Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: February 16-23, 2024


1. New from FMEP
2. Gaza
3. River to Sea
4. Region/Diplomacy
5. US Scene
6. Long Reads/Perspectives

1. New from FMEP

Two new Occupied Thoughts podcast episodes: 

  • “Famine is a Massacre in Slow Motion:” On Mass Hunger & Israel’s Culpability in Gaza – FMEP Fellow Yara Asi speaks with Alex de Waal of the World Peace Foundation and Tufts University and author of the January 21, 2024 article in the Guardian entitled “Unless Israel changes course, it could be legally culpable for mass starvation.” In this discussion of widespread hunger and impending famine in Gaza, Drs. Asi & de Waal look at Gaza in relation to other cases of starvation and famine across the world, including comparing the human-made circumstances that lead to famine, the possibility and pace of international intervention to save lives, and the many generations required to face the specific trauma of famine. They discuss the possibilities for international intervention, noting that famine, once it begins, has momentum – and therefore will not stop when the bombing ends.
  • Impacts of Israel’s War on Gaza – a Regional Tour d’Horizon – FMEP’s Lara Friedman speaks to Middle East policy journalist, analyst, and author Omar Rahman about the regional impacts and implications of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza. Omar is currently a fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, where he focuses on Palestine, Middle East geopolitics, and American foreign policy in the region, and he is also a non-resident fellow at the Baker Institute for Public Policy. Omar is currently working on a book about Palestinian de-fragmentation in the post-Oslo era. Rahman is also a frequent speaker on panels, at conferences, and in the media.

FMEP Legislative Round-Up: February 23, 2024 (Lara Friedman) – 1. Bills, Resolutions; 2. Letters; 3. Hearings & Markups; 4. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

Settlement & Annexation Report: February 23, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy) – 1. Israel Announces Plans for 3,000+ New Settlement Units In Retaliation for Terror Attack Near Ma’ale Adumim; Ben Gvir Pushes for More Retaliatory Measures; 2. U.S. Reportedly Consider More Sanctions on Settlers, Revoking “Pompeo Doctrine”; 3. ICJ Hears Arguments on Israeli Occupation; 4. Peace Now Dissects Proposed 2024 State Budget; 5. Bonus Reads

2. War on Gaza

The Scenes in Rafah Are Straight From a Nightmare” (Jewish Currents) – “The city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip is ordinarily home to fewer than 300,000 people. But following Israel’s systematic campaign to render northern Gaza uninhabitable and drive its residents to the south, Rafah has become a refuge for over 1.4 million displaced Palestinians—more than half the enclave’s population…An Israeli invasion of Rafah will precipitate an even more extreme humanitarian disaster: In addition to putting over a million displaced civilians in the line of fire, the United Nations’s human rights chief warned, such an invasion would inhibit the trickle of aid currently entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, which has been the enclave’s main source of sustenance for months. The scale of the looming crisis has prompted even Western politicians, who have enthusiastically backed Israel’s war, to express their concerns. Yet Israel has vowed to press ahead with the invasion, indicating that troops will enter Rafah in the coming weeks. Hemmed in by Israeli fire, Palestinians in Rafah have no way to ensure their safety. Some have attempted to flee back to northern areas still under bombardment. Most remain in Rafah, bracing for death and against “the feeling of being left alone to face genocide,” in the words of Zak Haniyeh, a researcher and translator currently trapped in the city.” See also Israel Steps Up Attacks in Gaza Amid Cease-Fire Talks (NYT); Israel bombards Gaza’s Rafah as ground offensive looms (Al Jazeera); Israel intensifies strikes on Gaza’s Rafah, killing large family in home (Reuters); Death Is Chasing Us at Every Corner’: Displaced Persons in Rafah Keep Asking: Where Else Can We Go? (Sheren Falah Saab//Haaretz)

