News Roundup for October 31, 2023

October 31, 2023
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J Street In the News

What a Lonely Time to Be a Jew in America, The Washington Post
Dana Milbank writes, “At the same time, Israel must hear from American Jews that we can’t tolerate the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza. I’d like to see the United States pursue a version of the solution to the crisis outlined by Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the liberal pro-Israel group J Street: support Israel’s military campaign to eliminate the threat posed by Hamas but couple this with a massive humanitarian relief campaign for the people of Gaza: water, food, electricity, fuel and real safe zones.”

Top News and Analysis

As Settler Violence Surges, West Bank Palestinians Fear New Displacement, The Washington Post
Settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank has reached record levels in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, according to rights groups, which warn that the radical settler movement is seeking to further entrench its presence across the occupied territory. B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights group, says at least seven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers since the war in Gaza began; more than 100 Palestinians in the West Bank have been killed by Israeli forces over the same time period, according to the United Nations. Some 500 Palestinians have been driven from their homes.

US Communicating With Israel at ‘The Highest Levels’ About Protecting Gaza Civilians but Quiet on Expanding War, CNN
The United States is communicating to the Israeli government “at the highest levels” the importance of protecting civilian lives in Gaza, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Sunday, even as he repeatedly declined to say whether Israel was going about its war the right way. “They’re the ones making decisions, they’re the ones conducting the operations,” Sullivan told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” declining to openly criticize any aspect of the new military effort.

‘You Think of Dying at Any Time’, The New York Times
Nayrouz Qarmout, a Palestinian author who lives in the Gaza Strip, recalled that during past wars with Israel, Gazans would feel extreme pangs of fear when they heard explosions, but afterward hope would return. Hope of cease-fires, and of life going on. But this war is different. Gaza residents say the bombs come mostly without warning and hit indiscriminately, leading to widespread hopelessness and the feeling that imminent death is inevitable. “You can’t imagine the feeling,” she said. “You are not safe. All places are targets, so you think of dying at any time.”

Kidnapped Israeli Soldier Is Rescued From Gaza in Overnight Operation, Returns Home, The Times of Israel
Security forces announced Monday evening that a soldier abducted by Hamas earlier this month had been rescued from the Gaza Strip in an overnight operation, the first captive taken in the terror group’s shock assault on October 7 to be freed by Israeli troops. In a joint statement, the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security agency said Pvt. Ori Megidish was in good condition and had reunited with her family.

An Israeli Ministry, in a ‘Concept Paper,’ Proposes Transferring Gaza Civilians to Egypt’s Sinai, AP
An Israeli government ministry has drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, drawing condemnation from the Palestinians and worsening tensions with Cairo. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise — a “concept paper.” But its conclusions deepened long-standing Egyptian fears that Israel wants to make Gaza into Egypt’s problem, and revived for Palestinians memories of their greatest trauma.

What Are Israel’s Tactics in Ground Invasion of Gaza?, Reuters
Israeli forces are moving slowly in their ground offensive in Gaza in part to keep open the possibility of drawing Hamas militants to negotiate the release of more than 200 hostages, military specialists consulted by Reuters said. The relative caution with which Israeli troops have taken and secured slices of territory in the first days of sustained ground incursions in Gaza stands in contrast to the past three weeks of unrelenting air strikes, as well as to Israel’s previous land offensives there.


Hamas Releases Video of Israeli Hostages in Gaza Demanding Netanyahu Agree to Prisoner Swap, CBS News
The Palestinian militant group Hamas, facing the mounting fury of the Israeli military’s ground and air attacks, released a short video clip Monday showing three of the more than 230 hostages Israel says the group seized during its bloody October 7 terror rampage. Sitting between two others, all apparently among those held in the Gaza Strip by Hamas, one of the three women issues an impassioned message directly to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, deriding him for failing to prevent Hamas’ attack and for failing to secure the release of the captives.

Gaza Receives Largest Aid Shipment So Far as Deaths Top 8,000 and Israel Widens Military Offensive, AP
Nearly three dozen trucks entered Gaza on Sunday in the largest aid convoy since the war between Israel and Hamas began, but humanitarian workers said the assistance still fell desperately short of needs after thousands of people broke into warehouses to take flour and basic hygiene products. The Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll among Palestinians passed 8,000, mostly women and minors.

US House Speaker Plans Vote This Week on Stand-Alone Israel Aid Bill, Reuters
Newly installed US House Speaker Mike Johnson said on Sunday he expects floor action this week to advance a funding bill to support Israel exclusively, even though President Joe Biden is pushing for a $106 billion aid package for Israel and Ukraine combined. “We’re going to move a stand-alone Israel funding bill this week in the House,” Johnson said in an interview on Fox News.

