Israel, Palestine/Gaza August-October 2023

Written by  //  October 23, 2023  //  Geopolitics, Israel, Middle East & Arab World  //  Comments Off on Israel, Palestine/Gaza August-October 2023

Two years on, what is the state of the Abraham Accords? (14/09/22)
Hamas: Who are the group’s most prominent leaders?
More on Israel

A personal, non-partisan perspective on the Israel-Hamas war
Isaac Saul
To understand this war, we must understand the thousand-year history that led us here
People ask me all the time if I am “pro-Israel” because I am a Jew who has lived in Israel, and my answer is that being “pro-Israel” or being “pro-Palestine” or being a “Zionist” does not properly capture the nuance of thought most people do or should have about this issue. It certainly doesn’t capture mine.
Israel faces an ongoing constitutional crisis — without a constitution
Miriam Berger
Israel is on the verge of a constitutional crisis — in part because it doesn’t actually have a constitution.
(WaPo) For months, Jewish Israelis have been taking to the streets to protest Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to remake the country’s judiciary. …
Experts and scholars call this kind of conflict, a fundamental rift between branches of government over the function of the state, a “constitutional crisis” — but in Israel’s case, it is in a country without a constitution in the first place.
The crisis is rooted in the same unanswered questions about fundamental rights and governance that prevented Israel’s founders from formalizing such a document. In many democracies, a constitution codifies the structure of government and its fundamental legal principles. In practice, constitutions can: achieve near-unalterable status, as in the United States; be frequently rewritten, as in many other countries in the Western hemisphere; be used to justify authoritarian forms of rule; or come to be entirely disregarded.
Israel, Britain and New Zealand are outliers, as they do not have constitutions, said Hanna Lerner, the author of “Making Constitutions in Deeply Divided Societies.” The United Kingdom and New Zealand rely on common law, bodies of legal thinking and precedent developed over centuries, which serve a de facto constitutional role.
U.K. common law is considered so fundamental that it is interwoven in originalist interpretations of U.S. constitutional law. Israel, a far younger country, relies on Basic Laws with quasi-constitutional status, developed over the past 75 years. (12 July 2023)
Abraham Accords: Support for normalisation deals with Israel plummets in Gulf countries
Increasing Israeli hostility in occupied Palestinian territories and limited benefits of the Accords have resulted in declining popular support (31 July 2023)

18 October
Lessons from Gaza: Think before you Tweet
Matthew Kendrick
(GZERO) Hours before US President Joe Biden set off for his trip to Israel late Tuesday, social media erupted with videos purporting to show an aerial strike on the Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. The virtual battlelines formed immediately, with Hamas saying Israel had deliberately bombed the facility and killed 500 people.
Major media outlets published stories repeating the claims before Israel came out with its own version of events: A misfired terrorist rocket hit the hospital. Then came the rush to adjust those headlines and news alerts, but events had already moved well beyond their control.
Arab leaders canceled meetings with Biden, as people spilled into the streets of Beirut, Amman, Cairo, and other Middle Eastern cities following calls for a “day of rage.” Simultaneously, everyone on Twitter suddenly discovered newfound expertise on just how a guided bomb sounds as it falls or whether unburned rocket fuel could create such an explosion.
In the cold light of Wednesday morning, the story looked much different: Photographs of the blast site show a small shallow crater and around a dozen burned-out cars in the hospital parking lot. There’s only light visible damage to the hospital building itself. Gazan authorities still claim hundreds were killed, as many people were sheltering on the hospital campus.
Trouble is, the damage is done. The disinformation ruined Biden’s trip, upended the summit with Arab leaders that could have broken the humanitarian aid impasse, and deepened the divide over the war, both in and beyond the Holy Land. In another world, a successful summit might have saved thousands of lives by shortening the conflict or allowing food, fuel, medicine, and freshwater into Gaza. Instead, hearts are further hardened, and Israel is preparing a ground invasion.

23 October
How the Media Got the Hospital Explosion Wrong
(The Atlantic) … Rather than having been an Israeli attack on civilians, the balance of evidence suggests that it was a result of terrorists’ disregard for the lives of the people on whose behalf they claim to be fighting.
In the absence of major new facts pointing to a different conclusion, this means that the Palestinians who died at the hospital in Gaza should be added to the already grim death toll for which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad bear responsibility since the surprise attack on Israeli civilians.

22 October
Tasha Kheiriddin: Bibi feels the heat
Could the current conflict prove fatal to Bibi’s leadership? While his political obituary has been written before, and few expect Bibi to leave quietly, this time could prove different if Israeli losses mount and his unity coalition partners sense they would be better off without him.
(GZERO media) As Israel hammers targets in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, and Syria, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, aka Bibi, is getting blasted at home. On Saturday, thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, calling for him to quit, and some prominent Israelis are also calling for his resignation.
Former PM Ehud Barak told the Observer, “I don’t believe that the people trust Netanyahu to lead when he is under the burden of such a devastating event that just happened under his term.” Lt. Gen Dan Halutz, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces and commander of the Israeli Air Force, added that the embattled leader should “resign now, as we speak. There are better people to handle it.”
According to a new poll by the Maariv newspaper, 80% of Israelis believe Bibi should take public responsibility for the failures that led to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks. Worse yet for Bibi, 69% of his Likud party voters agree. When asked who is better suited to be prime minister, 49% picked National Unity party leader Benny Gantz versus 28% for Bibi, with the remainder undecided.

Pressure grows on Israel to negotiate release of Gaza hostages
Families given glimmer of hope by release of two US citizens, but fear time is running out before ground invasion
The pressure comes from inside and outside Israel. Many of the hostages were citizens or dual nationals of countries around the world, including Israel’s closest allies. At least some of the 10 US citizens still unaccounted for after the 7 October attack are believed to being held in Gaza. There are also 17 Thais among the hostages, and eight Germans. Seven British nationals and seven French citizens are still classified as missing, and some of them are believed to be hostages too.
Israel bombards Gaza, Lebanon as Netanyahu convenes war cabinet
(Reuters) Israeli forces raid Jalazone refugee camp in West Bank, two dead, says Palestinian health ministry
Biden, European leaders issue joint statement supporting Israel, calling to protect civilians
Second aid convoy reaches Gaza
Fears grow that Israel-Hamas conflict could expand as ground offensive looms

22 October
Documents found on fighters reveal Hamas capabilities, bloody plans
A Hamas field manual obtained by The Washington Post and other documents found in the wake of the group’s brutal attack on Israel two weeks ago illustrate some of its military capabilities and preparations for close-in, bloody killing.
The manual, dated last year and found on the body of a Hamas fighter, lists instructions on operating certain weapons, identifies vulnerabilities in Israeli military equipment and offers tips on killing with a knife.
Journalists killed in the Israel-Gaza war: A look at the lives lost
By Jennifer Hassan and Niha Masih
(WaPo) At least 23 journalists have been killed in the Israel-Gaza war since Oct. 7, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Sunday. Eight journalists have been injured, and three are missing or detained.
The majority of those killed, 19, 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. One Lebanese journalist and three Israelis were also killed, according to the press freedom group.

