JWG via DTN 15 January 2023 JT and Rae have been reading the tar baby saga and are trying hard…
Israel, Palestine/Gaza/Hamas 22 November 2023-February 2024
War in Israel and Gaza
Brookings Critical analysis and commentary on the wide-ranging ramifications of Hamas’s October 7, 2023 attack against Israel and ongoing conflict.
A plan for Gaza’s future is taking shape. Obstacles loom.
(CSM) … Backed by Gulf billions and spurred by public pressure, the plan is being advanced by Arab states, the United States, and the European Union. It aims to transform life for the Palestinians and move them closer to statehood, with new support from the Palestinian Authority. (22 December 2023)
Views of the Israel-Hamas war
(Pew Research) A sizable majority of Americans say that Hamas has “a lot” of responsibility for the current war (65%). Far smaller shares say the Israeli government (35%) – or the Palestinian people (20%) or Israeli people (13%) – have a lot of responsibility. (8 December 2023)
Nicholas Kristof: So Many Child Deaths in Gaza, and for What?
Consider this: The most dangerous place to be a child in the world today is Gaza. … Already it appears that more than twice as many children have died in Gaza just since the war started on Oct. 7 as in all the conflicts worldwide in 2022, according to United Nations figures. (6 December 2023)
Arab Peace Initiative II: How Arab Leadership Could Design a Peace Plan in Israel and Palestine
(Carnegie Endowment) Past peace processes in Israel and Palestine failed to offer long-term solutions to the conflict, but they showed what makes negotiations work. In the latest round of hostilities in Gaza, key Arab governments are uniquely positioned to leverage relationships with all parties to lay out the conditions that could broker a lasting peace. An Arab Peace Initiative II, with multilateral oversight, would have to offer real benefits for all parties. But for any lasting framework to take hold, these important conditions need to be met. … (17 November 2023)
Israeli forces dressed as civilian women and medics kill 3 militants in a West Bank hospital
(AP) — Israeli forces disguised as civilian women and medics stormed a hospital Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, killing three Palestinian militants in a dramatic raid that underscored how deadly violence has spilled into the territory from the war in Gaza.
— The Economist asks: Did Israeli forces disguised as medics breach the laws of war?
Disguising a soldier as a doctor can be an act of “perfidy” —
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, ruled out a military withdrawal from Gaza and the release of thousands of jailed militants — Hamas’ main two demands for any cease-fire — casting doubt on the latest efforts to end a war that has destabilized the broader Middle East.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said Israeli forces opened fire inside the Ibn Sina Hospital in the West Bank town of Jenin. A hospital spokesperson said there was no exchange of fire, indicating it was a targeted killing.
How Leaders and Diplomats Are Trying to End the Gaza War
Top American, Israeli and Arab officials are seeking to forge three parallel but related deals that could end the war in Gaza, finalize its postwar status, and, most ambitiously, set commitments for the creation of a Palestinian state.
By Patrick Kingsley and Edward Wong – To understand the secret negotiations, New York Times reporters spoke to more than a dozen diplomats and officials from seven nations and the Palestinian Authority.
The ICJ delivers a stinging rebuke to Israel over the war in Gaza
But as the court has not ordered a ceasefire, its ruling is largely symbolic
(The Economist) THERE WAS no hiding the fury behind the nearly unanimous rulings of the 17 judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. On January 26th they ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent acts of genocide by its forces in Gaza, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide and to ensure that more aid reaches the strip. Yet because the court pointedly declined to order Israel to halt its military operations against Hamas, its ruling is largely symbolic. It is a rebuke to the way in which Israel has waged the war—and perhaps more importantly to the conduct of Binyamin Netanyahu’s government—but one that is unlikely to constrain significantly its ability to keep fighting Hamas. Though in ordering Israel to report in a month on the steps it has taken, the court appears to be reserving the right to take further steps.
Israeli army intensifies bombing of Khan Younis
(Al Jazeera) Mass panic as Israeli forces issue evacuation orders for about 513,000 people crammed into an area in southern Gaza to flee elsewhere.
As some Israeli troops leave Gaza, a long-term strategy remains elusive
(WaPo) With Israel’s army beginning to gradually pull out of Gaza, its gains against Hamas are significant but incomplete, Israeli military and security officials say, and are threatened by the lack of a postwar strategy.
Though intense ground fighting continues in Khan Younis and other parts of the southern Gaza Strip, the Israeli military says it is moving away from large-scale bombardments and transitioning to a more focused campaign of targeted raids and assassinations, aiming to eradicate Hamas’s military leadership.
There’s a Real Plan for Ending the War in Gaza
But Israel and Hamas actually have to take it.
By Fred Kaplan
(Slate) The U.S., Egypt, and Qatar have devised a multistage plan for ending the Israel-Hamas war. One problem is that neither Israel nor Hamas has agreed to it. In fact, the final stage of the plan—the creation of a Palestinian state—is something that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly and emphatically said he deeply, unalterably opposes.
Israel’s emergency government close to collapse as Gaza war continues
The question is no longer whether an election will take place in 2024, but rather when in 2024.
(Jerusalem Post) ‘The Americans have realized that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is incapacitated because of the political situation he is in,” a senior official from one of Israel’s opposition parties informed me last week.
“In fear of voters’ reaction, moreover, Netanyahu has even gone as far as to conceal his transition to Stage 3 of the war not only from his own war cabinet, but also from the general public.”
Netanyahu’s political predicament is already straining the Biden administration’s patience, with a growing sense that they are providing considerable support without receiving anything from him in return.
… The bottom line is: Will this emergency government last much longer? The prevailing understanding is that it will not, and with the diminishing prospects of a new hostage deal, the likelihood of the emergency government breaking up increases. Recent rumors about serious contacts between the US and Qatar are one of the reasons Gantz and Eisenkot are choosing to remain in the government, as without them, they believe there would not be much chance for a new deal to release the hostages.
As War Enters 100th Day, Netanyahu Vows to Keep Fighting in Gaza
The prime minister of Israel struck a defiant tone after hearings at The Hague, where Israel has been accused of genocide.