New hopes of Gaza ceasefire as Israeli negotiators head to Paris (Guardian) – “The Israeli delegation, which includes the heads of its internal and external intelligence services, will meet the director of the CIA, Qatar’s prime minister and Egypt’s most senior intelligence official for talks over the weekend in what appears to be the most serious push for weeks to halt the fighting. Pressure on Hamas and Israel to conclude a deal is mounting. There are widespread concerns among observers that an imminent Israeli offensive on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza will cause further extensive civilian casualties and that the start of Ramadan in less than three weeks could ignite widespread unrest in the occupied West Bank and exacerbate risks of a regional conflagration.” See also Mossad, CIA, Qatar, Egypt reps to meet in Paris as Gaza deal talks advance (Al Monitor); Israel says it will launch Rafah assault if hostages not freed by Ramadan (Guardian); 

Gaza aid delivery hampered by Israeli attacks on police, rising chaos (WaPo) – “The volume of aid delivered to Gaza has collapsed in recent weeks as Israeli airstrikes have targeted police officers who guard the convoys, U.N. officials say, exposing them to looting by criminal gangs and desperate civilians. On average, only 62 trucks have entered Gaza each day over the past two weeks, according to figures from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs — well below the 200 trucks per day Israel has committed to facilitating. Just four trucks crossed on two separate days this week. Aid groups, which have warned of a looming famine, estimate that some 500 trucks are needed each day to meet people’s basic needs.” See also Head of Palestinian Aid Agency Warns It Is at ‘Breaking Point’ (NYT); WFP halts food deliveries to north Gaza amid ‘complete chaos, violence’ (Al Jazeera); Exclusive: Israeli forces fired on food convoy in Gaza, UN documents and satellite analysis reveals (CNN); As Hunger Spreads in Gaza, Gangs Looting Aid Become Increasingly Brazen (Haaretz)

The Trauma Experienced in Gaza Is Beyond PTSD (Yara Asi//NYT) – “The traumas that Palestinians face can include events as varied as land confiscation, detention, home demolition, loss of loved ones and fear of losing one’s own life…To call what is experienced by people in Gaza today PTSD misses that these are not people in a post-trauma situation…Treatment cannot help convince a child in Gaza that the bombs they hear will not kill them, because they might. It cannot offer comfort to a mother worried her children may starve, because they could…Rather than use the term post-traumatic stress disorder, many have called to reframe the view of such suffering. Some have called it chronic traumatic stress disorder, while others, including Palestinian scholars, have referred to it as “feeling broken or destroyed.” This is not just a matter of semantics. These alternatives show that it is not enough to offer therapeutic options that place the abnormality within the individual and not within the circumstances they are experiencing. Is it not actually quite normal and understandable to feel broken or destroyed when everything you have ever known is reduced to rubble?”

Netanyahu presents hard-line ‘day after’ vision for Gaza for the first time (WaPo) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a proposal early Friday for Israel’s indefinite military control of Gaza, repeating hard-line stances he has made before but still surprising the public by putting it all in writing as a concrete postwar plan… Among its key points: Israel’s military will stay in Gaza as long as it takes to demilitarize the enclave, eliminate Hamas and keep it from regrouping. Israel will assume greater control of Gaza’s southern border, in cooperation with Egypt “as much as possible,” and will carve out border buffer zones to prevent smuggling and further attacks. Egypt has rejected any Israeli role on its border with Gaza. The United Nations’ primary aid agency in Gaza and the West Bank, UNRWA, which Israel accuses of complicity with Hamas and fostering hatred of Jews, would be disbanded and replaced. The proposal rejects any permanent agreement with “the Palestinians” that is not achieved through direct negotiations with Israel, as well as any “unilateral” Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said the outline was a nonstarter.” See also Palestinian Authority says Israeli post-war Gaza plan ‘destined to fail’ (Al Jazeera); Israeli parliament backs Netanyahu’s rejection of a Palestinian state (Al Jazeera);

