Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: April 19-26, 2024


  1. New from FMEP

  2. Gaza

  3. Region//Global

  4. River to the Sea

  5. U.S. Scene

  6. Media//Activism

  7. Perspectives//Long Reads


What does it mean for the U.S. to condition aid to Israel? (Occupied Thoughts podcast recorded 4/25)

FMEP Fellow Peter Beinart speaks with analyst Seth Binder about the technicalities of U.S. aid to Israel. They discuss the ways in which U.S. aid to Israel works differently from U.S. aid to other countries, the legal requirements & questions surrounding U.S. aid to Israeli military units that commit human rights abuses, and the question of whether, and in what ways, the debate over conditioning aid to Israel is changing.

Dead, Disabled, Displaced, Detained, Orphaned: The Toll of Israel’s War on Palestinian Children (Webinar & Podcast recorded 4/25)

2023 FMEP Fellow Dr. Yara Asi spoke with experts from two premiere Palestinian human rights organizations: Hamdi Shaqqura from the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), a Gaza-based organization which continues to operate and collect data in Gaza even under the most difficult circumstances; and Miranda Cleland from Defense for Children International-Palestine, which focuses on the rights of Palestinian children under Israeli occupation.

Settlement & Annexation Report: April 26, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy)

1.Smotrich Directs Government to Prepare to Fund & Service 68 Illegal Outposts 2. U.S. Balks on Designating Israeli Military Unit Named in Annual Human Rights Report3. U.S. Publishes 2023 Human Rights Report 4. Bonus Reads


Israel intensifies strikes on Rafah ahead of threatened invasion (Reuters)

“Israel stepped up airstrikes on Rafah overnight after saying it would evacuate civilians from the southern Gazan city and launch an all-out assault despite allies’ warnings this could cause mass casualties. Medics in the besieged Palestinian enclave reported five Israeli airstrikes on Rafah early on Thursday that hit at least three houses, killing at least six people including a local journalist.” See also Signs Suggest That Invasion of Rafah Is All but Inevitable (NYT 4/24/24); Satellite images show Israeli forces gathered for Gaza escalation (Al Jazeera); Israeli security chiefs in Cairo to discuss possible Rafah invasion (Al Monitor); Israel warns Egypt: “Last chance” for hostage deal before Rafah invasion (Axios)

Israel could still force an exodus into Egypt (Ishaan Tharoor//WaPo)

“For weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled his intent to launch a full-scale offensive into Rafah, the southern Gazan city that’s now home to more than a million Palestinians seeking safe haven in their war-ravaged territory. Netanyahu and his allies want to wipe out militant group Hamas’s footprint in the city — no matter the skepticism of experts who reckon the Islamist organization is far from defeated or the concerns of foreign diplomats and aid workers who fear the calamities for civilians that would follow the Israeli onslaught. A major move would trigger the frantic flight of hundreds of thousands of Gazans, many of whom arrived in the city after their homes and neighborhoods elsewhere in Gaza were pulverized by the Israeli military in its post-Oct. 7 war against Hamas. For months, there’s been speculation over whether Egypt would allow tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee to safety in the Sinai desert. Cairo is not keen to admit a refugee influx, given both its own internal security concerns and larger Pan-Arab worries that the Palestinians will be blocked from returning to their homeland like a previous generation of Palestinian refugees. On Tuesday, Volker Turk, the United Nations’ human rights chief, said leaders around the world “stand united on the imperative of protecting the civilian population trapped in Rafah.”’

Israeli strikes on southern Gaza city of Rafah kill 22, mostly children, as US advances aid package (AP News 4/21/24)

“Israeli strikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah overnight killed 22 people, including 18 children, health officials said Sunday, as the United States was on track to approve billions of dollars of additional military aid to Israel, its close ally. Israel has carried out near-daily air raids on Rafah, where more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million has sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. It has also vowed to expand its ground offensive against the Hamas militant group to the city on the border with Egypt despite international calls for restraint, including from the U.S. “In the coming days, we will increase the political and military pressure on Hamas because this is the only way to bring back our hostages and achieve victory. We will land more and painful blows on Hamas – soon,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.”

