Gaza: the Carnage Continues

Defying the world, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has maintained his hard-line position insisting there can be no Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, and not even a two-state solution as was (timidly) proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Blinken last week. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Israeli President Herzog stated categorically before that distinguished audience that there will be no peace in Gaza until the Hamas is completely wiped out (presumably despite the slaughter of civilians), and until “the empire of evil emanating from Iran” is eliminated. Nonetheless, as the death toll exceeds 25,000 Palestinians in Gaza, pressure on the government is increasing, although far too slowly.

Demonstrations in Tel Aviv. On the evening of Jan. 20, thousands of demonstrators gathered outside Netanyahu’s home in Caesarea, as well as in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, to demand that the Israeli government accept a political settlement of the conflict in Gaza that would include the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas and a cessation of hostilities. Speakers at the rallies warned that if a deal is not made right now to release the hostages they will be coming home in coffins.

Two days before, on Jan. 18, “thousands” of Jewish and Arab Israelis had joined a march in Tel Aviv demanding an immediate ceasefire agreement, the release of the hostages and an end to the killing in Gaza. The rally was organized by Standing Together, a Jewish-Arab Movement for peace, equality and social justice in Israel, together with Women Wage Peace, a soon-large grassroots organization fighting for a political agreement to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Speakers at the rally included Israelis whose family members had been killed or taken hostage on Oct. 7, yet who refuse to give up their commitment to peace.

IDF Commanders Want a Diplomatic Settlement. According to a report posted Jan. 20 by the New York Times, Israel’s top military leadership has apparently concluded that it can either save the hostages held by Hamas, or defeat Hamas in intense warfare, but not without killing the hostages. The authors of the article, who had access to senior IDF commanders and civilian leaders, conclude that the war in Gaza is not going as well as military planners had expected, and that the frustration of IDF commanders is causing friction with Israel’s political leadership.

Ceasefire Now” Letter from Parliamentarians in U.S., Germany, and Canada. Fifty-one elected officials, including 12 Democratic Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 20 SPD Deputies of the Bundestag and European Parliament and 19 Canadian Members of Parliament issued on Jan. 18 an “Open Letter: Ceasefire Now: Avert Humanitarian Catastrophe, Advance the Two-State Solution”

Note also that 15 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who have been among the strongest supporters of Israel, issued a short statement Jan. 20, which does not call for a ceasefire, but opposes Benjamin Netanyahu’s public rejection of a two-state solution.

Jews of Conscience” Petition Germany. A group of Jewish Americans has written an “Open Letter from Jews to the German Government & Other European Nations: Support South Africa at the World Court – Do Not Aid & Abet Israel’s Genocide in Gaza”. It begins: “As Jews of conscience, we join with those who lament the government of Germany’s betrayal of Jewish values—empathy and kindness—in its intervention on Israel’s behalf at the International Court of Justice”. … We call on the governments of Germany, Austria and all European nations involved in the Nazi Holocaust to stand on the right side of history, to stand with South Africa in its courageous appeal to the highest court in the United Nations to stop Israel’s slaughter and ethnic cleansing in Gaza. We ask the nations of Europe to join many in the Global South—Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Malaysia, Namibia, Nicaragua, Jordan, Türkiye and others—to issue a public statement in support of South Africa’s case at the World Court…”

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