News Roundup for November 13, 2018

November 13, 2018

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J Street in the News

J Street Alarmed by Escalation Between Israel and Gaza Militants, J Street

“J Street is deeply concerned by the major escalation over the past 24 hours between Israel and militant groups in Gaza….At this time, our thoughts are with the residents of southern Israel, with the IDF forces working to keep them safe and with civilians on both sides of the divide. We fear that, as has been the case so many times in the past, civilians will be engulfed in a rapid escalation of violence — causing mass devastation and ending in a stalemate that will only set back Israel’s long-term security and exacerbate the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Gaza. We have seen time and again that armed conflict cannot resolve this crisis and provide the people of Israel and Gaza with the peace and security they need.It is frustrating and troubling that this new escalation of violence has come just as the parties were reportedly making major progress toward a diplomatic breakthrough. We urge all parties to take immediate steps to restore calm and return to this process. Members of the international community who have mediated between Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority must work swiftly to help put them back on track to a serious, substantive agreement that will ensure Israel’s security and provide much-needed humanitarian relief for Gaza.”

Top News and Analysis

Cost of Botched Gaza Spy Mission? Israel’s Back on Brink of War, The New York Times

David M. Halbfinger reports, “On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu assured Israelis weary of conflict with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that he was “doing everything I can in order to avoid an unnecessary war.” A day and a half later, Israel appeared to be on the brink of just that. After a botched intelligence mission by undercover commandos left seven Palestinian fighters dead, the militant group Hamas and other armed factions mounted an intense and escalating rocket and mortar barrage across much of southern Israel that continued into Tuesday morning. With air-raid sirens wailing from the Mediterranean to the Dead Sea, and after a Palestinian anti-tank missile blew up an Israeli bus, seriously wounding a 19-year-old soldier, Israel retaliated with airstrikes and tank fire that grew steadily more destructive.Israel hit scores of military posts and weapons caches across Gaza, and also leveled a Hamas television station, radio station and office building, and the group’s military intelligence headquarters. Another target, in a densely populated area, housed both Hamas military and intelligence forces and a kindergarten. It was the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza since their war in 2014.”

Analysis: What Was The IDF Doing In Gaza And Is A New War Brewing?, Jerusalem Post

Yaakov Katz writes, “An IDF operation deep inside the Gaza Strip, no matter how covert, carries with it tremendous risk. What exactly happened late Sunday night in southern Gaza is still shrouded in mystery, but from the little detail that the IDF has permitted for publication, it seems that something in the Israeli operation went wrong. In the days to come, Israel will face a number of challenges. One of the first will be explaining to the world why it sent troops into the Gaza Strip in the first place, especially with a cease-fire seemingly in place with the help of Qatar, which Israel permitted last week to transfer $15 million to Hamas. What was so important that Israel was willing to endanger the cease-fire for it? To answer that question, the IDF will have to provide some details about the operation. Was it carried out to gather intelligence, to kidnap someone, to sabotage something or to assassinate someone? The results of Sunday night’s operation won’t help Israel if the current round of violence escalates into a full-fledged war. Israel will be blamed for sparking the conflict.”

Confusion during Gaza op shows risk Netanyahu takes by not designating deputy, Times of Israel

Raoul Wootliff writes, “When initial details of the Gaza violence began to emerge late Sunday, with the prime minister out of the country, Netanyahu’s reported distrust of potential successors translated into questions and confusion over who was in charge of managing the developing security situation. ‘I shudder at thought that on the night when it was known in advance that such an operation was about to take place, the person in charge of the country, by the personal decision of the prime minister, was [Culture Minister] Miri Regev,’ wrote former prime minister Ehud Barak on Twitter Monday morning….Since coming to power in 2009, Netanyahu has never named a permanent designated deputy who would automatically take over leadership of the country if the prime minister were unexpectedly indisposed or removed from office by impeachment. Instead, each time he travels abroad or undergoes a medical procedure under sedation, Netanyahu names a different senior Likud minister as his temporary stand-in.”


Hamas warns of more rocket attacks amid Israel-Gaza fighting, Associated Press

Gaza militants fired dozens of rockets at southern Israel early on Tuesday, killing a man in a strike on a residential building, and warning they would escalate their attacks if Israel continues bombing targets in the Gaza Strip.

Egypt-UN team said set to visit Gaza, Israel to salvage ceasefire amid flareup, i24NEWS

Egypt is reportedly spearheading attempts to broker a ceasefire to end the major flareup which saw over 400 rockets and projectiles launched at Israeli cities and over 150 Israeli airstrikes in retaliation. A joint Egypt-UN delegation is said to be arriving on Wednesday for talks in Gaza and Israel in hopes of salvaging the threatened the peace process.

Thousands attend funeral for special forces officer killed in Gaza raid, Times of Israel

Thousands gathered Monday for the funeral of an IDF special forces senior officer who was killed overnight during a covert operation in the Gaza Strip that ran into trouble and culminated in a fierce exchange of fire with Palestinian gunmen.

Israel ‘Forced Into Military Action,’ White House says, Jerusalem Post
Hamas is “forcing” Israel into military action in Gaza with its rocket and mortar firings, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Jason Greenblatt, warned on Monday.

UN watchdog: Iran remains within nuclear deal restrictions amid new US sanctions, Hill

Iran has stayed within the limits set by the nuclear deal it reached in 2015, even as the United States has withdrawn from the deal, according to media reports.

Opinion and Analysis

Israel Must Prevent an Unnecessary War in Gaza, Haaretz

The Haaretz editorial board writes, “[Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] understands quite well that the clashes in Gaza are the result of despair, distress, poverty and the lack of an economic horizon. Therefore, the solution isn’t military, but political. Gaza residents need jobs, electricity for hospitals, fuel to operate factories, generous investments and an emergency plan for rapid reconstruction. Quite aside from the humanitarian aspect, both Israel’s security interests and quiet for communities near Gaza require the fulfillment of these conditions. In the short term, Israel must restrain its response and not get dragged into a large-scale military operation, which would cause unnecessary deaths on both sides while also wreaking destruction that would only make Gaza’s situation even more intolerable. Even though he is surrounded by far-right, war-mongering ministers, Netanyahu must filter out the background noise and insist on implementing what he said two days ago: ‘I’m doing everything I can to prevent an unnecessary war. Every war claims lives. I’m not afraid of a war if it’s necessary, but I’m trying to prevent one if it’s not necessary.’ A war with Gaza definitely isn’t necessary.”

Chronicle of Deaths Foretold, Nation
Eric Alterman writes, “What is most surprising about the mass murder at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and the pipe bombs sent to journalists, Democratic politicians, and the philanthropist George Soros is that we find it surprising at all. After all, both perpetrators were acting on messages they had repeatedly received from President Trump and his supporters in Congress and the media….[The] Jews of Squirrel Hill showed us another America and another Judaism as they marched in dignified protest of Trump. Ari Mahler, a nurse and one of three Jews who helped save Bowers’s life after he was shot by police, explained: ‘I didn’t see evil when I looked into [his] eyes. All I saw was a clear lack of depth, intelligence, and palpable amounts of confusion.’ Meanwhile, Jeffrey Myers, the Tree of Life rabbi, told Trump: ‘Mr. President, hate speech leads to hateful actions. Hate speech leads to what happened in my sanctuary.’ But Trump wasn’t listening. In one of his countless incendiary lies, he said afterward, ‘The fake news is creating violence’—no doubt encouraging his army of violent misfits to find new targets for their frustration, ignorance, and boundless hatred.”