Top News & Analysis on Israel/Palestine: February 2-9, 2024


1. New from FMEP
2. Gaza
3. West Bank
4. Region/Global
5. US Scene
6. Israeli Scene
7. Long Reads/Perspectives


1. New from FMEP

Separation, Dehumanization, Theft of Time: A Day in the Life of Abed Salama (Occupied Thoughts podcast episode) – FMEP Fellow Dr. Yara Asi speaks with Nathan Thrall, author of the recently-released A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy, about the systems of separation and dehumanization in Jerusalem and the West Bank, Israeli state violence, and what has and hasn’t changed in Israel/Palestine over the last four months.

Settlement & Annexation Report: February 9, 2024 (Kristin McCarthy) – 1) State Begins Land Registration in the Armenian Quarter, Where Settlers Look to Win 2) Tender Issued for Efrat Settlement; 3) Terrestrial Jerusalem Updates Settlement Tracking Tool 4) Peace Now: Final Report on 2023 Settlement Activity 5) U.S. Now Requires Countries to Certify Compliance with International Law as Condition for Military Aid 6) Israeli Banks Respond to U.S. Sanctions on Four Settlers 7) Bonus Reads

Legislative Round-Up: February 9, 2024 (Lara Friedman) — 1. Bills, Resolutions; 2. Letters; 3. Massive Supplemental Aid for Israel Takes Center Stage; 4. Hearings & Markups; 5. Selected Media & Press releases/Statements

2. Gaza

Gaza: Israel moves closer to Rafah offensive despite ‘bloodbath’ warning (Guardian)“Israel moved closer on Friday to a full-scale ground offensive against the southern Gaza city of Rafah, as the country’s prime minister, Benjamin Netayahu, ordered military leaders to present a plan to evacuate civilians from the area. Despite warnings from a senior aid official that an assault on Rafah – where about 1.3 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering in miserable conditions – would lead to a “bloodbath”, Israel appeared determined to push ahead…With more than half of Gaza already under evacuation orders and widespread destruction throughout the coastal strip, and continuing fighting, it was unclear where such a large number of people could safely move to.” See also Israeli strikes on Gaza’s Rafah as US warns of potential ‘disaster’ (New Arab); Israel plans to remove civilians from refugee-filled Rafah, attack Hamas (WaPo); Blinken to Bibi: U.S. very concerned about possible Israeli ground operation in Rafah (Axios); Israeli bombs target Gaza’s overcrowded Rafah (Al Jazeera); Israeli snipers kill 21 civilians outside Gaza’s besieged Nasser Hospital (Al Jazeera); 

Hundreds of thousands are starving in Gaza as famine arrives at ‘incredible speed,’ UN aid chief warns (CNN)“Israel’s war in Gaza has brought famine with “such incredible speed,” the United Nations’ emergency relief chief told CNN on Monday, as he warned that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are starving in the besieged enclave. The “great majority” of 400,000 Gazans characterized by UN agencies as at risk of starving “are actually in famine, not just at risk of famine,” Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.” See also Almost 10% of Gaza’s under-fives now acutely malnourished, UN says (Reuters); U.S. citizens detained by Israel in West Bank, Gaza, families say (WaPo); We try every day to escape’: Palestinians struggle to afford Gaza exit fees (Ruwaida Kamal Amer//+972)

Gazans Fled Their Homes. They Have Nowhere to Return to (Haaretz)“One of Israel’s most dramatic acts in the war, which erupted following Hamas’ terror attack, is the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Gazans from their homes and the destruction of large swaths of the Strip. Residents, military officials and journalists describe scenes of vast devastation. “It’s like after an atomic bomb,” one of them reported in Haaretz after visiting northern GazaAn accurate estimation of the destruction is a challenging task due to the fog of war – and as the IDF restricts entry by journalists. But it’s possible to create a map of the destruction using satellite data, which shows that at least half of all the buildings in the enclave are likely to have been damaged or destroyed, according to American researchers. Most of the destruction is in the north, but bitter fighting is also underway in the south, as is seen in the satellite data. Some 1.7 million Gazans have fled their homes during the war, and most of them are now in the south, the United Nations says. Huge tent cities have been put up along the Egyptian border. A new humanitarian, security and diplomatic reality has emerged, and it will shape the region for years to come.” See also Portraits of Gazans (NYT); A requiem for Gaza’s iconic sites, destroyed in the war (NPR); Widespread destruction by Israeli Defence Forces of civilian infrastructure in Gaza (UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights); 