War on Gaza: Hundreds of bodies unearthed in Khan Younis hospital mass graves (Middle East Eye 4/21/24)

“The Palestinian civil defence on Sunday said it has found hundreds of bodies of Palestinians buried in mass graves by Israeli forces in the courtyard of Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. At least 200 bodies had been retrieved from two mass graves in the medical compound as of Sunday noon local time. As the search continued, rescuers estimated there to be at least 400 bodies. The Gaza government media office said some of bodies found had been decapitated, and had their skin and organs removed. According to Al Jazeera, the bodies of children, elderly women and young men were among those found. Rescue teams said some bodies had their hands bound behind their backs, suggesting they were executed and buried on the spot…The mass graves were discovered weeks after Israeli troops ended a three-month invasion of  Khan Younis, during which ground forces repeatedly attacked Nasser hospital. The hospital, Gaza’s second-largest and the “backbone” of the health system in southern Gaza, was put out of service after deadly Israeli raids in February, when 10,000 people had been sheltering at the medical complex.” See also UN rights chief ‘horrified’ by mass grave reports at Gaza hospitals (BBC); Nearly 200 bodies found in mass grave at hospital in Gaza’s Khan Younis (Al Jazeera); Reports of mass graves at Gaza hospitals ‘horrify’ UN rights experts – video (The Guardian); Mass graves in Gaza show victims’ hands were tied, says UN rights office (UN News); Almost 400 bodies have been found in mass grave in Gaza hospital, says Palestinian Civil Defense (CNN); U.S. Presses Israel for Information on ‘Disturbing’ Reports of Mass Graves at Gaza Hospitals (Haaretz); U.N. Calls for Inquiry Into Mass Graves at 2 Gaza Hospitals (NYT)

‘We’re Aware of the Location’: Aid Groups in Gaza Coordinated With I.D.F. but Still Came Under Fire (NYT)

“Visual evidence and internal communications obtained by The Times show six aid groups based in Western countries, including Israel’s strongest allies, had humanitarian sites hit by Israeli strikes, even after the locations were shared with the I.D.F.”

Israel has yet to provide evidence of Unrwa staff terrorist links, Colonna report says (The Guardian)

“Israel has yet to provide supporting evidence of its claims that employees of the UN relief agency Unrwa are members of terrorist organisations, an independent review led by the former French foreign minister Catherine Colonna has said. The Colonna report, which was commissioned by the UN in the wake of Israeli allegations, found that Unrwa had regularly supplied Israel with lists of its employees for vetting, and that “the Israeli government has not informed Unrwa of any concerns relating to any Unrwa staff based on these staff lists since 2011”.

Countries are reinstating funds for UNRWA — but not the United States (WaPo)

“UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, on which more than 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip rely, has faced existential challenges for months. The embattled organization struggled to address the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip as a cascade of countries suspended funding over allegations that several employees were involved in Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks. But most of the key countries that paused funding to UNRWA have since reinstated it, citing the acute humanitarian situation and the agency’s new assurances of oversight in its operations. Part of that reconsideration came after a highly anticipated independent review of the agency published Monday found that Israel had not provided evidence for allegations it also made that a significant number of workers within the agency are tied to militant groups. Still, some others have maintained their suspensions. That notably includes the United States, by far the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing nearly half the agency’s yearly operating budget. But, even if the Biden administration wanted to reconsider supporting UNRWA, its hands are tied. Republicans in Congress tacked on a year-long funding ban to a government spending package that passed last month. Even as the war continues, U.S. funding for UNRWA is prohibited by Congress until at least March 2025.”