The obliteration of Gaza’s multi-civilizational treasures (Ibtisam Mahdi//+972) – “Since the beginning of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip, innumerable treasures of Palestine’s cultural heritage have been damaged or destroyed. Like so much of the rest of the besieged enclave, these priceless and beloved landmarks of our people’s history — archaeological sites, millennia-old religious structures, and museums with ancient collections — now lie in ruin. Cultural heritage is an essential component of a nation’s identity and carries enormous symbolic meaning, as recognized and protected by countless international conventions, treaties, and bodies. Yet Israel’s pounding of Gaza, now in its fifth month, displays a callous disregard for these testaments to the thousands of years of Gaza’s rich cultural history — to such an extent that it could amount to cultural genocide. Researchers are trying desperately to catalog these sites and ascertain their current status, but are unable to keep up with the pace of the carnage. And while the loss of human life is the greatest tragedy in any war, Israel’s destruction of Gaza’s physical cultural heritage achieves much the same goal: the erasure of the Palestinian people. Indeed, many of those interviewed for this article believe this is precisely why these sites are being targeted.” See also Strikes Flatten Mosque in Rafah in Southern Gaza (NYT video); Establishing a “security zone” in Gaza is a war crime (B’Tselem)

Rugs, cosmetics, motorbikes: Israeli soldiers are looting Gaza homes en masse (Oren Ziv//+972) – “Israeli soldiers fighting in Gaza have not been shy about posting videos on social media gleefully documenting their wanton destruction of buildings and humiliation of Palestinian detainees. Some of these clips were even exhibited in South Africa’s presentation at the International Court of Justice last month as evidence of genocide. But there is another war crime being readily documented by Israeli soldiers that has garnered less attention and condemnation despite its prevalence: looting…Indeed, since the start of Israel’s ground invasion in late October, soldiers have been taking whatever they can get their hands on from the homes of Palestinians who have been forced to flee. More than an open secret, the phenomenon has been widely — and uncritically — reported in the Israeli media, while rabbis from the Religious Zionist movement have been answering soldiers’ questions about what is permissible to loot according to Jewish law. Soldiers who returned from fighting in Gaza confirmed to +972 Magazine and Local Call that the phenomenon is ubiquitous, and that for the most part their commanders are allowing it to happen.” See also Top IDF Lawyer: Some Soldiers’ Behavior in Gaza Has ‘Crossed the Criminal Threshold’ (Haaretz)

UN experts demand investigation into claims Israeli forces killed, raped and sexually assaulted Palestinian women and girls (CNN) – “United Nations experts have called for an investigation into what they described as “credible allegations of egregious human rights violations” against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the West Bank by Israeli forces. The allegations include extrajudicial killing, arbitrary detention, degrading treatment, rape and sexual violence, according to a statement by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights released on Monday…The UN experts further said they were distressed by reports of “multiple forms of sexual assault” against Palestinian women and girls in detention, including “being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers.” “At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the statement added, calling on Israel to uphold the rights and dignity of Palestinian women and girls.” See also Israel/oPt: UN experts appalled by reported human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls (UN); Hamas Sexual Violence ‘Systematic and Deliberate’ During and After October 7, New Israeli Report Says.

PCHR Condemns the Killing of Nour Abu Nour, PCHR’s lawyer,and her Family by an Israeli Airstrike on Rafah (PCHR) – “The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns in the strongest terms the killing of our dear colleague, Nour Naser Abu Al-Nour and seven of her family members, including her two-years-old daughter, by an Israeli airstrike on her family house in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. The killing of Nour along with seven of her family members, comes as the latest example of the genocide that Israel is committing against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and a reminder that all Palestinians, including human rights defenders, are a target for the Israeli government and army. This heinous crime also constitutes further evidence of the lack of safe space for Palestinians in the Strip and an example of what the Palestinians in the Strip have been subjected to for the last 137 days of ongoing Israeli aggression. Nour and her family are among of tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom are women and children, unjustly, illegally and cruelly killed as result of the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip since 7 October 2023, which members of the international community have not only failed to bring to an end, but have been complicit by providing Israel with the necessary political, diplomatic and military support…According to information collected by PCHR, last night, 20 February 2024, at approximately 10:00 pm, Israeli war planes directly targeted without any prior warning the house of Nour’s Father, Professor Nasser Abu Al-Nour, Dean of the Faculty of Nursing at the Islamic University in Gaza, located in Al-Jeneina neighborhood in Rafah, on top of its residents.” See also War on Gaza: Some of the prominent Palestinian academics and scientists killed by Israel (Middle East Eye); At least 40 people killed in central Gaza as Israel touts post-war plan (Al Jazeera); Israel’s war on Gaza live: At least 24 dead in strike on Deir el-Balah (Al Jazeera); 

