News Roundup for October 24, 2023

October 24, 2023
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Top News and Analysis

US Raises Concerns About Israel’s Plan of Action in Gaza, Officials Say, The New York Times
The Biden administration is concerned that Israel lacks achievable military objectives in Gaza, and that the Israel Defense Forces are not yet ready to launch a ground invasion with a plan that can work, senior administration officials said. In phone conversations with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has stressed the need for careful consideration of how Israeli forces might conduct a ground invasion of Gaza, where Hamas maintains intricate tunnel networks under densely populated areas.

2 More Hostages Held in Gaza are Freed, While Gaza Officials Say Death Toll Tops 5,000, NPR
The International Committee of the Red Cross said it has facilitated the release of two hostages held by Hamas in Gaza on Monday, amid a multinational effort to free the more than 200 people held captive in Gaza before Israel’s expected ground invasion. Israeli Public Broadcasting named the released Israelis as Nurit Yitzhak Cooper and Yocheved Lifshitz — around 80 and 85 years old respectively. Their husbands are reportedly still being held in Gaza.

Israel Hits Gaza With One of Deadliest Nights of Bombings So Far in War Against Hamas, The Guardian
At least 400 Palestinians were killed in Gaza in the last 24 hours, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, and 70 were killed overnight on Sunday in bombardments of the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp and streets close to two hospitals in Gaza City. Entire residential blocks across the strip have now been levelled, including in areas where Palestinians had been told by the Israel Defence Forces to seek refuge. Approximately half the strip’s housing stock, and much of the coastal exclave, is now covered in grey rubble dust.

West Bank Militancy Surges as Israel Steps Up Raids and Arrests, The Washington Post
Israel’s sweeping security measures in the West Bank are an extension of its war against Hamas in Gaza, an attempt to eliminate the militant group and permanently shift the balance of power in a conflict that has raged for decades. More than 1,400 people have been arrested and more than 90 have been killed in the West Bank over the last two weeks, according to Palestinian officials. Israel has said its “counterterrorism” operations will prevent Hamas from being able to launch another attack like its brutal assault on October 7. But many Palestinians and some analysts warn the measures could have the opposite effect.

Israel’s 16-year Blockade of Gaza Failed. Was It Really the Only Option?, Haaretz
Dahlia Scheindlin writes, “In the middle ground between the disaster of that Saturday and the large strategic misconceptions about Hamas lie 16 long years of Israel’s closure policy on the ground in Gaza. The lives of Palestinians in the impoverished, dense, youth-packed Gaza Strip were at the mercy of this closure, first implemented in June 2007 after Hamas took over the enclave. Since then, all aspects of life are affected by Israel’s control of access and movement. Moving through any Israeli crossing, access to land and sea, all entry and exit of goods – including of essential items – were severely restricted, or prohibited.”


85-year-old Israeli Grandmother Recounts Hamas Captivity, Says ‘Government Deserted Us’, Haaretz
Speaking with reporters at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv following her release from Hamas captivity, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz on Tuesday afternoon declared that she had “went through hell” during her two weeks as a hostage in the Gaza strip. Lifshitz was one of two women freed late on Monday, leaving around 220 hostages still in the hands of Hamas. She revealed Hamas’ Gaza tunnels, medical treatment, and recounted the violent kidnapping on October 7.

Palestinians in Gaza: ‘Survival Feels Uncertain’, Axios
Palestinians in Gaza tell Axios they are not certain they will survive this war as Israel intensifies its air raids and prepares for a ground invasion. More than 5,000 Palestinians have been killed since the Israel-Hamas war began, according to Gaza’s Ministry of Health of the Hamas-run government. The besieged enclave has been under heavy bombardment in the two weeks since Hamas militants killed 1,400 Israelis in the worst attack against Israel in decades.

Obama Urges Israel to Minimize Civilian Casualties in War with Hamas, The Washington Post
Ahead of an expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military, former president Barack Obama spoke out about the deadly conflict in the Middle East on Monday, reiterating that Israel has the right to defend itself against violence like the terrorist attacks inflicted by militant group Hamas while warning that any Israeli military strategy “that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire.”

Peace, a Forgotten Word, Renews its Claim in the Holy Land, The New York Times
A young Palestinian Israeli citizen committed to peace and killed by Islamist Hamas terrorists in the Jewish homeland, Awad Darawshe may appear to be an apt symbol of the utter defeat of the bridge-builders still committed to a peaceful settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, often marginalized, mocked as naïve and targeted as traitors, some of these stubborn advocates of peacemaking now see an opportunity, however remote, in the aftermath of Hamas’s slaughter of more than 1,400 Israelis.

Distribution of 300 Assault Rifles to West Bank Civilian Security Squads Underway, The Times of Israel
The Samaria Regional Council is in the process of distributing 300 assault rifles to civilian security squads in settlements in the northern West Bank, in coordination with the National Security Ministry and the IDF. Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan said he has raised “millions” of shekels from donors around the world to purchase the rifles.

Man Fires Gun Near Pro-Palestinian Rally Outside Chicago, Another Pepper-sprays Crowd, Police Say, AP
A group of about 200 pro-Palestinian protesters staged their own rally in Skokie, Illinois. A man reportedly drove his car into the group, got out and fired a shot before police said they took him into custody. A witness told the Chicago Sun-Times that the man’s car had been covered in Israeli flags, the newspaper reported. A man coming out of the banquet hall wearing an Israeli flag as a cape sprayed the crowd with pepper spray before he was arrested.

Israeli Expats Who Organized to Protest Netanyahu’s Government Are Now Mobilizing to ‘Save Israel’, New York Jewish Week
Originally, the activists gathered to protest against Prime Minister Netanyahu and his effort to weaken Israel’s judiciary, organizing protests and heckling Israeli officials when they visited the city. But after Hamas’ devastating attack on Israel, the activists quickly pivoted — repurposing their tools and connections to support Israel’s war effort, aid its vulnerable populations and advocate for the release of the hostages.

Opinion and Analysis

In Gaza, Israel Is Racing to the Moral Abyss, Haaretz
Michael Sfard shares, “For us Israelis, the 75 years of refugee status that we’ve imposed on millions of Palestinians, the 56 years of occupation that we’ve imposed on millions more, and the 16 years of siege that we’ve imposed on the millions of Palestinians in Gaza have eroded our moral principles. They have normalized a situation where there are people worth less. Much less.”

Jews You Disagree With Are Still Jews — Even if They Feel Differently About Israel, The Forward
Emily Tamkin writes, “I covered a protest by JVP and IfNotNow earlier on October 16 at the White House. I listened to the various speeches that were made there. A central message of the protest was, “our grief is not your weapon”; which makes the idea that those protesting were antisemites and/or not Jewish doubly offensive. To say that those assembled were not really Jewish was thus to imply that the Jews who were there, some of whom were mourning the loss of loved ones, were faking their grief. That theirs wasn’t really Jewish grief. That they weren’t really connected to what was happening as Jews. It was the equivalent of watching someone in pain be told that they weren’t really hurting.”

The Election that Led to Hamas Taking Over Gaza, The Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor notes, “Hamas never ended up steering the Palestinian democratic experiment. Western powers temporarily turned off the tap of aid to the Palestinian Authority; Israel clamped down on the Gaza Strip and detained dozens of Hamas officials, including elected legislators. The schism between Abbas and Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza exploded in a bloody set of battles that saw Hamas violently wrest full control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, allegedly after the Bush administration tried to foment an anti-Hamas putsch in the territory. What followed is the tragic course of the past decade.”