His pledge to continue until “total victory” came even as Israel awaited a decision from the world’s top court on a possible injunction against its military’s devastating offensive in Gaza. …
Warning of a long conflict, the remarks from Mr. Netanyahu and comments from the Israeli military over the weekend exposed a growing dissonance between the domestic perception of the timing and goals of the war and increasing international impatience in the face of a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
How apartheid history shaped South Africa’s genocide case against Israel
Jewish groups have accused the ANC of antisemitism, but ICJ case stems from party’s longstanding support for Palestinians
(The Guardian) Israel has denounced South Africa’s legal action at the international court of justice accusing Israel of genocide and war crimes in Gaza as amounting to support for Hamas.
Israel called the charge that it was intentionally killing thousands of Palestinian civilians – which the ICJ is expected to start hearing on Thursday – a “blood libel”. Jewish organisations in South Africa accused the ruling African National Congress of siding with terrorism and antisemitism.
But South Africa’s lawsuit seeking a halt to the Israeli assault on Gaza in response to the Hamas cross-border attack in October comes after years of deteriorating relations rooted in the ANC’s decades-long support for the Palestinian cause and the legacy of Israel’s close military alliance with the apartheid regime during some of the most oppressive years of white rule.
South Africa Files Case Against Israel at International Court of Justice over “Genocidal” Gaza War (YouTube)
South Africa has filed a case at the main judicial body for the United Nations, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.
Israel to dispute genocide charges at International Court of Justice next week
(Globe & Mail) The International Court of Justice has agreed to hold a hearing next week to discuss South Africa’s request for an urgent ruling on genocide charges against Israel for its military offensive on Gaza.
Last week, South Africa submitted an 84-page application to the UN court, seeking an urgent order to declare that Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza and its siege of the Palestinian territory is “genocidal in character” and a violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The full case could take years to resolve, but the court has the power to order “provisional measures” against Israel. In 2022, it issued a provisional order that Russia must halt its invasion of Ukraine.
The Guardian view on escalation in the Middle East: the danger of a regional war is growing
The assassination of a Hamas leader in Beirut and Houthi attacks on ships in the Red Sea increase the risks
From the moment that the full extent of the 7 October atrocities by Hamas in southern Israel became evident, the spectre of an ensuing regional conflict loomed in the background. Since then, attention has been fixed on Israel’s pummelling of Gaza, where the death toll passed 22,000 this week, according to Palestinian health authorities. Yet in recent weeks the risk of a greater conflagration has grown.
Apparent Israeli strike kills senior Hamas figure in Beirut and raises fears conflict could expand
Saleh Arouri, who was the most senior Hamas figure killed since the war with Israel began, was also a founder of the group’s military wing. His death could provoke major retaliation by Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia.
Saleh al-Arouri: assassinated leader was Hamas’s link to Iran and Hezbollah
Jason Burke, International security correspondent
Arouri had talked with Hezbollah of ‘real victory’ over Israel after 7 October attacks
(The Guardian) The killing of Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut is the first strike in a campaign of assassinations overseas promised by Israeli officials for several months.
The target was carefully chosen – one of the most senior Hamas leaders and the organisation’s main link to Iran and the Lebanon-based militia Hezbollah. Arouri was also influential in the occupied West Bank, where he was born and where violence has soared in recent months.
A Hamas official killed in a Beirut strike had been on Israel’s hit list for years
An explosion in Beirut on Tuesday killed Saleh Arouri, a top official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas and three others, officials with Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah said. Israeli officials declined to comment about the blast
(AP) Saleh Arouri, the deputy political head of Hamas and a founder of the group’s military wing, had been in Israel’s sights for years before he was killed in a drone strike in a southern suburb of Beirut on Tuesday.
Israel had accused Arouri, 57, of masterminding attacks against it in the West Bank, where he was the group’s top commander. In 2015, the U.S. Department of the Treasury designated Arouri as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist offering $5 million for information about him.
Where Was the Israeli Military?
The full reasons behind the military’s slow response may take months to understand. The government has promised an inquiry. But a New York Times investigation found that Israel’s military was undermanned, out of position and so poorly organized that soldiers communicated in impromptu WhatsApp groups and relied on social media posts for targeting information. Commandos rushed into battle armed only for brief combat. Helicopter pilots were ordered to look to news reports and Telegram channels to choose targets.
And perhaps most damning: The Israel Defense Forces did not even have a plan to respond to a large-scale Hamas attack on Israeli soil, according to current and former soldiers and officers. If such a plan existed on a shelf somewhere, the soldiers said, no one had trained on it and nobody followed it. The soldiers that day made it up as they went along.
That lack of preparation is at odds with a founding principle of Israeli military doctrine. From the days of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister and defense minister, the goal was to always be on the offensive — to anticipate attacks and fight battles in enemy territory.
Israelis answer ‘battle cry’ to return to anti-government protests
After Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, anti-government protests in Israel quieted, but Israelis are back in the streets, saying their message is more important than ever.
(The World) Since Oct. 7, Israelis have rallied in support of hostages and their families, but now they are back chanting for the prime minister to resign — making it clear they blame him for allowing Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, that left more than 1,200 Israelis dead and others in captivity in Gaza, to take place.
Thousands of protestors gathered in the pouring rain in Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities on Saturday in the biggest anti-government demonstration since the attack.
In a 25 December Facebook post, Sauvé alumnus Tomer Avital writes:
“for the first demonstration to overthrow Netanyahu about a month ago, 2,000 arrived. Two weeks ago over 3,000. Last week at least 7,000 men and women came out. Last night? Over 10,000 protesters!
It’s called momentum.
The rise shows that the public more and more understands the need to replace Netanyahu despite the war, and maybe also because of it. People understand that every day is another day when Netanyahu, Ben Gvir and co. are at the helm – endangering the lives of the kidnapped and soldiers, crushing the economy and dividing the public. The media also finally covered the demonstrations and the public who are demanding united leadership, and as soon as possible.”
Israel widens offensive in central Gaza as Netanyahu refuses to discuss postwar plan
Security officials keen to arrange meeting as ‘time running out’, according to reports
(The Guardian) The Israeli military expanded its ground offensive in the Gaza Strip to the densely populated urban refugee camps in the central part of the territory as the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was reported to have refused requests from security officials to make plans for control of Gaza after the war with Hamas ends.