Mortar attack on Gaza coast spotlights risk to U.S. pier mission (WaPo)

“Militants launched mortars at Israeli forces in Gaza as they prepared for the arrival of a floating U.S. Army pier dispatched to facilitate delivery of humanitarian aid, U.S. officials said Thursday, an incident that underscores the mission’s vulnerabilities. The attack on a “marshaling area” for the pier caused minimal damage, and occurred while U.S. ships involved in the operation remain a ways off shore, said Maj. Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman. The pier is under construction by U.S. troops — though “nowhere near mortar range,” he said — and expected to be put into service by early May.” See also US troops begin constructing Gaza pier, aiming to have it operational by early May (Times of Israel); Gaza-based militants attack Israeli forces preparing for US pier (Politico); A US-led effort to bring aid to Gaza by sea is moving forward. But big concerns remain (AP)

US and 17 other countries with hostages in Gaza call for their release in exchange for a ceasefire (Ron Kampeas//JTA)

“The Biden administration released a call from the leaders of 18 countries with citizens held hostage in Gaza calling for their immediate release in exchange for “an immediate and prolonged ceasefire” that would lead to the “end of hostilities.” Israel, which has the most citizens among the more than 130 hostages still held in Gaza, is not among the participants in the joint call. While the statement hews to conditions Israel has accepted for a hostage deal in the short term, it does not refer to Israel’s other goal in the war, which is to remove Hamas from power…The Biden administration’s leadership in the joint call is significant because President Joe Biden Biden has, since the outset of the war, repeatedly backed Israel’s twin goals: the release of the hostages and the removal of Hamas. But the war has progressed and the devastation on civilians has mounted, Biden has faced calls from among Democrats to press Israel into a ceasefire, and tensions have mounted between the Israeli and U.S. governments.” See also 18 countries demand hostage release; US: There’s a deal on the table, Hamas rejected it (Times of Israel); Egypt sends delegation to Israel, its latest effort to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas (AP); Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin’s family approves publication of Hamas propaganda video (Times of Israel); Qatar passed U.S. proof-of-life of Israeli-American hostage on Monday (Al Monitor); White House issues photo of Biden meeting freed hostage Avigail Idan: ‘She’s remarkable’ (Times of Israel)


Hezbollah launches deepest attack inside Israel since Gaza war began (Al Jazeera 4/23/24)

“The Lebanese group Hezbollah says it has launched drone attacks on Israeli bases north of the city of Acre in retaliation for the killing of one of its fighters, marking the deepest attack into Israeli territory since the Gaza war began…The Israeli military said it had no knowledge of any of its facilities being hit by Hezbollah, but had said earlier that it intercepted two “aerial targets” off Israel’s northern coast. Later on Tuesday, Lebanon’s official news agency NNA said at least two people were killed and six others injured after an Israeli air raid hit a residential area in the southern Lebanese town of Hanin.”

Recognition of Palestinian statehood is not the panacea it’s made out to be (Yara Hawari//Al Jazeera)

“As the genocide in Gaza rages on, various European countries, including Spain and Ireland, have indicated that they are moving towards recognising the State of Palestine…Currently, most countries in the Global South, but only very few in the West, recognise the State of Palestine. As it stands, recognition of the State of Palestine is a political and symbolic move – it signals the recognition of the Palestinian right to sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza. In reality, no such sovereignty exists – rather as an occupying force, the Israeli regime maintains de facto control over both territories and effectively controls everything that goes in and out, including people…Some Palestinians and international human rights organisations argue that recognition is a crucial step towards securing Palestinian fundamental rights and one that offers more legal avenues to hold the Israeli regime accountable. Yet it is difficult to envision how recognition of a state that does not exist would change the reality on the ground for Palestinians facing systematic erasure. In fact, it is pertinent to ask whether some states are pushing for this symbolic political move amid an ongoing genocide to avoid taking much more tangible actions, such as arms/trade embargoes and sanctions on the Israeli regime, to support Palestinians and reaffirm their right to sovereignty.”

A Cheat Sheet to the Middle East’s Web of Friends and Enemies (Daniel Levy, Graphics by Gus Wezerek//NYT)

“To keep track of what is going on between some of the key players, we sketched out a social network of friends, enemies and frenemies involved in the region. Examining the web makes it clear how snarled and precarious the current situation is…America’s options remain circumscribed while it continues a lockstep alliance with an Israel that appears unwilling to shift course on the Palestinian question and is increasingly internationally defined as an apartheid regime. Israel’s campaign in Gaza — the killing of some 14,000 children, according to the Gazan health ministry, the devastation of cities and the humanitarian crisis, all while the United States has continued to arm Israel and support it at the United Nations — may only exacerbate America’s troubles. Amid current tensions, it’s hard to imagine a transition toward regional de-escalation that would include rights and justice for Palestinians. But the magnitude of the current war in Gaza has upended calcified strategies, and that could be a harbinger of previously unlikely openings.”