3. River to the Sea

Settlers riot in Palestinian West Bank village after terror attack, says rights group (Times of Israel) – “Footage of cars set alight in the Palestinian village of Burqa in the northern West Bank emerges following the alleged Palestinian terror attack which took place close to the nearby illegal Homesh outpost. The Yesh Din organization, which advocates against the settlement movement, says that residents of Burqa are reporting that Israeli settlers are rioting in the village and committing numerous acts of arson, and that some residents have been injured in the violence.” See also from Times of Israel: One killed, 11 wounded in terrorist shooting attack near Jerusalem checkpoint; Far-right ministers demand more settlements, checkpoints, after deadly terror attack; Risking spat with US, Israel to advance thousands of settler homes after W. Bank attack

The West Bank Occupation Outweighed Israel’s Defense of the Gaza Border on the Eve of October 7 (Aluf Benn//Haaretz) – “On October 7, the Israel Defense Forces had 400 combat soldiers and a dozen tanks stationed on the border of the Gaza Strip facing thousands of Hamas fighters. A larger force, four or five battalions, was deployed on the Lebanese border, but it was also numerically inferior to Hezbollah…Yet the force stationed in the West Bank on that day was much larger, 21 or 22 battalions.You don’t have to be the IDF chief of staff or head of the army’s Operations Directorate to understand that defending the borders was a secondary mission for the army on the eve of the war. The military’s principal aim was defending the settlements in the West Bank – that is, maintaining the occupation and enforcing it on the Palestinians…In retrospect, it’s clear that the army’s enslavement to the protection of the settlements and the fact that the north and south had been emptied of combat troops were among the main causes of the catastrophe on October 7. The enemy understood quite well what an opportunity had fallen into its lap.” See also Israeli Finance Minister Sparks Outrage After Saying Returning Gaza Hostages ‘Not Most Important Thing’ (Haaretz); Blocked Roads, Clashes With Police: Thousands Rally Against Netanyahu’s Government Across Israel (Haaretz) How Israeli journalists carry out PR for the army (Sebastian Ben Daniel (John Brown)//+972) 

Gazan patients and workers still stranded in West Bank four months on (Fatima AbdulKarim//+972) – “With Israel revoking their permits after October 7 and sealing the Strip, thousands of Palestinians do not know when they’ll see their families again.”

4. Region/Diplomacy

U.S. vetoes U.N. proposal for immediate Gaza cease-fire, drawing ire (WaPo) – The United States for the third time on Tuesday vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, arguing that it would undercut ongoing U.S.-led negotiations for a six-week pause in fighting that would see Hamas release more than 100 remaining Israeli hostages in exchange for jailed Palestinians and additional humanitarian aid for civilians. The resolution, introduced by Algeria on behalf of the Arab group of U.N. members, “would send the wrong message to Hamas,” U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, and “would actually give them something that they have asked for without requiring them to do something in return.” Instead, Thomas-Greenfield called on council members to support an alternative U.S. resolution, still in draft form…The United States stood alone in opposing the call for an immediate cease-fire and asking for more negotiating time. With the exception of Britain, which abstained, the rest of the council’s 15 members voted in favor of the Algerian resolution, which also demanded the release of all hostages.”

MSF slams US on Gaza at UN, says children as young as 5 want to die (Reuters) – “The head of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) told the United Nations Security Council on Thursday that medical teams in the Gaza Strip have come up with a new acronym: WCNSF – wounded child, no surviving family…”There is a repeated displacement, constant fear and witnessing family members literally dismembered before their eyes,” he said. “These psychological injuries have led children as young as five to tell us that they would prefer to die.””

