Israel, Palestine/Gaza/Hamas February 2024-

Written by  //  February 26, 2024  //  Israel  //  No comments

7 February
Israel’s Self-Destruction – Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and the Price of Neglect
By Aluf Benn, Editor in Chief of Haaretz
(Foreign Affairs) October 7 was the worst calamity in Israel’s history. It is a national and personal turning point for anyone living in the country or associated with it. Having failed to stop the Hamas attack, the IDF has responded with overwhelming force, killing thousands of Palestinians and razing entire Gazan neighborhoods. But even as pilots drop bombs and commandos flush out Hamas’s tunnels, the Israeli government has not reckoned with the enmity that produced the attack—or what policies might prevent another. Its silence comes at the behest of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has refused to lay out a postwar vision or order. Netanyahu has promised to “destroy Hamas,” but beyond military force, he has no strategy for eliminating the group and no clear plan for what would replace it as the de facto government of postwar Gaza.
His failure to strategize is no accident. Nor is it an act of political expediency designed to keep his right-wing coalition together. To live in peace, Israel will have to finally come to terms with the Palestinians, and that is something Netanyahu has opposed throughout his career.
He has devoted his tenure as prime minister, the longest in Israeli history, to undermining and sidelining the Palestinian national movement. He has promised his people that they can prosper without peace. He has sold the country on the idea that it can continue to occupy Palestinian lands forever at little domestic or international cost. And even now, in the wake of October 7, he has not changed this message. The only thing Netanyahu has said Israel will do after the war is maintain a “security perimeter” around Gaza—a thinly veiled euphemism for long-term occupation, including a cordon along the border that will eat up a big chunk of scarce Palestinian land.
… Ultimately, Israel’s future may look very much like its recent history. With or without Netanyahu, “conflict management” and “mowing the grass” will remain state policy—which means more occupation, settlements, and displacement. This strategy might appear to be the least risky option, at least for an Israeli public scarred by the horrors of October 7 and deaf to new suggestions of peace. But it will only lead to more catastrophe. Israelis cannot expect stability if they continue to ignore the Palestinians and reject their aspirations, their story, and even their presence.

26 February
Palestinian PM Shtayyeh Resigns Amid Calls for Reform
President Abbas asks government to stay on as caretaker
Move marks likely shift within Palestinian Authority
Palestinian PM Shtayyeh hands resignation to Abbas over Gaza ‘genocide’
Shtayyeh’s move comes amid US pressure on Palestinian Authority to work on a political structure that can govern a Palestinian state after Gaza war.
(Al Jazeera) Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has announced the resignation of his government, which rules parts of the occupied West Bank, due to the escalating violence in the occupied territory and the war on Gaza.
“The decision to resign came in light of the unprecedented escalation in the West Bank and Jerusalem and the war, genocide and starvation in the Gaza Strip,” said Shtayyeh, who submitted his resignation to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday.
Abbas accepted Shtayyeh’s resignation and asked him to stay on as caretaker until a permanent replacement is appointed.
Shtayyeh’s comments come as US pressure grows on Abbas to shake up the PA and begin work on a political structure that can govern a Palestinian state following the war.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has on numerous occasions rejected calls for the PA under Abbas to take control of a Palestinian state and govern Gaza.

24 February
Ceasefire talks raise Gaza hopes but 1.5m trapped in fear the worst
Closed-door negotiations in Paris and UN efforts in New York yield conflicting reports of progress, but city of Rafah remains in Israel’s firing line
A closed-door meeting of spy chiefs, military officials and diplomats has briefly renewed hopes of a potential ceasefire deal amid fierce debates at the United Nations, but observers have warned that time is running out to make progress and prevent a looming Israeli offensive on Gaza’s southernmost city.
The secretive talks at an unknown location in Paris involved David Barnea, the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence service, conducting separate meetings with Egyptian spy chief Abbas Kamel, head of the CIA William Burns and Qatari prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani.
Israeli officials said they had dispatched negotiators to Paris with an expanded mandate. “We will expand the authority given to our hostage negotiators,” Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant told US envoy to the Middle East Brett McGurk last week. “At the same time, the IDF is preparing the continuation of intense ground operations.”