Israeli military intelligence head resigns over Oct. 7 Hamas attack (WaPo)

“Israel’s top military intelligence chief said Monday he would step down and retire because of his department’s failure to anticipate Hamas’s Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israeli towns along the Gaza border. Maj. Gen. Aharon Haliva is the highest-ranking leader to resign over the assault, the deadliest one-day attack in Israel’s history.”

13 killed in Israeli raid on West Bank refugee camp, officials say (WaPo)

“At least 13 people were killed in a days-long raid by Israel’s military in a refugee camp in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian health officials said Saturday, adding that one of those who died was a 15-year-old boy.
The operation began Thursday in the Nur Shams refugee camp near Tulkarm, a city in the northern part of the West Bank…According to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, a number of dead and wounded were inside the camp Saturday but Israeli forces prevented ambulances from reaching them. Soldiers detained an ambulance crew at the entrance of a hospital in Tulkarm on Saturday and also blocked emergency vehicles from entering the camp on Friday, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said. “Israeli forces … have caused extensive destruction to civilian infrastructure during their military raid of Nur Shams refugee camp,” the charity group Medical Aid for Palestinians said Saturday.” See also Israeli Operation in West Bank Refugee Camp Leaves Massive Destruction in Its Wake (Haaretz); Israeli raids cause ‘worst destruction in decades’ in Tulkarem (Al Jazeera)

‘Political arrest’ of Palestinian academic in Israel is civil liberties threat, say lawyers (The Guardian)

“The arrest and interrogation of a leading Palestinian legal scholar based at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem marks a new threat to civil liberties in Israel, her legal team and employer have said. Prof Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian was detained by police on the afternoon of 17 April over comments made on a podcast more than a month earlier and held overnight in conditions her lawyers described as “terrible” and designed to humiliate. “This case is unique,” said Hassan Jabareen, her lawyer and the director of the human rights organisation Adalah. “This is not only about one professor, it could be a [precedent] for any academic who goes against the consensus in wartime.”…Although there have been widespread detentions of Palestinian citizens of Israel who publicly criticised the war in Gaza, this is the first time an academic has been targeted over speech related to their work…All prosecutions relating to freedom of speech have to be approved by the attorney general’s office, so her detention was signed off at the heart of government. Police said they were investigating Shalhoub-Kevorkian on suspicion of incitement to terrorism, violence and racism over comments on a podcast published in early March. Jabareen said: “They could have asked her to come to the police station for two or three hours to discuss, investigate. To carry out the arrest like that, as if she was a dangerous person, shows the main purpose was to humiliate her. It was illegal, that’s why the magistrates court accepted my argument that she should be released and the district court confirmed it.”


Biden signs bill that includes funding for Israel, aid for Gaza (WaPo)

“President Biden signed a $95 billion foreign aid bill Wednesday after the Senate approved it in a 79-18 vote Tuesday night. The measure contains $26 billion in funds allotted for Israel, which the White House said would “help ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself against the very real threats it faces from Iran, as well as Iran’s proxy groups.” It also includes humanitarian aid for Gaza and other places.” See also Netanyahu thanks U.S. for new military aid, vows to escalate in Gaza (WaPo); David Satterfield to step down as US envoy for Gaza aid (Al Monitor)

A look at the protests about the war in Gaza that have emerged on US college campuses (AP)