Over the last few days, three requests to the prime minister’s office were conveyed on behalf of the directors of the Mossad, the Shin Bet, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff and the defence ministry to arrange a meeting on decisions relating to “the day after” Israel declares it has achieved its goals against the Palestinian militant group in control of the Gaza Strip, Israel’s Channel 12 reported on Tuesday night.
Hostages’ families heckle Netanyahu as he warns Israel ‘expanding’ Gaza fight
Israeli prime minister facing domestic pressure to bring home the more than 100 hostages thought still held by Hamas in Gaza
(The Guardian) Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said the offensive in Gaza “isn’t close to finished”, as he faces heavy domestic pressure to reach a deal to bring home the more than 100 Israeli hostages thought to remain in captivity in Gaza.
“We are expanding the fight in the coming days and this will be a long battle,” Netanyahu said after visiting Gaza on Monday, according to a statement from his Likud party.
As he vowed to continue the war during a speech in parliament, relatives of the hostages interrupted him and called for their immediate return. “Now! Now!” they shouted.
Israel-Hamas war live: No respite for Gaza as Israeli attacks continue
Israeli bombing kills Palestinians overnight in Khan Younis, Bureij, Jihr al-Deek, and Nuseirat, according to the Palestinian state news agency Wafa.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is ready to encourage Palestinians in Gaza to leave the enclave, according to Israeli media outlets. Hamas has condemned the statement.
Palestinian Red Crescent Society tells Al Jazeera that its crews face violations by Israeli forces on a daily basis in Gaza, adding that aid entering the enclave is not enough to meet the needs of civilians.
More than 20,674 people have been killed and 54,536 wounded in Israeli attacks since October 7. The revised death toll from Hamas’s attack on Israel stands at 1,139.
Israel Doesn’t Need a Ben-Gvir as Netanyahu’s Successor
(Haaretz editorial) The good news is that even the ruling Likud party has started to grasp that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s time in office must end soon. The bad news is that one of those vying for the crown, Economy Minister Nir Barkat, is trying to position himself for the upcoming succession battle by veering right
PM’s criteria for peace: Destroy Hamas, demilitarize Gaza, deradicalize Palestinians
By ToI Staff
Netanyahu doesn’t mention hostages in WSJ op-ed * War cabinet meets after Hamas, PIJ said to reject Egypt plan to end fighting, give up power in Gaza *
Israel’s military campaign in Gaza seen as among the most destructive in history, experts say
(AP) — The Israeli military campaign in Gaza, experts say, now sits among the deadliest and most destructive in history.
In just over two months, the offensive has wreaked more destruction than the razing of Syria’s Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, Ukraine’s Mariupol or, proportionally, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II. It has killed more civilians than the U.S.-led coalition did in its three-year campaign against the Islamic State group.
The Israeli military has said little about what kinds of bombs and artillery it is using in Gaza. But from blast fragments found on-site and analyses of strike footage, experts are confident that the vast majority of bombs dropped on the besieged enclave are U.S.-made. They say the weapons include 2,000-pound (900-kilogram) “bunker-busters” that have killed hundreds in densely populated areas.
Why, Once Again, Israel Will Survive
The horror of the Hamas rampage across southern Israel triggered so much of the same collective Jewish trauma that the country was founded to prevent future generations from suffering. US Presidential historian and McGill University historian Gil Troy writes of this as an existential moment, and how life in Israel goes on, just as Israel itself will go on.
(Policy) For Israelis, learning what went wrong is for the “day after.” Fighting for their lives, on the other hand, Israelis understand: Win now; assess your mistakes and your politicians later. The West, however, can and should start learning from its mistakes immediately, analyzing its own failed conceptzia.
Within minutes of the Palestinian rampage – which included untrained, “non-combatant” Gazans, happily following the Hamas terrorists — Israelis were already saving Israel. They did it by improvising, if just a little too late.
Three factors saved Israel that day. First, Hezbollah did not attack simultaneously from the north. A pincer movement, especially given how many Israelis live in cities bordering Lebanon, would have killed exponentially more people and would have been much harder to subdue. A second factor is perverse. The apparent glee Hamas took in committing unspeakable crimes distracted them from further expanding their attack. Perhaps every survivor, every mourner for those defiled as they died, can take solace in knowing that every additional, agonizing, minute each victim suffered, slowed the advance, aiding Israel’s counterattack. Most important, when the government failed and the IDF failed, the people of Israel saved themselves. Despite the devastation, it’s miraculous that Israel repelled more than 3,000 terrorists from within, within a day.
Al Jazeera live update
Israel has said air attacks across Gaza – including in the southernmost city of Rafah – will continue as the death toll in the enclave today passed 20,000 since the start of the conflict.
The UN human rights office has said it received “disturbing information” accusing Israeli forces of summarily executing at least 11 unarmed Palestinian men in Gaza City.
Human Rights Watch has said most people in Gaza are displaced and susceptible to harm, as the WHO chief warns of a “lethal” mix of disease and hunger.
A vote on a UNSC draft resolution that seeks to up aid deliveries to Gaza has again been delayed as parties seek US support to avoid a veto.
US President Joe Biden has said he did not expect an imminent breakthrough as representatives of Israel, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad were in Egypt for the latest round of indirect captive release talks.
Israel uncovers major Hamas command center in Gaza City as ceasefire talks gain momentum
(CTV/AP) The Israeli military on Wednesday said it had uncovered a major Hamas command center in the heart of Gaza City, inflicting what it described as a serious blow to the Islamic militant group as pressure grows on Israel to scale back its devastating military offensive in the coastal enclave.
The army said it had exposed the center of a vast underground network used by Hamas to move weapons, militants and supplies throughout the Gaza Strip. Israel has said destroying the tunnels is a major objective of the offensive.
Tunnels from Hamas leaders’ homes found under Gaza City, Israel military says
(Reuters) – … Accessed by spiral staircases and an elevator up to 20 meters (66 ft) below ground, the tunnels were kitted out with electricity, plumbing, surveillance cameras and heavy blast doors, according to images shared with reporters by the military.
Hostage Deaths Fuel Israelis’ Doubts About Netanyahu
(NYT) The killing of three hostages in Gaza by Israeli soldiers adds domestic pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu as he resists international calls for a cease-fire.
U.S. to Push Israel to Scale Back War
The defense secretary will visit Israel and plans to tell officials to change strategy within weeks.