21-22 February
Israeli Delegation to Leave for Paris on Friday for New Round of Hostage, Cease-fire Talks
The Fate of the Israeli Hostages Depends on Palestinians Running Gaza – and Hamas’ Future
The postwar rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, aided by Egypt and Qatar, depends of the establishment of a Palestinian regime which, for now at least, also depends of Yahya Sinwar agreeing – and there’s no one in Hamas strong enough to tell him what to do
Haaretz: Negotiators Close In on Hostage Deal That Would Halt Fighting in Gaza for Weeks
A written draft agreement calls for the phased release of captives held by Hamas in exchange for a cessation in Israel’s military offensive for about two months.
CIA chief expected in Paris for Gaza hostage talks as U.S. pushes for deal before Ramadan
(Axios) CIA director Bill Burns is expected to travel to Paris on Friday to hold talks with Qatari, Egyptian and Israeli officials about the efforts to reach a deal to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, a source familiar with the issue and an Israeli official said.
Why it matters: Biden administration officials say they want to try and get a deal before the start of Ramadan in less than three weeks in order to ensure there is a temporary ceasefire in place during the Muslim holy month. But major gaps between Israel and Hamas remain.
27 January
Negotiators Close In on Hostage Deal That Would Halt Fighting in Gaza for Weeks
A written draft agreement calls for the phased release of captives held by Hamas in exchange for a cessation in Israel’s military offensive for about two months.

Biden can end the bombing of Gaza right now. Here’s how
Mr President, make the call. End this genocide
… The truth is that the commander-in-chief of the richest country in the history of the world is far from powerless and, like every commander-in-chief before him, possesses plenty of leverage.
… How do we know? First, because members of the US defense establishment say so. … How do we know? First, because members of the US defense establishment say so….The Israelis cannot “refuse” the Americans. In fact, the president of the US could “turn off the tap” – ammunition, bombs, intel – and thereby end what the ICJ has deemed to be a plausible genocide in Gaza. … Third, we know Biden has the power to stop Netanyahu from killing Palestinians en masse in Gaza because … he has done it before. In May 2021….

20 February
How Israel’s war went wrong
The conflict in Gaza has become “an era-defining catastrophe.” It’s increasingly clear what — and who — is to blame.
Zack Beauchamp, Senior Correspondent at Vox, covers challenges to democracy in the United States and abroad, right-wing populism, and the world of ideas.
At the end of November, Israeli reporter Yuval Abraham broke one of the most important stories of the war in Gaza to date — an inside look at the disturbing reasoning that has led the Israeli military to kill so many civilians.*
… There’s no doubt that the IDF has done significant damage to Hamas’s infrastructure. Israel has killed or captured somewhere around one-third of Hamas’s fighting force, destroyed at least half of its rocket stockpile, and demolished somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of its tunnel network under Gaza. The more the war goes on, the higher those numbers will become.
But as significant as these achievements are, “none of them come close to eliminating Hamas,” says Dan Byman, a professor at Georgetown who studies Israeli counterterrorism policy.
The group, he explains, has “very deep roots in Gaza” — ones that could only be permanently removed if Israel had a good plan for a postwar political arrangement in Gaza. Yet at present, Israel still has no plan at all. With support for Hamas rising in reaction to Israeli brutality, Israel runs a real risk of actually strengthening the terrorist group’s political position in the long run.
… A world where hundreds of thousands of Gazans suffer and only Hamas benefits is the worst of all possible worlds. Yet it is increasingly looking like a likely one.
The truth is that this nightmare was depressingly predictable. When I surveyed over a dozen experts about the war back in October, they warned that Israel had a dangerously loose understanding of what the war was about. The stated aim of “destroying Hamas” was at once maximalist and open-ended: It wasn’t clear how it could be accomplished or what limit there might be on the means used in its pursuit.
Israel’s conduct in the war so far has vindicated these fears. The embrace of an objective at once so massive and vague has dragged Israel down the moral nadir documented in Abraham’s reporting, with unclear and perhaps even self-defeating ends. It is a situation that Matt Duss, the executive vice president at the Center for International Policy, terms “an era-defining catastrophe.”
* 30 November
‘A mass assassination factory’: Inside Israel’s calculated bombing of Gaza
Permissive airstrikes on non-military targets and the use of an artificial intelligence system have enabled the Israeli army to carry out its deadliest war on Gaza, a +972 and Local Call investigation reveals.