Heather Cox Richardson October 21, 2023
Today, a convoy of 20 trucks crossed into Gaza from Egypt to bring food, water, and hospital equipment. … Also today, Egypt held a hastily convened peace summit with leaders from Arab countries, Europe, Africa, and North America to figure out how to stop the violence in Gaza. While the parties were unable to agree on a statement, there was a broad consensus that Israel must abide by the laws of war, which prohibit making war on civilians. (Israel claims it honors this prohibition as it tries to eliminate Hamas and its infrastructure, and also to recover the hostages Hamas is holding. Hostage-taking is also prohibited by the rules of war.)

20 October
Hamas’s deadly “phantom”: the man behind the attacks
Muhammad Deif transformed the militant group from a cluster of terror cells into a force capable of invading Israel
(The Economist 1843) A few hours after Hamas slaughtered hundreds of civilians in Israel on October 7th, the man who planned the attacks made a rare public appearance. A video broadcast on Hamas’s media channel showed a silhouette of the group’s military leader, Muhammad Deif, as a pre-recorded statement played in the background. His deep voice was strangely measured as he announced an unleashing of terror that would claim more than 1,400 lives.
Hamas is an Islamist organisation, but there was scant mention of religion in Deif’s address. He called for “brothers in the Islamic resistance in Lebanon, Iran, Yemen, Iraq and Syria” to join the fight, but ended by appealing to the non-Muslim people of the world to stage protests. Then he was gone, leaving horror in his wake.
(See Hamas: Who are the group’s most prominent leaders?) and Who is Mohammed Deif, the Hamas commander behind the attack on Israel?)
David Leonhardt: Gaza and the Trudeau Problem
Canada’s accusations against India offer some insights into how the world might get some clarity about the Gaza explosion.
The explosion at a hospital in Gaza on Tuesday evening — the source of which remains unclear — hasn’t been the only international mystery in recent weeks. Last month, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, suggested that Indian government agents had helped murder a Canadian citizen near Vancouver in a political attack. The course that story took offers some insights into how the world might get some clarity about the Gaza explosion.

12-19 October
The explosion at a Gaza hospital
Isaac Saul
(Tangle) On social media, speculation about the blast was rampant, as few foreign correspondents or local reporters are on the ground in Gaza to provide accurate information. That Israel had been behind the strike was not hard to fathom, given that 15 hospitals in Gaza have already been damaged during the last two weeks, and Israel had warned several hospitals in Northern Gaza to evacuate — including al-Ahli.
Initial reports of the strike came after dark in Gaza, and as day broke, satellite images and drone footage revealed that the hospital — which was initially reported as “leveled” — was still standing.

Aerial photos reveal scene of Gaza hospital explosion — a charred parking lot
(National Post) The misfired rocket hit the parking lot outside the hospital. Were it an airstrike, there would have been a crater there, Israel said
Gaza hospital: What video, pictures and other evidence tell us about Al-Ahli hospital blast
BBC Verify is trying to unravel what is and isn’t known – looking at video footage, still imagery and other evidence, including eyewitness accounts. In addition, a BBC journalist has been to the blast site, where there is limited access.
New information is emerging all the time, so we will continue to update this article as we learn more and talk to experts about the evidence.
It is also important to note that as well as the physical fighting, this conflict is playing out as an information war. This is not the first time authorities in Israel and Gaza have given completely different accounts of an explosion. We are also looking at their various claims and statements.
Gaza hospital blast kills hundreds, wrecking Biden’s summit with Arabs
Biden arrives in Israel but summit with Arabs called off
Israel says lack of impact crater at site shows it is not to blame
Hospital doctor: ‘We don’t know what the shell is called but we saw the results of it when it targeted children and ripped their bodies into pieces.’
(Reuters) …after the hospital blast, Jordan cancelled the crucial second half of Biden’s itinerary: a planned summit in Amman with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to shore up aid to Gaza and avert wider war.
Biden Arrives in Israel as Region Reels From Hospital Explosion in Gaza
Anger across the Middle East over the blast poses a challenge for President Biden’s efforts to reduce tensions in the region and secure humanitarian aid for Gaza
Israel denies involvement in bombing of Gaza City hospital
The Israeli military says it had no involvement in an explosion that killed hundreds of people at a Gaza City hospital and that the blast was caused by a misfired Palestinian rocket.
At least 300 dead in Gaza hospital bombing, local authorities say
An Israeli air strike killed at least 300 people at a Gaza City hospital on Tuesday, authorities in the Palestinian enclave said, and the United Nations said an Israeli strike also hit one of its schools being used as a shelter.
The scenes of destruction from the hospital were horrific even by the standards of the past 12 days, which have confronted the world with relentless images, first of Israelis slaughtered in their homes and then of Palestinian families buried under rubble from Israel’s retaliatory strikes.
Rescue workers scoured blood-stained debris for survivors. A Gaza civil defence chief gave a death toll of 300, while health ministry sources put it at 500. Palestinian ministry spokesperson Ashraf Al-Qudra said rescuers were still pulling bodies from the rubble.
Richard Haass: What Friends Owe Friends
Why Washington Should Restrain Israeli Military Action in Gaza—and Preserve a Path to Peace
Is Israel acting within the laws of war?
The Economist Sunday newsletter
One story will continue to preoccupy newsrooms in the coming days. Israel’s government says that an invasion of the northern part of Gaza Strip is looming, once civilians–around 1m people–have fled southwards. Supposedly the goal is to eradicate Hamas, the group that runs the territory and conducted attacks that killed so many Israelis, mostly civilians, last week. No doubt the Israel Defence Forces can damage Hamas’s infrastructure. But the risks of urban fighting are high, and the chances of wiping out the group, I suspect, are slim indeed.
So many factors complicate what will come next. I had expected that, by now, there would have been more attention paid to the Israeli and other hostages who were kidnapped and taken into the strip. It may be that Israel has held its forces back as it makes efforts to find some of them. For the people in Gaza the risk of humanitarian calamity is growing. Food, water, electricity and other necessities are in short supply. Gazans are crowding into small urban areas in the south. With borders closed, civilians are trapped inside the territory. Might America prevail on Egypt to open up? Antony Blinken was in Egypt today, presumably making the case for it. In Israel, meanwhile, the risk of throwing military force into Gaza is magnified by dangers of an uprising in the West Bank or a renewed conflict with Hizbullah in Lebanon. Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister and defence minister, has harsh words for Binyamin Netanyahu and advice on how Israel should now prosecute its war against Hamas.