26 EU countries warn Israel against ‘catastrophic’ Rafah offensive (Reuters) – “All European Union countries except Hungary warned Israel on Monday against launching an offensive in Rafah that they said would deepen the catastrophe of some 1.5 million refugees crammed into the city on the southern edge of Gaza.” See also Israel bars Brazilian president after Lula compares Gaza war to the Holocaust (JTA)

Eight Failures From The US Testimony At The International Court of Justice (Daniel Levy//Center for International Policy) – “The U.S. Government has made its oral statement at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Sadly, if predictably, the position presented constituted a charter for permanent occupation and undermining International Law…The U.S. position at the ICJ goes hand in hand with its vetoing of recent resolutions on Gaza at the UN Security Council. That position is to maintain a strict separation between a US-led peace process and international law. It is a separation which enables a 30-year peace process under which Israel’s violations of international law multiply and metastasize rather than being ended, in which numbers of illegal settlers exponentially increase and in which the peace process becomes cover for the enabling and entrenching of a reality of apartheid…Reconnecting any future peace effort to international law is what is most necessary and what the USG is trying to prevent. It is understandable why – if international law is applied to Israel then the legal complicity of the US, for instance, in supplying Israel with weapons, comes under the microscope. If the US can pick and choose and strong-arm – a process sometimes called “the rules based international order” – as a replacement for international law, then it can use the asymmetry of power to bully Palestinians as it has done to others. However, this will only make the situation worse and leave the US more exposed in its attempts to defend the mutual claims of Israel and the US to exceptional impunity. It also ultimately undermines Israel’s security because if international law does not apply to Israel, then it cannot apply to Hamas either and all parties must be in compliance with international law.” See also U.S. Defends Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank at Top U.N. Court (NYT); U.S. backs Israel before U.N. court as Biden-Netanyahu tension simmers (WaPo) 

Corporate Japan deals an unwitting blow to US East Asia policy (Al Jazeera) – “Japanese trading giant Itochu’s surprise announcement on February 5 that it was terminating its agreement with the Israeli defence contractor Elbit Systems has sent shockwaves throughout corporate Japan. Itochu stated specifically that they based their decision on the International Court of Justice ruling that Israel may be committing genocide in Gaza, and on the position of the Japanese government that the ICJ decision must be implemented “in good faith”. Itochu matters; it is a household name in Japan, being the third largest trading firm and one of the titans of the country’s economy with a 2023 revenue of over $104bn. Prominent trading companies like Itochu are also politically important, as they have historically been looked at as the captains of Japan’s trade-based economy. Itochu’s decision sends a very clear message about the acceptability of doing business with Israel.”

5. US Scene

Blinken says new Israeli settlements in West Bank are illegal, reversing a Trump policy (NYT) – “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said on Friday that the American government now considers new Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories to be “inconsistent with international law,” reversing a policy set under the Trump administration and returning to a decades-long U.S. position…Over many years, settlements have proliferated across the West Bank, Palestinian territory that is occupied by Israel, without the United States pushing for any legal action…In November 2019, President Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, reversed four decades of U.S. policy by saying that settlements did not violate international law. State Department lawyers never issued a new legal determination that buttressed that policy change, and Mr. Blinken’s shift back to the old policy is consistent with a longstanding legal finding of the department.” See also Joe Biden is pressing Congress to send $14B to Israel. What is the emergency aid for? (JTA); Jewish House Democrats join calls for ‘mutual, temporary’ Israel-Hamas cease-fire (Jewish Insider); Opinion  The U.S. should immediately mobilize ‘Operation Gaza Relief’ (US Senators Jeff Merkley, Dick Durbin, Elizabeth Warren, Chris Van Hollen and Peter Welch//WaPo) 

I’m the Mayor of Dearborn, Mich., and My City Feels Betrayed (Abdullah H. Hammoud//NYT) – “Our entire city is haunted by the images, videos and stories streaming out of Gaza. Life seems heavily veiled in a haze of shared grief, fear, helplessness and even guilt as we try to understand how our tax dollars could be used by those we elected to slaughter our relatives overseas. We don’t have to imagine the violence and injustice being carried out against the Palestinian people. Many of us lived it, and still bear the scars of life under occupation and apartheid…What compounds the constant fear and mourning is a visceral sense of betrayal. In the past three federal elections, Arab American voters in Michigan have become a crucial and dependable voting bloc for the Democratic Party, and we were part of the wave that delivered for Joe Biden four years ago. But this fact seems long forgotten by our candidate as he calls for our votes once more while at the same time selling the very bombs that Benjamin Netanyahu’s military is dropping on our family and friends.” See also Michigan may soon show just how badly Biden’s cease-fire stance is hurting him (Politico)

Prominent Black Church Leaders Call for End of U.S. Aid to Israel (NYT) – “Leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, one of the country’s oldest and most prominent Black Christian denominations, called this week for the United States to end its financial aid to Israel, saying the monthslong military campaign in Gaza amounted to “mass genocide.”…Black churches and other faith groups have pushed for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war for months in advertisements, open letters and social media campaigns. Black faith leaders across denominations have amplified their calls as the number of dead rises…Several Black clergy members said the war could weaken an already fraught relationship between Mr. Biden and Black voters, Democrats’ most loyal voting bloc…In its statement, the A.M.E. council said Israel’s military had cornered Palestinians in Rafah and “denied them access to food water, shelter and health care.” It continues: “After this torture, they plan to murder them. The United States of America will have likely paid for the weapons they use. This must not be allowed to happen.”’

Jewish groups push Congress to support IHRA definition of antisemitism (Jewish Insider) – “A coalition of 17 U.S. Jewish groups wrote letters to House lawmakers this week expressing support for the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism and urging against endorsing any alternative definitions.” See also Harvard pro-Palestinian faculty group apologizes for sharing post with antisemitic image (JTA); 

N.Y.C. Protest Calling for Gaza Cease-Fire Targets Pro-Israel Senators (NYT) – “More than a dozen people were arrested Thursday evening during a peaceful pro-Palestinian protest inside a Manhattan building where Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrats of New York, have offices…The demonstration, organized by a local chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, a progressive activist group, was the latest in what have become almost daily protests throughout New York City since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

6.  Long Reads/Perspectives

President Biden is known for his empathy. I pray it will extend to Palestinians. (Julie Schumacher Cohen//America Magazine) – “President Biden is known for his genuine concern for grieving families. Like so many of us, he has shared the agony of families of the Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas during their brutal attack on Oct. 7. But as the days and weeks have worn on and Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, ostensibly aimed at destroying Hamas, has wrought catastrophic devastation on the Palestinian civilian population, we have heard Mr. Biden express little empathy toward Palestinians. This omission has moral, as well as strategic, implications…Raised Christian and the daughter of an Israeli Jew, with family in Tel Aviv, I also grew up seeing the Holy Land through just one lens, that of Israeli identity and history. My worldview expanded once I began learning from Palestinians, including Palestinian Catholics, and witnessing firsthand the oppressive realities of life under Israeli occupation. This led me to sit with the pain and grief of both peoples and to get involved in working for a just peace for Palestinians and Israelis.”

Opinion: I’m an American doctor who went to Gaza. What I saw wasn’t war — it was annihilation (Irfan Galaria//LA Times) – “Entering southern Gaza on Jan. 29, where many have fled from the north, felt like the first pages of a dystopian novel. Our ears were numb with the constant humming of what I was told were the surveillance drones that circled constantly. Our noses were consumed with the stench of 1 million displaced humans living in close proximity without adequate sanitation. Our eyes got lost in the sea of tents…I began work immediately, performing 10 to 12 surgeries a day, working 14 to 16 hours at a time. The operating room would often shake from the incessant bombings, sometimes as frequent as every 30 seconds. We operated in unsterile settings that would’ve been unthinkable in the United States. We had limited access to critical medical equipment: We performed amputations of arms and legs daily, using a Gigli saw, a Civil War-era tool, essentially a segment of barbed wire. Many amputations could’ve been avoided if we’d had access to standard medical equipment…On one occasion, a handful of children, all about ages 5 to 8, were carried to the emergency room by their parents. All had single sniper shots to the head. These families were returning to their homes in Khan Yunis, about 2.5 miles away from the hospital, after Israeli tanks had withdrawn. But the snipers apparently stayed behind. None of these children survived.”

Restoring the Past Won’t Liberate Palestine (Lydia Polgreen//NYT) – “The agonizing months since Oct. 7 have made it seem all but impossible for any of us to imagine what kind of hopeful future might be invented out of the present nightmare. We have reached a terrifying new stage of the war with the looming assault on Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled Israeli bullets and bombs only to find themselves once again in the cross hairs with nowhere left to run. But generations of Palestinian activists and intellectuals, people who have perhaps the greatest reason to find sustenance in fantasies of a mythic past free of Israel and its people, do not dream of rolling back time.”

