News Roundup for October 25, 2023

October 25, 2023
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J Street In the News

Israel’s Looming Ground Invasion, J Street
J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami writes, “We’ve also borne witness to immense destruction and suffering in Gaza. Families desperate to find shelter from air strikes, cut off from access to food, water, medicine and electricity. We are deeply concerned by the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe developing for its civilian population, and are pressing for American leadership to save lives and prevent further suffering. The days ahead pose challenging decisions for Israel and for the United States. There aren’t easy answers, or fully satisfactory ones. However, we must recognize that decisions made now – in the heat of the reaction to this horrific terror attack – will impact the safety and security of Israelis, Palestinians, the Middle East and the world for decades to come.”

Israel Must Maintain Its Democracy Despite War With Hamas, The Boston Globe
J Street Israel Director Nadav Tamir shares, “The winds of war brought with them social solidarity but also persecution and silencing, especially of Arab citizens, by treating all Palestinians as if they were supporters of Hamas. If victory over Hamas should come at the cost of the destruction of Israeli democracy, this will be a Pyrrhic victory. We Israelis as a society must not allow the enemies of democracy to achieve — under the auspices of war — what they sought to achieve earlier with legislation: The elimination of Israeli democracy. Expulsion of the Arab minority and its representatives from Israeli democracy would mean that the state of Israel would no longer be democratic.”

Top News and Analysis

‘Humanitarian Pause’ in Hamas-Israel War Is Urged to Aid Gaza Civilians, Reuters
The United Nations, United States and Canada appealed on Tuesday for a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war to allow safe deliveries of aid to civilians short of food, water, medicine and electricity in the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip. International pressure for unimpeded aid to Gaza rose as the health ministry in the Hamas-ruled coastal territory said Israeli air strikes had killed more than 700 Palestinians overnight.

Israel Launches 400 Strikes Across Gaza, Where Health Officials Say Hundreds of Palestinians Killed, AP
A barrage of Israeli airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday crushed multiple residential buildings and buried families under rubble, as health officials in the besieged territory reported hundreds killed in the past day and the closure of medical facilities because of bomb damage and a lack of power. The soaring death toll from Israel’s escalating bombardment is unprecedented in the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Intensive Talks Underway to Free a Larger Number of Hostages Held by Hamas but Major Obstacles Remain, CNN
Talks to secure the release of a large number of hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza are ongoing, two sources familiar with the matter and one western diplomat familiar with the discussions told CNN, but the negotiations are being complicated by a number of factors. The United States, Israel, Qatar, Egypt and Hamas are engaged in the ongoing deliberations. Four hostages – two American and two Israeli – have been freed so far. But the hope now is to reach a deal for a bigger group of hostages released at once.

Thoughts on Israel and Gaza, Medium
Barack Obama writes, “The world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire. Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes. The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”

The ‘Devil’s Playground’ of Urban Combat That Israel Is Preparing to Enter, The New York Times
Damien Cave shares, “Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to “demolish Hamas.” […] But Gaza, heavily urbanized, with Hamas deeply entrenched, is an especially complex battlefield. Concerned about the challenges ahead, the Biden administration has sent senior military officers to provide advice to the Israelis, based on their own experiences in Iraq, while pressing Israel to delay the invasion, to leave more time to negotiate the release of hostages taken by Hamas and to deliver more humanitarian aid. American officials worry that Israel lacks a plan with clear, achievable objectives that would prevent an enormous loss of life among Gaza’s more than two million Palestinian civilians.”


Gazans Forced to Drink Dirty, Salty Water as the Fuel Needed to Run Water Systems Runs Out, CNN
Israel has since allowed some water to flow through one of the three pipelines that run into Gaza, but experts say it covers only a tiny percentage of the enclave’s needs. Most of Gaza’s water comes from local sources – but the fuel required to pump and clean it is fast running out. As the water system collapses, some Gazans have been forced to drink dirty, salty water, sparking concerns of a health crisis and fears that people could start dying from dehydration.

‘Netanyahu Got All the Warnings,’ Says Former Head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Politico
Hamas’ massacre of more than 1,400 Israelis and kidnapping of over 200 others on October 7 was more than a national tragedy for Israel — it was also a massive intelligence failure. Aligned politically with the country’s center-left, former chief of Israeli military intelligence Amos Yadlin attributed much of the blame for the catastrophe to the national distraction of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s push to overhaul the country’s judiciary.