“The students are calling for universities to separate themselves from any companies that are advancing Israel’s military efforts in Gaza — and in some cases from Israel itself. Protests on many campuses have been orchestrated by coalitions of student groups. The groups largely act independently, though students say they’re inspired by peers at other universities. A look at protests on campuses in recent days: Columbia University…University of Southern California…Ohio State University…University of Texas at Austin…George Washington University…Harvard University…California State Polytechnic University, Humboldt…Emerson College…New York University…Emory University…Northwestern University…Yale University…Fashion Institute of Technology…City College of New York…Indiana University Bloomington…Michigan State University East Lansing Campus…University of Connecticut…University of Pennsylvania…” See also Johnson says he’ll push Biden to call in National Guard to quell Columbia unrest (Jewish Insider); Ilhan Omar’s daughter suspended from Columbia University over Gaza protests (Al Monitor);

The Crackdown on Campus Protests Is Happening Everywhere

(The Nation)
“Across the US, pro-Palestine students have faced repression, suspension, and arrest. We asked more than a dozen students to share how their schools have restricted the right to protest.” See also Campus protests for Gaza are proliferating — and so is the repression (+972); Inside the Gaza Solidarity Encampment at Columbia (The Nation)

With eyes on US college campuses, students stress: ‘Gaza is why we’re here’ (Al Jazeera)

“But the students at the heart of the movement say the reason they began their demonstrations – the pressing need to end Israel’s deadly bombardment of Gaza – risks being lost amid a cacophony of voices and distractions. “Gaza is why we’re here. Gaza is why we’re doing this,” said Rue, a student at The New School in New York City who asked to only be identified by her first name due to a fear of reprisals…The students issued a list of demands to their respective universities, including divesting from any companies that may be profiting from the Gaza war or providing the Israeli military with weapons and other support. They have also urged an end to reprisals against students who have spoken out in support of Palestinians and for administrators to pledge not to send police or other law enforcement agencies onto the campuses to break up their protests…Hundreds of students have been arrested across the country since the encampments began.” See also Professors arrested as police use ‘violence’ to clear university camp (Al Jazeera); Students vow to continue Gaza protests after California, Texas arrests (Al Jazeera); Gaza protests grow at US colleges, thousands demonstrate in Brooklyn (Reuters); Harvard Suspends Palestine Solidarity Committee Amid Wave of Protests on College Campuses (The Crimson);

Texas tramples First Amendment rights with police crackdown of pro-Palestinian protests (FIRE – Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression)

“UT Austin is a public, state-run university, and as a result it is open to free public expression. How can someone unlawfully occupy a space they have every legal right to be in? How can acting on the First Amendment right to gather and demonstrate in this public space be reasonably interpreted as an intent to “disrupt and create disorder,” as the statement UT Austin released today claims?…Abbott and UT Austin’s egregious response to peaceful protest and protected speech on campus doesn’t just violate the very state law Gov. Abbott signed — and to which, as a public university, UT Austin is beholden. It also violates the fundamental First Amendment rights of all citizens, including college students and faculty at a public university, to speak freely and loudly on issues of interest and concern. Such a disproportionate show of force meted out based on the content of protected speech is flagrantly unconstitutional, not to mention excessive and unfair, no matter how offensive, hateful, or wrong those in power may consider the speech.” See also U of Pennsylvania bans Students for Justice in Palestine from campus (Ynet); Over 130 arrested at NYU ‘liberated zone’ as anti-Israel encampments sweep US campuses (Times of Israel); Emory in Atlanta Is Latest University to Crack Down on Protests (NYT); Encampments are not ‘inherently unsafe.’ Princeton should not arrest or expel students for them. (Daily Princetonian Editorial Board)

US holds off on sanctioning Israeli military units accused of human rights violations in West Bank before start of war with Hamas (ABC News)

“The Biden administration has determined that three military battalions with the Israel Defense Forces committed “gross human rights violations” against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank but will remain eligible for U.S. military aid regardless because of steps Israel says it’s taking to address the problem, ABC News has learned.” See also Israel presses the U.S. to reconsider sanctions against IDF battalion (Axios)

Amid growing campus protests, House to vote on codifying Trump’s antisemitism executive order (Jewish Insider)