An invasion of Gaza would be a disaster for Israel
America must prevail on its ally to step back from the brink
By Marc Lynch
(Foreign Affairs) …this is precisely the time that Washington must be the cooler head and save Israel from itself. The impending invasion of Gaza will be a humanitarian, moral, and strategic catastrophe. It will not only badly harm Israel’s long-term security and inflict unfathomable human costs on Palestinians but also threaten core U.S. interests in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and in Washington’s competition with China over the Indo-Pacific order. Only the Biden administration—channeling the United States’ unique leverage and the White House’s demonstrated close support for Israeli security—can now stop Israel from making a disastrous mistake. Now that it has shown its sympathy with Israel, Washington must pivot toward demanding that its ally fully comply with the laws of war. It must insist that Israel find ways to take the fight to Hamas that do not entail the displacement and mass killing of innocent Palestinian civilians.
This Israeli response to the Hamas attack comes from public outrage and has thus far generated political plaudits from leaders at home and around the world. But there is little evidence that any of these politicians have given serious thought to the potential implications of a war in Gaza, in the West Bank, or in the broader region. Neither is there any sign of serious grappling with an endgame in Gaza once the fighting begins. Least of all is there any sign of thinking about the moral and legal implications of the collective punishment of Gazan civilians and the inevitable human devastation to come.
Gazans have nowhere to go. Even if Israel does succeed in toppling Hamas, it will then be faced with the challenge of governing the territory it abandoned in 2005 and then mercilessly blockaded and bombed in the intervening years. Gaza’s young population will not welcome the IDF as liberators. There will be no flowers and candy on offer. Israel’s best-case scenario is a protracted counterinsurgency in a uniquely hostile environment where it has a history of failure and in which people have nothing left to lose.
In a worst-case scenario, the conflict will not remain confined to Gaza. And unfortunately, such an expansion is likely. A protracted invasion of Gaza will generate tremendous pressures in the West Bank, which President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority may be unable—or, perhaps, unwilling—to contain. Over the last year, Israel’s relentless encroachment on West Bank land, and the violent provocations of the settlers, has already brought Palestinian anger and frustration to a boil. The Gaza invasion could push West Bank Palestinians over the edge.
Despite overwhelming Israeli anger at Netanyahu for his government’s nearly unprecedented strategic failure, opposition leader Benny Gantz has helped solve Netanyahu’s major political problems at no evident cost by joining a national unity war cabinet without the removal of the right-wing extremists Itamar Ben-Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich. This decision is significant because it suggests that the provocations in the West Bank and Jerusalem, which Ben-Gvir and Smotrich spearheaded last year, will only continue in this unsettled environment. In fact, it could accelerate, as the settler movement seeks to take advantage of the moment to attempt to annex some or all of the West Bank and displace its Palestinian residents. Nothing could be more dangerous.

Saudi Arabia puts Israel deal on ice amid war, engages with Iran: Report
The Saudi crown prince and Iranian president had their first phone call on Thursday to discuss the Israel-Gaza situation.

