News Roundup for October 17, 2023

October 17, 2023
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J Street works to promote an open, honest and rigorous conversation about Israel. The opinions reflected in articles posted in the News Roundup do not necessarily reflect J Street’s positions, and their posting does not constitute an endorsement from J Street.

J Street In the News

Jews ‘Are Not the Only Targets,’ Chicago Jewish Leaders Say in Condemning Murder of Palestinian Child, The Forward
“Jews “are not the only ones being targeted in this moment,” read an online statement organized by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and several local Jewish Community Relations Councils. The statement was signed by more than two dozen Jewish organizations, including J Street, the Union for Reform Judaism and Jewish Women International. “Our Muslim, Arab, and Palestinian American neighbors are facing bigotry, threats, and violence,” the statement said, adding that “our communities’ safety and futures are inextricably linked” and calling on Jewish groups to “recommit ourselves to fighting hate in all its forms.”

Top News and Analysis

Biden Faces Risks in His Wartime Visit to Israel, The New York Times
President Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday to show solidarity with America’s closest ally in the Middle East, in a wartime trip to bolster the country’s resolve to eradicate Hamas but also to urge limits on what seems bound to be a casualty-filled ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. It will be a trip fraught with risks, both political and physical.

Israel Evacuates Citizens From Lebanon Border as Gaza Fighting Enters 11th Day, Haaretz
The Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry announced Monday that it will evacuate residents from 28 communities along the border with Lebanon, as the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip entered its 10th day on Monday. The merciless assault by Hamas on October 7 left over 1,300 Israelis slain and at least 3,968 wounded. At least 291 Israeli soldiers have been killed. In the Strip, where at least 2,778 Palestinians have reportedly been killed and 9,938 wounded since the war began, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are holding hostage more than 199 soldiers and civilians, including foreign nationals.

Blinken Urges Bibi to Allow Aid into Gaza to Maintain Wider Support for Invasion, Axios
Secretary of State Tony Blinken urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Monday to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza in order to maintain international support for the Israeli operation to dismantle Hamas, two Israeli officials said. The Israeli government has been reluctant to allow humanitarian aid to Gaza because it wants to put pressure on Hamas to release at least some of the 199 hostages it captured.

Biden Didn’t Make Israeli-Palestinian Talks a Priority. Arab Leaders Say Region Now Paying the Price, AP
Ellen Knickmeyer writes, “From its first months in office, the Biden administration made a distinctive decision on its Middle East policy: It would deprioritize a half-century of high-profile efforts by past US presidents, particularly Democratic ones, to broker a broad and lasting peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. Since Richard Nixon, successive US administrations have tried their hands at Camp David summits, shuttle diplomacy and other big-picture tries at coaxing Israeli and Palestinian leaders into talks to settle the disputes that underlie 75 years of Middle East tensions. More than other recent presidents, Joe Biden notably has not.”


UN Says Over 43% of Gaza Residents Now Displaced, as Rafah Talks Stall, Al Monitor
Gaza’s humanitarian situation has reached a “lethal low” according to UN experts as the water crisis deepens and the health sector collapses. The Hamas-Israel war entered its tenth day Monday while Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip despite pleas by rights organizations to protect civilians.

Confusion and Frustration Reign at Egypt-Gaza Border, The New York Times
Scores of people on Monday toted suitcases and garbage bags stuffed with what personal belongings they could carry to the only border crossing into Egypt, only to find the gates on the Gaza side closed and themselves stuck waiting on floundering diplomatic efforts.

Shin Bet Chief: We Were Unable to Thwart October 7 Onslaught, Responsibility is Mine, The Times of Israel
In a missive to members of the agency, Ronen Bar writes: “Despite a series of actions we carried out, unfortunately on Saturday we were unable to generate a sufficient warning that would allow the attack to be thwarted. As the one who heads the organization, the responsibility for this is mine,” Bar says. “There will be time for investigations. Now we are fighting.”

Hostages’ Families Group to Red Cross: Many of Almost 200 Israelis Held in Gaza in Severe Need of Medical Treatment, Haaretz
Many of the nearly 200 Israelis being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip are “in urgent need of treatment and lifesaving medication for injuries” and require “immediate humanitarian intervention,” an organization representing the families of the hostages informed the International Committee of the Red Cross on Sunday.

Americans Waiting to Evacuate Israel by Sea Hope for Safety and Respite, JTA
The US embassy announced the rare step late of Saturday, instructing Americans to get to the Haifa port by 9am Monday with a maximum of one piece of luggage, a carry-on and no pets. Passengers had to promise to pay back the as-yet-undetermined cost of the trip and where they went from Cyprus after the roughly 12-hour journey would be up to them.

Clashes Again Erupt on the Lebanon-Israel Border After Anti-tank Missile Fired from Lebanon, AP
Clashes erupted again Tuesday on the border between Lebanon and Israel, where Israeli forces and armed groups in Lebanon have engaged in a series of low-level skirmishes since the outbreak of the latest war in Gaza. An anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon landed in the town of Metula in northern Israel Tuesday morning, injuring three people.

For Gazan Workers Stranded in Israel, Being Apart from Family Is Agony, The Washington Post
Thousands of Gazan workers have sought refuge in the West Bank, where they’ve been taken in by Palestinian communities, uniting across political and geographic divides. The men interviewed by The Washington Post said they had lost touch with friends and family members working in the country and assumed they were in Israeli detention.

Opinion and Analysis

WHO Chief: Doctors and Patients Face Impossible Choices in Gaza, The New York Times
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus notes, “Israel’s order to empty 23 hospitals treating over 2,000 patients in Gaza presents health workers with a horrifying choice: Force those in their care to make a journey that for many will be their last or stay and treat their patients under the impending threat of bombardment. Health workers should never have to make choices like that, nor should they ever be targeted. Under international humanitarian law, all armed actors are obliged to proactively protect health facilities from intentional or collateral attack. But in this conflict, health facilities and health care have been struck repeatedly.

What Friends Owe Friends, Foreign Affairs
Richard Haass writes, “The case for the United States working to shape Israel’s response to the crisis and its aftermath rests not just on the reality that good if tough advice is what friends owe one another. The United States has interests in the Middle East and beyond that would not be well served by an Israeli invasion and occupation of Gaza nor by longer-term Israeli policies that offer no hope to Palestinians who reject violence. Such US aims are sure to make for difficult conversations and politics. But the alternative—a wider war and the indefinite continuation of an unsustainable status quo—would be far more difficult and dangerous.”

Violence and Settler Aggression in the First Week of the Gaza War, Peace Now
In its latest report, Peace Now shares, “Since the beginning of the week, there have been dozens of violent incidents by settlers against Palestinians across the West Bank. In the most severe incident in the village of Qusra (South of Nablus), four Palestinians were killed, and nine were injured after settlers entered the village and opened fire. Soldiers of the IDF were also present at the incident, and it is still not clear whether the deaths were caused by settler fire or by the IDF. The day after the incident, during the funeral of the victims, settlers called on people to come and stop the funeral procession.”