“The House is scheduled to vote next week on the bipartisan Antisemitism Awareness Act, the latest move by top House lawmakers to respond to growing anti-Israel protests on college campuses over the past week. The bill would codify the Trump administration’s 2019 executive order instructing the Department of Education to treat antisemitism on college campuses as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and to utilize the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism in assessing cases of antisemitism. The Biden administration has continued to enforce the Trump order.” See also Pelosi calls for Netanyahu’s resignation (Axios); Summer Lee wins primary battle over Bhavini Patel in Pittsburgh (Jewish Insider)

PM Netanyahu Responds to Antisemitism in US Campuses (YouTube)

“What’s happening in America’s college campuses is horrific…Antisemitic mobs have taken over leading universities. They call for the annihilation of Israel. They attack Jewish students. They attack Jewish faculty. This is reminiscent of what happened in German universities in the 1930s. It’s unconscionable. It has to be stopped. It has to be condemned and condemned unequivocally.” Bernie Sanders to Netanyahu: ‘It Is Not Antisemitic to Hold You Accountable’ (Common Dreams)

Majority in U.S. Now Disapprove of Israeli Action in Gaza (Gallup)

“After narrowly backing Israel’s military action in Gaza in November, Americans now oppose the campaign by a solid margin. Fifty-five percent currently disapprove of Israel’s actions, while 36% approve. All three major party groups in the U.S. have become less supportive of Israel’s actions in Gaza than they were in November. This includes declines of 18 percentage points in approval among both Democrats and independents and a seven-point decline among Republicans. Independents have shifted from being divided in their views of the Israeli military action to opposing it. Democrats, who were already largely opposed in November, are even more so now, with 18% approving and 75% disapproving. Republicans still support Israel’s military efforts, but a reduced majority — 64%, down from 71% — now approve.”

State Department Arabic spokesperson resigns in opposition to US policy on Gaza war (Times of Israel)

“The Arabic language spokesperson of the US State Department has resigned, citing her opposition to Washington’s policy related to the war in Gaza, in at least the third resignation from the department over the issue. Hala Rharrit was also the Dubai Regional Media Hub’s deputy director and joined the State Department almost two decades ago as a political and human rights officer, the department’s website shows.” See also Another ex-State Department official alleges Israeli military gets ‘special treatment’ on abuses (AP)

“Kill All Arabs”: The Feds are Investigating UMass Amherst for Anti-Palestinian Bias (The Intercept)

“The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has opened an investigation into the University of Massachusetts Amherst in response to a complaint that alleges that the school took months to address the harassment of Palestinian and Arab students. In the previously unreported civil rights complaint, 18 students said that they have “been the target of extreme anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab harassment and discrimination by fellow UMass students, including receiving racial slurs, death threats and in one instance, actually being assaulted.” The result, the students said, was a hostile environment for all Arab and Palestinian students, those perceived to be Palestinian, and their allies on campus. Among the most chilling allegations involves a student yelling “kill all Arabs” at fellow students protesting Israel’s war on Gaza.”


Gaza aid flotilla plans to challenge Israeli blockade, organizers say (WaPo)

“A flotilla of ships bound for the Gaza Strip is preparing to sail from Turkey in the coming days, organizers say, on a mission aimed at breaching Israel’s naval blockade and highlighting the lack of aid reaching Palestinians in the besieged enclave. The organizers, gathered under the banner of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition, have participated in similar missions for years, an effort that gained worldwide attention in 2010 after an Israeli raid on a flotilla that included a Turkish ship, the Mavi Marmara, killed 10 people and sparked a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and Israel…The latest flotilla mission, which will include a cargo ship carrying more than 5,000 tons of aid, comes as global attention on Gaza’s worsening humanitarian crisis has waned, shifting to the escalating conflict between Israel and Iran.”