Friendly-fire killings of hostages may force Israel to reconsider Gaza strategy.
Critics of how Israel is prosecuting its war in Gaza also seized on the event, in which Israeli soldiers fatally shot three shirtless men who were waving a white flag, as an example of its military’s failure to live up to its promises to protect civilians.
Jeremy Kinsman: The Possibilities for Peace in The Middle East
As any veteran Middle East peace process observer will tell you, it is often darkest before the dawn in the most intractable bilateral conflict on Earth. Our own foreign policy sage Jeremy Kinsman looks at the implications of the most recent low points in the Israeli-Palestinian dynamic and the possibilities for moving forward.
(Policy) Any objective observer, including the Biden administration, now recognizes that the need for a Palestinian state is more urgent than ever. If that need is not accommodated, this cycle of violence will never end. Eventually, it will ignite wider war with unknown but ominous international consequences, which adds to the need for international engagement in a solution. …
It would be unrealistic not to recognize that prospects for a Palestinian state that has real autonomy are superficially even lower than they were before the Hamas attack of October 7th based on the obliteration of already depleted trust on both sides. Israelis are less inclined to take any risk with their security and hostility to Israel from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza has deepened, with incalculable impacts on younger generations from both sides.
Decades of effort have been spent by civil society on joint people-to-people bridge and confidence-building initiatives between Israelis and Palestinians — in culture, as by conductor Daniel Barenboim, or in health care, as with the international Rozema Project led in Canada by former Ambassador Jon Allen, or in day-to-day life, as pursued by Canadian peace activist Vivian Silver, slaughtered by Hamas assailants October 7th. But despite such efforts, the two-state solution fell by the wayside. …
It will be a stretch for many Israelis to accept that the goal of a two-state solution has to be revived as the price of peace, and that it needs to be overseen internationally. A plan for a pathway has to be more convincing in effectiveness than anything the UN has ever done. It must be US-led, backed by viable security guarantees. An advantage is that there are now six, mostly wealthy, Arab states that have diplomatic relations with Israel and they can contribute to rebuilding Gaza and support the West Bank.
Will the US be able to bring Israel behind such a serious peace project? If international engagement is to work, it obviously has to be with Israel on-side. … It will require serious pressure from the US, a tough ask of the US in an election year, already disrupted by a weakening of resolve in Congress over Ukraine. … Joe Biden may see this leadership challenge as the value proposition for his re-election, or his legacy cause if he does decide to complete his service with just one term. Either way, the resolution could be epic, or a costly failure in an already dangerously combustible region.
UN General Assembly votes overwhelmingly to demand a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza
(AP) — The U.N. General Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to demand a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza in a strong demonstration of global support for ending the Israel-Hamas war. The vote also shows the growing isolation of the United States and Israel.
The vote in the 193-member world body was 153 in favor, 10 against and 23 abstentions.
Thomas Friedman: What Worries Me About the Gaza War After My Trip to Arab States, I’ve been concerned from the start that Israel launched its invasion of Gaza to eradicate Hamas with no plan for what to do with the territory and its people in the wake of any victory. Having just spent a week in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates taking the pulse of this important corner of the Arab world, I am now even more worried.
In pursuing its aims of dismantling Hamas’s military machine and wiping out its top leaders, Israel has killed and wounded thousands of innocent Gazan civilians. Hamas knew this would happen and did not care a whit. Israel must. It will inherit responsibility for a gigantic humanitarian disaster that will require a global coalition years to fix and manage. As The Times reported on Tuesday, “Satellite imagery shows that the fighting has resulted in heavy damage to almost every corner of Gaza City” — at least 6,000 buildings hammered, with about a third of them in ruins.
A recent essay in Haaretz by David Rosenberg noted that “even if the fighting ends in a decisive victory over Hamas, Israel will be saddled with a problem that almost defies solution. …the problem goes much deeper than who will be responsible for law and order and providing basic services: Whoever is in charge will have to rebuild the wreckage that is Gaza and create a functioning economy.”
Why we should consider a transitional administration for Gaza
Julien Tourreille, Chargé de cours en science politique et chercheur à la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand en études stratégiques et diplomatiques, et Charles-Philippe David, Président de l’Observatoire sur les États-Unis de la Chaire Raoul-Dandurand et professeur de science politique, Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM)
(The Conversation) For more than 75 years, too many opportunities to achieve lasting peace have been squandered, whether through the intransigence of some, the extremist excesses of others, the unbalanced commitment of a third party or even global disinterest in the conflict.
[Recent] developments, including an apparent determination by the U.S. to re-engage its efforts to bring about lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians as thousands die in the conflict, requires an examination of what would be the most effective course of action.
Eliminating the threat posed by Hamas cannot be achieved by Israel’s reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, and even less by the disappearance of all Palestinians from the enclave, as suggested by the most radical elements on the Israeli political scene.
The return of a moribund and ineffective Palestinian Authority in the wake of Israel Defense Forces military operations in Gaza is not credible and doomed to failure.
Arab countries in the region don’t want to assume responsibility for the security and administration of Gaza, while interference by a single major foreign power like the U.S. would constitute a form of imperialism.
Faced with these unthinkable options, the best — or least bad — solution seems to be to consider setting up a transitional administration in Gaza with three objectives: to ensure security, to work towards reconstruction and to lay the foundations for political stability and economic development.
Such a model was successful in the pacification and reconstruction mission in East Timor in 1999 and in Kosovo the same year. The United Nations might even consider reviving its Trusteeship Council, which has been dormant since 1994.
Israel’s Gaza war raises fears of a Palestinian exodus into Egypt
Analysis by Ishaan Tharoor
(WaPo) For civilians in Gaza, there’s increasingly nowhere to go.
Roughly 1.9 million people in Gaza, or 85 percent of the territory’s population per United Nations data, are displaced. They are being crammed into facilities and spaces that cannot accommodate them close to adequately. Sanitation conditions are deplorable, clean water is difficult to find, disease is spreading, and hunger is rife. An analysis by the U.N. World Food Program found that half the population of Gaza is starving and 9 out of 10 people cannot eat every day. Aid workers operating in a tiny stretch of bare land by the sea known as al-Mawasi, where Israeli authorities urged Palestinians to go for safety, said they encountered people who had not eaten for three days.
