thinking. The oft-stated Israeli leadership commitment to destroying Hamas ignores the reality of what that movement is. Hamas is both an armed group that uses terrorism and is a political movement that has won elections and has been governing Gaza for more than 15 years. It also embodies an idea — namely that resistance is part of the struggle for Palestinian liberation. Hamas is not an external, ISIS-style nihilistic cadre; it is deeply embedded in the fabric of Palestinian society. Its popularity surely increases not with a thirst for blood but rather as other avenues for achieving liberation are closed to Palestinians.”

‘Leave or Die:’ An Account From a Palestinian in the West Bank, Slate
This as-told-to essay is an account from Nasser Nawaj’ah – a West Bank resident and field researcher for B’Tselem, a human rights organization in Israel – of the ongoing attacks by Israeli settlers amid the war in Gaza. It’s been transcribed, translated from Arabic, and edited by Aymann Ismail. “Israeli authorities were here on Oct. 16 when a settler entered our village with a bulldozer. He used it to destroy and block the main road into Susya. […] For three weeks now, my village has been under a complete siege. We don’t have water or medical services and supplies. People are unable to get medicine. […] No children have been able to attend any of the schools in our area because of the settler terrorism and their closure of the roads.”