Police Arrest Rabbis Near Gaza-Israel Border at a Rally to Highlight Starvation (NYT)

“Seven rabbis and peace activists were arrested on Friday near the border with Gaza after they tried to bring food supplies into the territory, according to two participants and the campaign group that organized the effort. The detainees were among a group of roughly 30 rabbis and activists from Israel and the United States who were stopped by police officers as they tried to reach the Erez crossing, a major transit point between Israel and northern Gaza. Organized by Rabbis for Ceasefire, a peace movement based in the United States, the effort was intended to build support for a truce and to highlight rising reports of starvation in Gaza. A global authority on food security, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initiative, has predicted an imminent famine in northern Gaza, the area of the territory closest to Erez. The protest was timed to coincide with the week of Passover, a Jewish festival that celebrates the biblical story of the liberation of Jews from slavery in ancient Egypt…The effort was largely symbolic and the organizers expected it to fail given the restrictions along the border; the supplies will now be donated to needy Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Rabbi Spitzer said.” See also ‘Not like other Passovers’: hundreds of Jewish demonstrators arrested after New York protest seder (The Guardian)

PEN America awards called off after writers’ Gaza boycott (BBC)

“Prominent literary group PEN America has cancelled its annual award ceremony after dozens of nominated writers withdrew in protest of the war in Gaza. The group, which is dedicated to free expression, announced on Monday that it was cancelling next week’s event. Nine of the ten writers nominated for a PEN book award had withdrawn from the contest because of its alleged lack of support for Palestinian writers…Of the 61 authors and translators nominated for a prize, 28 withdrew their books from consideration, according to a statement from the group.”

Sheryl Sandberg’s new film testifies to Hamas’s brutal sexual violence on October 7 (Times of Israel)

“Following a world premiere in New York on Thursday, “Screams Before Silence,” former Meta chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg’s new documentary on the systematic sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against Israelis on October 7, is now available for open-access online viewing. The hour-long film, created in cooperation with Israel’s Kastina Productions, provides first-hand accounts from survivors, freed hostages, first responders, and legal, medical, and forensic experts. Sandberg is present throughout the film either interviewing individuals in a studio or accompanying them to October 7-related sites.”


I got out of Gaza. But I’m still trapped by the war (Mahmoud Mushtaha//+972)

“A sense of anxiety and anger crept into my heart when I left the Gaza Strip earlier this month. Even now, here in Cairo, my conscience still wrestles inside me: how could I leave my mother, father, and siblings amid such suffering? How could I leave them to bear the burden of war alone, while I flee to safety, trying to save myself from the shards of destruction? It was a difficult decision to make, transcending the limits of pain and sorrow. I wasn’t just leaving behind a piece of land, but leaving behind my roots, my identity, and my loved ones. But in that moment of choice, the necessity of survival overcame everything else, even if it meant shedding parts of myself. Israel’s war on Gaza has lasted over six months, stealing our lives with every passing day. Six months of killing, hunger, fear, displacement, and homelessness. Six months that have stripped us of everything, and destroyed our future. War is mentally exhausting and physically draining. It is the worst thing in existence. A life in war is unlike any other life; you are internally shattered, yet you must hold yourself together, because it’s not the time to fall apart or wonder why it is all happening. You cannot allow the war to waste the sacrifices and efforts you made for years to build your future. The responsibilities we must carry are massive…“One member of this family must survive after the war, so that our name doesn’t get wiped off the population registry,” my father said, hiding his tears, when I told him I was considering leaving Gaza.”

We need an exodus from Zionism (Naomi Klein//Guardian)

“What I want to say to you tonight at this revolutionary and historic Seder in the Streets is that too many of our people are worshipping a false idol once again. They are enraptured by it. Drunk on it. Profaned by it. That false idol is called Zionism. It is a false idol that takes our most profound biblical stories of justice and emancipation from slavery – the story of Passover itself – and turns them into brutalist weapons of colonial land theft, roadmaps for ethnic cleansing and genocide…It is a false idol that has led far too many of our own people down a deeply immoral path that now has them justifying the shredding of core commandments: thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not covet.”

What Happened to the Joe Biden I Knew? (Nicholas Kristof//NYT)

“Gaza has become the albatross around Biden’s neck. It is his war, not just Benjamin Netanyahu’s. It will be part of his legacy, an element of his obituary, a blot on his campaign — and it could get worse if Gaza cascades into a full-blown famine or violent anarchy, or if a wider war breaks out involving Iran or Lebanon…Consider just one example of America’s fingerprints on this war under Biden’s leadership. In January, the Israeli military dropped a bomb on a compound in Gaza used by the International Rescue Committee, a much-respected American aid organization that is supported in part by American tax dollars. The International Rescue Committee says that the near-fatal strike was caused by a 1,000-pound American-made bomb, dropped from an American-made F-16 fighter jet. And when an American-made aircraft drops an American-made bomb on an American aid group in an American-supported war, how can that not come back to Biden?”