Settler-Soldier Militias Threaten Susiya With Death and Displacement, +972
Harassment and intimidation by Israeli settlers, often with a military escort, are hardly a new phenomenon for the Palestinians of Susiya, a small village in the Masafer Yatta region of the occupied West Bank. Since war began on October 7, however, we’re seeing an alarming escalation — and it is increasingly difficult to distinguish between settlers and soldiers. Throughout the past three weeks, settler-soldier militias have been raiding rural communities across the West Bank, assaulting Palestinian residents, and threatening them with more violence if they do not leave their homes.

US Working to Keep Gaza’s Phone, Internet Services Operational, Al-Monitor
Israel’s partial restoration of communications to the Gaza Strip came after the US government “made clear” that phone and internet services should resume in the besieged enclave, the State Department said Monday. Israel cut Gaza’s communications late Friday as the Israeli military stepped up its bombardment and ground operations in response to Hamas’ attacks on October 7 that left more than 1,400 dead in Israel. Aid groups and news outlets, including Al-Monitor, lost contact with their staff in Gaza.

Journalists Killed in the Israel-Gaza War: A Look at the Lives Lost, The Washington Post
At least 29 journalists have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war since October 7, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Sunday. Eight journalists have been injured, and nine are missing or detained. The majority of those killed, 24, were Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, where reporters face power and internet outages under an Israeli siege, as well as the loss of their offices, homes and family members.

Democratic Rifts Over Israel Burst to the Forefront in Congress, The New York Times
Israel’s war against Hamas is exposing deep divisions among Democrats in Congress, as the most outspoken supporters of the Jewish state and vocal pro-Palestinian members on the left trade accusations of bigotry and feud over what role the United States should play in the hostilities. The situation is expected to escalate this week as the House debates an emergency $14.3 billion spending bill to provide security assistance for Israel.

Off-Duty IDF Soldier Arrested on Suspicion of Shooting Dead Palestinian Olive Farmer, The Times of Israel
An off-duty IDF soldier was arrested by military police on Sunday on suspicion of shooting dead a Palestinian man who had reportedly been harvesting olives near the northern West Bank village of As-Sawiya on Saturday, October 28. The IDF said that “it is suspected that an IDF soldier on leave used his military weapon and fired it during the incident, causing the death of the Palestinian,” and that the soldier had been arrested on Sunday “for the purposes of the investigation.”

Opinion and Analysis

In War and Peace, the Fates of Israel and the Palestinians Are Inextricably Bound Together, The Los Angeles Times
J Street leader Daniel Bral writes, “Israelis won’t know peace so long as Palestinians don’t, and vice versa. Ignoring this inconvenient truth will only raise more embittered and radicalized children of war. Adhering to the pro-Israel/pro-Palestinian binary frustrates our ability to speak with intellectual honesty and moral clarity. Palestinian statehood will remain a pipe dream so long as liberation is sought through terrorism, or the constant threat of it. At the same time, we must acknowledge that the far-reaching tentacles of occupation are rapidly eroding Israel’s moral fabric, perpetuating the cycle of violence, and deluding us into believing that it’s possible for the state of Israel to remain Jewish and democratic without the establishment of the state of Palestine.”

Palestinians Recount Settler, Army Torture Amid Surge in West Bank Expulsions, +972
Oren Ziv shares, “The residents’ exodus began on October 11, after news arrived from the village of Qusra that settlers and soldiers had raided and together killed four Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy. The next morning, with military backing, settlers raided Wadi al-Siq, firing gunshots into the air and forcing out the remaining residents. The village now stands deserted, its school — built with European government funding — abandoned. “We were [on that land] for 45 years,” said Abdel Rahman Abu Basher, head of the community.”

Why Netanyahu Must Go, Foreign Affairs
Ami Ayalon, Gilead Sher, and Orni Petruschka argue, “As it works to defeat Hamas militarily, Israel must also work to define its long-term strategy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unfit to direct any part of this process—neither the war to defeat Hamas nor efforts to secure a more lasting peace. Israel must prioritize a larger political vision, not just for the sake of reducing tensions with nearby countries and avoiding engulfing its region in violence but for its own sake: to secure its future as the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people and to preserve its core values of freedom and justice—values it shares with the United States.”

If Not This, Then What Should Israel Do?, The New York Times
Vox senior correspondent Zack Beauchamp sits down with Ezra Klein to discuss the cost of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza, as well as alternative military and political responses to the October 7 attacks by Hamas. Beauchamp sets out to answer the questions: What should Israel do? What would be a moral response to Hamas’s savagery and to the very real need Israelis have for security?