Rights Group Says Settlers Behind Over 100 Assaults on Palestinians Since October 7, The Times of Israel
Israeli settlers have committed over 100 assaults against Palestinians since the start of the war, according to the human rights NGO Yesh Din. The attacks have reportedly taken place in at least 62 different West Bank localities, and have caused the death of at least six Palestinians with live ammunition.

Israel Releases Graphic Video of Hamas Terror Attacks as Part of ‘Narrative Battle’ Over War in Gaza, CBS News
The IDF said it compiled the images from militants’ body cameras, victims’ dash cams and cellphones, security cameras at kibbutzim, and other sources. The IDF decided to share them, international spokesman Lt. Col. Richard Hecht said, as part of his country’s “narrative battle.” It comes as international criticism mounts over civilian casualties in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Gaza War Pushes Ideologically Opposed Israeli Groups to Work Together, Haaretz
Individuals and organizations from the opposing camp in their ideological war against the judicial overhaul, with whom they were exchanging angry insults only weeks ago, now actively choose to work with them for logistical cooperation and assistance. Their policy is to work with anyone willing to lend a hand and help them get things done, no matter their religious or political ideology.

Israel Steps up Raids and Deadly Strikes in Occupied West Bank [Video], PBS
Since the October 7 Hamas attacks, Israel has conducted increasingly violent raids across the West Bank daily, and now a rare sight in the West Bank and a major escalation, Israeli airstrikes. This weekend, the IDF struck this mosque in Jenin camp with an airstrike. Two people were killed. Israeli authorities say underneath it is a compound being used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad to plan attacks.

Palestinian Americans on the Israel-Hamas War: ‘We’re Not Even Allowed to Grieve’, NPR
According to human rights groups, Gaza is in the depths of a humanitarian crisis, a direct result of Israel’s bombing and “complete siege” of the enclave. To be Palestinian American in this context, Tariq Luthan says, is to feel erased – like the deaths of your people don’t matter. The dozen Palestinian Americans NPR talked to from around the US say they are mourning Gaza, while feeling completely abandoned by their country. On top of that, they fear rising anti-Palestinian sentiment and Islamophobia.

Journalist Casualties in the Israel-Gaza Conflict, Committee to Protect Journalists
The Israel-Gaza conflict has taken a severe toll on journalists since Hamas launched its unprecedented attack against Israel on October 7 and Israel declared war on the militant Palestinian group, launching strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip. CPJ is investigating all reports of journalists killed, injured, detained, or missing in the war, including those hurt as hostilities spread to neighboring Lebanon. As of October 24, CPJ’s preliminary investigations showed at least 24 journalists were among more than 6,000 dead on both sides.

Opinion and Analysis

With War in Israel, the Cancel Culture Debate Comes Full Circle, The New York Times
Michelle Goldberg writes, “Part of me shudders to view the unfolding catastrophe in Israel and Gaza through the provincial lens of America’s cancel culture debate. In some ways, that debate has now come full circle, because pro-Palestinian voices were being censored long before the phrase “cancel culture” existed, one reason the left was unwise in recent years to prevaricate about the value of free speech. But if someone as evenhanded as Thrall now finds his talks being dropped, we’re in an especially repressive period. And in a time of war, particularly a war shrouded in fiercely competing narratives, free speech is more important than ever.”

If We Survive the Bombs, What Will Remain of Our Lives?, +972
Mahmoud Mushtaha shares, “Our lives in our Gaza City neighborhood, Tal el-Hawa, have been shattered and buried beneath the debris of war. The situation across Gaza, and in particular in my neighborhood, is dire. Basic necessities have become scarce commodities. There is no water, no electricity, and no food. The grocery stores that once bustled with life now stand abandoned, and the scent of freshly baked bread has vanished with the closing of the bakeries due to the lack of fuel. […] As I went to the hospital to charge my laptop and mobile batteries, and sat in a dimly lit room to write this story, I couldn’t help but wonder if it might be the last I would ever write.”

In Fight Against Hamas, Israel Needs to Be Certain of Its ‘Big Ideas’, The Washington Post
David Ignatius notes, “How can Israel achieve its end goal of destroying Hamas but minimize the negatives? One top-level US military veteran offers this advice: Take it slow. Don’t fight block to block and house to house, which will increase casualties for Israeli soldiers and civilians, alike. Let intelligence be the driver of operations; then use drones and autonomous weapons, wherever possible, to strike targets. That was the approach the United States and its partners used against the Islamic State.”