Israel Is Walking Into a Trap
Iran and Hamas are counting on Israel to attack Gaza with such ferocity that the international sympathy of the past week toward Israel, even in the Arab world, evaporates quickly and is replaced by outrage at the suffering inflicted on the 2 million residents of Gaza..
By Hussein Ibish
(The Atlantic) Hamas’s leaders and their Iranian backers have a conscious strategy. Like almost all other acts of spectacularly bloodthirsty terrorism, Hamas’s assault on southern Israel was designed to provoke an emotional and equally or even more outrageous response by the targeted society. Hamas and Iran are attempting to goad the Israelis into Gaza for a prolonged confrontation—which is to say that the intended effect is precisely the ground assault Israel is now preparing in order to root out and destroy Hamas as an organization, kill its cadres and leadership, and destroy as much of its infrastructure and equipment as possible. …
Hamas is attempting to seal the fate of Fatah, and maneuver to eventually take over the PLO and its international diplomatic presence, including United Nations observer-state status and embassies around the world. By taking the battle directly into Israel, claiming to be defending Muslim holy places in Jerusalem by branding the attack the “Al-Aqsa Deluge,” and hopefully breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza, Hamas seeks to belittle Fatah and demonstrate the primacy of its policy of unrestrained armed struggle over the PLO’s careful diplomacy. …
Israel appears poised to fulfill Hamas’s intentions. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed retaliation that will “reverberate for generations” among Israel’s adversaries. The Israeli general Ghassan Aliyan warned, “You wanted hell—you will get hell.” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant declared, “We are fighting human animals, and we act accordingly.” None of these speakers made any effort to distinguish between Hamas militants and the 2 million Palestinian civilians in Gaza. The “human animals” comment is telling. For decades, and especially in recent years, the people of Gaza have indeed been treated like animals. Perhaps not surprisingly, guerrillas emerging from their ranks indeed acted like animals when they attacked southern Israel. So now Israel will triple down on the dehumanization and collective punishment of all of these “human animals.” Tehran couldn’t ask for more.
Netanyahu’s failed Gaza strategy
Gabrielle Debinski
(GZERO) Netanyahu…has sought to bolster Hamas in the Gaza Strip to weaken its rival, the Palestinian Authority, which controls parts of the West Bank.
As long as the secular nationalist PA remains feeble under octogenarian President Mahmoud Abbas, the thinking went, Bibi and his right-wing governments could avoid having real conversations about Palestinian statehood. … Israel was willing to tolerate rocket attacks and semi-regular military flare ups with Hamas and other terror outfits. But Saturday’s massacre has shown this to be an abject policy failure.
Palestinians flee northern Gaza after Israel orders 1 million to evacuate as ground attack looms
Palestinians began a mass exodus Friday from northern Gaza after Israel’s military told some 1 million people to evacuate toward the southern part of the besieged territory.
The U.N. warned that ordering almost half the Gaza population to flee en masse would be calamitous, and it urged Israel to reverse the unprecedented directive. As airstrikes hammered the territory throughout the day, families in cars, trucks and donkey carts packed with possessions streamed down a main road out of Gaza City.
1.1M Gazans should evacuate south within 24 hours, Israel tells U.N.
Just before midnight local time, the Israeli military told the United Nations that all 1.1 million people who live north of Wadi Gaza should evacuate to the south within 24 hours, Stéphane Dujarric, spokesman for the U.N. secretary general, said in a statement. The United Nations considers “it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences,” Dujarric said.
How to talk about Israel
Evan Solomon
… How does one talk about all this without succumbing to both-sidesism, or simply just taking a side and forgetting the context? The danger of descending into an oversimplified binary view of good and evil diminishes understanding. That doesn’t help. In a war, just acknowledging victims in Israel and Gaza can be politically divisive. There are deeply divisive, historical, religious political views tied up in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, and it is hard to disentangle them without offending one side or another.
Still, it is possible to condemn the horrifying, criminal carnage of Hamas – an annihilationist terror group whose very charter openly advocates for the destruction and erasure of Israel – while still maintaining critical views of Israeli policy on Gaza and the West Bank. This happens in Israel every day, let alone outside of it. One position does not diminish the other.
For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has now stitched together a wartime “unity” government, is hardly on firm political ground. He will be held accountable for the failure of intelligence and also for his divisive attempts to undermine the judicial system. He will face a political reckoning. In some Israeli newspapers, there are calls for his resignation, but that is not going to happen now. The country is at war, and those domestic political questions are, for the moment, on the back burner.
On the other hand, though there is a desperate need to find a peaceful, two-state solution, any calls for an immediate ceasefire from critics of Israel are naïve and would reward Hamas for its bloody actions, emboldening terrorists around the world. Where there is a crime there must be a punishment. But what does that punishment look like?
… The US is already playing a critical role both as a supporter of Israel and in working the region to avoid a wider war. … Canada has significantly less influence, but Canada’s former attorney general and famed human rights activist Irwin Cotler argues that Canada has a legal duty to lead the hostage release movement, using the Canadian-led Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State relations as a framework. Hamas is not a formal state and doesn’t recognize Israel, but Cotler argues that the state backers of Hamas – Iran and Qatar – should be the key players here at the table, and Canada should convene a way to arbitrate this.
In a time of deep distrust, convening powers matters, but it is, at best, a long shot. Canada’s influence in the region is not what it once was, in say, the Suez crisis. Still, this is how influence is built, and establishing legal frameworks to solve a crisis is the only way forward.

Israel says it will end Hamas rule in Gaza as casualties soar
(WaPo) Israeli leaders are foreshadowing a ground invasion aimed at permanently changing the status quo — in marked contrast with past incursions that left Hamas in place.
Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces, said in a televised briefing Thursday that Israel would no longer allow Hamas to exist as an entity next door.
“Unlike other operations, we are collapsing the governance and sovereignty of the Hamas organization,” he said. Israel has mobilized 360,000 reservists in recent days, and armored divisions are massing near the border with Gaza.

The Hamas horror is also a lesson on the price of populism
By Yuval Noah Harari
(WaPo) The real explanation for Israel’s dysfunction is populism rather than any alleged immorality. For many years, Israel has been governed by a populist strongman, Benjamin Netanyahu, who is a public-relations genius but an incompetent prime minister. He has repeatedly preferred his personal interests over the national interest and has built his career on dividing the nation against itself. He has appointed people to key positions based on loyalty more than qualifications, took credit for every success while never taking responsibility for failures, and seemed to give little importance to either telling or hearing the truth.

10 October
Children found ‘butchered’ in Israeli kibbutz, IDF says, as horror of Hamas’ attacks near border begins to emerge
(CNN) At least 1,200 people have died in Israel since the conflict erupted, IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said in an update on Wednesday.
Israel has retaliated by pounding Gaza with a relentless aerial campaign that has flattened homes, schools, medical institutions and government buildings in the besieged strip.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,055, with a further 5,184 people injured, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Netanyahu sets up emergency Israeli unity government and war cabinet
Troop buildup continues in preparation for expected ground invasion of Gaza as pressure grows for humanitarian corridors
Benny Gantz, a senior opposition figure and former defence minister, joined the government for the duration of the conflict.
Netanyahu, Gantz and Yoav Gallant, the defence minister, are forming a “war cabinet” as Israeli troops continued to build in the south of the country in preparation for an expected ground invasion.
Netanyahu’s extreme rightwing coalition partners will continue to serve in the government. The country’s chief opposition leader, Yair Lapid, was invited to join the new cabinet but did not immediately respond to the offer.

UN says 9 staffers killed in Israeli strikes in Gaza
(Times of Israel) The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees [UNRWA] tells AP that nine of its staffers have been killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since Saturday, with several killed late yesterday.
Juliette Touma, director of communications of the agency …says the strikes killed the UN staffers at their homes across the territory. She also says that 18 UNRWA schools-turned-shelters were damaged in the bombing and that its headquarters in Gaza City was also damaged, without causing casualties.

8-10 October
As War Rages, Netanyahu Battles for Reputation and Legacy
The horrors committed by Hamas on Israeli civilians are all but certain to mark Benjamin Netanyahu’s legacy no matter the outcome of the war.
Steven Erlanger, a former NYT Jerusalem bureau chief, reporting from Jerusalem.
The Hamas breakout from Gaza and incursion into Israel proper, killing hundreds of civilians as well as soldiers, is all but certain to mark Mr. Netanyahu’s legacy no matter the outcome of the fierce war he now promises against Hamas.
On Tuesday, under pressure to do so, Mr. Netanyahu struggled to try to negotiate a unity government that included some of his main rivals, most of them experienced military officers. But disagreements continued over their demands for a smaller security cabinet to administer the war, which would sideline some of Mr. Netanyahu’s most controversial ministers.