Rapid U.S. Action Could Break the Cycle of Violence in Gaza (Ahmed Fouad Alkhatib//Foreign Policy) – “While the Biden Administration and the United Kingdom are reportedly exploring options for recognizing a Palestinian state, such recognition is unlikely to change much on the ground. What is needed now, more than ever, is an effort to use Gaza as a model for Palestinian statehood and sovereignty…Creative and daring steps are needed to mitigate human suffering, especially if a cease-fire agreement falls apart, the war persists for more months, or if Israel proceeds with a full invasion of Rafah, which is the last safe haven for most of Gaza’s displaced civilians…Gaza should not be a citadel of Hamas and Palestinian resistance. Instead, it should become a blueprint for a Palestinian state that ultimately has jurisdiction over both Gaza and the West Bank.”

Biden can end the bombing of Gaza right now. Here’s how (Mehdi Hassan//Guardian) – “Joe Biden, like Reagan before him, could end the current carnage with a single phone call to Benjamin Netanyahu. He too has “that kind of power”. Don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise. Those in the media who say that “America is discovering the limits of its leverage on Israel.” Those in Congress who argue that US presidents “don’t have as much leverage over Israel as they thought”. Those in the White House who claim “they are unable to exert significant influence on America’s closest ally in the Middle East to change its course”. This is all disingenuous nonsense. It is, to quote the media critic Adam Johnson, a “feigned powerlessness” that has been buttressed, he notes, by a series of “self-serving leaks” from the Biden White House that insist the president “may or not be kind of annoyed over” Israel’s actions. 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.”

American Jews Have Fought for Palestinian Rights Since Israel Was Born (Geoffrey Levin//Slate) – “American Jews of the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond often had remarkably deep conversations about the meaning of Israel’s power over Palestinians…This history sheds light on political dynamics that at times feel very distant from those of the present. The American Jewish establishment did not always view anti-Zionism as inherently antisemitic. Some Jewish community leaders considered themselves “non-Zionist” until years after Israel’s founding. American Jewish institutions that had been established long before 1948 took time to accommodate themselves to the reality of Jewish statehood, a process that involved countless discussions about what Jewish sovereignty overseas meant for Jewish citizens of the United States. Jews had been a perpetual minority, so many American Jewish institutions had mobilized around liberal and left-leaning ideologies designed to protect minority groups and those seeking refuge. Suddenly, after 1948, there was a Jewish state that not only ruled over a non-Jewish minority group but also denied the right of refugees to return to their homes on the basis of their ethnicity and religion. Israel’s birth created a sense of cognitive dissonance for these American Jewish organizations as they attempted to come to terms with Israel’s power over the Palestinians without abandoning the ideologies that they regularly used to protect the rights of Jews outside the Jewish state. More than 75 years later, American Jews are grappling with new aspects of these same crises, an internal struggle that the bloody Israel-Hamas war in Gaza has made all that more urgent. These dilemmas will not be resolved easily, but perhaps the only way to start working through them is by reflecting on their long, forgotten history.”

An ode to my school, destroyed by Israel (Ruwaida Kamal Amer//+972) – “The school where I taught in Gaza City was my second home. Now it lies in ruins, some of my beloved students are dead, and I am terrified for the rest.”

Opinion  Why the U.S. should start telling the whole truth about Israeli nukes (William Burr, Richard Lawless and Henry Sokolski//WaPo) – “With the Israel-Hamas war, a nuclear Rubicon of sorts has been crossed: Two elected Israeli officials — a government minister and a member of parliament — not only publicly referenced Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons but suggested that they be detonated over Gaza. This was a disturbing first. Meanwhile, in Washington, a long-standing secret executive order has prohibited American officials from even acknowledging that Israel has nuclear arms. Given the increasing risks of nuclear weapons proliferation — and, worse, use — continuing such self-censorship about Israel’s nuclear arsenal is not just bizarre; it’s harmful.”