Netanyahu rejects cease-fire, vows to continue war as Blinken visits Israel (WaPo) – “Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Hamas’s response to a proposed deal to release hostages in exchange for a humanitarian pause created space to “pursue negotiations” despite certain aspects that included “non-starters.” Blinken did not specify what aspects of Hamas’s conditions he considered unacceptable, but his assessment in a news conference here contrasted sharply with remarks earlier Wednesday from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called Hamas “delusional” and vowed to continue fighting until a “complete victory” was achieved.” See also Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2/7/24 video (in English): “Total Victory”; Netanyahu’s delusional, deadly quest for ‘total victory’ (Ishaan Tharoor//WaPo); Biden sharpens criticism of Israel, calling its Gaza response ‘over the top.’ (NYT); More Than a Fifth of Hostages in Gaza Are Dead, Israel Says (NYT); What’s in Hamas cease-fire proposal — and will Israel accept? (Al Monitor); Blinken says ‘a lot of work’ remains on Israel-Hamas truce talks (Al Jazeera); Blinken in Israel says Hamas proposal ‘creates space’ for possible hostage deal (Al Monitor); ‘Bring them back’: freed Israeli hostages plead with Netanyahu for deal (Guardian)

Hamas reemerges in northern Gaza weeks after Israel said it’s dismantled (Al Monitor)“Over the past month fighting between Hamas and Israel has resumed in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. After Israel had claimed that Hamas was dismantled in the north on Jan. 6, this fighting spelled Hamas’ reemergence in the area, leading to Israeli forces being deployed in areas from which they had previously withdrawn. The resumption came after several Israeli generals voiced their concern that Hamas started regrouping days after the Israeli newspaper Haaretz stated that the majority of tunnels in Gaza are still intact. Most importantly, the renewed fighting shows how the current Israeli war policy is failing to achieve its goal of “erasing Hamas.”’ See also U.S. intelligence officials tell Congress that Israel is not close to eliminating Hamas. (NYT)

Palestinians abused, forced to chant anti-Hamas slogans in ‘safe corridor’ (Ruwaida Kamal Amer and Ibtisam Mahdi//+972) “The Israeli army dropped leaflets ordering residents to evacuate Khan Younis, and in recent days some 120,000 Palestinians have fled the city through a supposedly “safe corridor” spanning from the west of the refugee camp to the area of Al-Mawasi near Al-Aqsa University. The passage through this corridor, however, which is made up of three Israeli military checkpoints, has for many Palestinians been one of the most harrowing ordeals since the war began. According to testimonies from Palestinians who have made the journey, including one of the authors, those passing through the corridor were forced to chant slogans against Hamas; many had their belongings confiscated; and men were separated from their families, stripped, and subjected to hours of physical abuse and deprivation. All the while, thousands remain trapped inside Khan Younis, unable to leave their shelters out of fear of being shot on the streets.” See also Surviving beneath Gaza’s tempest skies (Haya Abu Nasser//We Are Not Numbers); 

Countries froze Unrwa funds without seeing evidence of Israeli claims (Middle East Eye) “Almost two weeks after the United States suspended funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), swiftly followed by a host of other donors, Middle East Eye has learned that in a number of cases the decision to withold funding was based solely on Israel‘s assertions. At least two countries that followed in the footsteps of the US – the Netherlands and Latvia – did not see evidence of Israeli allegations that employees at the agency for Palestinian refugees played a role in the Hamas-led 7 October attacks before they made their decisions, Middle East Eye has established. An informed source told MEE this week that British Foreign Secretary David Cameron suspended funding “only on the basis of information in the public domain”. The Foreign Office declined to answer whether this was true and on what basis it had made its decision. Reports have also emerged in Canada and Australia in the past 24 hours suggesting their foreign ministries did not see evidence – or “all of the evidence” in the case of Australia – ahead of making their decisions to suspend aid. Additionally, MEE understands that the European Union, Unrwa’s third largest donor, which has said it is awaiting the outcome of a UN investigation before its funding is due at the end of the month, also received no information from Israel to corroborate its claims.” See also In Gaza, humanitarian network is in crisis even as needs soar (Christian Science Monitor); 

The World Needs to Stand by UNRWA (Espen Barth Eide, Foreign Minister of Norway//NYT) – “The main lifeline for Gazans in this landscape is the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA, the nearly 75-year-old agency that is almost entirely funded by voluntary contributions. Now at least 15 countries, including the United States, have announced a halt to payments to UNRWA, pending an investigation, because of Israeli intelligence reports that a dozen of its workers took part in the terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7. But now is exactly the wrong time to halt funding for UNRWA. Norway is standing fast to our commitment to continue funding this crucial agency and to the Palestinian people. As the Norwegian foreign minister, I urge fellow donor countries to reflect on the wider consequences of cutting UNRWA off. If these decisions are not reversed, we run a serious risk of worsening the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And since UNRWA also supports millions of Palestinian refugees in the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, a stop to payments could further destabilize an already extremely volatile region. The world should keep funding UNRWA on more than practical grounds, however. We should not collectively punish millions of people for the alleged deeds of a few.” See also Why Donors Should Not Suspend Aid to UNRWA (International Crisis Group); 

What Israeli Soldiers’ Videos Reveal: Cheering Destruction and Mocking Gazans (NYT)“Since Israel’s invasion in October, soldiers have shared videos from Gaza on social media, offering a rare, unsanctioned look at operations on the ground. Some have been viewed by small circles of people; others have reached tens of thousands. The New York Times reviewed hundreds of these videos. Some show unremarkable parts of a soldier’s life — eating, hanging out or sending messages to loved ones back home. Others capture soldiers vandalizing local shops and school classrooms, making derogatory comments about Palestinians, bulldozing what appear to be civilian areas and calling for the building of Israeli settlements in Gaza, an inflammatory idea that is promoted by some far-right Israeli politicians…With ​Israel’s war in Gaza under intense scrutiny, many of the soldiers’ videos shot in Gaza have fueled criticism. One was screened and five others were also cited as evidence in the case that South Africa brought to the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide, a charge Israel has categorically denied.” See also ‘What use is this court if it can’t stop the war?’ Gazans react to ICJ ruling (Mahmoud Mushtaha & Ruwaida Kamal Amer//+972)

3. West Bank

Meet the settlers targeted by Biden’s sanctions — and their victims (Oren Ziv//+972) – “After years of toothless verbal condemnation of Israeli settler violence by successive U.S. governments, the Biden administration took the historic step last week of imposing sanctions against four settlers involved in recent attacks in the occupied West Bank. The executive order includes freezing the settlers’ assets in the United States and banning their entry into the country. Israeli banks have also frozen the accounts of two of the settlers on the list in compliance with the U.S. sanctions…To try to assess the significance of Biden’s decision, +972 Magazine and Local Call spoke with Palestinians and Israelis who have been directly impacted by the violence of the targeted settlers — David Chai Chasdai, Shalom Zicherman, Einan Tanjil, and Yinon Levi — and their comrades in arms. Most welcomed the executive order but wondered whether it would have any effect on the ground; whether it would deter other settlers; whether sanctions would be extended to other settlers involved in the violence; and whether such sanctions would ultimately reach the leadership of the settlement movement, including those sitting in government.”

‘Feels like revenge’: Palestinians on life locked down in Hebron’s Old City (The Guardian)“Palestinians living in the centre of Hebron are used to violence and a web of controls that dates back more than 20 years, including bans on walking down some streets that are open to Israelis. The current restrictions, however, are unprecedented, they say…Other residents of “H2”, the part of Hebron controlled by Israeli forces – stationed there to protect about 800 Israeli settlers living among 34,000 Palestinians – say they have been confined to their homes, harassed and attacked since 7 October.”

4. Region

U.S. strike in Baghdad kills key militia commander, officials say (WaPo)“A U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on Wednesday killed a militia commander suspected of plotting attacks on American troops throughout the region, officials said, drawing swift denunciation from the Iraqi military and intensifying calls for ending its partnership with Washington. The operation targeted a key figure in an Iranian-backed group, Kataib Hezbollah, which the Biden administration has blamed for scores of attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria since October, officials said in a statement. American positions have been hit with drones, rockets or missiles at least 168 times in that span. An attack that killed three Army reservists last week in Jordan was the first in this stretch of violence to turn deadly.” See also Gallant: Odds of war on the northern front are significant

Saudi Arabia: no Israel ties without recognition of Palestinian state (Reuters)“ Saudi Arabia has told the United States it will not open diplomatic relations with Israel unless an independent Palestinian state is recognised on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, its foreign ministry said on Wednesday. Riyadh reiterated its call for permanent members of the U.N. Security Council that have not recognised a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital to do so, a ministry statement said. It was referring to a state the Palestinians have long sought to establish alongside Israel in territories Israel occupied in a 1967 war: the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The statement added that “Israeli aggression” against the Gaza Strip must also stop and Israeli forces must withdraw from the territory.” See also Riyadh to host ministerial confab to advance united Arab stance for postwar Gaza (Times of Israel) 

Nearly 100% of Arabs say U.S. policy on Israel-Gaza ‘bad’ (Jim Lobe & Blaise Malley//Responsible Statecraft) – “Israel’s war in Gaza – and Washington’s support for it — is inflicting serious damage on U.S. standing across the Arab world, according to a representative poll of 16 Arab countries released Thursday by the Arab Center Washington DC. An aggregate average of 82% of respondents across the region described the U.S. response to the war as “very bad,” while another 12% described it as “bad.”’

CNN staff say network’s pro-Israel slant amounts to ‘journalistic malpractice’ (The Guardian)CNN is facing a backlash from its own staff over editorial policies they say have led to a regurgitation of Israeli propaganda and the censoring of Palestinian perspectives in the network’s coverage of the war in Gaza. Journalists in CNN newsrooms in the US and overseas say broadcasts have been skewed by management edicts and a story-approval process that has resulted in highly partial coverage of the Hamas massacre on 7 October and Israel’s retaliatory attack on Gaza.”

5. US Scene

Biden places new conditions on U.S. military aid following criticism of Israeli campaign (Jewish Insider)“President Joe Biden issued a new national security memorandum on Thursday evening that requires recipients of U.S. military aid to issue written certifications that they will comply with humanitarian and international law, and that they will cooperate with U.S. humanitarian aid efforts. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) who has been pushing Congress to pass similar policies, described the new memo as placing new “condition[s]” on U.S. aid which could give the U.S. more leverage toward Israel, as well as other allies…At a press conference on Thursday evening, Biden criticized Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top,” he said. He appeared to be responding to questions about the hostage negotiations and about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.” See also How Oct. 7 Drove a Wedge Into the Democratic Party (NYT); First Settlers, Now Cyber: U.S. Threatens to Cancel Entry Visas for Spyware Makers (Haaretz); US House rejects Republican-led effort to pass Israel-only aid bill (Reuters)

Is Joe Biden Uniquely Indifferent to Palestinian Suffering? (Yousef Munayyer//The New Republic) – “When I have made the point that Biden is likely the most anti-Palestinian person to occupy the Oval Office in recent history, many are quick to ask how different Trump’s handling of the current moment would be. Would he be any less supportive of Israel? Probably not, though that doesn’t exactly reflect well on Biden. Trump was callous toward all sorts of people, and Palestinians were not excluded from this. What sets Biden’s particular animus against Palestinians apart is that he was supposed to be different. The so-called “empath in chief” was supposed to be the polar opposite of Trump, yet he seems capable of showing empathy toward all people except Palestinians and precisely at a time of their greatest pain and suffering.”

Kinnan Abdalhamid, Palestinian Student Shot in Vermont, Calls for US, Schools to Demand Israel Ceasefire (Teen Vogue) – “Tahseen, Hisham, and I are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve felt from hundreds of thousands of people nationwide. But we can’t help but wonder: How much of that support is because we walk and talk like Americans? Pernicious dehumanization and repression have been a part of Palestinian Americans’ experience since long before the gunman pulled the trigger on us in Vermont, and it has only escalated since. To me, nowhere is this repression more pervasive than on college campuses. Many university administrators across the country have given belated or inadequate lip service to the safety of Arab and Muslim students during a terrifying surge of anti-Palestinian sentiment. Not only have universities done a poor job of supporting Palestinian students, but these institutions have also tried to silence and ostracize our voices and those of our allies who are calling for the end of the onslaught in Gaza – including Jewish allies. Colleges that claim to be concerned with how Jewish students feel appear to be ignoring the large numbers of Jewish students who have been calling for a permanent ceasefire, protesting for Palestinian freedom, and raising their voices with ours. And for Palestinian students it is doubly tragic, as we mourn the loss of our loved ones each day, and are silenced and smeared on top of that.” See also Brown University Students Are on a Hunger Strike for Palestine (The Nation); Stabbing of Palestinian American man in Texas was motivated by bias, police say (NBC); American University Bans Indoor Protests (Insider Higher Ed); Columbia Limited Campus Protests, So Students Took to the Streets (NYT); Columbia Uni bars people accused of spraying pro-Palestine protesters (Al Jazeera); Prosecutors Drop Charges Against Northwestern Students for Pro-Palestine School Paper Parody (The Intercept); 

Who’s Behind Push for States to Codify Weaponized Definition of Antisemitism? (Truthout)“In a growing attempt to repress criticism of Israel, Georgia is the latest of 10 states to adopt the IHRA definition of antisemitism into law. Although many of the states that have recently adopted, or are considering adopting, the IHRA definition are doing so in the aftermath of October 7, the Israeli government and pro-Israel organizations in the United States have been working with lobbyists to silence Israel’s critics for years…The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a notorious right-wing “bill mill” that brings together special interests and politicians to craft “model legislation” to lobby for in federal and state legislatures…[David] Armiak [of Center for Media & Democracy] sees ALEC’s fingerprints all over the recent wave of laws adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism, not only because many of the sponsors are politicians tied to the organization but because ALEC itself has endorsed them.” See also Reject Definitions of Anti-Semitism that Encompass Protected Speech (ACLU letter to U.S. Secretary of Education)

6. Israeli Scene

What the Israeli Public Doesn’t See (Elisheva Goldberg//Jewish Currents)“Notably absent from this coverage of the war and its reverberations was any mention of the killing of Palestinian civilians, or of the perils now facing the more than 2 million people trapped in the besieged enclave—including not only Israel’s military campaign, but also famine, thirst, displacement, and lack of medical care. In most Israeli media coverage, “it is as if [Palestinian civilians] don’t exist,” Gideon Levy, a reporter for the left-leaning Israeli daily Haaretz, which has covered the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, told the progressive American news program Democracy Now!. On international news networks, “you see Gaza. You see children dying on the dirty floors of the hospitals, bleeding to death. You see the uprooted people, you see the destruction, you see the suffering . . . and the starvation,” Levy said. “In Israel you see only the soldiers, only the hostages.”… But to some close observers of the Israeli political landscape, the question of whether the media is molding public opinion or simply reflecting it is not straightforward. “The media is making a choice, but so are Israelis,” said Raviv Drucker, an Israeli political commentator and investigative reporter. “People don’t want to see [Gazans’ suffering] and the media doesn’t want to show it.” This does not necessarily reflect a lack of knowledge about what is happening in Gaza. “This is a state in post-trauma,” he said. “If you stop an Israeli on the street, they know that thousands of children are dying in Gaza. It’s not a lack of understanding; it’s a lack of empathy. An unwillingness to participate in their pain.”…It’s not only a question of what Israeli media outlets aren’t covering or saying, but also of what they are: Since October 7th, Israeli broadcasters have become increasingly tolerant of explicit anti-Arab incitement.”

Israeli Settlers Left Gaza in 2005. They Now See a Chance to Return. (NYT)“A group of Israelis hoping to live in Gaza at the war’s end has already published maps imagining Jewish-majority towns dotting the territory. Far-right Israeli lawmakers have drafted plans to make such settlements legal. And Israel’s national security minister has called for Arab residents to leave Gaza so that Jews can populate the coastal strip…Though the United States and other powers are pushing for Gaza to form part of a Palestinian state, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has other priorities, including staying in power and placating his far-right coalition partners. In the absence of a government plan for after the war, talk of settlement is filling the vacuum and alarming Israel’s allies.”

Israeli human rights groups call for an immediate ceasefire, release of hostages (JTA) “The statement Wednesday was spearheaded by Gisha, a group that has for years advocated for humanitarian assistance to reach Gaza Palestinians. “We thus call on all parties to reach an immediate ceasefire and we call upon Israel to allow unfettered entry and delivery of humanitarian aid and goods into and throughout Gaza, as directed to do by the International Court of Justice,” said the statement signed by 35 groups, including longstanding peace and human rights groups such as Peace Now, B’Tselem, Yesh Din, Standing Together and Physicians for Human Rights. “Hamas must unconditionally release all people taken hostage on October 7.”” See also Israel-based civil society and human rights organizations call for a ceasefire (Gisha) 

Israeli lawyer arrested for peaceful protest leaves prison after 110 days (Guardian)“A prominent Israeli human rights lawyer of Palestinian heritage has been released to house arrest after spending 110 days in prison for organising a peaceful protest against the war in Gaza. A supreme court judge ruled on Wednesday that Ahmad Khalefa, 42, a lawyer working with Human Rights Defenders Fund, an Israeli non-governmental organisation, should be detained at home subject to electronic monitoring while his case is pending. He was arrested on 19 October and charged with “incitement to terrorism” and “identifying with a terrorist organisation”. No evidence has been presented by prosecutors to support the accusations against him and he is facing up to eight years in prison if convicted, according to his colleagues…Khalefa is one of about 220 Israelis – most, but not all, members of Israel’s 20% Arab minority – who have been caught up in a crackdown on civil rights and freedom of speech in Israel after the 7 October attack by Hamas that sparked the latest war in Gaza, already the most devastating in the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” See also this update on the case from the Human Rights Defenders Fund. See also How Israel turned a teacher into a traitor (Oren Ziv on Meir Baruchin//+972)

7.  Long Reads/Perspectives

The Power of Changing Your Mind (Hala Alyan//Time) – It’s vital for movements of equality and liberation to include in their messaging the notion that one cannot be “late” to justice. That rather than shaming people for their indifference, those who have the capacity and platform, might rely on more inclusive strategies, particularly a focus on facts and historical realities. We should welcome people whenever they show up to these discussions, wherever they’re coming from, whatever stage they’re at. We must be both willing to change our minds and welcome people who have changed theirs…The task, impossible at times, is to dialectically hold two uncomfortable truths: that people who have been exposed to indoctrinating narratives most of their lives are not at fault for that, and that they are simultaneously responsible—assuming exposure to free information and accessibility—for examining the validity of those narratives.”

‘I’m Not Dead, but I Don’t Exist’: A Gazan Family Starts Over From Nothing in Europe (Amira Hass//Haaretz) – ‘”When I shower in hot water, I think about them, how they have no water for showering – not even cold water,” said Wattan (a pseudonym, like the other names in this article). “When I breathe the clean air here, I think about the polluted air there: the smoke from the bombing, the ashes from the bombed houses, the fires burning in every corner to boil water or bake bread.” Rafiq added: “Every second, I know someone is being killed there.”’

The Continuation of Zionist Settler Colonialism (Jamal Nabulsi//Al Shabaka) – “This commentary anchors the Israeli regime’s genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in Gaza as a continuation of the Zionist settler colonial project. Importantly, it insists that while the Israeli regime’s present slaughter and expulsion of Palestinians is certainly abhorrent, it is not an aberration in the context of over 75 years of Zionist colonization. It does so by outlining three key features of Zionist settler colonialism: 1) its nature as an ongoing structure; 2) its aims to eliminate the Palestinian people; 3) its use of fragmentation—both of land and of people—as a key strategy through which it pursues this elimination. It is through these tactics, the commentary asserts, that the Zionist project seeks to ultimately extinguish Palestinian Indigenous sovereignty.”

The Epistemicide of the Palestinians: Israel Destroys Pillars of Knowledge (Abdulla Moaswes//Institute for Palestine Studies) – “Every university in Gaza had been destroyed, in full or in part, along with over 350 schools, educational institutions, and public libraries during the ongoing genocidal campaign. With this in mind, the bombing of university buildings in Gaza cannot be simply understood as attacks on bricks and mortar but also as assaults on archives, student and staff records, and the intellectual labor of the university’s community. Indeed, the attack upon Al-Israa University also included the demolition of a nearby museum — a clear attempt by the Israeli military to cover up and dispose of the evidence of their looting of the over three thousand rare artifacts that it housed. Attacks that obliterate universities such as Al-Azhar and Al-Israa equate to the erasure of the accomplishments of Palestinian knowledge producers and contribute to Israel’s ongoing epistemicide of the Palestinian people — a process intertwined with their summary genocide.” See also The war in Gaza is wiping out Palestine’s education and knowledge systems (Chandni Desai//The Conversation) 

Israel’s Self-Destruction: Netanyahu, the Palestinians, and the Price of Neglect (Aluf Benn//Haaretz) – 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…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…But Israel can no longer be so blinkered. The October 7 attacks have proved that Netanyahu’s promise was hollow.”

The Road to 1948: How the decisions that led to the founding of Israel left the region in a state of eternal conflict. (A discussion moderated by Emily Bazelon//NYT) – “If 1948 was the beginning of an era, it was also the end of one — the period following World War I, when the West carved up the Middle East and a series of decisions planted the seeds of conflict. To understand the continuing clashes, we went back to explore the twists and turns that led to 1948. This path could begin at any number of moments; we chose as the starting point 1920, when the British mandate for Palestine was established…We asked a panel of historians — three Palestinians, two Israelis and a Canadian American — to talk about the decisive moments leading up to the founding of Israel and the displacement of Palestinians and whether a different outcome could have been possible.”

What South Africa Really Won at the ICJ (Sasha Polakow-Suransky//Foreign Policy) – “Relations between Israel and South Africa are now frosty. For South Africa’s current African National Congress (ANC) government, there is no doubt that historical resentment over Israel’s role in prolonging white minority rule and propping up a government that the ANC was fighting to overthrow plays a role. South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement and its various liberation movements also have a long history of supporting the Palestinian cause…But there is another reason that South Africa brought the ICJ case when it did: It is desperate to rehabilitate its international image as a moral superpower, a reputation it cultivated during the heady post-apartheid days of the 1990s. But that reputation has been eroded by years of cozying up to authoritarian regimes, failing to condemn human rights violators, and shirking its responsibilities under international law. By daring to take on a radioactive global issue, discussion of which is virtually verboten in Washington but which animates powerful feelings across the Islamic world and far beyond, Pretoria is once again perceived as heroic.”

The Limits of Accusing Israel of Genocide (Masha Gessen//New Yorker) – “Two recent court cases failed to stop the mass violence in Gaza, but they gave center stage to facts and historical interpretations that, in Western countries, at least, are often relegated to the margins…Before hearing witness testimony, Judge White had asked the lawyers for both sides what other remedies may be available to the Palestinian plaintiffs. They couldn’t join the case in the I.C.J. because they are not a state—and, lawyers for the plaintiffs pointed out, the U.S. has veto power on the Security Council, one of the most powerful organs of the United Nations, making it almost impossible to challenge the United States within that structure. As for using domestic courts, Ling argued, the only option is to criminally prosecute individual perpetrators of genocide. “The upshot of their position is that, after the fact of a genocide, someone can be prosecuted, but while genocide is being aided and abetted, the court’s in this country can do nothing to stop it,” Pamela Spees, a lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, a New York-based nonprofit that acted as the plaintiffs’ co-counsel, said. “That cannot be the case.””