How Hamas duped Israel as it planned devastating attack
By Samia Nakhoul and Jonathan Saul
Hamas gave impression economy was in focus, says source
Even in plain sight, Hamas trained for attack, says source
Israel misread training as posturing, source adds
‘This is our 9/11,’ says army spokesman, ‘They got us.’
(Reuters) – A careful campaign of deception ensured Israel was caught off guard when the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas launched its devastating attack, enabling a force using bulldozers, hang gliders and motorbikes to take on the Middle East’s most powerful army.

An aerial photo shows heavily damaged buildings following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City on 10 October. Belal Al Sabbagh/AFP via Getty Images

Palestinians scramble for safety as Israel pounds sealed-off Gaza Strip to punish Hamas
(AP) — Israeli warplanes hammered the Gaza Strip neighborhood by neighborhood Tuesday, reducing buildings to rubble and sending people scrambling to find safety in the tiny, sealed-off territory now suffering severe retaliation for the deadly weekend attack by Hamas militants.
Humanitarian groups pleaded for the creation of corridors to get aid into Gaza and warned that hospitals overwhelmed with wounded people were running out of supplies. Israel has stopped entry of food, fuel and medicines into Gaza, and the sole remaining access from Egypt shut down Tuesday after airstrikes hit near the border crossing.

Anne Applebaum: There Are No Rules
States and quasi-states are using extreme, uninhibited violence against civilian populations.
(The Atlantic) … Hamas is not a sovereign state, but it has the full backing of Iran, a sovereign state, and funding from Qatar, a sovereign state. Since 2006, Hamas has also been the de facto ruling party in Gaza, a self-governing territory since the Israeli withdrawal in 2005. Nevertheless Hamas does not see itself as part of any kind of order. On Saturday, Hamas launched what appears to have been a well-planned, well-organized attack, designed to spread civilian terror and create chaos. Hamas deployed missiles and drones, including kamikaze drones of the kind used now in Russia and Ukraine, as well as teams of men with guns. Although they hit a few military outposts, they also murdered more than 200 people at a music festival, chased down children and the elderly, and in some towns went from house to house looking for people to murder. They abducted young women, beat them unconscious, and dragged them across the border, a war crime that is as old as Homer’s Iliad.
The Hamas terrorists paid no attention to any modern laws of war, or any norms of any kind: Like the Russians, Hamas and its Iranian backers (who are also Russian allies) run nihilistic regimes whose goal is to undo whatever remains of the rules-based world order, and to put anarchy in its place. They did not hide their war crimes. Instead, they filmed them and circulated the videos online. Their goal was not to gain territory or engage an army, but rather to create misery and anger. Which they have—and not only in Israel. Hamas had to have anticipated a massive retaliation in Gaza, and indeed that retaliation has begun. As a result, hundreds if not thousands of Palestinian civilians will now be victims too.

On GPS: ‘Do we have the right to struggle for freedom?’
Palestinian National Initiative leader Mustafa Barghouti tells Fareed that Hamas’s attack on Israel was a response to the Israeli occupation, and that Palestinians, like Ukrainians, are fighting for their freedom.
“We should all have equal life, we should have all peace, we should all have justice, and we should live in dignity,” said Dr. Mustafa Barghouti. “The main way to achieve that is to end occupation, end the system of apartheid.”
(Common Dreams) Palestinian human rights advocates and historians called an interview broadcast on CNN late Sunday a “must-watch” for anyone seeking the broader context for the violence that erupted over the weekend, as Palestinian politician and advocate Dr. Mustafa Barghouti told anchor Fareed Zakaria that the surprise attack by Hamas followed decades of occupation and apartheid as well as the killings of thousands of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces in recent years.
Zakaria introduced Barghouti by saying that the political leader of Hamas “has blamed the violence squarely on Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land,” adding Barghouti would provide “another Palestinian viewpoint” for viewers of “Fareed Zakaria GPS.”

Hamas’s Attack Confounds Middle East Experts
Even those who understand the fundamentalist group best are struggling to understand what they are trying to achieve.
By Isabel Fattal
(The Atlantic) What Is Hamas?
Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist group formed in 1987 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has controlled the Gaza Strip since it won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006—the last time elections were held in Gaza.
Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the European Union, Canada, Egypt, and Japan.
Key to understanding Hamas is the fact that its goals and those of the Gazan people are not necessarily in alignment. The Gazan people live under an Israeli blockade, backed by Egypt, that severely restricts the movement of goods and people in and out of the region; under Hamas rule, Gazans have reported repression and arbitrary arrests, and Human Rights Watch has chronicled what it calls systemic abuse on the part of Hamas in Gaza. In recent years, Gazan citizens have shown growing discontent with Hamas’s policies.
… [historian Arash] Azizi also reminded me that when Gaza held its last election, in 2006, only 44 percent of Palestinians voted for Hamas: “It won the election by a plurality, not a majority.” Right now, Azizi argued, Hamas is likely more popular in the West Bank than it is in Gaza; “it’s the force that has been fighting Israel, the country that has been putting Gaza under siege, but at the same time, people of Gaza look at Hamas and see a corrupt ruling authority.”

Israel strikes and seals off Gaza after incursion by Hamas, which vows to execute hostages
(AP) Israel increased airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and sealed it off from food, fuel, and other supplies in retaliation for a bloody incursion by Hamas militants, as the war’s death toll rose to nearly 1,600 on both sides. Hamas also escalated on Monday, pledging to kill captured Israelis if attacks targeted civilians without warnings. Read More.