The infrastructure that existed in the Gaza Strip has almost wholly collapsed. Health care in the territory is “on its knees,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Sunday, as supplies and hospital beds dwindle rapidly amid reports of bombardments around medical facilities.
At a regional forum in Doha, Qatar, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warned of the possibility of mass displacement into Egypt. “There is no effective protection of civilians in Gaza,” he said. “I expect public order to completely break down soon, and an even worse situation could unfold.”
But to many in the Arab world, the idea of a Palestinian exodus pouring into Sinai is a nonstarter. For weeks, Arab governments have rejected the prospect of taking in refugees from Gaza — partially because of economic and security considerations, but primarily out of fear that Palestinians who flee Gaza will not be allowed to return.
Some Arab officials accuse the Israelis of deliberately engineering this outcome. “What we are seeing in Gaza is not just simply the killing of innocent people and the destruction of their livelihoods, but a systematic effort to empty Gaza of its people,” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said over the weekend, arguing that Israel’s conduct of the war was “within the legal definition of genocide.”
Why The Middle East Won’t Accept Palestinian Refugees
As Israel-Hamas war in Gaza continues, there are signs of growing sympathy for Hamas in neighboring Jordan
The World’s Shirin Jaafari reports from Amman.
Battles rage across Gaza as Israel indicates it’s willing to fight for months or more to beat Hamas
(AP) Israel faces international outrage after its military offensive, with diplomatic support and arms from close ally the United States, has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. About 90% of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced within the besieged territory, where U.N. agencies say there is no safe place to flee.
The United States has lent vital support in recent days by vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution to end the fighting and pushing through an emergency sale of over $100 million worth of tank ammunition to Israel.
Israel presses ahead with Gaza war as international outrage grows
Battles raged across Gaza on Sunday as Israel indicated it was prepared to fight for months or longer to defeat the territory’s Hamas rulers, and a key mediator said willingness to discuss a cease-fire was fading.
Israel’s nuclear assets and Hamas threat
The Gaza experience suggests that there is a case for introducing nuclear-related guardrails and red lines even for non-state entities and their state sponsors.
C Uday Bhaskar
(Tribune, India) The nuclear deterrence theory and practice that had a certain clarity in the bipolar context of the Cold War, when there were only two principal players, have now become complex and opaque, with both state and non-state entities as interlocutors. Outlandish as it may seem, the Gaza experience suggests that there is a case for introducing nuclear-related guardrails and red lines even for non-state entities and their state sponsors. A major power consensus is imperative to evolve an appropriate carrot-and-stick policy to contain this shadowy threat. The global nuclear status quo has been rocked by the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and this augurs ill for the world at a time when credible global leadership is conspicuous by its absence.
… Many lessons about asymmetric warfare will be drawn by domain experts across the world in relation to the efficacy of the Hamas rocket attacks and the surprise element achieved by a non-state entity against an adversary deemed to be a formidable and highly militarised state. However, one strand that merits attention is an embedded nuclear dimension.
The first intemperate N-reference was made by Israel’s Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu in a radio interview on November 5, when he declared that using a nuclear weapon on Gaza is “an option” in the IDF’s current war on Hamas. This assertion was swiftly denounced and rejected by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, but the threat had been made, thereby muddying the deterrence domain. This statement by the Israeli minister led to a rebuke by most major powers and the matter seemed to be buried — but only for a brief period.
An investigative report by The New York Times (December 4) revealed that “a rocket launched from Gaza on October 7 hit an Israeli military base believed to house nuclear-capable missiles, although it’s likely they were not in danger”.
Israel designates a safe zone in Gaza. Palestinians and aid groups say it offers little relief
(WaPo) The area of Muwasi is a makeshift tent camp where thousands of dazed Palestinians live in squalid conditions in scattered farm fields and waterlogged dirt roads.
Americans’ Views of the Israel-Hamas War
Bipartisan concern about violence against Jews in U.S.; wide partisan gap in concerns over violence against U.S. Muslims
A new Pew Research Center survey, conducted Nov. 27-Dec. 3 among 5,203 adults, finds sizable partisan and age differences on these questions, as well as about many other aspects of the two-month-old war:
U.S. vetoes U.N. cease-fire resolution; aid system in Gaza near collapse
(WaPo) Apart from calling for a cease-fire, the eight-paragraph resolution demanded that all hostages be immediately and unconditionally released, that humanitarian access be ensured and “that all parties comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, notably with regard to the protection of civilians.”
Israel’s Failed Bombing Campaign in Gaza
Collective Punishment Won’t Defeat Hamas
By Robert A. Pape, Professor of Political Science and Director of the University of Chicago Project on Security and Threats, and the author of Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War.
(Foreign Affairs) The only way to deal a lasting defeat to Hamas is to attack its leaders and fighters while separating them from the surrounding population. That is easier said than done, however, especially since Hamas draws its ranks directly from the local population rather than from abroad.
Indeed, survey evidence shows the extent to which Israel’s military operations are now producing more terrorists than they are killing. …
The growth of the Jewish population in Palestinian territories is a central factor in fomenting conflict. In the years immediately after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the total number of Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza numbered only a few thousand. Israeli-Palestinian relations were mostly harmonious. No Palestinian suicide attacks and few attacks of any kind occurred during this period.
But things changed after the right-wing government led by the Likud Party came to power in 1977, promising a major expansion of settlements. …
The near-continuous growth of the Jewish settlements is a core reason why the idea of a two-state solution has lost credibility since the 1990s. If there is to be a serious pathway to a Palestinian state in the future, that growth must come to an end. After all, why should Palestinians reject Hamas and support a supposed peace process if doing so means only more loss of their land?
Only a two-state solution will lead to lasting security for Israelis and Palestinians alike. That is the only viable approach that will truly undermine Hamas, and Israel can and should unilaterally press forward with a plan, taking steps on its own before negotiating with the Palestinians. The goal should be to revive a process that has been dormant since the last negotiations failed in 2008, 15 years ago. To be clear, Israel should couple this political approach with a military one, engaging in limited, sustained operations against the Hamas leaders and fighters responsible for the atrocities of October 7. But the country must adopt the political element of the strategy now, not later. Israel cannot wait until after some mythical time when Hamas is defeated by military might alone.
Israeli rage at United Nations comes as Gaza aid hits crucial moment
Relations between Israel and the United Nations have hit a new low point after almost two months of war. The international organization, vital for providing aid to Palestinians for decades, said last week that Israel had refused to grant a visa to a top humanitarian official. Israeli officials have repeated their calls for U.N. Secretary General António Guterres to resign, while an allegation that a U.N. staff member helped hold Israeli hostages has led to further furor. The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees denied the claim.
…victims, activists and diplomats argued that the U.N. had ignored the issue of rapes committed by Hamas fighters during the Oct. 7 attacks. Sheryl Sandberg, the former Meta executive and one of the organizers of the event, called on “global political leaders to step up” and say clearly that rape was “unacceptable.”
Israel’s Netanyahu is fighting two wars, and may not win either
(WaPo) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is fighting two wars. He is at the head of a wartime cabinet, leading the operation against the militant group Hamas after its Oct. 7 rampage through southern Israel saw the bloodiest day for Jews since the Holocaust. But, after nearly two months of conflict and more than 15,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, Netanyahu has waded into another battle: Trial proceedings over long-standing corruption allegations involving the prime minister resumed Monday.
The resumption came after Israel’s justice minister, Yariv Levin, declared the emergency situation at Israel’s courts over on Friday.
Netanyahu says Israel will retain open-ended control of security in Gaza long after war with Hamas
(AP) The assault into the south threatens to fuel a new wave of displaced Palestinians and a worsening of Gaza’s humanitarian catastrophe. The U.N. said 1.87 million people — more than 80% of Gaza’s population — have been driven from their homes, and that fighting is now preventing distribution of food, water and medicine outside a tiny sliver of southern Gaza. New military evacuation orders are squeezing people into ever-smaller areas of the south.
Israel’s assault in retaliation for Hamas’s Oct 7 attack has killed more than 15,890 people in Gaza — 70% of them women and children — with more than 42,000 wounded, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths. It says hundreds have been killed or wounded since a weeklong cease-fire ended Friday, and many still are trapped under rubble.
Young Palestinian prisoners describe harsh treatment in Israeli jails
Israeli and Palestinian civil rights advocates have petitioned the Supreme Court to halt what they say are recent systemic abuses in the prison system. Activists say Israel arrested nearly 3,000 Palestinians in the past eight weeks. Those arrested have included 120 women and more than 200 minors.
Advocates allege that the surge has caused overcrowding, the rationing of food and water, and physical and psychological mistreatment, which they say amounts to collective punishment. The court has declined to intervene.
Israel’s Impossible Dilemma
The IDF can hand Hamas either a Pyrrhic victory or a real one
By Hussein Ibish, a Senior Resident Scholar, Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington.
(The Atlantic) To no one’s surprise, Israel and Hamas have resumed fighting in Gaza after almost a week of temporary truces and prisoner exchanges. Despite American and other entreaties to limit civilian casualties, Israel appears determined to push into the south of Gaza, but its strategic thinking seems to end there, and to hold no plausible endgame in sight. As a consequence, the next phase of this vicious conflict will almost certainly lead Israel to an unenviable dilemma: whether to grant Hamas a small and ultimately hollow victory or a much larger and all-too-real one.
The next stages of the fighting seem clear. Israel will likely seize all of the significant aboveground urban areas in Gaza’s south, just as it did in the north. After that will come a major battle for control of Hamas’s extensive underground tunnel network, where most of the group’s fighters, leaders, equipment, and remaining hostages are presumed to be located. Ultimately, Israel may seek to destroy the tunnels themselves, perhaps by flooding them with seawater. In doing so, Israel will expect to have inflicted irreparable harm on Hamas, rendering it unable to govern Gaza or pose a threat to southern Israel for the foreseeable future.
All of those goals are plausibly achievable. But Israel’s larger stated aim—of utterly eradicating Hamas—is impossible. Hamas is a brand name, not a list of individuals and objects. Israel could destroy its leaders and all of its equipment, declare victory, and leave Gaza to its fate. Hamas, in some form, would still crawl out of the rubble and declare a “divine victory” of its own.
Not only that: Hamas has cadres all over the Middle East, including the group’s de facto diplomatic branch in Qatar, as well as significant pockets of fighters in the West Bank, Lebanon, and elsewhere. Israel could assassinate them all—and still, at the end of this round of fighting, somebody, in the name of Hamas, will declare victory over Israel, even if only by pointing to October 7 and claiming to have destroyed Israel’s veneer of invincibility, sense of impunity, and insufferable arrogance, while reviving the Palestinian issue on the international stage.
Israel Is Walking Into a Trap
Storming into Gaza will fulfill Hamas’s wish.
By Hussein Ibish
Militant Rocket Hit Base Linked to Israeli Nuclear Missile Program
A [NY]Times visual analysis found that a rocket launched from Gaza on Oct. 7 hit an Israeli military base believed to house nuclear-capable missiles, although it’s likely they were not in danger.
Politico Playbook: HARRIS IN DUBAI
…the real centerpiece of Harris’ two-day mission was direct, one-on-one talks with four of the most powerful leaders in the Middle East about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war — in particular, about what role neighboring countries will play in stabilizing Gaza after hostilities cease.
• To Egyptian President ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISI … “Under no circumstances will the United States permit the forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank, the besiegement of Gaza, or the redrawing of the borders of Gaza.”
• To Jordan’s King ABDULLAH II … “She emphasized that [post-conflict] efforts can only succeed if they are pursued in the context of a clear political horizon for the Palestinian people, toward a state of their own led by a revitalized Palestinian Authority and backed by significant support from the international community and the countries of the region.”
• To UAE President MOHAMMED BIN ZAYED … “The Vice President made clear that Hamas cannot control Gaza, which is untenable for Israel’s security, the well-being of the Palestinian people, and regional security.”
• To all three, plus Qatari Emir SHEIKH TAMIM BIN HAMAD AL THANI, Harris proposed a three-legged strategy for a Gaza’s future: (1) reconstruction, with the international community dedicating “significant resources” to recovery efforts; (2) security, calling on Palestinian Authority forces “to eventually assume security responsibilities in Gaza” following a negotiated transition; and (3) governance, led by a “revitalized” Palestinian Authority “driven by the will of the Palestinian people.”