18 February
Israel vows to ‘finish the job’ in Gaza as War Cabinet member threatens a Ramadan deadline for Rafah
(AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday brushed off growing calls to halt the military offensive in Gaza, vowing to “finish the job” as a member of his War Cabinet threatened to invade the southern city of Rafah if remaining Israeli hostages are not freed by the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Israel’s government formally rejects the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.
(NYT) The Israeli government on Sunday approved a resolution rejecting any international attempts to impose a Palestinian state on Israel, saying that Israel would have to directly negotiate any “permanent” arrangement with the Palestinians.
The largely symbolic move followed recent comments from some of Israel’s allies suggesting that they might consider simply recognizing a Palestinian state ahead of any agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
Palestinian factions to meet in Moscow as west rejects Hamas role in ruling Gaza after war
Palestinian Authority ‘ready to engage’, says prime minister ahead of talks on formation of new Gaza government
(The Guardian) Western powers have rejected suggestions that Hamas as an entity can be allowed a role in governing Gaza at the end of the war, saying only that they recognise that Palestinian militancy will still exist.
Speculation that a weakened Hamas might be willing to form a partnership with the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, and govern Gaza and the West Bank jointly, have been revived by a Russian invitation for Palestinian factions to meet in Moscow on 26 February.
The news of the meeting was confirmed by the Palestinian Authority prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, at the Munich security conference.

17 February
West Bank Palestinians paying the price for Gaza war
(BBC) Palestinians working in Israel – and those working in Israeli settlements in the West Bank – accounted for nearly one in five of all Palestinian workers before 7 October, according to official Palestinian figures.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.
The workers contributed $3.2bn annually to the Palestinian economy, with most employed in construction.
While some Israeli business groups lobbied for Palestinian workers to be allowed back, the government has come up with a different plan.
It wants to replace Palestinian workers and plans to admit more than 60,000 workers from India, China, Moldova, Sri Lanka and Thailand this year.

Netanyahu dismisses election calls as thousands protest in Tel Aviv
(Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday dismissed the idea of holding early elections, while thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv for an anti-government protest.
Netanyahu has seen his popularity plummet in opinion polls since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack that sparked the devastating war in Gaza.
Anti-government protests that shook the country for much of 2023 have largely subsided during the war. Still, demonstrators again took to the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday night calling for new elections, which are not scheduled until 2026.

14-15 February
Palestinians Flee as Israeli Forces Raid a Major Hospital in Gaza
Israel says Hamas routinely operates within — and beneath — places like Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, using them as shields, and has held Israeli hostages there. The group denies the charges.
Warnings Over Israel’s Plans for Rafah Come From All Corners
Allies and others say the safety of the Palestinian civilians who have sought shelter in the far south of Gaza is paramount.
Netanyahu vows to press ahead with Rafah offensive as ceasefire talks continue
Israeli prime minister says civilians will be allowed to leave ‘battle zones’ but does not specify where they could go

12 February
UK places sanctions on Israeli settlers for ‘forcing’ Palestinians from their land
David Cameron says ‘extremist’ settlers responsible for human rights abuses against West Bank residents

10 February
Dozens killed in Rafah airstrikes as full-scale Israeli ground offensive looms
More than a million civilians sheltering in Gaza’s last place of relative safety brace for all-out assault
Airstrikes on the Gaza Strip’s southernmost town of Rafah have killed at least 44 people as more than a million civilians sheltering in the area brace for the possibility of a full-scale Israeli ground offensive on the territory’s last place of relative safety.
As Israeli forces have expanded ground operations steadily southwards in their war against Hamas over the past four months, Rafah – situated on the border with Egypt, and home before the war to about 280,000 people – has become the last refuge for more than half of the strip’s population of 2.3 million.
Israel appears to be in breach of ICJ orders on Gaza, senior UN official says
Special rapporteur cites lack of medical supplies, food and clean water, and continued demolition of infrastructure
The Israeli government was given until 23 February to report to the ICJ on what it has done to comply with six orders the court issued, including one relating to ending incitement to genocide and another requiring immediate steps to improve the supply of humanitarian aid.
Senior western officials say that despite hours of negotiations with Israeli officials there is at best a marginal and incremental improvement since the 26 January ruling. “Safe to say, it’s dire and getting worse,” one said.