Gwynne Dyer: Another October War
Hamas doesn’t care if 10 Palestinians die for every Israeli in the conflict (which is what will happen because Israel’s weapons are vastly superior and the fighting will occur in densely populated civilian areas). The dead Palestinians will all be martyrs and their deaths will freeze Israel’s peace initiatives with other Arab countries.
If you are wondering why Hamas launched its all-out assault on Israel on Oct. 7, I explained it in my last column: “The Arab world has basically abandoned the Palestinians to their fate, whatever that may be. Six Arab countries have established diplomatic ties with Israel and several more, including Saudi Arabia, are on the brink of doing so.
The attack is not “all-out” in the sense that Hamas expects to win, of course. It doesn’t even expect a seat at the negotiating table. But Hamas’ leaders desperately want to recover the de facto veto that Palestinians once had on the concessions other Arabs make to Israel — and this is the only way they might get it.
The “mighty vengeance” that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promises to rain down on the Gaza Strip is exactly what Hamas actually wants, and the mightier the better. The whole point is to get the Israelis to send its soldiers in on the ground because that’s when the casualties start going up steeply.
Five Observations About the War in Israel
Big questions from Atlantic writers to help illuminate the latest
– Israel didn’t see this coming.
– The role of Hamas’s backers in the Middle East is still unknown.
– Negotiations with Saudi Arabia and Israel will most likely stall.
– The U.S. will need to start rationing its weaponry.
– This could be a Pyrrhic victory for Hamas.
UN Security Council meets on Gaza-Israel, but fails to agree on statement
US pushes for harsh condemnation of Hamas but fails to achieve the consensus necessary
Israel pounds Gaza, amasses 100,000 reserve troops for Hamas war
Palestinian fighters battle Israeli military in several areas of southern Israel as regional tensions grow.

  • Israel declares a “state of war” as fierce fighting continues in several areas across southern Israel a day after Hamas’s surprise attack.
  • Hezbollah claims responsibility for mortar strikes from Lebanon into the occupied Shebaa Farms; Israel says it has responded with artillery strikes.

Hamas’s Attack Confounds Middle East Experts
Even those who understand the fundamentalist group best are struggling to understand what they are trying to achieve.
By Isabel Fattal
(The Atlantic) Israel is at war, and has ordered a complete siege of Gaza after Hamas’s surprise attack on Saturday. Hamas is holding at least 150 hostages, and more than 900 Israelis and more than 600 Palestinians have been killed.
What Is Hamas?
Hamas, an Islamist fundamentalist group formed in 1987 as an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, has controlled the Gaza Strip since it won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006—the last time elections were held in Gaza. These elections took place a year after Israel withdrew its soldiers and settlers from Gaza. In 2007, Hamas ousted its rival political party, Fatah, from the strip during a military conflict within Gaza. Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, the European Union, Canada, Egypt, and Japan.

Patrick Lane, Deputy digital editor, The Economist:
“Israel’s retaliation has been swift: air strikes on Gaza have killed at least 313 Palestinians and a much larger operation is planned for the coming days. Israel’s troops are still striving to drive militant fighters out of areas seized by Hamas. How or how soon this latest war will end no one can tell. As our leader published today says, Hamas must be made to pay for its atrocities. But it is also clear that Binyamin Netanyahu’s long-pursued policy of ignoring Palestinians’ aspirations to sovereignty is in tatters”

A masterfully balanced summary of the situation. HCR writes “the wording is as careful as I could manage, because the point was not to push a position but to make sure we can all understand which pieces are moving on the chessboard.”
Heather Cox Richardson: October 7, 2023
… There are serious questions about how the Netanyahu government did not see this attack coming. It was either a spectacular intelligence failure or a security failure or both, and it strikes at the heart of the Netanyahu government’s promise to keep the country safe. At the same time, the attack is making Israelis rally together. The hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been protesting Netanyahu’s strengthening hold on the government have said they would come together in this dangerous moment.
A number of countries, including the U.S., have designated Hamas a terrorist organization. It is backed by Iran, which provides money and weapons, and last month high-level Iranian officials apparently met with Hamas leaders in Lebanon. Today Iran praised Hamas for the attack. Iran has opposed the recent talks between Saudi Arabia and Israel about normalizing relations. Since the decline of Iraq as an independent power, Iran has viewed the combination of Israel, its main enemy, with Saudi Arabia, its main rival for power, as the greatest threat to its security in the region.
Iran and Russia are allies whose relationship has strengthened considerably as the Russian war against Ukraine has pushed the two increasingly isolated countries together to resist Western sanctions. Former Russian president and deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council Dmitry Medvedev said the attack was “expected,” and used it to accuse the U.S.
… Today’s assessment of the Russian offensive in Ukraine by the Institute for the Study of War said: “The Kremlin is already [exploiting] and will likely continue to exploit the Hamas attacks in Israel to advance several information operations intended to reduce US and Western support and attention to Ukraine.”
Both Saudi Arabia and Qatar have contextualized the attack by calling out Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people but also are calling for restraint and for the violence to stop.

Israel, Hezbollah exchange fire raising regional tensions
Israeli forces say they hit a Hezbollah post in Lebanon, while the armed group says it launched rockets at three Israeli posts.
(Al Jazeera) Israel has exchanged fire with the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah, raising the prospect of a broader regional conflict on Sunday, a day after an unprecedented surprise attack on southern Israel by Hamas that killed at least 250 Israelis.
Hezbollah, a powerful armed group backed by Iran, said it had launched guided rockets and artillery onto three posts in Shebaa Farms “in solidarity” with the Palestinian people. Shebaa Farms, which is claimed by Lebanon, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The Israeli military said on Sunday it fired artillery into an area of Lebanon from where cross-border mortar fire was launched. Israel’s military said one of its drones struck a Hezbollah post in the area of Har Dov, an area in Shebaa Farms.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Reuters news agency.
On Saturday, it said it had enhanced its presence in southern Lebanon following developments in Israel and Gaza.
Hezbollah, which effectively controls southern Lebanon, said on Saturday it was in “direct contact” with leaders of Palestinian “resistance” groups. The group said it saw Palestinian attacks on Israel as a “decisive response to Israel’s continued occupation and a message to those seeking normalisation with Israel”.

Fears of a ground invasion of Gaza grow as Israel vows ‘mighty vengeance’
The Israeli military is still fighting with Hamas in parts of southern Israel after it launched an attack there.
(Al Jazeera) Fears of a huge ground invasion of Gaza are growing after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to turn the besieged Palestinian enclave into a “deserted island” in response to the worst attack his country has suffered in decades.
The pledge came after gunmen from Hamas, which governs Gaza, rampaged through Israeli towns and killed at least 250 people on Saturday while retreating with soldier and civilian hostages in the deadliest day of violence for Israel since the Yom Kippur War 50 years ago.
Hamas says it has enough Israeli captives to free all Palestinian prisoners
What happened in Israel? A breakdown of how Hamas attack unfolded
Israel flattens tower in the heart of Gaza City amid deadly bombardment
From hubris to humiliation: The 10 hours that shocked Israel

Hundreds die and hostages held as Hamas assault shocks Israel
Netanyahu declares war as at least 250 Israelis are killed; more than 230 Palestinians die in airstrikes launched in response
(The Guardian) Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories are reeling from the most serious escalation between the Jewish state and the Islamist group Hamas to date, after a surprise Palestinian attack on the morning of a Jewish holiday led to hundreds of deaths, the seizure of dozens of Israeli hostages, and sparked fears of a regional escalation.
Israel ‘at war’ after unprecedented assault by Hamas militants from Gaza
(WaPo) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared Saturday that “we are at war” after Hamas militants from Gaza launched an unprecedented, multipronged attack across central and southern Israel, killing dozens of Israelis and wounding hundreds more.
The assault began early Saturday when Hamas launched thousands of rockets toward Israeli cities and sent militants into Israeli territory overland and by using paragliders and speedboats. Gunmen seized control of pockets of southern Israel, taking hostages and leaving bodies of civilians in the streets. At least 100 Israelis have been killed, according to the country’s emergency services. With many others badly injured, the death toll is expected to rise.
… Saturday’s attack represented a bloody interruption of the Jewish sabbath and the holiday of Simhat Torah — the last in a series of Jewish holidays, during which Israel had placed restrictions on Palestinian exits from Gaza. And it came just a day after the 50th anniversary of the start of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, one of the darkest chapters of Israeli history, when a coalition of Arab states mounted a surprise assault against Israeli-held territory in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights.
It marked a stunning intelligence failure on the part of Israel, which has imposed a crippling economic blockade on Gaza since Hamas militants seized power there in 2007. Hamas and Israel have fought four wars in the years since. Israel controls nearly all crossings into the densely populated enclave and uses drones to carry out regular aerial surveillance.

6 October
Gwynne Dyer: A short war 50 years ago
Israel was taken totally by surprise by the Arab counter-offensive of 1973 and went overnight from overweening confidence to incipient despair. Both were overreactions
…opinions have evolved on both sides in ways that were unthinkable in 1973. The Arab world has basically abandoned the Palestinians to their fate, whatever it may be. Six Arab countries have established diplomatic ties with Israel and several more, including Saudi Arabia, are on the brink of doing so.
In the years after 1973, Israel split domestically between those who believed the country could keep the occupied West Bank permanently (with or without its Palestinian population) and those who believed Israel had to trade some or all of that occupied land for a permanent peace.
After the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish ultra-nationalist in 1995, it became clear that the “settlers” had won and that the Palestinians would lose, at least in the short and medium terms. Whether they can stay on some of their lands or are ultimately expelled remains to be seen. As for the long term, nobody knows. Nobody ever knows.

19-20 September
Biden and Netanyahu Meet to Try to Soothe Tensions, With Some Success
The president put aside his frustrations with the Israeli prime minister over his “extremist” government to focus on issues of mutual interest, like Iran and Saudi Arabia.
(GZERO) … It was hardly the White House meeting Bibi had been hoping for – particularly after the Biden side released a cool statement saying the two had a “candid and constructive” conversation on issues including “upholding our democratic values.” This was likely a nod to the White House’s disapproval of the Israeli government’s current attempt to gut the power of the independent judiciary that’s led to some of the biggest protests in Israel on record.
Still, in the broader realm of geopolitics it was a pretty good day for Bibi: On Wednesday, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gave a rare interview to FOX News where he said that Israel and Saudi were inching close to a normalization deal, a huge foreign policy priority for the Netanyahu government.
This Is My Shortest Column Ever: What Biden Should Ask Netanyahu
Thomas L. Friedman
President Biden, you are meeting Wednesday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, for the first time since he returned to office in December. He’s formed the most extreme government in Israel’s history and yet your administration is considering forging a complex partnership with his coalition and Saudi Arabia.
1. Do you intend to annex the West Bank, or will you negotiate its future disposition with the Palestinians? Yes or no? We need to know. Because if you intend to annex, all your normalization agreements with Arab states will collapse, and we will not be able to defend you in the United Nations from charges of building an apartheid state.
2. Bibi, you told your first cabinet meeting last December that your top priorities include stopping Iran’s nuclear program, as well as expanding Israel’s growing relations with the Arab world. But we saw you decide instead to prioritize a judicial coup to strip the Israeli Supreme Court of its ability to hold your government accountable. That, in turn, distracted your military leadership, fractured your air force and elite fighting units, bitterly divided your society and weakened your diplomatic alliances from Washington to Europe. Iran, meanwhile, moved in with a diplomatic offensive, patching up its ties with all your Arab neighbors and eating your lunch. Why should we make confronting Iran’s nuclear program our priority when you haven’t?
3. Prime Minister, the Saudis are ready to do something hard — normalize relations with Israel. We are doing something hard to help facilitate that — forging a mutual defense treaty with Saudi Arabia. What hard things are you ready to do vis-à-vis the Palestinians to complete the deal?

12-14 September
(The Conversation) The Oslo Accords: 30 years after a historic handshake
Recognition versus reality: Lessons from 30 years of talking about a Palestinian state
Philip Leech-Ngo, Senior Research Fellow, Centre on Governance, University of Ottawa
This week marked the 30th anniversary of the Oslo Accords aimed at bringing about Palestinian self-determination. The occasion has served as a stark reminder of the unfulfilled promises and unresolved struggles of the Palestinian quest for statehood.
The simplistic question of whether Palestine has statehood or not obscures its broader struggle for recognition, dignity and human rights.
Oslo accords: 30 years on, the dream of a two-state solution seems further away than ever
John Strawson, Honorary Professor of Law and director of LLM programs, University of East London
It has been widely reported that as a condition for a potential Saudi-US-Israel deal the Israelis will commit to making gestures towards a two-state solution. This was the original vision, 30 years ago, when the Oslo accords were signed, when it seemed that a Palestinian state recognised by, and living side-by-side with Israel, might indeed be a realistic prospect by the end of the 20th century.
Now, in the third decade of the 21st century, the Palestinian leadership merely hopes for some more of the occupied West Bank to be handed over to its control. A sovereign Palestinian state does not seem to be on the agenda.
The Oslo accords, which were secretly negotiated between the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Israeli government between 1992 and 1993, provided for three phases of negotiations. The first involved a withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Jericho area in the West Bank and most of Gaza together with the creation of institutions for Palestinian self-government.
Second there would be an interim agreement which would create an elected Palestinian Council and expand the area under its direct control. Third there would be permanent status talks to resolve the difficult issues of the status of Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, borders and relations with neighbouring states.
A paradox of the past 30 years has been that while the negotiations promised by Oslo have failed, the Palestinian institutions created by the Oslo process have persisted.
The Palestinian Authority created by the Cairo Agreement in 1994 remains in place with Mahmoud Abbas as president. The Legislative Council created in 1995 remains in session in Ramallah – even if there have been no elections since 2006.
Since 2012, the United Nations has recognised Palestine as a state. It is now recognised by about 140 countries and has joined international organisations only open to states, such as the International Criminal Court.
30 years after Arafat-Rabin handshake, clear flaws in Oslo Accords doomed peace talks to failure
Maha Nassar, Associate Professor in the School of Middle Eastern and North African Studies, University of Arizona
On Sept. 13, 1993, the world watched as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. It was a stunning moment. The famous handshake between adversaries marked the beginning of what became known as the Oslo Accords, a framework for talks between Israeli and Palestinian representatives, mediated by U.S. diplomats.
Thirty years later, it is clear the Oslo Accords have achieved neither peace nor a two-state solution
Certainly, there is plenty of blame to go around. But as a scholar of Palestinian history, it is clear to me that the Oslo peace process failed because the framework itself was deeply flawed in three key ways.
First, it ignored the power imbalance between the two sides. Second, it focused on ending violence by Palestinian militant groups while overlooking acts of violence committed by the Israeli state. And third, it sought peace as the end goal, rather than justice.

12 September
Israeli Supreme Court hears first challenge to Netanyahu’s divisive judicial overhaul
(AP) — Israel’s Supreme Court heard the first challenge Tuesday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s contentious judicial overhaul, deepening a showdown with the far-right government that has bitterly divided the nation and put it on the brink of a constitutional crisis.
Netanyahu’s coalition, a collection of ultranationalist and ultrareligious lawmakers, unveiled the overhaul earlier this year, saying it was necessary to rein in an unelected judiciary they believe wields too much power.
Critics say the plan — which would weaken the Supreme Court — is a profound threat to Israeli democracy and that it would concentrate power in the hands of Netanyahu and his allies.
The case that opened Tuesday focuses on the first law passed by parliament in July — a measure that cancels the court’s ability to strike down government moves it deems to be “unreasonable.” Judges have used the legal standard in rare cases to prevent government decisions or appointments viewed as unsound or corrupt.
The hearing puts Israel’s Supreme Court in the unprecedented position of deciding whether to accept limits on its own powers. In a sign of the case’s significance, all 15 justices are hearing the appeal together for the first time in the country’s history, rather than the typical smaller panels. The proceedings were also livestreamed and aired on the country’s main TV stations.
A ruling is not expected for weeks or even months, but the session Tuesday could hint at the court’s direction. The marathon hearing was largely businesslike, though at times the arguments became tense and heated.
Protests against Israel’s judicial overhaul kick off at Supreme Court a day before crucial hearing

12 August
Israel’s Democracy Movement Has Something Important to Teach Us
Rejecting moralistic hectoring in favor of democratic patriotism, Israel’s protest movement appeals to a people’s sense of what their country can and should be.
By Susie Linfield
(The Atlantic) Like the country itself, the Israeli democracy movement is radically imperfect. A mass movement doesn’t include everyone (although recent polls show that the Netanyahu coalition would fall if an election were held today). Divisions between Ashkenazi and Sephardim, between the central cities and the poorer periphery, are deep. Few Arab Israelis are taking part, though they are more imperiled than Jewish Israelis by the governing coalition’s plans. (In February, 200 prominent Arab Israelis released a statement urging Arab citizens to participate in the protests: “A regime change is taking place that will affect the lives of all citizens … and the Arab public will be the first victim,” they wrote.) And despite its wide tent, the movement is, in some sense, dominated by the elite.
The brutal occupation is Israel’s central, but often unacknowledged, moral and political catastrophe—one that underlies all others and points to two simultaneous, confounding truths. First, Israel can’t rid itself of its racism, ultranationalism, and religious fanaticism until the occupation ends.
Second, the occupation won’t (and some, even on the left, say can’t) end tomorrow. The upshot is that, paradoxically, the defense of democracy can’t wait for its precondition to emerge.

In Israel and the U.S., ‘apartheid’ is the elephant in the room
(WaPo Today’s World View) For months, tens of thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets in defense of their democracy, which they fear may be greatly imperiled by the far-right ruling coalition’s desire to curtail the independent powers of the country’s judiciary. But the protests have seldom dovetailed with a recognition of the other profound mark against Israeli democracy — the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and the denial to millions of Palestinians the same rights as their Israeli neighbors, including half a million Jewish settlers.
In a letter with more than a thousand signatories, a group of prominent academics in the United States and Israel pointed to this exact “elephant in the room.” The statement, which was first published online this past weekend and has been accruing hundreds of signatories daily, called out the “regime of apartheid” that prevails for Palestinians living under Israeli control. And it offers yet more evidence of a shifting discourse on Israel among even some of the Jewish state’s staunchest supporters in the United States.
The Elephant in the Room
“We, academics and other public figures from Israel/Palestine and abroad, call attention to the direct link between Israel’s recent attack on the judiciary and its illegal occupation of millions of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Palestinian people lack almost all basic rights, including the right to vote and protest. They face constant violence: this year alone, Israeli forces have killed over 190 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and demolished over 590 structures. Settler vigilantes burn, loot, and kill with impunity.
Without equal rights for all, whether in one state, two states, or in some other political framework, there is always a danger of dictatorship. There cannot be democracy for Jews in Israel as long as Palestinians live under a regime of apartheid, as Israeli legal experts have described it … ”

8 August
Why Saudi-Israel ‘peace’ will cement a violent future
Far from resolving conflicts, Saudi-Israel normalization will serve as a pillar of a repressive architecture that brings no justice for Palestinians or Arab peoples.

6 August
“I don’t hate you. Well, actually, I kind of do…”
A music video that has gone viral in Israel in the last couple of days captures well some of the more widely expressed feelings many of the players on all sides have.
In these tumultuous times, one of the things we are seeking to provide in Israel from the Inside is a look at some of the issues, personalities, ideas, and even signs, songs and other cultural expressions that provide a window on what Israel is today, and which are for the most part not being covered in the English press.

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