Who will run Gaza after the war? U.S. searches for best of bad options
The Biden administration says a ‘revitalized’ Palestinian Authority should govern the enclave, but the idea is deeply unpopular with Israel — and many Palestinians
By Michael Birnbaum, William Booth and Hazem Balousha
(WaPo) The Israelis say they don’t want the job. Arab nations are resisting. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas might volunteer, but the Palestinian people probably don’t want him.
As the Biden administration begins to plan for “the day after” in Gaza — confronting problematic questions such as who runs the territory once the shooting stops, how it gets rebuilt and, potentially, how it eventually becomes a part of an independent Palestinian state — the stakeholders face a host of unattractive options.
…after more than 15 years in power in Gaza, Hamas and its supporters are deeply embedded in every sector of society — not only in the government ministries they run, but in charities, courts, mosques, sport teams, jails, municipalities and youth groups.
The de facto governing body in the Gaza Strip since 2007, when it ousted the Palestinian Authority from power, Hamas has overseen the economy, health care, water and electricity, trade and infrastructure. It runs the security forces in Gaza — not only the militant brigades, like Qassam, now fighting Israeli forces in the streets but also the regular police force, including traffic cops.
… The question of who maintains law and order after the conflict is deeply complicated, experts say. Israeli authorities acknowledge the need to make such plans, say U.S. officials who met with them last week, but they don’t have concrete proposals and appear to want others to decide.
30 November-1 December
War resumes in Gaza after truce collapses
Israel’s warplanes pounded Gaza, sending wounded and dead Palestinians into hospitals and residents into the streets to flee, as its war against Hamas resumed after talks to extend a week-old truce broke down.
Blinken Urges Israel to Protect Gaza’s Civilians if Truce Ends
The U.S. secretary of state went to Israel as part of a diplomatic push to extend a tenuous truce with Hamas, but in comments in Tel Aviv, he focused more on the next phase of Israel’s offensive.
-Blinken urges Israeli leaders to take concrete steps to protect civilians should fighting restart.
-Hamas releases eight more hostages on the seventh day of a fragile truce.
Israel Knew Hamas’s Attack Plan More Than a Year Ago
A blueprint reviewed by The Times laid out the attack in detail. Israeli officials dismissed it as aspirational and ignored specific warnings.
By Ronen Bergman and Adam Goldman
(NYT) Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the Oct. 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened, documents, emails and interviews show. But Israeli military and intelligence officials dismissed the plan as aspirational, considering it too difficult for Hamas to carry out.
The approximately 40-page document, which the Israeli authorities code-named “Jericho Wall,” outlined, point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to the deaths of about 1,200 people.
Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot — all of which happened on Oct. 7.
Shlomo Ben-Ami: The False Choice Between Palestinian and Jewish Liberation
The prevailing narrative that frames Israel as a colonial power suppressing Palestinians’ struggle for statehood grossly oversimplifies a complicated conflict and inadvertently vindicates the region’s most oppressive regimes. Achieving a durable, lasting peace requires moving beyond such facile analogies.
(Project Syndicate) Contrary to what Hamas and its Western apologists believe, Israel’s sizeable Palestinian minority is not eager to be “decolonized.” A recent poll conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute found that despite not having full equality, the share of Palestinian Israelis who sympathize with the Jewish state has increased to 70% since the outbreak of the war in Gaza, up from 48% in June. While the colonial nature of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is undeniable, it is also important to note that Palestinians’ Pavlovian rejection of Israel’s two peace proposals at the beginning of this century hastened the demise of the Israeli peace movement. The late Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat rejected the first proposal, the so-called Clinton peace parameters, in 2000 – a decision that was strongly condemned by the then-Saudi Ambassador to the United States, Bandar bin Sultan, who called it a “crime against the Palestinian people.” The second proposal was made in 2008. The late Saeb Erekat, then the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, acknowledged that Israel “offered us 100% of the land” and a capital in East Jerusalem. His response – “Why should we hurry after all the injustice done to us?” – reflected Palestinians’ righteous anger but was similarly misguided.
More Israeli hostages expected to be freed after Gaza truce extended
An Israel-Hamas truce in the Gaza Strip stretched into a fifth day on Tuesday [28 November] as the two sides completed the release of Israeli hostages and detained Palestinians and looked poised to free more as the pause in fighting was extended by two days.
9 children, including 3-year-old twins, and 2 mothers released from Hamas captivity
After delays, latest group of hostages, all from Kibbutz Nir Oz, freed from Gaza as truce holds; IDF says Hamas handed Bibas family off to a different terror faction in Khan Younis
Heather Cox Richardson November 26, 2023
A four-year-old dual Israeli-American citizen was among the 17 more hostages released by Hamas today. Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners, all of whom were under 19 years old. Hamas has expressed interest in extending the truce; Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has echoed that interest so long as each day brings at least ten more hostages out of captivity. Officials from the U.S., Egypt, and Qatar continue to negotiate.
In the Washington Post today, reporters Steve Hendrix and Hazem Balousha put on the table the idea that both Netanyahu and Hamas “may be on the way out.” Such a circumstance would permit changes to the current political stalemate in the region, perhaps bringing closer the two-state solution for which officials around the world, including U.S. president Joe Biden, continue to push.
Israelis are furious that Netanyahu failed to prevent the October 7 attack, and seventy-five percent of them want him to resign or be replaced when the crisis ends. At the same time, Hendrix and Balousha write, Palestinians are angry enough at Gaza’s leadership to be willing to criticize Hamas.
Hamas releases 24 hostages on first day of Gaza ceasefire
On day of high tension, Israel also releases Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian convoy enters Gaza
‘Relief’ in war-torn Gaza as truce takes effect in Israel-Hamas war
Aid begins to trickle in to Gaza as the first pause begins after seven weeks of hostilities between Israel and Hamas.
WHO says it has no information about status of al-Shifa Hospital director
Muhammad Abu Salmiya, the director of Gaza’s largest hospital, was detained by Israeli forces yesterday along with five other health workers while transferring patients to the south of the enclave.
The WHO said in a statement that two of the six have been released.
The five ‘extremely excruciating’ weeks of talks that led to the Hamas hostage deal
Vast challenges remain in freeing all 240 hostages. Most of all, Hamas’ claims that it is not holding roughly 100 of the captives.
By Ayman Mohyeldin, Anna Schecter and Corky Siemaszko
(NBC) It took weeks of secret negotiations involving U.S., Israeli, Qatari and Egyptian officials, the heads of the CIA and the Mossad, and the personal intervention of President Joe Biden to convince a reluctant Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a four-day cease-fire that is expected to free 50 hostages from Hamas.
The negotiations, while ultimately successful, revealed the vast challenges that remain in freeing all of the roughly 240 captives seized during the group’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel.
Throughout the talks, Hamas officials maintained that they had taken captive only about 70 Israeli soldiers and 50 women and children, according to a diplomat in the region with knowledge of the negotiations.
Hamas officials said the whereabouts of as many as 100 other captives are unknown but they are pursuing leads. The group claimed that “some Israelis were kidnapped by individual Palestinian gangs or smugglers,” according to the diplomat.
The final agreement — the outlines of which had been on the table for weeks — wouldn’t have been accepted by Netanyahu without enormous pressure from Biden, according to a senior Israeli government official.
“This deal was a Biden deal, not a Netanyahu deal,” the official said.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh leads group’s diplomacy as Gaza war rages
Some see more pragmatic line behind tough talk
(Reuters) – Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader based in Qatar, has been the tough-talking face of the Palestinian group’s international diplomacy as war has raged back in Gaza where his family home was destroyed in an Israeli air strike in November.
Appointed to the militant group’s top job in 2017, he has moved between Turkey and Qatar’s capital Doha, escaping the travel restrictions of the blockaded Gaza Strip and enabling him to act as a negotiator in the latest ceasefire deal or talk to Hamas’ main ally Iran.
“Haniyeh is leading the political battle for Hamas with Arab governments,” said Adeeb Ziadeh, a specialist in Palestinian affairs at Qatar University, adding that … “He is the political and diplomatic front of Hamas,” [with] close ties with more hardline figures in the group and the military wing.
Israeli army arrests al-Shifa Hospital director, other doctors in Gaza
Director Muhammad Abu Salmiya and several other medical personnel detained as Israel continues its Gaza offensive.
(Al Jazeera) The Israeli army has arrested the director of al-Shifa Hospital, the largest medical complex in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Hospital director Muhammad Abu Salmiya was held for questioning following “evidence showing that Shifa Hospital, under his direct management, served as a Hamas command and control centre”, the Israeli military said in a statement on Thursday.
Did Hamas Operate Under Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital? A Tour of the Tunnels Leaves No Room for Doubt
Israeli journalists were shown a conduit under the facility stretching over 170 meters. There’s no way the hospital’s managers didn’t know what was going on
Is the Two-State Solution Back?
(Project Syndicate) The only way to avoid “eternal war,” former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt argues, is to “take decisive steps toward a two-state solution.” Such an effort faces “huge” obstacles, not least the “increase in support for violence among Palestinians who have grown frustrated to the point of despair” and “the inclusion of fundamentalist Jewish settlers in the current Israeli government.” The key to overcoming them is to “use the renewed prospect of a two-state solution to galvanize moderate forces on both sides.”
Hamas’s Asymmetric Advantage
What Does It Mean to Defeat a Terrorist Group?
(Foreign Affairs) … Hamas has proved difficult, if not impossible, to vanquish with military force. Technology has shrunk the gap between states and terrorists, allowing nonstate groups to behave in ways that mimic the operations of countries; Hamas can launch sophisticated attacks and spread propaganda much as Israel can. Ancient tactics, too, such as the construction of a warren of tunnels beneath Gaza, have helped Hamas fend off a more powerful adversary. And Hamas gained leverage by capturing some 240 hostages. States have always struggled to defeat terrorist groups, but the Israel-Hamas war shows why it has gotten even harder to do so.
Israeli official says talks continuing, hostage release won’t take place before Friday
(AP) — Israel and Hamas on Wednesday agreed to a four-day cease-fire in the war in Gaza — a diplomatic breakthrough that will free dozens of hostages held by militants as well as Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, and bring a large influx of aid to the besieged territory.
The truce raised hopes of eventually winding down the war, which was triggered by Hamas’ Oct. 7 deadly rampage into Israel. Now in its seventh week, the war has leveled vast swaths of Gaza, fueled a surge of violence in the occupied West Bank, and stirred fears of a wider conflagration across the Middle East.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a nationally televised news conference that the war would resume after the truce expires. Israel’s goals are to destroy Hamas’ military capabilities and return all 240 hostages held captive in Gaza.
The secret negotiations that led to the Gaza hostages deal
(Reuters) – Shortly after Hamas militants took hostages during their deadly assault on southern Israel on Oct. 7, the government of Qatar contacted the White House with a request: Form a small team of advisers to help work to get the captives freed.
That work, begun in the days after the hostages were taken, finally bore fruit with the announcement of a prisoner swap deal mediated by Qatar and Egypt and agreed by Israel, Hamas and the United States.
The secretive effort included tense personal diplomatic engagement by U.S. President Joe Biden, who held a number of urgent conversations with emir of Qatar and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the weeks leading up to the deal.
It also involved hours of painstaking negotiations including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, CIA Director Bill Burns, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and his deputy Jon Finer, and U.S. Middle East envoy Brett McGurk, among others.
Bear in mind
Netanyahu wants to ‘deradicalize’ Gaza through war. Is that even possible?
NPR’s Ari Shapiro speaks with Brookings Institution’s Natan Sachs about whether demilitarizing and deradicalizing Gaza is possible
Natan Sachs: The death toll and the destruction in Gaza is enormous. And without a question, it will also lead to radicalization. So the question is, what kind of mixed bag will there be? There will be now probably generations of Palestinians growing up with this as a defining memory, perhaps, of their life, some of them, many of them wanting revenge and therefore fertile ground for radicalization in the future. But there will also be, perhaps, if Israel is successful – and we don’t know that yet – if Israel’s successful, there will also be the lack of the physical and organizational infrastructure in the Gaza Strip that would offer radicals the opportunity. So the radicalization that will surely follow from this massive destruction in the Gaza Strip and the staggering death toll will also be coupled, perhaps, by a lack of opportunity, given the degradation of Hamas itself. Of course, depending on what emerges in its wake, there could be other organizations, more radical organizations, different ones or Hamas itself in a more underground form.