From the river to the sea, Israel is waging the same war (Orly Noy//+972)

“Rather, the assault on the Strip is an integral part of the organizational logic of Israel’s apartheid regime between the river and the sea — a regime that many Israelis hope will continue to be in “great shape” after the war is over…The categorization of Palestinians into separate classes — citizens inside Israel, permanent residents of East Jerusalem, occupied subjects in the West Bank, prisoners in the Gaza ghetto, and refugees in exile — is at the heart of Israel’s policy of divide and conquer. It effectively negates the existence of the Palestinians as a single and organic people, while keeping them all under the rule of Jewish supremacy. While Israelis may regard these categories as unrelated entities, this manipulation has never taken hold among Palestinians themselves, whose national identity does not recognize these artificial borders, even as those borders force upon them different rights and experiences. As such, the disaster in Gaza is not seen in Jaffa, Nablus, or Shu’afat refugee camp as an external event, but rather as a direct and intimate injury to a limb of the Palestinian body politic. The inverse is also true: the realities in Jenin refugee camp, East Jerusalem, and Umm al-Fahem cannot be understood independently of what is happening in Gaza. Since October 7, Israel has been waging an all-out war not only against the residents of Gaza, but against the entire Palestinian people. True, in Gaza, this war is being waged with such unprecedented cruelty as to be called a genocide. But if we see the Israeli regime as a hand with five fingers, each gripping a different part of the Palestinian people, it becomes clear how this hand has clenched into a single iron fist.”

Remembering Walid Daqqa, a prisoner with a ‘heretical belief in life’ (Anat Matar//+972)

“I met Walid almost two decades ago, after I established the Israeli Committee for Palestinian Prisoners together with Tamar Berger and Sanaa Salama-Daqqa — Walid’s upstanding and ever-determined wife and a good friend of mine. When Walid first heard from Sanaa about our small project, he wrote to me, marking the start of a years-long political, personal, reflective, and philosophical correspondence. In order to convey even just a glimpse of the unique character of the person we lost this month, I want to share some excerpts of what he wrote to me from within the prison walls. But before I do so, it’s important to explain the circumstances that led him there. The four-decade campaign of incitement against him — which has continued and intensified after his untimely death — obscures the man who walked the path of truth.”

Explained: The Israeli Extremists Who Want to Rebuild the Temple, and the Government Ministers Who Back Them (Haaretz)

“They dream of rebuilding the Temple, re-instituting animal sacrifices, and a Jewish religious monopoly over one of the world’s most contentious, incendiary sites, the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa Mosque. Once a fringe movement, its activists are now backed by Itamar Ben-Gvir and other far-right extremists in Netanyahu’s government. This is the story of the Temple Movement.” See also Temple Mount Activists Arrested for Attempt to Sacrifice Goats Praise Ben-Gvir’s Illegal Intervention to Free Them (Haaretz)

Palestinian artists stifled as Israel ‘weaponizes fear and fame’ (Mariam Farah//+972)

“Indeed, although fighting in the current war is concentrated in Gaza, it has sparked a crisis for Palestinian citizens of Israel — and artists in particular have been caught in the crosshairs. Their freedom of expression stifled, Palestinian artists have faced attacks by the state and its Jewish-Israeli citizens in the form of incitement, discrimination, legal prosecutions, and physical threats. Often, this has come as a result of the mere expression of solidarity with the people of Gaza or of peacefully opposing Israel’s brutal onslaught…Israel’s restrictions on Palestinian culture and art long predate the current war. They were prevalent at the state’s founding and have ebbed and flowed ever since. But the crackdown since October 7 is so severe that numerous critics say its closest analogue is the era of Israel’s military rule over Palestinian citizens, which lasted from 1948 until 1966.”