7-8 February
3 men are holding the Levant hostage
If the guns of war are to be silenced, it will mean the exit of Benjamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas and Yahya Sinwar
(Politico Eu) As it stands, the future course of events in the Middle East is largely dependent on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar. But for peace to have a chance, all three will have to recognize they can’t be part of this future — if the guns are to fall silent, their time is up.
Nearly a dozen countries are now caught up in the fighting sparked by Hamas’ grievous attacks on southern Israel on Oct. 7, and conflict is spreading across the region. But while the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have been leading intense diplomatic efforts to find a way out of the crisis, much to their evident frustration — as well as fear from the White House that the Gaza War could cost President Joe Biden the next election — their efforts continue to be stymied. Deeply suspicious of Netanyahu, Biden has reportedly dubbed the Israeli prime minister a “bad fucking guy” in private conversations.
But the joint U.S.-Saudi peace plan is a progressive one with discrete yet overlapping stages, requiring the buy-in of all the three leaders.
Netanyahu rejects Gaza ceasefire deal and says victory is ‘within reach’
Israeli PM rebuffs US-led mediation efforts as order is given to commence ground assault in southern city of Rafah
(The Guardian) Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the terms of a ceasefire in Gaza proposed by Hamas and rebuffed US pressure to move more quickly towards a mediated settlement to the war, saying there could be no solution to Israel’s security issues except “absolute victory” over the militant group.
The Israeli prime minister also confirmed that the Israel Defense Forces had been instructed to commence operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where the population has been swelled by hundreds of thousands of displaced people.
In a sharp rebuff to the Biden administration and the visiting US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, Netanyahu said it would require months more fighting before Hamas was defeated.
… There had been mounting international concern that Israel was preparing a ground offensive in Rafah. UN officials have said an assault there would lead to a “large-scale loss of life” and the risk of war crimes.
Saying that no part of the Gaza Strip would be “immune” from Israel’s offensive, Netanyahu, whose poll ratings have collapsed, also ruled out any arrangement that would leave Hamas in full or partial control of Gaza.

5-6 February
With grains of salt:
Lt. Col. Conricus to TML: In Gaza, ‘Hardly a House That Doesn’t Have an Entrance to a Tunnel, Shaft, or Weapons’
In an in-depth interview, the ex-IDF spokesman reveals the challenges Israel faces in Gaza, including the search for bodies of hostages killed in captivity, emphasizing the entanglement of civilian infrastructure with Hamas’ operations
Just back from reserve duty, Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus, the international spokesperson for the Israel Defense and Security Forum and former international spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), gave a candid interview to The Media Line on the sidelines of the Israel Defense Conference 2024.
Conricus outlined the challenges faced by Israel. Despite substantial casualties, he affirmed the IDF’s on-the-ground efficiency and its progress in countering threats. He underscored the difficulties posed by Hamas’ use of civilian structures in Gaza for military purposes, complicating Israeli military efforts.
Inside the IDF: Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus on Navigating Operational and Ethical Challenges
Former IDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus, provides insights into the complex challenges faced by Israel’s military, including operational and ethical issues in Gaza.

2 February
Israeli war cabinet meeting ends with seemingly little consensus on next steps (YouTube)
(Al Jazeera) In tonight’s meeting, there didn’t seem to be any sort of consensus about what the next steps are when it comes to any framework or deal regarding the release of Israeli captives from Gaza. … Tonight’s war cabinet meeting followed a broader Israeli cabinet gathering where coalition members, including those from Netanyahu’s Likud party, expressed frustrations. There’s mounting pressure from the right-wing faction of the government, threatening to withdraw support if Netanyahu agrees to a deal they deem unfavorable to Israel. Such a move would jeopardize the stability of Israel’s coalition, a warning they’ve reiterated for over a week now.
On the other hand, members of the opposition, like Benny Gantz, have been vocal in their opposition to Netanyahu potentially yielding to the demands of the right-wing faction. Gantz has stated that if Netanyahu acquiesces, he will withdraw from the emergency government and the war cabinet. These conflicting positions underscore the complexities and challenges facing Israeli leadership in navigating the delicate negotiations and maintaining political stability amidst differing priorities and pressures.

2 February
Hamas expected to respond soon to proposal ceasefire including hostage releases
(Euro News via The World) Hamas officials said Friday that the group is studying a proposed ceasefire deal that would include prolonged pauses in fighting in Gaza and swaps of Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners, but at the same time appeared to rule out some of its key components. Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, said the group remains committed to its initial demands for a permanent ceasefire. Hamdan also said the group seeks the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners being held for acts related to the conflict with Israel, including those serving life sentences. He mentioned two by name, including Marwan Barghouti, a popular Palestinian uprising leader seen as a unifying figure. Hamdan’s comments on the prisoners were the most detailed demands yet to be raised by the group in public.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm