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The News Not Noise Letter: US Pushes for a Pause
Netanyahu resists a pause without conditions. Plus: a Hezbollah surprise, a warning to travelers and Idaho abortion arrest.
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Here are the headlines:
US Request Denied: Secretary of State Antony Blinken, back in the Middle East, called on Israel to agree to “humanitarian pauses” so more aid can be distributed in Gaza. Netanyahu would not agree without conditions, saying that “Israel refuses a temporary cease-fire that does not include the release of our hostages.” Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not allow fuel to enter Gaza with other humanitarian aid. Blinken is now in Jordan, where he will meet with a summit of Arab foreign ministers and engage in intense diplomacy. This is important as cooperation between Arab nations could help with the hostage crisis, reduce the risk of a wider war, improve the options for Gazan civilians, and pave the way for post-war stability. Jordan’s foreign ministry says the goal of the summit is to “stop the Israeli war on Gaza and the humanitarian disaster that it is causing.”
Gaza City Surrounded: Israel’s ground operation in Gaza is now a week old. The IDF says they’ve surrounded Gaza City “from the air, land and sea.” They are expected to use Gaza City as a base from which to launch targeted ground operations. In the last week the IDF claims they’ve killed top Hamas commanders and “hundreds of terrorists” and destroyed “thousands of Hamas military sites.”
Jabaliya Refugee Camp: IDF airstrikes on Jabaliya refugee camp flattened multiple buildings and left enormous craters in the ground. There are many disturbing images and reports from the fallout of that attack. Authorities with the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza say dozens of civilians are dead. The IDF said they successfully targeted a key Hamas leader who planned the 10/7 massacre and was in a command center under the camp with some of his soldiers. After the airstrikes, the IDF says they confiscated “operational plans, maps, command and control charts, communication devices, and the personal details of commanders and operatives of the terror group” from the command center.
Al Shifa Hospital: Friday, the IDF bombed an ambulance convoy outside Al Shifa hospital. An IDF spokesperson said the ambulance they targeted today had been taken over by Hamas militants. Al Shifa hospital workers said the convoy was filled with injured people being transported to the Rafah Crossing for medical treatment in Egypt. As we’ve previously reported, the IDF claims Hamas has a major command center under Al Shifa Hospital which they aim to neutralize. With Gaza City is surrounded, all eyes are on Al Shifa Hospital and what happens now.
Overall Humanitarian Crisis:
Journalists at Risk: Palestine TV, a Palestinian Authority-run television network, reported that one of its Gaza-based correspondents, Mohammad Abu Hattab, was killed in an airstrike shortly after appearing on air. In a widely viewed report today, one of his colleagues said, “We can’t bear this anymore,” and stripped off his press jacket and helmet insisting, “this protection gear does not protect us.” According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 36 journalists and media workers have been killed in the conflict (31 Palestinian, 4 Israeli, 1 Lebanese) as of 11/3. They also say 8 journalists have been injured, another 8 have been arrested, and 3 are missing.
Rafah Crossing: Close to a thousand injured people and foreign nationals have left Gaza through the Rafah Crossing since it opened Wednesday. Thousands more foreign nationals are still waiting to exit. The border crossing is still closed to most Palestinians, who do not have the option to flee the violence.
Hezbollah No Broader War, For Now: In a much anticipated speech, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah offered surprisingly muted comments (for him). Despite fears he would announce a war against Israel from the north, he did not order his forces to attack. He distanced Hezbollah from the 10/7 massacre — saying Hamas did not notify him of its plans. Nasrallah warned this conflict could still escalate into a larger war, and “all options” remain on the table. Hezbollah has stepped up its strikes on Israel using mortars, anti-tank missiles, and suicide drones. If Hezbollah, backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran, were to open a full assault on Israel, that could have devastating consequences for the larger region.
Hostage Pressure: The IDF says Hamas is holding 241 hostages — that’s down from 249 after several were released or confirmed dead. Increasingly desperate, many hostage families are calling on PM Netanyahu to change his strategy and first focus on freeing the captives — including through prisoner swaps or even a military pause. Outrage over Netanyahu’s policies before 10/7 and choices since, have driven down his support in the country; only 28% of Israelis want him to continue as Prime Minister.
Hope for Saudi-Israeli Relations: In Washington, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Saudi Arabia is still interested in an agreement to normalize relations with Israel once the war with Gaza is over. That’s promising for the long-term possibility of peace and stability in the region.
Israelis Warned Not to Travel: Israel’s National Security Council and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are warning Israelis to reconsider all international travel due to rising antisemitic threats. They also warn travelers to “avoid wearing or displaying Israeli and Jewish symbols” and to stay away from protests and carry emergency numbers with them.
In the United States: the head of the FBI testified before Congress that this is a “dangerous period” and global and domestic terror threats against Americans have reached “a whole other level” since 10/7. He advises maintaining your activities but “be watchful.”
Worldwide Protests Growing: This weekend thousands of people are expected to join US protests demanding an end to Israel’s military campaign. Organizers of a Saturday protest in Washington dubbed “National March on Washington: Free Palestine!” are setting expectations for a truly substantial crowd.
Minnesota Mosque Fire: On Wednesday, a fire at the Mercy Islamic Center in Minneapolis destroyed the mosque’s garage. This same mosque was targeted by an arsonist in April. Minneapolis Police say they haven’t yet seen signs that this week’s fire was suspicious, but amid growing Islamophobia in the US, Minneapolis’s Muslim community is not reassured.
House Israel Bill: Speaker Mike Johnson and the House GOP passed a bill to fund $14.3 billion in aid to Israel – excluding aid to Ukraine and cutting billions of funding from the IRS. Because it eliminates aid to Ukraine, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will not bring the bill to a vote in the Senate, and President Biden has said he would veto any standalone funding measure that made its way to his desk. The Biden administration has called for Congress to bundle aid for Ukraine and Israel together; the Senate is currently working on a bipartisan plan to do so.
House Antisemitism Resolution: The House also passed a resolution condemning antisemitism and condemning support of terror groups at colleges and universities in the US. This measure received overwhelming bipartisan support with 396 representatives supporting it and only 23 holdouts.
Jobs Growth Slows: New jobs grew more slowly than anticipated in October, with employers creating only 150,000 jobs. For context: this is half as many new jobs as created in September. Experts attribute this slowdown to higher interest rates and – at least in part – the six-week UAW strike, which caused manufacturing jobs to decrease by 35,000 in October.
SBF Guilty on All Charges: Crypto-bro and FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty on fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering charges. FTX, Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange platform, collapsed one year ago, costing users $10 billion in losses in one of the largest financial scams of all time. Bankman-Fried will be sentenced in late March and could face decades in prison.
Trumps Testify: This week Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump testified in the civil fraud case against them and their father. Eric said he and his siblings are “collateral damage” in the lawsuit and that “we’ve done absolutely nothing wrong.” Both Eric and Don Jr. blamed fraudulent records on Trump Organization accountants.
Idaho Abortion Charge: An Idaho mother and her 18-year-old son are charged with kidnapping after they allegedly took the son’s 15-year-old girlfriend to Oregon to get an abortion. In April, Idaho passed an “abortion trafficking” law making it illegal for adults to help minors get an abortion without parental consent. That law is currently being challenged in court, but the current charges are seen as a “test case” of the legislation’s legal standing. In addition to kidnapping, the son is also charged with rape and three counts of producing child sexually exploitative material (photos and videos of his minor girlfriend). The girlfriend told police she began a consensual sexual relationship with her boyfriend before he turned 18 – Idaho does not have “Romeo and Juliet” legislation. His mother also faces multiple drug charges related to methamphetamines.
Prayer of the Mothers:
The song “Prayer of the Mothers” was the result of an alliance between singer-songwriter Yael Deckelbaum, and a group of Arab and Jewish women, leading the movement of “Women Wage Peace.” It began in 2014 and grew from there.
Whatever your views of the conflict or the right way forward, I think this community hopes for long-term peace and that it happens soon. I offer you this as a reminder of our shared humanity, the possibility of connection across divides, and the promise of a better day.
Please take a moment to listen to the song. I found it restorative. Hope you do too.
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